近期影音 Recent Video

Into the heads of Israel: “Izkor: Slaves of Memory” Screening & Siscussion with Filmmaker Eyal Sivan


近期出版 Recent Publication



【ACS Institute 2023 -Day 1- 8/10- Activity Report】Prof. Ranabir Samaddar - Practical Ethics of Responsibility and Protection


Contours of Responsibility: Prof. Ranabir Samaddar's Illuminating Discourse on the Practical Ethics of Accountability and Protection

Author: Monika Verma (Ph.D., NYCU, Taiwan; contact: moniletit@gmail.com)


Event Title: Decolonization in the 21st Century
Keynote Title – Practical Ethics of Responsibility and Protection
Speaker - Prof. Ranabir Samaddar, Distinguished Chair in Migration and Forced Migration Studies,
Calcutta Research Group, Kolkata, India.
Date: 10 August 2023
Time: 10:30-12:00
Venue: R103 HA Building 3, NYCU, 1001 University Road,
Hsinchu, Taiwan 300


          Prof. Ranabir Samaddar's keynote lecture delved into a profound exploration of the intricate domains of responsibility and protection, traversing through the philosophical, quasi-philosophical, sociological, legal, and political dimensions of these critical concepts. His presentation highlighted the post-colonial perspective, emphasizing the need to consider the backdrop of decolonization, environmental challenges, and neoliberal development when addressing issues related to population flows, forced migration, and bio-political responses. Prof. Samaddar called for a re-evaluation of sovereignty as a responsibility and advocated for legal pluralism and regional mechanisms in building a comprehensive architecture of protection. During his lecture, Prof. Samaddar passionately advocated for a re-evaluation of the traditional notion of sovereignty, encouraging a fresh perspective that intertwines sovereignty with responsibility. Additionally, he championed the inclusion of legal pluralism and the integration of regional mechanisms as fundamental pillars in the construction of a comprehensive framework for safeguarding individuals and communities.

Key Points from the Lecture:

The Challenge of Responsibility in Politics:
          Prof. Samaddar initiated his discourse by highlighting the notable dearth of political contemplation on the notion of responsibility. He drew attention to the prevalent association of power with sovereignty, which often fails to encompass the concept of responsibility. Within this context, he underscored that power is frequently characterized as transgressive, and frequently measured by its ability to evade constraints, resulting in an inherent potential for violence.

          Furthermore, he illuminated the longstanding tendency to approach the study of responsibility within politics from a top-down perspective. Prof. Samaddar stressed the significance of delving into the localized dynamics of power and responsibility, particularly in the context of safeguarding individuals compelled to migrate involuntarily. This discernment brings into sharp relief the divergence between power and responsibility within the realm of political thought.

Post-Colonial Perspective on Responsibility:
          The colonial concept of responsibility, he stated, was structured around a hierarchical framework: the Home Ministry in London held responsibility for Indian affairs, Indians were accountable to the colonial government for their behavior, and the Crown assumed responsibility for civilizing India. This framework was tested during famines, leading to disputes among colonial rulers regarding who should bear responsibility for widespread hunger and the determination of eligibility for food aid. These colonial tensions compelled Indians to recognize the power embedded within the concept of responsibility, inspiring them to foster solidarity and establish mutual aid committees for relief campaigns. Prof. Samaddar advocated for a more nuanced interpretation of responsibility through the lens of post-colonial
perspectives. He argued that responsibility must be contextualized against the backdrop of historical processes such as decolonization, structural reforms, environmental crises, and the rise of neoliberalism.

          In the contemporary global landscape, understanding issues related to population movements and bio-political responses requires a comprehensive grasp of the intricate historical developments that have shaped our world. Prof. Samaddar underscored the post-colonial experiences, which suggest that there exists a multitude of responsibilities concerning protection and hospitality. This realization necessitates the acceptance of legal pluralism and regional mechanisms as foundational principles for reconstructing the framework of protection.

Local Dynamics of Power and Responsibility:
          A critical lesson gleaned from the lecture emphasized the urgent need to center our attention on the intricate dynamics of power and responsibility at the local level, particularly in the context of the protection of individuals forced to migrate. Prof. Samaddar placed significant emphasis on the fact that
the burden of protection disproportionately rests on the margins of society.

          This underscores the paramount importance of scrutinizing the diverse and often underestimated encounters related to refugee protection. Such an examination serves as a revelation of the complex interrelationship between power and responsibility, particularly within the microcosm where vulnerable
populations find themselves situated.

Sovereignty as Responsibility:
          The lecture delved deeper into the often-overlooked historical aspects of sovereignty intertwined with responsibility. It brought attention to the emergence of a dual persona, that of both migrant and refugee, within the current global panorama. This emergence is intricately influenced by various factors, including the forces of globalization, intense conflicts, breaches of borders, and an economic framework that selectively incorporates migrant labor.

          Given these complex dynamics, Prof. Samaddar argued convincingly for the adoption of a pluralistic approach concerning protection and hospitality. Such an approach necessitates the recognition of the pivotal roles played by legal pluralism and regional mechanisms. These elements are presented as fundamental pillars in the construction of a more comprehensive framework for safeguarding individuals and communities, thus embodying the concept of sovereignty intertwined with responsibility.

Autonomy and Responsibility:
          The lecture delved into the intricate connection between autonomy and responsibility. Prof. Samaddar underscored that these concepts do not exist in isolation but rather interlace in unpredictable and profound ways. According to his perspective, responsibility becomes an integral component of the ‘government of the living.’ It not only serves as a guiding force but also nurtures a sense of community and solidarity among individuals.

          Within this collective understanding of responsibility, a shared virtue naturally arises. This virtue acts as a unifying thread, binding individuals together and nurturing a deeper sense of connection among communities. In essence, Prof. Samaddar highlighted how the dynamics of autonomy and responsibility intricately shape the fabric of human existence and our bonds with one another.

The COVID-19 Crisis: Unveiling the Essence of Solidarity
          Solidarity, as defined by Prof. Samaddar, emerges from what he aptly terms ‘practical ethics’ – a form of conduct shaped by contingency, historical context, and practical considerations, particularly in the aftermath of a crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic, notably in India, provided a striking illustration of this phenomenon, unlike any seen before. In times of crisis, a remarkable pattern of solidarity unfolds within the public life of marginalized communities.

          During moments of crisis, a wellspring of collective solidarity is activated. This solidarity finds its heroes and heroines in frontline workers, encompassing doctors, nurses, paramedical staff, ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist) workers, and community workers. These individuals assume pivotal roles within the landscape of solidarity, embodying a form of ‘social capacity’ and exemplifying the ‘biopolitical nature of a collective’ during times of crisis.

          Solidarity, in essence, thrives amidst crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic served to broaden our understanding of caregivers and care providers. Beyond conventional categories, it encompasses all those logistical workers who sustain communal life by ensuring the supply of essential provisions such as food,
milk, medicines, sanitation, warehousing, electricity, connectivity, and more. These unsung heroes function as the frontline soldiers in the battle to preserve life during times of crisis.

          In this context, the concept of biopolitics takes on new significance. It entails safeguarding and nurturing those who care for others – the caregivers. It involves a paradigm shift towards self- organization, giving rise to a novel form of public power. This shift not only acknowledges the crucial role of those who sustain collective life but also amplifies their importance as key contributors to the resilience and vitality of society during moments of turmoil.


          Prof. Ranabir Samaddar's keynote address, titled ‘Practical Ethics of Responsibility and Protection,’ offered a profound and thought-provoking examination of these pivotal concepts through the lens of post-colonial perspectives. His impassioned plea for the re-evaluation of sovereignty, a heightened focus on local dynamics, and a reinforced commitment to legal pluralism and regional mechanisms in the realm of protection underscored the pressing need for a nuanced and comprehensive approach to grappling with the complex challenges of forced migration and the notion of responsibility in the 21st century. This lecture acted as a potent catalyst for intellectual introspection, encouraging participants to engage critically with conventional paradigms related to power and protection. Prof. Samaddar's insights illuminated the intricate interplay between power and responsibility, challenging the prevalent narrative where discussions on sovereignty and control often eclipse the imperative of responsibility.

          Within his discourse, Prof. Samaddar underscored the inextricable link between responsibility and the government of the living. Responsibility, in his view, transcends individualism to become an essential component of collective existence. Mutual responsibility creates community. It stands as the bedrock upon which communities are built, and it embodies a shared commitment to fostering solidarity. This concept of solidarity, defined as a shared sense of common virtue and a collective investment in the cultivation of responsibility, emerged as a central theme.

          In a world where discussions of power tend to overshadow those of responsibility, particularly in political discourse where sovereignty and control take precedence, Prof. Samaddar's lecture served as a compelling reminder of the paramount importance of re-evaluating our ethical, political, and social landscapes. His call to shift the focus towards collective responsibility and the complex web of interdependencies that it engenders resonated deeply with the audience, leaving them with a renewed sense of purpose and a profound understanding of the vital role that responsibility plays in shaping our shared human experience.

近期新聞 Recent News

Forward|2025-26 Society for the Humanities Residential Fellowships: Scale