TONIGHT ON THE TERRORDOME: Vijay Prashad - From Bandung to Durban

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In late summer, 2001, the international community convened in Durban, South Africa, for the World Conference Against Racism.

At stake was the making of a global declaration and agenda against the European domination of the planet called imperialism by some and Whitesupremacy by others, among many descriptions. But instead of agreement, delegates from over 160 countries found themselves filibustered by former colonial powers such as Belgium and boycotted by the United States.












Many delegates found the final declaration to be a drastically understated document. Instead of declaring European slavery of millions as a crime against humanity, the document went only so far as to address that crime with “profound regret.” But for a short time, whatever the conference’s failures, the world was focused on the former apartheid state for a discussion on the globe’s ongoing racial hierarchy and its enormous damage to the political, economic, social and ecological welfare of the planet.

Within days, the actions of Saudi terrorists in New York and Washington DC would all but erase the world’s memory of the Durban Conference.











One man who has refused to forget is Vijay Prashad, Professor and Director of International Studies at Trinity College, Hartford, Ct. His most recent books are The Darker Nations: A People's History of the Third World (New Press, November 2006) and (with Teo Ballve) Dispatches from Latin America: Experiments Against Neoliberalism (South End Press, October 2006).

He is the author of ten other books, including two chosen by the Village Voice as books of the year (Karma of Brown Folk, 2000; Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting, 2001). He is on the board of the Center for Third World Organizing (www.ctwo.org), United For a Fair Economy (www.faireconomy.org) and the National Priorities Project (www.nationalpriorities.org). He writes a monthly column for Frontline, India (www.frontline.in) and occasionally for Counterpunch (www.counterpunch.org).

In tonight’s presentation, Vijay Prashad speaks about his own experience at Durban and his reflections upon the meaning of the conference. Along the way, he discusses “teleology,” the perspective that human societies and civilisations have predetermined, ultimate goals, fixed as if by divine power. He frequently alludes to the 1955 Bandung Conference, one of the milestones of the non-aligned movement in which 29 newly liberated countries sent delegates to discuss how to avoid being dominated by either superpower.

Prashad cites figures such as Harlem’s Congressman during Bandung, the African-American reverend Adam Clayton Powell, and Samuel Huntington, author of Clash of Civilisations, a call to arms for neo-conservatives which argues that the planet is gripped in a conflict between Western liberty and Islamic tyranny.

But Prashad also questions why the liberation movements of Afrika, Asia and Latin America have so routinely been driven by military coups d’etat, and ultimately crushed by them, and addresses the shocking origin of OPEC among political radicals, rather than economic imperialists.

Vijay Prashad spoke on March 06, 2007, at Food for Thought Books, Amherst MA; his speech is archived online by Active Ingredients Media.org.

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