363 episodes

Interviews with Scholars of South Asia about their New Books

New Books in South Asian Studies New Books Network

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.2 • 11 Ratings

Interviews with Scholars of South Asia about their New Books

    Jason Keith Fernandes, "Citizenship in a Caste Polity: Religion, Language and Belonging in Goa" (Orient BlackSwan, 2020)

    Jason Keith Fernandes, "Citizenship in a Caste Polity: Religion, Language and Belonging in Goa" (Orient BlackSwan, 2020)

    In the mid-1980s, Goa witnessed mass demonstrations, violent protests and political mobilising, following which Konkani was declared the official language of the Goan territory. However, Konkani was recognised only in the Devanagari script, one of two scripts used for the language in Goa, the other being the Roman script. Set against this historical background, Citizenship in a Caste Polity: Religion, Language and Belonging in Goa (Orient BlackSwan, 2020) studies the contestations around the demand that the Roman script also be officially recognised and given equal status.
    Based on meetings and interviews with individuals involved in this mobilisation, the author explores the interconnected themes of language, citizenship and identity, showing how, by deliberately excluding the Roman script, the largely lower-caste and lower-class Catholic users of this script were denoted as less-than-authentic members of civil society.
    As citizens of a former Portuguese territory, the Goan Catholics’ experience of Indian citizenship does not fall entirely within the framework of British Indian history. This allows for a construction of the post-colonial Indian experience from outside of the British Indian framework, and its focus on Catholics enables a more nuanced study of Indian secularism, while also studying a group that has remained largely underrepresented in research.
    The weaves together multiple disciplinary, conceptual, historical and empirical threads to give us an insight into how citizenship and political subjectivities are constructed, negotiated and experienced in Goa, especially when it comes to fixing and contesting identities around the Konkani Language, its dialects and scripts. Lucidly written and brilliantly argued, this book is a unique critical historical and ethnographic account of the politics of Konkani language, and will be valuable to scholars of History, Political Science, Sociology, Anthropology, Citizenship Studies and Cultural Studies, and beyond that also to the policy makers working on state and citizenship policies.
    Ali Mohsin is a doctoral candidate in Anthropology and Sociology at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID), Geneva. His research focuses on the politics of poverty, inequality and social protection in Pakistan. He can be reached at ali.mohsin@graduateinstitute.ch
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    • 1 hr 1 min
    Ithamar Theodor, "The Bhagavad-Gītā: A Critical Introduction" (Routledge, 2020)

    Ithamar Theodor, "The Bhagavad-Gītā: A Critical Introduction" (Routledge, 2020)

    Ithamar Theodor's The Bhagavad-Gītā: A Critical Introduction (Routledge, 2020) is a systematic and comprehensive introduction to one of the most read texts in South Asia. The Bhagavad-gītā is at its core a religious text, a philosophical treatise and a literary work, which has occupied an authoritative position within Hinduism for the last millennium. This book brings together themes central to the study of the Gita, as it is popularly known -- such as the Bhagavad-gītā's structure, the history of its exegesis, its acceptance by different traditions within Hinduism, and its national and global relevance. It highlights the richness of the Gita's interpretations, examines its great interpretive flexibility and at the same time offers a conceptual structure based upon a traditional commentarial tradition. With contributions from major scholars across the world, this book will be indispensable for scholars and researchers of religious studies, especially Hinduism, Indian philosophy, Asian philosophy, Indian history, literature and South Asian studies. It will also be of great interest to the general reader.
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    • 54 min
    Suraj Yengde, "Caste Matters" (India Viking, 2019)

    Suraj Yengde, "Caste Matters" (India Viking, 2019)

    “India is not yet a nation. It is still in an improvisational mode like a jazz band that needs to perform repeatedly together in order to uplift every voice in the chorus,” Suraj Yengde writes in his explosive text, Caste Matters (India Viking, 2019). Yengde, a first-generation Dalit scholar educated across continents, challenges deep-seated beliefs about caste and unpacks its many layers. He describes his gut-wrenching experiences of growing up in a Dalit basti, the multiple humiliations suffered by Dalits on a daily basis, and their incredible resilience enabled by love and humour. As he brings to light the immovable glass ceiling that exists for Dalits even in politics, bureaucracy and judiciary, Yengde provides an unflinchingly honest account of divisions within the Dalit community itself-from their internal caste divisions to the conduct of elite Dalits and their tokenized forms of modern-day untouchability-all operating under the inescapable influences of Brahminical doctrines.
    This path-breaking book reveals how caste crushes human creativity and is disturbingly similar to other forms of oppression, such as race, class and gender. At once a reflection on inequality and a call to arms, Caste Matters argues that until Dalits lay claim to power and Brahmins join hands against Brahminism to effect real transformation, caste will continue to matter.
    In this interview he covers a wide range of topics from feminism to radical love and humor to casteism on a transnational level.
    Suraj Yengde is currently a senior fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School and an inaugural postdoctoral fellow at the Initiative for Institutional Anti-racism and Accountability (IARA) at Harvard University. 
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    • 53 min
    Marco Ferrante, "Indian Perspectives on Consciousness, Language and Self" (Routledge, 2020)

    Marco Ferrante, "Indian Perspectives on Consciousness, Language and Self" (Routledge, 2020)

    For many Indian philosophers, language is inextricably tied up with conceptualization. In Indian Perspectives on Consciousness, Language and Self (Routledge, 2020), Marco Ferrante shows how a set of tenth century philosophers living in Kashmir argue for the existence of a self on the basis of the interrelationship between linguistic concepts and mental experience, against the criticism of Buddhists. In his examination of Utpaladeva and Abhinavagupta, famous for their membership in the "school of Recognition" or Pratyabhijñā, Ferrante traces connections not only back in time to the Sanskrit grammarian and philosopher Bhartṛhari, but forward in time to contemporary analytic philosophy of language and mind. He argues that these thinkers took first-person subjectivity seriously in their reasoning about our mental lives, bringing together commitments which today might be characterized as a higher-order theory of consciousness, a belief in the existence of qualia, a form of panpsychism, and a kind of lingualism (the dependence of thought on language). The book engages in both textual analysis of important Sanskrit texts, as well as philosophical evaluation of the arguments contained therein, with an eye towards their relevance for philosophy understood broadly.
    Malcolm Keating is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Yale-NUS College. His research focuses on Sanskrit philosophy of language and epistemology. He is the author of Language, Meaning, and Use in Indian Philosophy (Bloomsbury Press, 2019) and host of the podcast Sutras (and stuff).
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    • 1 hr 5 min
    Dwaipayan Banerjee, "Enduring Cancer: Life, Death, and Diagnosis in Delhi" (Duke UP, 2020)

    Dwaipayan Banerjee, "Enduring Cancer: Life, Death, and Diagnosis in Delhi" (Duke UP, 2020)

    In Enduring Cancer: Life, Death, and Diagnosis in Delhi (Duke UP, 2020) Dwaipayan Banerjee explores the efforts of Delhi's urban poor to create a livable life with cancer as patients and families negotiate an overextended health system unequipped to respond to the disease. Owing to long wait times, most urban poor cancer patients do not receive a diagnosis until it is too late to treat the disease effectively. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in the city's largest cancer care NGO and at India's premier public health hospital, Banerjee describes how, for these patients, a cancer diagnosis is often the latest and most serious in a long series of infrastructural failures. In the wake of these failures, Banerjee tracks how the disease then distributes itself across networks of social relations, testing these networks for strength and vulnerability. Banerjee demonstrates how living with and alongside cancer is to be newly awakened to the fragility of social ties, some already made brittle by past histories, and others that are retested for their capacity to support.
    Sneha Annavarapu is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Chicago.
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    • 1 hr 4 min
    Sumit Guha, "History and Collective Memory in South Asia, 1200-2000" (U Washington Press, 2019)

    Sumit Guha, "History and Collective Memory in South Asia, 1200-2000" (U Washington Press, 2019)

    In this far-ranging and erudite exploration of the South Asian past, Sumit Guha discusses the shaping of social and historical memory in world-historical context. He presents memory as the result of both remembering and forgetting and of the preservation, recovery, and decay of records. By describing how these processes work through sociopolitical organizations, Guha delineates the historiographic legacy acquired by the British in colonial India; the creation of the centralized educational system and mass production of textbooks that led to unification of historical discourses under colonial auspices; and the divergence of these discourses in the twentieth century under the impact of nationalism and decolonization.
    In History and Collective Memory in South Asia, 1200-2000 (University of Washington Press, 2019), Guha brings together sources from a range of languages and regions to provide the first intellectual history of the ways in which socially recognized historical memory has been made across the subcontinent. This thoughtful study contributes to debates beyond the field of history that complicate the understanding of objectivity and documentation in a seemingly post-truth world.
    Renee Garfinkel, Ph.D. is a Jerusalem-based psychologist, Middle East television commentator, and host of the Van Leer Series on Ideas with Renee Garfinkel
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    • 1 hr

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5
11 Ratings

11 Ratings

cyrardwp21 ,

Breadth and depth in an underrepresented (podcast-wise) region

The podcasts certainly have the format and flare of an academic 1-on-1, but do a major service to those interested in South Asia. There are very few other podcast sources on South Asia that cover the range of topics or dive into them as well as this does.

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