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

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Every Family Its Own Historian?

Upper-caste Syrian Christian family histories variously comprise the reconstructions of popular beliefs; family and church genealogies claiming Brahminic and apostolic origins; biographies of prominent family members; discussions on the crisis of national and global migration; purity of race and blood; descriptions of relationships with other social groups; road maps and visions for the future; endogamous family directories; popular bedtime stories, among others. These family historians select the most desirable facts, figures, myths, and legends to present a strange blend of facts and fancies. This paper explores how the Syrian Christians mobilise, conceive, and position their histories within the social matrix of Kerala and their ideological uses for identity politics.

Songs of Protest

Dalit musicians offer a radical imagination of music that breaks open the binaries of the sonic while adopting multiple genres, technologies, and emerging soundscapes.

Insanity and Colonial Knowledge

Britain saw a significant establishment of asylums and perceptions about insanity at the end of the 18th century. Michel Foucault traced the historiography of institutional confinement and postulated that the history of madness shows the “great confinement.” Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason (1973) begins by describing the exclusion and confinement of lepers in the large leper houses scattered at the periphery of European cities. The new cultural content after the renaissance changed radically, from reason and madness in the classical era, to sanity and insanity. Foucault was not telling the story of scientific progress. He instead moved towards social increment, isolation, and confinement in the madhouses during the age of reason.

Finding Economics in Small Things

The Economics of Small Things by Sudipta Sarangi, Penguin Random House India, 2020; pp 296, ₹ 225 .

Judas and the Black Messiah

Based on a Hollywood film about a member of the Black Panther Party, the author explores the history of deep-rooted racism in law enforcement and the structural and institutional continuities that persist.

Caste and Race: Discrimination Based on Descent

In 2001, Dalit non-governmental organisations pushed for the inclusion of caste-based discrimination in the United Nations conference on racism and other forms of descent-based discriminations. How did the Government of India respond to the internationalisation of casteism? Why did Dalits want casteism to be treated on par with racism in the first place? Did they succeed? And above all, is caste the same as race?

Is Ambedkar’s Prejudice against ‘Tribe’ a Settled Matter?

A challenge is mounted against the widespread assumption that Ambedkar was prejudiced against “tribe,” by revealing acts of academic carelessness that occur in the writings of some scholars through the cherry-picking of quotes and failure to historically contextualise the same. Some such popular (mis)quotes and Ambedkar’s writings on tribe over a period of time are investigated, taking into account both their immediate and larger historical context, to argue that there are better ways to make sense of Ambedkar’s stance on the subject.

Engaging with Isabel Wilkerson’s Idea of Race

A meditation on Isabel Wilkerson’s critique of race that proceeds through an overview of Wilkerson’s multiple agendas, observations about her arguments, with respect to race, and an analysis of the intertwining of systematised discrimination (knowledge) and legalised violence (force of law).

On Philosophical Causality and the Problem of Evil

Caste: The Lies That Divide Us by Isabel Wilkerson, Allen Lane, New Delhi: Penguin Random House, 2020; pp 496, ` 599 (hardcover).

Smell Matters: A Critical Reading of 'Parasite'

What makes Parasite a compelling film is its depiction of the transgressive potential of the body, specifically, of smell.

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