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SIEF2011 10th Congress: Lisbon, Portugal.
17-21 April 2011

(P110)

India's other sites: social and cultural pathways at home and abroad

Location Block 1, Piso 0, Room 36
Date and Start Time 18 Apr, 2011 at 11:30

Convenors

Cláudia Pereira (ISCTE - University Institute of Lisbon) email
Rita Cachado (ISCTE-University Institute of Lisbon) email
Inês Lourenço (CRIA-ISCTE/IUL) email
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Short Abstract

India is a privileged context for building social, cultural, religious, political and historical places. At the same time, India is a starting point for building Indian places outside its territorial matrix. Diaspora phenomena illustrate these multi-sited and multi-belonging experiences.

Long Abstract

In and outside India diverse negotiations coexist in the way in which people shape their lives and places, starting from the different historical and colonial pathways that differentiate Goa, Daman and Diu, previously under Portuguese administration, from the rest of India, formerly British. The different uses of history must be seen in relation to memory and daily life: caste, religion, symbols and localities imply social, cultural and historical approaches.

Residential clusters inhabited by South Asian groups all over the world's greatest urban areas originate interesting interactions between people and spaces which, in turn, does not inhibit multiple processes of localization, driven by Diaspora dynamics and, by the same token, as an outcome of ambivalent belonging emotions towards extremely different national sites such as India and Portugal. Different life experiences, itineraries and memories all contribute to constructing real and imaginary spaces, which in turn act as strong identity features in present.

South Asians' quotidian and trajectories in cosmopolitan sites show that India and Asian societies in general act as a permanent inspiration, nourished by the media and contemporary consumption society. Therefore, we may raise several questions: what strategies do people use to shape their lives and places, in India and abroad? How is memory construction embodied? What differences and similarities can we, as researchers, observe, whether from the perspectives of individuals, groups or policy makers?

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Re-interpreting the past for alternative futures: Dalit Movement in search of 'another world'

Author: Bidhan Dash (Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi)  email
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Short Abstract

None provided.

Long Abstract

The Dalit movements in India have always attempted to theorize the dynamics of the caste system in various socio- political and economic contexts. The assumption underlying the theorization has been that just as caste had an origin in history, it could have an end and that collective action of the Dalits could be effective in accelerating the process. Jyotirao Phule, overturned the predominant political discourse of the 'Aryan Theory of Race', to construct a theory of revolutionary praxis. Ambedkar, critically engaged in theorizing caste, its origin, mechanisms and genesis. While in the Columbia university seminar he critically evaluated the dominant anthropological discourse on caste, in his later works on the origin of shudras and untouchables, he re-interpreted the history of Indian society and articulated a materialist theory of the origin of the caste system. The Phule-Ambedkar discourse has been a constant point of reference and inspiration for the Post-independent Dalit movements such as, the Dalit Panthers and Dalit Literature movement in Maharashtra. This paper argues that while the practices of caste persisted in the Post-independent Indian society, keeping the Dalits suppressed and wretched, the onset of neo-liberal global capitalism has further accelerated their marginalization. In response, the Dalit movement has joined with the anti-globalization forces and is in search of 'another world'. This paper attempts to understand the way contemporary Dalit movement is theorizing the dynamics of caste in the age of globalization.

Memories of the ancient triangle

Author: Ana Piedade (Instituto Politécnico de Beja)  email
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Short Abstract

Life stories allow one to understand how memories are built along a time line as well as daily life is lived. Cultural and social approaches are fundamental to understand this process and role a very important play in what identity processes construction is concerned.

Long Abstract

Portugal as a country and a concept of nation is today a place where identity is forged to many people caught in an ancient triangle: Goa/Mozambique/Portugal.

The cultural background builds the games and plays, bodies, tastes and food. These aspects of everyday life and its dimension as marks of identity process are not apprehended by the Portuguese/Mozambican/Goese people that consider themselves as Portuguese seeing themselves as people from a subculture as if they were from another part of Portugal.

The multi-belonging experiences emerge during the family ritual calendar of visiting parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles whose homes, inhabits and everyday practices confront these Portuguese with their own diaspora experience. At that moment they recall their lived memories crossed with their told memories becoming a group, more than an individual.

Shaping lives and social memories are a contribution to constructing real and imaginary ancestors, spaces, times, smells, tastes and symbols. When it happens it becomes natural and desirable.

With this paper it is our aim to show how this social memory is build during a long time line. In order to do this several life stories will be collected. The informers will be two generations of families who travelled from Goa to Mozambique and from there to Portugal.

Negotiating assimilation, exoticism and Indian modernity: translocal subjectivities of second-generation Indians who have grown up Switzerland

Author: Rohit Jain (University of Zurich)  email
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Short Abstract

Second generation Indians grown up in Switzerland are embedded in regimes of assimilation, multiculturalism and Indian modernity. Negotiating various cultural normativities and idioms of "Indianness" in their translocal life-worlds they develop individual ways of "lived cosmopolitanisms".

Long Abstract

Second generation Indians, socialized in Switzerland, are inserted in multiple cultural codes, they move in translocal networks and they are connected to global media-scapes. They negotiate and translate plenty - often contradictory - sets of identities and alterities concerning race, ethnicity, class, gender and religion. In Switzerland, on the one hand, they are both disciplined and exoticized within a dominant regime of assimilation and a recent multicultural consumer culture. On the other hand, they face cultural and social norms of their parents and the local diasporic community to maintain idioms and practices of "Indianness" concerning education, career and family values. Furthermore, in global communication networks with relatives and friends in India and other diasporic places, and also during holidays and professional stays in India they negotiate their role as PIO's ("persons of Indian origin") and changing narratives of "Indian modernity".

The paper draws on biographic, multi-sited ethnographic and discourse-analytical methods and shows the strategies of second generation Indians to translate different idioms of "Indianness" and cultural normativities into their own translocal life-worlds. In the course of these processes of construction and de-construction they more and more develop individual ways of "lived cosmopolitanisms". These negotiations take place against the historical backdrop of the increasing and changing representation of "India" in the Swiss public sphere through the cultural semantics of Bollywood, Yoga and IT, a cosmopolitan counterculture against the Swiss assimilation regime, the neoliberal and nationalist assertions of post-liberalization India, a growing global Indian public sphere, and new Indian diaspora policies.

Race, gender, and the diaspora tourism of Indo-Canadians

Author: Gada Mahrouse (Concordia University)  email
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Short Abstract

Drawing from critical race and feminist theories, this paper examines the relationship between racialized power and diaspora tourism. Specifically, if focuses on questions of race, gender, “home” and “belonging”, to explore the effects of diaspora tourism on second-generation Indo-Canadians.

Long Abstract

Second-generation Indo-Canadians are increasingly travelling to their ancestral 'homelands' to learn about their roots. This type of travel, known as "diaspora tourism", is a compelling site for examining questions of race, gender, mobility, and multiculturalism. In fact, this type of travel gives rise to several pressing questions regarding how racialized and gendered identities are experienced in particular spaces, and on socio-economic power relations within globalization. Yet, little is known about the diaspora tourism experiences of Indo-Canadians. For instance, what are their motivations? How might a sense of self and/or culture be generated for them through the trip to India? How does the trip impact their notions of home and belonging? How do they see themselves in relation to the people and places they are visiting? How do they negotiate their insider/outsider positioning in India and in Canada?

In keeping with the "shaping lives" sub theme of the conference, this paper will draw upon my in-progress research to consider some of these questions. Some of my preliminary findings indicate that for many second generation Indo-Canadians, traveling to India is fraught because on the one hand, they are regarded as "locals" by other western tourists, and on the other hand, they are treated as "western tourists" by the locals. Further compounding this contradictory experience are their deep emotional investments in using the trip to learn about their ancestral and cultural roots. In sum, by considering the complexities of diaspora tourism this paper seeks to further understanding on transnational, multicultural, and hybrid/hyphenated identities.

Hindu temple in Moscow: plans and discussions

Author: Igor Kotin (Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography of the Russian Academy of Sciences)  email
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Short Abstract

The Migration of religions and the strengthening of links between Indian-influenced new religious movements and India leads to heated discussiona over the construction plans for new religious sites. One of them is proposed Hindu temple in Moscow. The proposal to construct huge Vedic Center in Moscow led to heated discussion over India and Hinduism as well as about the West and new religious movements.Although approved and supported by many the construction plan for the new Hindu temple in Moscow awaits its realisation. By now no decision is made on the issue.

Long Abstract

The Migration of religions and the strengthening of links between Indian-influenced new religious movements and India leads to heated discussiona over the construction plans for new religious sites. One of them is proposed Hindu temple in Moscow. The proposal to construct huge Vedic Center in Moscow led to heated discussion over India and Hinduism as well as about the West and new religious movements. The purpose of the temple was to attract attention of the general public to Indian culture as well as to give a place for temple service to both Hindus and neo-Hindus.On October 17, 2003 at the mutual press-conference mr, Jha, a president of the federation of Indians in Russia, Mr. Tuleev and the main sponsor Mr. Alfred Ford of the Ford Foundation announced of the decision of Moscow government to give a plot of land for the new temple 52 meters high on Leningradskiy Prospekt. After that heated discussion started and it continues for more than 7 years. By now no decision is made on the issue.

"We are like that only!": the diaspora does Bollywood

Author: Shailja Sharma (DePaul University)  email
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Short Abstract

The paper examines the growing influence of the diaspora on Bollywood by looking at the changes in films, as well as the growing field of “Bollywood studies”. It analyzes the effects of this focus by linking this shift to Indian neoliberal aspirations and diasporic race politics. I conclude that the broader shift is from action to consumption and this shift, while it marks the entry of India into the space of neo-liberal trade and philosophy, also effectively abandons its minorities and any progressive gender politics.

Long Abstract

I look at how the Indian diaspora, specially in the Anglo-American world, consumes and shapes Bollywood film. The Hindi language film industry has gone from being an object of nostalgia to being financed and staffed by the diaspora. How does that change its style and content? And more importantly, what is the significance of the diasporas investing so much emotional, political and identititarian capital in this one form of mass culture: contemporary mass film?

Making consumption the central focus of self-fashioning as a hyphenated Indian is not an active form of homeland politics. But more than privileging passive consumption over active engagement, this emphasis on Bollywood serves to fashion an American or British racialized identity abroad, which ignores and marginalizes the priorities of Indian society itself, which may have more to do with forms of equity outside of race. Though the Indian economy and its society are becoming globalized and see themselves as part of the developed world, to a large extent that is based on two premises: an exclusive focus on the urban middle class, and second, by ignoring the growing post-liberalization disparity between the poor and the rich and the erosion of social welfare. Neither of these issues affects the diaspora directly. The economics of film production and distribution ensures that Bollywood film can focus on its growing overseas markets while giving up any efforts at a domestic social conscience. This in turn is reflected in the growing conservatism of Bollywood film, particularly with regard to gender and minority equality.

When the rest enters the West: Bollywood in Switzerland

Author: Sybille Frank (Technische Universität Berlin)  email
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Short Abstract

This paper will investigate the social and spatial consequences of the continuing presence of Indian Bollywood tourists in Switzerland.

Long Abstract

Until recently, tourist routes typically led from "the West" to "the rest", and travel guides were the essential media for planning a journey. In the past years, however, the intensified circulation of place images through global communication media have connected more and more places with more and more imaginations, while the price reductions in and the expansion of travel offers have set even the remotest places within potential reach. This paper will ask from a postcolonial perspective what happens when "the West" no longer tours "the rest", as it has been practiced for centuries, but when "the rest" starts to knock on Western doors in order to consume both the vernacular Western culture and also its own heritage in place?

Specifically, this paper will investigate the social and spatial consequences of the continuing presence of Indian Bollywood tourists in Switzerland. Switzerland is quite a 'traditional' destination of Indian tourism as it had been discovered by the Indian Bollywood film industry as early as in the 1980s. At the time, the Kashmir conflict started to prevent film teams from shooting their Bollywood movies in the Kashmir Mountains, and the Swiss Alps promised a similar panorama. Today, Swiss small towns like Engelberg display a comprehensive tourist infrastructure that specifically cares for the needs of Indian tourists (e.g. hotels with special bathrooms, Indian restaurants on the peak of the Titlis, etc.). This paper will explore the paths of Indian tourists through Engelberg and explore the consequences of their presence for everyday city life.

Keeping Daman alive in the UK: the creation of a place that sounds like home

Author: Ana Almeida (University of Aveiro - INET-MD)  email
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Short Abstract

This paper aims to show how the damanese living in the U.K. (re)create home through the maintenance of cultural practices brought from Daman and recontextualized abroad. It results from an ethnographic study of the musical reality in the damanese catholic community in Daman and the U.K. as part of an ethnomusicological research.

Long Abstract

This paper suggests a reflection about the way the damanense communities settled in Leicester and Peterborough (U.K.) recreate home abroad through the recontextualization (Bauman and Briggs 1990) of performative cultural practices as mandó - a local musical genre -, Portuguese music and dance as well as Bollywood music. This construction of the foster place shaped by Daman is set by two associations that act like a lieux de mémoire, as conceived by Pierre Nora (1989), due to its necessity of remembering, stop time and block the work of forgetting.

In the process of understanding how these communities negotiate the several issues resulting from the ambivalent and indeterminate condition they live in a diasporic context, concepts as "tradition" (Hall 2008), "cultural identity" (Chambers 1994; Hall 1990) and "memory" (Fortunati and Lamberti 2008) will be used here in a discursive and performative way instead of a monolithic, stable and homogeneous one.

Conceiving "diaspora" as a cultural dislocation more than a simple migration, which is the role played by the homeland traditions represented in the foster place? How are these performative practices recontextualized in the diaspora and what is the place of music in the process of negotiation, conciliation and construction of locality and as a territory of both identity and differentiation? How do these practices interact in a process that makes a "space" become a "place"?

The paradigm shift: teaching Indian classical dance in the West (reflections and musings based on teaching Kathak in Portugal)

Author: Lajja Trivedi  email
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Short Abstract

Teaching Indian Classical Dance outside India requires a thought.

It stands on an alien soil, amidst influences which impose constraint, challanges and opportunities. To preserve its context, keep its inherent character intact and students' interest alive while teaching is at the core of exploration.

Long Abstract

Indian Classical Dances, like any other classical art forms, are evolved arts - by nature, socio-political, economical (largely farming) conditions and cultural developments. Hence contextual. Their survival on foreign ground, which is not their natural ambience, decontextualizes them, in turn taking a different trajectory. (Although these developmental factors are contextual and universal)

The teaching of Indian Classical Dance, which exists outside India, thus, requires a thought because it stands on foreign grounds; amidst influences of other cultures. These conditions impose constraints, challenges and opportunities at the level of presentation and particularly teaching.

The preservation of the context of dance form, the heterogeneous groups and subsequent attitudinal differences streaming from wide range of dance enthusiasts requires the teacher to formulate new ways of teaching. Simultaneously the challenge is to keep intact the inherent character (the classicity and beauty of the dance form), the student's and society's interest alive; with contextual references.

The paper reflects:

•An Indian Classical Dance professional and a teacher's perspective of strategies engaged to ensue the above

•Explores the similarities, differences between perspectives and cultures and cross - references

•The immense opportunity that elicits the potential for cross fertilization (fusion) and new creation, thus progressing the dance form.

The paper also attempts to explore the diverse role of teacher, to be able; to provide a prospective ground for students, to engage his/her sensitivity and sensibility, which in turn would pave a way, through self discovery, to Parma Aananda (Ultimate Bliss) - the aim of all Indian arts.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.