Zygmunt Bauman on the west: re-treading some forking paths in Bauman's sociology

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In this chapter, I revisit and re-tread several forking paths in Bauman’s sociological thinking – his reflections on colonialism and decolonisation, the Jewish experience and interpretation of modernity, and the communist project in east-central Europe. Although they are often elided in commentaries on Bauman and critical appraisals of his work, these paths are nevertheless unmistakeable and continuous across his oeuvre. Overall, I claim, these paths amount to a sustained and sophisticated problematisation and critique of the West. Two important consequences follow. Firstly, I claim that Bauman’s concepts and interpretive constructs can have a unique bearing on the interpretation of non-Western historical experiences of social transformation, cultural ferment, and political violence. Secondly, I argue that Bauman’s sociology can be read as an immanent critique of Eurocentrism. This contribution therefore constitutes an intervention into contemporary discussions about Eurocentrism in social and political thought, specifically in terms of Bauman’s sociology and more generally in relation to the imperative to ‘decolonise’ sociology, its canon and its operative concepts.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Anthem companion to Zygmunt Bauman
EditorsMichael Hviid Jacobsen
ISBN (Print)9781839988745
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Feb 2023


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