South Asia Institute
South Asia Institute

“The Shimmering Landscape: Mobility and Rootedness in Indigenous India”

A talk by Kaushik Ghosh, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Texas at Austin

Mon, April 15, 2013 | SAC 5.118

12:00 PM

"Migration" and "rootedness" typically have appeared as a fundamental opposition in the long arc of modern imaginaries. The one cancels the other. The body of the indigenous person poses an interesting challenge to this form of "state philosophy" based on representation and identity.  

In India, over the last two centuries, the indigenous body has simultaneously been the most "migratory" and yet the most "rooted." The adivasi or indigenous has been the staple "migrant laborer" who has enabled each new cycle of capital accumulation while clearly being the most visible "actor" in the vast archive of resistance to territorial displacement and in the reaffirmation of a persistent art of attending to place and the land. How does one grasp this simultaneity? Beyond the obvious subversion of dualist thinking, it reignites our imagination of land and identity. How does one inhabit the world in this simultaneity? In my talk, I'll take a moment of such adivasi inhabitation of the world and try to map an emerging sense of a more dense and complex sense of territory, land and the issue of sovereignty.

 Kaushik Ghosh studied at Princeton University. He has been involved in historical and ethnographic research and activist work in India, especially the idiom and practices of indigenous struggles against displacement and for responsibility towards their lands. He is also interested in questions of anticipation as a constitutive element in the construction of new capitalism in Asia and the violence of the new mass displacement of populations that has marked our times. Very broadly, he is interested in the connections between ecological humanities and postcoloniality.

His articles have appeared, among other venues, in Cultural Anthropology and Subaltern Studies. He is currently completing two books: an experimental ethnography on indigenous inhabitation of place in modern India, and a book of essays on postcolonial biopolitics theorized through a complex articulation of indigenous bodies with the circuits of capital, religion and the modern state in Indian history.

Sponsored by: UT Department of Anthropology

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