Accepted paper:

Farmer suicides: state narratives and representation in popular culture

Authors:

Nanda Kishore Kannuri (Public Health Foundation of India)
Sushrut Jadhav (University College London)

Paper short abstract:

This paper problematizes the State’s position on farmer suicides. State narratives most often conflate the phenomenon to statistics through creation of categories like “genuine” farmer suicides. State categorization operates through various criteria of exclusion. Apart from analyzing the State’s framework for classification of farmers’ death as suicides, we explore the aesthetics of representations of farmers’ suicides in popular culture.

Paper long abstract:

This paper problematizes the State's position on farmer suicides. State narratives most often conflate the phenomenon to statistics through creation of categories like "genuine" farmer suicides. State categorization operates through various criteria of exclusion. Apart from analyzing the State's framework for classification of farmers' death as suicides, we explore the aesthetics of representations of farmers' suicides in popular culture. How has popular culture, films in particular, helped us or limited our imagination towards understanding suicides vis-à-vis the government's homogenous categories. Some questions we attempt to answer are: What parameters does the government employ while reporting suicide? Why does the government view farmer suicides in terms of statistics alone? Are these categories exclusionary? How can we develop a framework that can include other categories that understand suicide more imaginatively thus reaching a larger cross section of people? What are other possible inclusive categories? Our analysis will be based on media reports and films on farmer suicides namely Kissan (2009), Peepli Live (2010), and Jhing Chik Jhing (2010).

panel P12
The aesthetics of suicide