EASA, 2010: EASA2010: Crisis and imagination

Maynooth, 24/08/2010 – 27/08/2010

(W119)

Indiascapes: reflections of contemporary India

Location JHT8
Date and Start Time 27 Aug, 2010 at 11:30

Convenors

Jonathan Miles-Watson (Durham University) email
Mari Korpela (University of Tampere) email
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Long Abstract

This workshop aims to explore, through the presentation of specific case studies, the extent to which imaginings of India are reinforced or undermined by everyday practice. This workshop gathers academics from both India and Europe to share accounts of contemporary India that can act as a springboard for the consideration of trends in anthropological explorations in the region. In particular we are interested in the way that anthropologists are working with recitations of extant practice in India.

As a secondary outcome the workshop seeks to establish how change and continuity is viewed by both the communities that the anthropologists work with and by the anthropologists themselves. This includes notions of change as presenting new opportunities, change as disorientating, tradition as comforting and tradition as constraining.

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Worshipping with ghosts: historical presence in the contemporary landscapes of Shimla's churches

Author: Jonathan Miles-Watson (Durham University)  email
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Long Abstract

In this paper I focus on the way that the landscapes of postcolonial Christian worship in India can act as shock absorbers against the trauma of history. I approach this issue primarily through a narrativization of aspects of my fieldwork with the Christian communities of Shimla, North India. The voices of Shimla's Christians are largely absent from the emerging debates around the Anthropology of Christianity due to their lack of fit with dominant assumptions about Christianity in India. However, I intend to argue that it is precisely because of their ability to complicate the dominant discourse that these groups offer an important insight into postcolonial India. I redress this neglect here through a particular focus on the way that Christians in Shimla negotiate issues of faith, postcoloniality, rupture and memory in order to help constitute complex and socially important landscapes of worship.

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A moving sight: lining up for Mumbai's Siddhivinayak temple

Author: Markha Valenta (University of Amsterdam)  email
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Long Abstract

The classic narrative would have us understand modernity as the anti-sedentary. If, however, we read the multiplicity of modernity not only socio-geographically but in relation to time, speed, and scale it becomes clear that the play between mobility and sedentariness involves not so much an opposition between the modern and its others as contests over the distribution of dis/continuity, mobility and at-home-ness in relation to such modern projects as the nation-state, consumer capitalism and cosmopolitan desires for polymorphous arousal and critique.

This paper will offer such a reading through the evolving practices of one of India's richest and most successful sites of religious, political and celebrity worship, Mumbai's Siddhivinayak temple. Its rise since the 1990s is closely enmeshed with the transformation of flows of people and money unleashed by India's insertion into global liberalization. It now draws 200,000 visitors a day from across city, nation and world, famous actors, sports stars and politicians, as well as infamous suspects of rape and terrorism. The apartment towers nearby nurture a new middle class - ejecting the working classes - with an eye to property values and balcony-enlightenment. The temple's success simultaneously makes it a terrorist target, resulting in a prominent security wall that disrupts the movement of people, businesses and commuters, along with airport-like security systems and Israeli-trained security personnel. Seeking to manage streams of people who are as dangerous as they are vital, the temple now inserts itself into the newest global regimes of immobility.

Puppet in the city (Delhi): aesthetic and semiotic experiments in new spaces

Author: Manpreet Kaur (Columbia University)  email
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Long Abstract

Transformation - the primary, necessary quality of a form that persists with passage of time and its ever-changing folk - takes on a new valence when the shift is both spatial and temporal, as can be seen in the case of contemporary puppetry in the cityscape. This shift is characterized by new spatial-performative dimensions because at times of the absence of clear, physical roots in the new context, and at others, due to the nature of the craft itself.

The contextual move leads the form to take several trajectories in this 'new' space - 'pre-modern' to the 'avant-garde', from ritual to entertainment, et al. Keeping these in mind, I would like to look at the figure of the puppet as it progresses into the modern experiment in the context of Indian theatre history, and I wish to look at the city of Delhi as the new space.

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Conceptualizing identity movements in India

Author: Ashok Das Gupta (University of North Bengal )  email
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Long Abstract

The crisis of identity movements in India does not remain a local issue and has a global impetus. Such studies are very frequent now-a-days, but they have perhaps been done from the imaginative power of anthropology that occupies the central dogma of the humanities. A field study has been conducted by the author in the northern districts of West Bengal, India, among the Rajbansi community. This community has been involved in an identity movement that may have historical, politico-economic and sociological perspectives. This is not the main aspect of the paper, but from this micro-level study, the author has tried to conceptualize how in such a remote area international and national issues can become so active and in turn meet the reverse action from the locals when humanity is so badly suffering from a global economic crisis.

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Living happily ever after or ending up in another crises? Bohemian lifestyle migrants in Varanasi, India

Author: Mari Korpela (University of Tampere)  email
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Long Abstract

Bohemian lifestyle migrants in the city of Varanasi in India claim to be escaping the 'rat race' of their countries of origin. In Varanasi, they have found a more meaningful and relaxed life. In this paper, I, however, argue that although they claim to be escaping the capitalist economy and the stress that such economic system causes them, they are actually very dependent on capitalism and constantly stressed about how to make enough money in order to be able to return to India the following season. I discuss whether their escape to better life has been successful or whether they have ended up in another stressful crises situation. Moreover, what is the significance of India in this lifestyle? I also elaborate on how voluntary their lifestyle eventually is and what are their options in case they ever want to permanently return to their countries of origin.

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Good governance in India: interplay of politics, culture and technology in e-governance projects

Author: Bidisha Chaudhuri (IIIT, Bangalore)  email
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Long Abstract

The post Cold War period has witnessed an increasing awareness of the significance of the concept of good governance, especially in the context of developing countries. International Organizations, such as the World Bank, have acted as a catalyst for the formulation and implementation of standards of good governance in many African and Asian countries. The proposed paper strives to explore the applicability of "universal" good governance principles in the Indian context, with a special focus on e-governance projects in rural India. The aim is to critically examine the process of change and continuity as contained within the complex interplay of the normative structure of governance and the agency of emerging resistance. The overall attempt of this paper is to locate how culture, contexts, technology and politics become intertwined in relations of power and asymmetries.

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A Munda village, Gabherya, Jharkhand, India: a study in anthropology of the right to health, issues of citizenship, power, and governance

Author: Satya Narayan Munda (Sido-Kanhu Murmu University, Dumka)  email
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Long Abstract

The village of Gabhreya in Jharkhand is a traditional Munda tribal village set amidst forest, hills and mountains.It is located 43 Kilometres North- East of Ranchi (the capital of Jharkhand).In this village 200 families reside and have 1600 Acres of land for their survival. In the village the families of three communities (Munda, Hazam, Lohra) depend on agriculture, lac production, pastoralism and labour, the jajmani system and buisness.People of the village are honest, co-operative and united and are in a preliterate or semiliterate stage.

The tribals of Jharkhand have been struggling for their identity and survival for a long time. The father of the Nation, the Late Mahatma Gandhi, wanted to decentralize the power of the state to allow a better future for the villages of India. Today Gabhreya needs Panchayat Election under the PESA Act of the Government of India, dated 24th December 1996, where issues like the right to health, citizenship,power and governance would find prime focus.

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.