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Interviews with Scholars of South Asia about their New Books
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New Books in South Asian Studies Marshall Poe

    • Culture et société
    • 4,0 • 1 note

Interviews with Scholars of South Asia about their New Books
Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/south-asian-studies

    Chitranshul Sinha, "The Great Repression: The Story of Sedition in India" (India Viking, 2019)

    Chitranshul Sinha, "The Great Repression: The Story of Sedition in India" (India Viking, 2019)

    Chitranshul Sinha is an advocate on record of the Supreme Court of India and a partner in Dua Associates, Advocates and Solicitors, who primarily practises in the courts of New Delhi. He occasionally writes articles for leading publications on topics related to law.
    The Indian Penal Code was formulated in 1860, three years after the first Indian revolt for independence. It was the country's first-ever codification of offences and penalties. But it was only in 1870 that Section 124A was slipped into Chapter VI ('Of Offences against the State'), defining the offence of 'Sedition' in a statute for the first time in the history of common law.
    When India became independent in 1947, the Constituent Assembly expressed strong reservations against sedition as a restriction on free speech as it had been used as a weapon against freedom fighters, many of whom were a part of the Assembly. Nehru vocally opposed it. And yet, not only has Section 124A survived, it has been widely used against popular movements and individuals speaking up against the establishment.
    Where did this law come from? How did it evolve? And what place does it have in a mature democracy? Concise, incisive and thoughtful, The Great Repression: The Story of Sedition in India (India VIking, 2019) by Chitranshul Sinha tells the story of this outdated colonial-era law.
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    • 44 min
    Peter J. Kalliney, "The Aesthetic Cold War: Decolonization and Global Literature" (Princeton UP, 2022)

    Peter J. Kalliney, "The Aesthetic Cold War: Decolonization and Global Literature" (Princeton UP, 2022)

    How did superpower competition and the cold war affect writers in the decolonizing world? In The Aesthetic Cold War: Decolonization and Global Literature (Princeton UP, 2022), Peter Kalliney explores the various ways that rival states used cultural diplomacy and the political police to influence writers. In response, many writers from Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean—such as Chinua Achebe, Mulk Raj Anand, Eileen Chang, C.L.R. James, Alex La Guma, Doris Lessing, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, and Wole Soyinka—carved out a vibrant conceptual space of aesthetic nonalignment, imagining a different and freer future for their work.
    Kalliney looks at how the United States and the Soviet Union, in an effort to court writers, funded international conferences, arts centers, book and magazine publishing, literary prizes, and radio programming. International spy networks, however, subjected these same writers to surveillance and intimidation by tracking their movements, tapping their phones, reading their mail, and censoring or banning their work. Writers from the global south also suffered travel restrictions, deportations, imprisonment, and even death at the hands of government agents. Although conventional wisdom suggests that cold war pressures stunted the development of postcolonial literature, Kalliney’s extensive archival research shows that evenly balanced superpower competition allowed savvy writers to accept patronage without pledging loyalty to specific political blocs. Likewise, writers exploited rivalries and the emerging discourse of human rights to contest the attentions of the political police.
    A revisionist account of superpower involvement in literature, The Aesthetic Cold War considers how politics shaped literary production in the twentieth century.
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    • 52 min
    Neilesh Bose, "India After World History: Literature, Comparison, and Approaches to Globalization" (Leiden UP, 2022)

    Neilesh Bose, "India After World History: Literature, Comparison, and Approaches to Globalization" (Leiden UP, 2022)

    In the twenty-first century, terms such as globalization, global, and world function as key words at the cusp of new frontiers in both historical writing and literary criticism. Practitioners of these disciplines may appear to be long time intimate lovers when seen from pre and early modern time periods, only to divorce with the coming of Anglophone world history in the twenty-first century. In recent years, works such as Martin Puchner's The Written World, Maya Jasanoff's The Dawn Watch, or the three novels that encompass Amitav Ghosh's Ibis Trilogy, have rekindled a variant of history and literature's embrace in a global register. 
    Neilesh Bose's India After World History: Literature, Comparison, and Approaches to Globalization (Leiden UP, 2022) probes recent scholarship concerning reflections on global history and world literature in the wake of these developments, with a primary focus on India as a site of extensive theoretical and empirical advances in both disciplinary locations. Inclusive of reflections on the meeting points of these disciplines as well as original research in areas such as Neo-Platonism in world history, histories of violence, and literary histories exploring indentured labor and capitalist transformation, the book offers reflections on conceptual advances in the study of globalization by placing global history and world literature in conversation.
    Gargi Binju is a researcher at the University of Tübingen.
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    • 38 min
    Sudhir Chella Rajan, "A Social Theory of Corruption: Notes from the Indian Subcontinent" (Harvard UP, 2020)

    Sudhir Chella Rajan, "A Social Theory of Corruption: Notes from the Indian Subcontinent" (Harvard UP, 2020)

    In contemporary policy discourse, the notion of corruption is highly constricted, understood just as the pursuit of private gain while fulfilling a public duty. Its paradigmatic manifestations are bribery and extortion, placing the onus on individuals, typically bureaucrats. Sudhir Chella Rajan argues that this understanding ignores the true depths of corruption, which is properly seen as a foundation of social structures. Not just bribes but also caste, gender relations, and the reproduction of class are forms of corruption.
    In A Social Theory of Corruption: Notes from the Indian Subcontinent (Harvard UP, 2020), Rajan argues that syndromes of corruption can be identified by paying attention to social orders and the elites they support. From the breakup of the Harappan civilization in the second millennium BCE to the anticolonial movement in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, elites and their descendants made off with substantial material and symbolic gains for hundreds of years before their schemes unraveled.
    Rajan makes clear that this grander form of corruption is not limited to India or the annals of global history. Societal corruption is endemic, as tax cheats and complicit bankers squirrel away public money in offshore accounts, corporate titans buy political influence, and the rich ensure that their children live lavishly no matter how little they contribute. These elites use their privileged access to power to fix the rules of the game—legal structures and social norms—benefiting themselves, even while most ordinary people remain faithful to the rubrics of everyday life.
    Sneha Annavarapu is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Chicago.
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    • 49 min
    Amber Sinha, "The Networked Public: How Social Media is Changing Democracy" (Rupa Publications, 2019)

    Amber Sinha, "The Networked Public: How Social Media is Changing Democracy" (Rupa Publications, 2019)

    Amber Sinha works at the intersection law, technology and society, and studies the impact of digital technologies on socio-political processes and structures. His research aims to further the discourse on regulatory practices around internet, technology, and society. He is currently a Senior Fellow-Trustworthy AI at Mozilla Foundation studying models for algorithmic transparency.
    Networks, whether in the form of Facebook and Twitter or WhatsApp groups, are exerting immense, unchecked power in subverting political discourse and polarizing the public in India. If people’s understandings of their political reality can be so easily manipulated through misinformation, then what role can they play in fostering deliberative democracies? Amber Sinha asks this much ignored and often-misunderstood question in his book The Networked Public: How Social Media is Changing Democracy (Rupa Publications, 2019). In search for an answer, he investigates the history of misinformation and the biases that make the public susceptible to it, how digital platforms and their governance impacts the public’s behaviour on them, as well as the changing face of political targeting in this data-driven world. 
    The book weaves sharp analysis with academic rigour to show that while the public can be irrational and gullible, their actions—be it mob violence or spreading fake news—are symptoms of deeper social malaise and products of their technological contexts.The Networked Public is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand how social media and the Internet is transforming democracy not only in India, but across the world.
    Alok Prasanna Kumar is Co-Founder and Lead, Vidhi Karnataka. Sarayu Natarajan is the Founder of Aapti Institute. In the past, she has worked in management consulting and the venture fund industry before the plunge into researching politics.
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    • 54 min
    Rohan J. Alva, "Liberty After Freedom: A History of Article 21, Due Process and the Constitution of India" (Harper Collins, 2022)

    Rohan J. Alva, "Liberty After Freedom: A History of Article 21, Due Process and the Constitution of India" (Harper Collins, 2022)

    Rohan J. Alva is a counsel practicing in the Supreme Court of India. He earned his LLM from Harvard Law School, where he focused on constitutional law, which he read for on numerous scholarships including as a Tata Scholar and on a Harvard Law School Scholarship. Prior to starting his counsel practice, he was a professor at Jindal Global Law School, where he was awarded the Excellence in Research Award. He has also been Visiting Faculty at NLSIU, Bengaluru. His writings have been published in internationally respected journals including Statute Law Review (Oxford University Press), and Hong Kong Law Journal.
    Alva's first book Liberty After Freedom: A History of Article 21, Due Process and the Constitution of India (HarperCollins India, 2022) explores the origins of what is today considered the most important fundamental right in the Indian Constitution - the right to life and personal liberty guaranteed by Article 21. This is the article which in recent years made the right to privacy as well as the decriminalization of homosexuality possible. Without a doubt, Article 21 has had the most outsized influence on the progressive development of rights in India. But the story of how this important right was birthed is deeply controversial and its passage in the Constituent Assembly divided opinion like no other feature of the Constitution. Liberty After Freedom explores the intellectual beginnings of this paramount fundamental right in an attempt to decode and unravel the controversies which raged at the time the Constitution was being crafted. Written in lucid prose and drawing extensively on the Constituent Assembly debates as well as a wide array of scholarly literature, it questions long-held beliefs and sheds new and important light on the fraught history of due process and Article 21. It is an indispensable book for the legal community and for everyone interested in the genesis of the Constitution.
    Alok Prasanna Kumar is Co-Founder and Lead, Vidhi Karnataka. Sarayu Natarajan is the Founder of Aapti Institute. In the past, she has worked in management consulting and the venture fund industry before the plunge into researching politics.
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    • 58 min

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