Siraj is a sixth-year Ph.D. candidate focused on political theory and history of philosophy. He is interested especially in dialectical materialism's distinctive conceptualizations of freedom & alienation; the mutual interplay of ecological attunement and the organization of democratic life; and the relation between religion, spirit, and the political. He received his B.A. in 2017 from Amherst College.
Job Market Paper Title
From Critiques of Progress to Practices of Presence: Temporalities of Resistance in Contemporary Political Thought
Job Market Paper Abstract
My dissertation project, “From Critiques of Progress to Practices of Presence: Temporalities of Resistance in Contemporary Political Thought,” draws upon a diverse archive to theorize a collective ethic of presence as a mode of resistance to incursions by capitalist and colonial powers. The project explores how socialist, anticolonial, and Black political figures deploy a range of alternative temporalities—such as eternality, presentism, romanticism, and futurism—to denaturalize the linear temporality of Euro-American and capitalist society, which Walter Benjamin called the “homogeneous empty time” of progress. How do invocations of alternative temporalities open up heterotopic pathways to resistance or refusal to the temporality of progress and its ideologies of productivism and perfectibility? Can these alternative temporal pathways “freeze” the everyday rhythms of power in its tracks and help us, as Fred Moten puts it, to see “the future in the present”?
The project as a whole unfolds across engagements with a diverse range of texts. I examine the contemporary rise of autofiction and autotheory as a means of diachronically narrating and holding together the self amid a pessimism-inducing world; recover the notion of “free time” as it appears in “postwork” political visions that valorize laziness and queer utopianism; and think with anticolonial and Black exhortations to find temporalities of escape from putative instantiations of progress. Throughout the dissertation, I ask: when enlistment into a form of life – wage labor, the family unit, western modernity – appears as a salutary font of progress, but turns out to be a dead end, to introduce relations of domination, or to produce alienation from desire and humanity, how, then, might the cultivation of alternative temporal postures enable resistance to uninhabitable life and articulate other more livable pathways for life to take? My dissertation theorizes presence not only as a micropolitical mode of relation to self, others, and world, but also as a collective repertoire of practices for resisting capitalist hegemony, cultivating (re)attachment to the world and to politics, and achieving radical responsiveness to events as they unfold in time.