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Rao, Rahul

Rao, Rahul

Individual Fellow

The Psychic Lives of Statues

Research Question

Why have statues become terrains for the assertion and contestation of racial and caste supremacy? How do affective investments transform statues into sites of pride, injury and reparation?

Project Description

Beginning with Rhodes Must Fall in Cape Town in 2015 and especially following the murder of George Floyd in the US in 2020, antiracist protesters all over the world have directed their anger at statues of figures associated with slavery, colonialism and apartheid, demanding their removal. At the same time, statues continue to be built at monumental scales, evidenced by the iconographic envy that the Hindu Right in India seems to have vis-a-vis the Dalit movement. This project seeks to develop an account of what statues do in political life and a theory of iconographic justice that might help us to distinguish between the colonial and decolonial claims that are made through statues.

Selected Publications

Out of Time: The Queer Politics of Postcoloniality, New York: Oxford University Press, 2020.

‘Nationalisms by, against and beyond the Indian state’, Radical Philosophy 2.07 (2020), pp. 17–26.

Third World Protest: Between Home and the World, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010.


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