How do we negotiate competing representations of the political vis-a-vis the everyday practices of postcolonial self-making?
Anthropological engagements with "the political" have attempted to move beyond reified precincts of the state and its institutions to more textured explorations of how individuals fashion, perform and style ideas of community, collectives and citizenship. Yet popular perceptions of "the political" persistently seek to narrow its scope by pitting it against apparently apolitical notions of ethics. How can we better negotiate these competing representations of the political as they are mutually constituted with everyday practices of postcolonial self-making? These are registers of the self that throw light on many complications in the 'subaltern' canvas of postcolonial theory. The aesthetics of postcolonial self-making are thus brought into conversation with creative performances and practices of contemporary publics. Drawing on four disparate contexts in postcolonial India, the papers on this panel explore the location of the political and its relationship to the aesthetics of self-making. Rather than focusing on how people inhabit or adopt existing political ideology in order to serve their interests, the papers examine how ideas of civic humanism, duty, adivasi resistance and gender are creatively fashioned in everyday life. In particular, the papers reveal the relationship between processes of self-making, creativity and individuation and the formation of collectives and community.