ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Resisting What?

Following Amita Baviskar’s response, “Resisting Distorted Readings” (EPW, 9 October 2010) to my article “Writing Resistance, Revisiting Ruptures” (EPW, 4 September 2010), this opportunity to elaborate and urgently clarify my claims is a welcome one. To begin with, the essay was in no way an exhaustive review of Baviskar’s book (In the Belly of the River, New Delhi: OUP, 1995), or Comaroff and Comaroff’s (Of Revelation and Revolution, Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1991) for that matter, but wished to engage with certain methodological issues on how resistance is written and narrated within the ethnographic mode.

Amita Baviskar posits three main points I apparently make. The first was that I identify in Baviskar’s work the displacement of Bhilalas and a disruption in their “way of life” as the first rupture. This claim has been abstracted out of my essay without context, changing its emphasis entirely. The point of emphasis was not that it was treated as a first rupture but instead to think about where the problem in a disruption of their “way of life” lies. What do we implicitly assume when we hold as central this disruption? In simple words, if cultures and societies are dynamic and therefore constantly changing, just as Baviskar’s own ethnographic account of the Bhilalas shows, then why is this change a problem. Stating that a disruption in the Bhilalas’ established way of life is a cause for concern, then comes to mean that change in and of itself is a cause for concern. It is in this context that I identify in Baviskar’s description of the problem an assumption of a Bhilala community “meeting with its seemingly fi rst rupture” (2010: 76).

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