Date(s) - 02/11/2019
9:30 am - 11:30 am
Social Sciences and the Regional Imaginations of India:
Social Theory, Asian Dialogues and Planetary Conversations
Ananta Kumar Giri
Madras Institute of Development Studies
The mainstream social science discourses in post-independent India have been primarily metropolitan and have not made much conscious and concerted efforts to overcome their inherited and entrenched colonial and Euro-American domination in thinking and practice. Mainstream social sciences have lacked critical and creative engagement with social discourses in literary works in mother languages of India. Not many Indian social scientists have also written in their mother languages. But still some have written and we need to document social science writings carried out in mother languages of India and explore their wider theoretical and philosophical implications. Without essentializing regions, we would like to explore this with different regions and languages of India such as the Southern, Northern, Western, North Western, Eastern and North Eastern regions and with languages such as Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Odia, Bangla, Marathi, Hindi, Nepalee and others. This way we hope to rethink, re-imagine and reconstitute the idea of India beyond its current constructivist, colonial and post colonial discourses and realize India as a journey of border-crossing regional, cross-regional and interlinking national, trans-national and planetary formation. This essay and presentation is part of an unfolding research project where we plan to edit a few books documenting social science writing in several regions of India. Along with publication in English, we would like to publish some of these in some mother languages such as Odia, Bangla, Assamese and Tamil.
In this project, we collaborate with fellow social scientists and creative writers to first of all document writings in social sciences and humanities in different fields such as sociology, philosophy, anthropology and history in mother languages of India. We then critically analyze the nature of such discourses and their innovative, critical and creative contours. We explore their theoretical contributions and the way they help us to understand our contemporary enmeshed local-human-global-planetary condition in new ways. Under the prism of colonialist and Eurocentric categories of thought and thinking which still dominate mainstream Indian social sciences we are not able to understand our multi-layered local and interlinked local-national-planetary realities in appropriate ways. We would explore if philosophical and social science writings in mother languages reflect our regional imaginations and ways of being with
the world and if they help us go beyond still lingering entrenched colonialism and Eurocentrism of our discourses and practices.
The essay also strives to cultivate a new practice of imagination as collaborative and as emerging from border-crossing movements across philosophy, anthropology and literature. The essay and the project strives to go beyond Eurocentrism and enthnocentrism and creates a new hermeneutics of learning and transformation across boundaries where we move with multiple topoi and terrains of our interlinked planetary existence. It cultivates a new vision and practice of multi-topial hermeneutics and planetary conversations. It also relates our striving to realize India as part of both regions and planetary communications through Asian dialogues by carrying out dialogues across philosophical and cultural traditions such as Vedanta from India and Confucianism from China