Fertile Disorder: Book Discussion

Fertile Disorder brings together ethnographic work in rural Tamil Nadu with debates generated in India by Marxist historiography, feminist theory and anthropology and with the work of key post-structuralists in deconstructive understandings of human subjectivity. These tools are used to explore the workings of power - of caste, class, gender as well as the work of the state and ‘state intellectuals’ in rural modernising initiatives. The book sets out to explore the weaknesses in a purely deconstructive approach and to advance constructive alternatives. Using the narratives of women’s lives in rural communities, it turns to an unlikely source of inspiration in building up a fresh account of agency and experience - namely, the phenomenon of spirit possession, which plays a vital role in the lives of the women portrayed in the book. In the process, it also becomes a meditation on the way in which a dominant version of modernity has selectively expelled certain aspects of people’s religious lives which are thereby drained of meaning and rendered vulnerable to being turned into ‘minor practices’ that lack a discourse of their own in the dominant discourses of the day.

Kalpana Ram is Associate Professor of Anthropology, Macquarie University, Sydney.

Udaya Kumar is Professor at Centre for English Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

Dhivya Janarthanan is Assistant Professor at Department of Sociology, University of Delhi.

Rajan Krishnan is Associate Professor at School of Culture and Creative Expressions, Ambedkar University, Delhi.

Prathama Banerjee is Associate Professor at Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi.

Monday, 15 January 2018
4 pm, CSDS Seminar Room