Tragic Witnessing


Together with my colleague Tarak Barkawi, who works at the New School for Social Research in New York, I do something that we call, for want of a better term, Critical War Studies. This involves two central sets of themes that are intimately related: we have an unapologetically philosophical and theoretical engagement with the question of the relation between war and truth, or war and regimes of meaning and systems of knowledge—something that we organise around the concept of ‘war/truth’. And then we have an insistent and continuous engagement with the archive of military history, in which we use post-colonial theory, amongst other things, to repeatedly ask the question of what it would be to decolonise military history, and to do what we call—with a nod to Dipesh Chakrabarty—‘provincialising military Europe’. So, those are the broad themes that I’m coming from…