Not a Place, But a Project: Bandung, TWAIL, and the Aesthetics of Thirdness
Luis Eslava, Michael Fakhri & Vasuki Nesiah (Eds), Bandung, Global History and International Law: Critical Pasts and Pending Futures (Cambridge University Press, 2015)
13 Pages Posted: 13 May 2015
Date Written: April 24, 2015
“The Third World was not a place. It was a project,” writes Vijay Prashad in his book the Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World. Yet the name so often given to that project is also the name of a place: Bandung, the site of the 1955 Asian-African Conference at Bandung regarded as having been the birthplace of both the nonaligned movement and the Third World. In the 60 years since Bandung, as the postcolonial planned state in its original form continues to disappear or disappoint, one might ask what remains of the Bandung Project. Centering on a discussion of two contemporary outcomes of the Bandung Project — the artworks at the Bandung Pavilion at the 9th Shanghai Biennial, and the intellectual movement known as TWAIL (Third World Approaches to International Law) — this essay will both specify and expand upon the sense in which Bandung remains a project subject to constant reinvention. By focusing on alternative lineages of the Bandung project outside the realms of the political and state-based, it will be possible to foreground aesthetic aspects of Bandung, where non-alignment is understood as a kind of “third-ness” and where post-nationalism is evident in a negotiation between site-specificity and trans-locality, and where solidarities are formed not between nation-states but cities and circuits. In this way, the successors expand both the sense of “the project” but also the sense of “place” in what may still be called the Third World.
Keywords: Bandung, Third World, Documenta 11, Contemporary Art, TWAIL, International Law
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