Sunday, June 22, 2014

Conference program 2014

Rethinking inequality in South Asia

21-22 July 2014; Venue: ETH Zurich

Monday, 21 July 2014

09:00 – 09:30: Opening

09:30 – 11:45: Panel “Gender issues of inequality”

Commentator: Charu Gupta (University of Delhi)

1. Raphael Susewind (University of Bielefeld): Middle class moralities and masculine aspirations: anti-poor rhetoric in Lucknow's contemporary Muslim landscape

2. Subhasree Ghosh (
Asutosh College, University of Calcutta): Countering gender inequality in 19th century colonial India: Some rethinkings

3. Jana Tschurenev (Göttingen University): Mothers, Wives, Teachers: Agendas of female education in colonial India

11:45 – 12:45: Lunch Break 

12:45 – 14:15: Panel “Empowerment/Disempowerment”

Commentator: Shalini Randeria (The Graduate Institute Geneva) 

1. Anna-Lena Wolf (University Bern): The claim to equality and the right to development in India  

2. Sabrina Regmi (Ochanomizu University/ University of Basel): Unequal development: micro-business creation and gendered outcomes in rural Nepal  

14:15 – 14:45: Coffee Break 

14:45 – 17:00: Panel “State and Power” 

Commentator: Nitin Sinha (University of York)

1. David Devadas (Humboldt University Berlin): Hierarchy as State Strategy: Feudatories in the Politics and Economics of Jammu & Kashmir 

2. Andrea Hagn (ETH Zurich): Of "old bastis" and "new slums": Persistent and emerging inequalities in the socio-spatial fabric of the temple town Puri in the context of government programmes for slum improvement  

3. Nida Sajid (University of Toronto): Invisible Caste: Articulating Dalit-Muslim Identity in India 

17:30 – 19:00: Keynote

Charu Gupta (University of Delhi): Intimate and Embodied Desires: Dalit Women and Religious Conversions in India

Tuesday 22 July 2014

09:30 – 11:45: Panel “Health/Medicine” 

Commentator: Aparna Nair (Göttingen University)

1. Dominik Merdes (Technical University Braunschweig): The Emergence of Chemotherapy in Colonial India: Modern Medicine and Inequality 

2. Sudip Saha (North-Eastern Hill University, Shillong): Tropical Medicine and colonial enclave: issues of inequality in Assam Valley tea plantation

3. Emilija Zabiliute (University of Copenhagen): Affective clinic and bodies in transition: A Primary Healthcare Centre in the Vicinity of the Sanjay Camp 

11:45 – 12:45: Lunch Break

12:45 – 15:00: Panel “Education”

Commentator: Sylvie Guichard (University of Geneva)

1. Sumeet Mhaskar (Göttingen University): Schooling in the times of industrial decline: A study of Mumbai's Mill Workers' household decisions on children schooling

2. Arun Kumar (Göttingen University): Histories of miscalculation and the politics of the possible: The reproduction and production of subjects in colonial industrial schools

3. Simone Holzwarth (Humboldt-University Berlin): A Postcolonial Social Order through Teaching Rural Crafts? The Debates about Basic Education between 1937 and 1949 

15:00 – 15:30: Coffee Break 

15:30 – 17:45: Panel “Knowledge Production” 

Commentator: Patrick Eisenlohr (Göttingen University)

1. Kalyan Shankar (University of Pune): Who Studies What, Where and Why? Systemic Inequalities beyond Affirmative Action Policies in Indian Higher Education

2. Francesca Fuoli (SOAS, London): The role of ethnography and the study of Pashto in the construction of the Pashtun race in nineteenth century British colonial discourses on Afghanistan

3. Camille Frazier (University of California): Agriculture as Risky Business: Agricultural Crisis, Inequality, and Resistance in India

18:15: Concluding Remarks (Vasudha Bharadwaj, Nikolay Kamenov and Jana Tschurenev) 

19:30: Conference Diner

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Abstract 2014 Subhasree Ghosh

Subhasree Ghosh, Asutosh College, University of Calcutta, India

Countering gender inequality in nineteenth century colonial India: Some rethinkings

Inequality is intrinsic to the social fabric of South Asia, manifested through class, caste, gender. With the recent spate of violence against women in India, the question of gender disparity has become a much debated and discussed issue amongst the common man on the street. Coming from a state (West Bengal) which has the dubious distinction of topping the list in India so far as crimes against women are concerned, I wish to explore through this paper, with nineteenth century colonial India as the backdrop, how this gender inequality translated into violence in the name of child-marriage, premature sexual intercourse, repeated child-births, mental torture and the measures adopted by the British administration to counter this inequality through legislations that would offer some semblance of relief to the child-wives and women and girls in general. Going against the grain of current historiography, which sees 1857 as the cut-off period so far socio-legal legislations were concerned (Thomas R. Metcalfe) or laments the ‘sudden disappearance’ of the ‘women’s question’ from the agenda of public debate ‘toward the close of the century’ (Partha Chatterjee), this paper argues that the women’s question was very much alive in the second half of the nineteenth century with a plethora of legislations namely, the Female Infanticide Prevention Act, 1870; The Indian Majority Act, 1875; The Indian Limitation Act, 1877, Age of Consent Act, 1891, passed in this span to counter the ill-effects of religiously-sanctioned customs and rituals. The second half of nineteenth century, hence, cannot be treated as a clinical break so far as the pre-occupation with the women’s question is concerned. In defence of this argument, the paper will endeavour to look into the question of marriage and cohabitation, through the prism of socio-legal reforms in the spatial time-zone of nineteenth century by relooking into the fact as to how the colonial government attempted to counter gender violence—the methodology adopted, the opposition faced—to analyse whether one can trace an element of continuity throughout the nineteenth century. Culling information from archival sources, biographies and autobiographies, newspapers, I would show how the government tried to raise the age of cohabitation through repeated attempts spread out throughout the nineteenth century and how the ‘women’s question’ very much remained a contentious issue being debated in the public sphere, a potent arena of which was the legislative assembly.

Around 1772, the then governor of Bengal Harry Verelst, raised a very relevant question, “Shall we disregard the condition of a wife, incapable of governing herself?” (Verelst, 1772, 139). A little over hundred years down the line, Sir Andrew Scoble, echoed the same sentiment on the floor of the legislative assembly, when he argued in favour of outlawing marital rape, since a wife needs to be treated “not as wife, but as a human creature…” (Abstract, 1891, 86). By passing a multitude of laws throughout the entire radius of nineteenth century, right from Regulation VII of 1819 which brought marriage under criminal jurisdiction by providing for imprisonment, not exceeding one month, to persons found guilty of deserting their wives and families and intentionally neglecting to support them, to the Age of Consent Act of 1891 which raised the age of consent from ten to twelve, the colonial government tried to elevate the status of a wife from being a deaf, dumb, mute creature to a human being with feelings and emotions, desires and needs.

In current historiography, the social space in the later half of the nineteenth century, have been neatly packed off into the inner/home and the outer/world with the nationalists “…situating the ‘women’s question’ in an inner domain of sovereignty, far removed from the arena of political contest with the colonial state.” (Partha Chatterjee, 1992, 117). This paper attempts to counter this contention. A case in point is the Age of Consent Act of 1891. By delving into the passage of the Act, I would endeavour to prove that the ‘women’s question’ was very much in-situ within ‘the arena of political contest with the colonial state.’ The thrust of this Act, as a matter of fact, came from the indigenous society, with petitions being submitted to the government by a host of social reformers and nationalists, namely, Berhamji Malabari, Gopal Hari Deshmukh, M.G. Ranade, K.T. Telang, Dewan Bahadur R. Raghunath Row, which goaded the colonial administration to undertake measures and raise the age of consent and prompted the latter to introduce the Bill in the legislative assembly in January 1891. As was wont in the case of previous legislations, namely, the fierce opposition from some segment of the Indian society, the passage of this Bill, too, was fraught with dissensions, the most prominent voice being that of Bal Gangadhar Tilak. The Bill was ultimately passed into an Act in March 1891 with support from a sizeable section of the Indian society. When one looks into the trajectory from 1819 to 1891, one can thus weed out evidences of continuity being woven into the socio-legal tapestry and herein lies the validity and the need to relook into and mull over the existing theories of 1857 being a disjuncture so far as government forays into the domestic sphere is concerned as also nationalists fierce guarding of the personal domain from government interference. I argue, that the tussle that characterised the first half of the nineteenth century continued well into the later half of the decade and that there was considerable noise made by both sides on the ‘women’s question.’

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Abstract 2014 Camille Frazier

Camille Frazier, University of California


Agriculture as Risky Business: Agricultural Crisis, Inequality, and Resistance in India

Despite the commonly held conception that the contemporary moment represents a particularly “risky” period for agriculturalists, agriculture in India has long been characterized by insecurity. While neoliberal economic policies appear to shift the kinds of risk faced by agriculturalists, emphasizing individual responsibilities over state interventions, they do not supplant previously peaceful and untroubled relationships among cultivators, markets, and the state. The following paper will analyze how farmers’ relationships to the market have changed over time, noting the state’s role in this process, in order to argue that while neoliberal economic policies have altered agricultural practice in India in a way that individualizes risk and deepens inequality, it would be incorrect to assume that the contemporary period represents a dramatic break from an earlier, more secure form of agricultural practice. Similarly, I argue that despite scholarship proclaiming the “new” character of farmers’ movements in India today, the many continuities between previous and contemporary forms of insecurity and resistance call into question assertions about the neoliberal period as uniquely risky and contemporary farmers’ movements as distinctively organized. Rather, the increased emphasis on individual responsibilities and the privileging of corporate actors under economic liberalization have shifted how agricultural crises are conceived, experienced, managed, and resisted.

Abstract 2014 Francesca Fuoli

Francesca Fuoli, SOAS, University of London


The role of ethnography and the study of Pashto in the construction of the Pashtun race in nineteenth century British colonial discourses on Afghanistan

The years between the two Anglo-Afghan wars –1842 and 1878 – have commonly been understood in terms of Afghan voluntary isolation and British India’s loss of interest in the country, epitomised by its strategy of ‘Masterly Inactivity’. However, the proliferation of record materials on Afghanistan produced by the colonial state in this period, ranging from documents exchanged at a high political level to the flow of information originating from the permanent government representative in Kabul, first appointed in 1856, may tell a very different story. In these same years a strong interest in the study of the Pashtuns began to gain ground among British officials, especially the figures of H. G. Raverty and H. W. Bellew, as demonstrated by the appearance of a number of Pashto grammars, dictionaries, as well as ethnographic and historical studies. Focusing on the way the Pashto idiom was framed as a territorially bounded, standardised and original language, I will argue that this ethnographic knowledge significantly contributed to the emergence of an official colonial discourse, in which Afghanistan, narrowly understood as the portion of land inhabited by the Pashtuns, was constructed as a separate territorial entity. The colonial state framed an Afghan social landscape divided along clearly demarcated ethnic lines, among which the Pashtuns, glorified as a superior, manly and ‘martial race’, were the legitimate inhabitants of the country. This evaluation of largely under-studied sources, will give new insight into the way British India framed its policies towards the country during its second occupation (1878-1880), as well as into the strategies the British appointed Amir in 1880 used in his radical re-organisation of the Afghan state.

Abstract Kalyan Shankar

Kalyan Shankar, University of Pune

Who Studies What, Where and Why? Systemic Inequalities beyond Affirmative Action Policies in Indian Higher Education

In the delivery systems of higher education in India, there has been an attempt to counter social inequalities through implementing a system of affirmative action policies – implying positive discrimination in favor of the disadvantaged. While socio-economic backgrounds do influence individual participation in education, can differentiated access be attributed solely to them? By doing so, there is a certain exoneration of the delivery systems and their inherent limitations in enabling access for some while (inadvertently) denying it for others. Can the systems be really termed fair in their attempt at creating equality of access? It needs to be recognized that the systems themselves generate their own set of embodied institutional distortions that get superimposed over and above socio-economic inequalities.

This paper seeks to highlight some of the existing skews of access in the delivery systems that are beyond the scope of affirmative action policies. Moreover, because of these skews, the implications of the affirmative policies remain varied across institutions. Within the overarching frame of enquiry into who gets to study what, where and why, we identify some of the systemic constraints of availability and how they manifest in the curtailing of individual choices within higher education. Starting from Class X (a prerequisite for entry to higher secondary) and progressing through Class XII and graduation, this paper highlights how different limiting or skewing factors of access get pronounced within the system at different stages (like geographic distribution of institutional numbers, medium of instruction, streams of education). Emerging from this skew of institutions is a skew of choices. This paper seeks to highlight how the available choices become compulsory by default for higher education aspirants. Meaning to say, how an individual gets systemically compelled to aspire only to a certain form of higher education and thereby get excluded from others. For substantiating on our arguments, we make use of the official documents on the procedures and guidelines for admissions followed by higher education institutions in the state of Maharashtra (India) and analyze their interpretations.

Abstract 2014 Simone Holzwarth

Simone Holzwarth, Humboldt-University Berlin


A Postcolonial Social Order through Teaching Rural Crafts? The Debates about Basic Education between 1937 and 1949 
The icon of the nationalist movement in India, M.K. Gandhi, envisioned a new postcolonial social order according to his philosophy of “sarvodaya” (translated as “the welfare of all”). This new social order was to be based on the principles of equality, communal self-sufficiency and the equitable distribution of wealth. In his vision, “the prince and the peasant, the wealthy and the poor, the employer and the employee are all on the same level”. Thereby, he and his followers were convinced that this new social order could only become a reality through radical education reform.

Gandhi called his concept for this reform of mass education “Nai Talim” (“new education”). In order to overcome the colonial legacies in education, he envisioned a new kind of education for all members of society and especially for the village population. In his view, there was a need for the masses to be educated “from the cradle to the grave”, meaning education for all different age groups. At the same time he also saw an urgent need for a radical change of values for education. Instead of concentrating on an urban colonial bureaucracy and economy, Nai Talim should contribute to the evolution of a new “village-minded” social order concentrating on “village reconstruction” and inculcate selflessness and the dignity of manual work in the young generation. In order to do so, teaching and learning were to be practical and based on a „productive trade“, a village craft or trade such as spinning, weaving or agriculture. Through this, Nai Talim should also be self-supporting in the sense that the costs for the salaries of the teachers could be met by the sale of the production of the education institutions. One stage of this all-encompassing education concept, “basic education” (seven years of primary schooling starting at the age of seven), was for the first time officially presented in 1937 and thereafter implemented on an experimental basis in different places throughout India.

On the backdrop of the situation of education and especially primary education at that time, the ideas of Nai Talim were quite revolutionary. Towards the end of Britain’s colonial rule, the majority of the population remained excluded from formal education and education policy was geared towards higher education. At the same time, manual work was highly stigmatized since it was mainly associated with the exploitation of cheap labour in the context of a colonial economy. Vocational and technical skills therefore were mainly not regarded as important and not part of the curriculum of official primary schooling. A complex factor in the predominant ideas about work and education in colonial India was also the category “caste”, operating as a legitimation of social stratification. This dominant complex of representations for thinking about work and education in colonial India is also called the “Brahminical-cum-colonial paradigm”, meaning the interrelation between colonial and high-caste ideas on education.

This paper analyses the debates about basic education between 1937 and 1949 and presents how the different actors working on the nation-wide implementation of basic education conceptualized equality and inequality in the context of education. The paper presents, how in the view of the practitioners of basic education the new education concept would bring about equality in terms of religion, class, caste and gender and therewith help to overcome colonial legacies in education. In the end, the paper will also look at the problems that arouse during the implementation of model institutions of basic education and the criticisms on the concept that arouse in the course of the debates.

Abstract Arun Kumar

Arun Kumar, Centre for Modern Indian Studies, Göttingen University

Histories of Miscalculation and the Politics of the Possible: The Reproduction and Production of Subjects in Colonial Industrial Schools
Inserted within the pages of contemporary accounts, yet mostly absent from the mainstream historiography are the histories of ‘industrial schools’ of colonial India; this paper is an exercise to uncover the records of these ‘absent institutions’ of educational and labour histories. Such industrial schools were set up by Christian missionaries, factory authorities and subsequently the colonial state to educate poor children who were deemed unfit for book-centred, “proper” schooling. This paper limits itself to the industrial and technical schools managed by the colonial authorities. As per the A. P. MacDonnell memorandum, forty-five industrial schools had already marked their presence with 1, 379 students and 4 schools of Arts with 655 students in British India by 1886. The number of industrial schools expanded as the requirement for skilled and docile labour grew in the labour market. The objective behind this joint venture of colonial officials and ‘native’ elites was to produce a modern disciplined, semi-skilled, and productive labour force out of unruly lower-caste artisans by dignifying manual labour. This further reinforced rather than erased social hierarchies. Industrial schools were envisaged as a space where the processes of social reproduction and material production would occurs simultaneously and within which economic productivity and manual labour was formulated as core. This process of reproduction and production was not constrained only by social and cultural inequalities but was also crucially shaped by the economic values of colonial political economy. However, reproduction and production processes did not always meet with grand success, as noted in the colonial state records. And these contradictory outcomes can be read as histories of subversions, failures and miscalculations. The contradictory outcomes provide a crucial entry point to enter this class reproduction debate from a different angle as these very institutional apparatuses could be subverted to produce very different end results by the actors involved. How to recover such a history from the dusty files of the archives is a crucial question, which concerns many historians. Colonial knowledge production on industrial and technical education is absent on the voices of pupils who attended these institutions and seems to be a confused, repetitive, and conflicted epistemic space. To recover the other side of story in order to unpack the categories of social and material reproduction, class and caste nexus, one has to look for alternative ways of doing history. How to reconfigure the presence of these voices and experiences in our histories? Reading histories of miscalculation opens up the possibility of a methodological procedure through which these absent voices and experiences can be recovered and interpreted to some extent. State formulates its policies with some calculations (as an experiment with some prospect of success). It is the failure of these policies that state records in order to measure its success or failure for future purpose, and these can be read as histories of miscalculations. These histories of miscalculations provide a glimpse of the other side of the story as part of its failure. This paper will be based on the reading of colonial records and contemporary writings.

Abstract 2014 Sumeet Mhaskar

Sumeet Mhaskar, Centre for Modern Indian Studies, Göttingen University


Schooling in the Times of Industrial Decline: A Study of Mumbai’s Mill Workers’ Household Decisions on Children Schooling

During the last two decades of the 20th century large scale industrial closures took place in major Indian cities such as Ahmedabad, Kanpur, Kolkata and Mumbai. The industrial closures resulted in  the retrenchment of a large amount of workforce as well as a sharp decline in the employment opportunities in the formal manufacturing sector. The implications of industrial closures on the workforce and to a certain extent on their families have received significant scholarly attention. However, there remains a major gap in the literature that investigates the effects of industrial decline  on workers’ children’s education. This paper attempts to fill this gap by examining the case of Mumbai’s mill workers’ household decisions on children’s schooling. The focus on children’s education is important as it determines in a significant way their future occupational preferences. In the context of Mumbai this issue becomes particularly significant as the city has transformed from an industry to a service sector economy which as a result requires a workforce with altogether different skills and knowledge. More importantly there has been a massive reduction in the better-paid employment opportunities for less educated rural labour migrants as well ex-millworkers children who could have worked in the textile mills like their predecessors. In former times despite attaining less education mill workers children managed to obtain better paid employment in the textile mills. Since such possibilities have shrunken in a significant way it is even more important to study their educational attainment. Against this backdrop, this paper addresses the following research question. How did the industrial decline and the eventual closures influence worker’s household decision-making with regard to their children’s education? To answer this question this paper relies on quantitative and qualitative data collected during August 2008 to August 2009 and December 2010 to January 2011. Interviews with ex-millworkers, trade unionists, school teachers will be used. Along with the archival documents this paper will also use a survey data of 924 ex-millworkers households collected during July-July 2009.

Abstract 2014 Emilija Zabiliute

Emilija Zabiliute, Centre for Global South Asian Studies, University of Copenhagen


Affective clinic and bodies in transition: A Primary Healthcare Centre in the Vicinity of the Sanjay Camp

This paper examines the ways in which the category of urban poor women is constructed in a governmental primary healthcare programme in Delhi, India, and the ways in which the women navigate the attempts to control, discipline and appropriate their bodies. Lack of infrastructure, economic resources and gender inequality facilitate the everyday violence and the inadequate health of the urban poor women. As most of the India’s urban poor live in precarious illegal settlements, their bodies become the targets not only of displacement, but also various health interventions that are designed ‘specially’ for the poor. Thus, some governmental programmes target only specific women’s health issues and are crucial in constructing the poor as a social group within the national and global discourse of development (Gupta 2012). The making of the category of the urban poor women is a process that is ongoing essentially through health interventions, which brings the question of the body into the focus. This paper is based on a fieldwork in an illegal settlement in the suburbs of New Delhi and its adjacent primary healthcare centre ran by the National Rural Health Mission, a programme designed for rural women and adapted for the urban poor. The paper uses reproductive health interventions like sterilization operations as a case to illustrate the ways in which the programme deals with women’s body and separates it from the ‘social’. Medical anthropologists have for a long attempted to address the body as social and avoid the Cartesian dualisms (Scheper-Hughes and Lock 1987). The Paper’s departure point is that health problems are integral with the everyday life of the urban poor and it is therefore problematic to separate the health issues from the social and structural problems of poverty and inequality. Bodies of the urban poor women here become fragmented and split between medical, family and individual realms. The paper also deals with women’s everyday negotiations of this fragmenting process and their undertake of sterilization operations as a way of asserting the integrity of their body.

Abstract 2014 Sudip Saha

Sudip Saha, Department of History, North-Eastern Hill University


Tropical Medicine and Colonial Enclave: Issues of Inequality in Assam Valley Tea Plantation

The concept of inequality has gained wide acceptance in the historical understanding of colonial development today. To locate the area of inequalities, the focus of attention is turned to major sites of colonial enclaves, and plantation has been considered as one of the thrust area wherein the uneven relationship between the capitalist practices of treating labourers as a mode of commodity and the inclusive application of tropical medicine (concerning itself with the contagions of the tropics) as a philanthropic model is mostly visible. The reason for selecting the plantation as an applied field of medicine was due to the economic interest of colonialism where a substantial number of labourers were involved in the production processes and their heath were often vulnerable because of the crucial existence of tropical diseases. But in course of time, the field of medicine became rhetorical because of the controversies surrounding the formulation and implementation of health policies and medicine and health care eventually began to be treated as agencies through which colonialism actually progressed further. As a result, the health system devised by the planters and the medical establishments, who projected themselves as ‘providers and protectors’ of the workers, mirrored a class structure through control over the bodies of the workers, stratification of the residential places and health institutions within the plantation. To put the matter in simple terms, this paper makes an attempt to explore the dual character of tropical medicine and the practices of health inequalities in the tea plantations of Assam Valley, a frontier enclave situated in the north-eastern part of colonial India, considering the questions of internal migration of labourers, the system of indentureship in recruiting labour and the estate sanitation within the plantations. In addition, an attempt will also be made throughout the entire paper to show how health and hygiene was used as a means of class exploitation among the plantation workers. 

Abstract 2014 Dominik Merdes

Dominik Merdes, Department for the History of Pharmacy and Science, Technische Universität Braunschweig

The Emergence of Chemotherapy in Colonial India: Modern Medicine and Inequality

During the first two decades of the 20th century drug production has changed with the coalescence of flows of tropical medicine, pharmaceutical industries, parasites and philanthropic capital, that was neither restricted to the “centre” nor to the “periphery”. Within this process the “birth of modern chemotherapy” took place, an emblem of (neo)colonial claims to hegemony that arose in European public with drugs like Salvarsan as an allegedly European invention.

In my PhD project “The Production of a Pharmacon – A Cartography of the Kala-Azar and the Antimonials”, a critical examination of the tropical epidemical disease and its therapy between the  late 19th century and the late 1920s, I analyse this transformation, particularly with regard to the excluding power relations that constituted cognitive processes. The history of kala-azar is closely tied to British India and to the history of modern chemotherapeutics, i.e. drugs for infectious diseases. In opposition to widespread myths that locate the origin of modern chemotherapy in the minds of great white men, I am conceptualizing the production of drugs, following Gilles Deleuze und Félix Guattari, as a machinic assemblage that comes into being through the interactions of heterogeneous elements like trypanosomes, dyestuffs, industrial capital, diseases, microscopes and physicians. Starting from the history of kala-azar my talk focuses on reconfigurations of clusters of inequality that came about with the transformation of the medical machine. On the one hand modern  chemotherapy emerged from the exploitation of inequality that worked along hierarchical pejorative categories like caste, class, race, gender, community and devaluated, for example, the coolies working on the tea plantations of Assam.

Disease arose from inequality, and the object of hegemonic medicine was constituted in inequality. On the other hand perceptions of healing and the subject-formation of its human agents changed. The constellation supported and naturalised constructs such as patents, property and the individual possessive subject both in “Indian” and in “European” medical communities. The core issues are the reconfigurations of inequality within the medical profession and within the doctor-patient relationship in the backdrop of the Indian independence movement. For the community of western-educated indigenous physicians was an integral part of the machinic assemblage that mediated “western” hegemonic medicine and conveyed European male constructed patterns of relation between subject and object, physician and patient. At the same time emerged a new quality in the very core of hegemonic medicine as with the formation of modern chemotherapy, which just cannot be limited to Europe, entanglements between medicine and capitalism intensified.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Abstract 2014 Nida Sajid

Nida Sajid, University of Toronto

Invisible Caste: Articulating Dalit-Muslim Identity in India

While terms like ‘Dalit’ and ‘Muslim’ are indelible markers of caste and religion in political discourse, they also carry within themselves a profound questioning of the relationship between the nation-state and the construction of the citizen-subject in postcolonial India. In this paper, I investigate the relationship between processes of identity formation and production of inequality in discourses of caste and religion by focusing on three interrelated objectives. First, I explore how a distinctly subaltern Muslim identity – Dalit Muslim – is emerging in North India as a corollary of Dalit empowerment to forge alliances of political and aesthetic sensibility between different minorities. Second, I examine how Dalit-Muslim writers suggest an alternate model of belonging and ‘citizenship’ that overcomes the shortcomings of exclusionary identity labels created by one’s censorial membership in the singular ‘official’ discourse of nation-state and citizenry. Finally, I illustrate how Dalit-Muslim literature has ushered a new phase of ethical responsibility to resist the praxis of communal politics by exposing the possible overlap between registers of difference and marginalization.
In methodological terms, this paper uncovers the spillover effects of inequality from caste to religious boundaries through an examination of archival documents, legal debates, and literary and theoretical interventions of writers like Ali Anwar, Ashfaq Hussain Ansari, Ziauddin Barni and Abdul Bismillah. The historiographic nature of this investigation also challenges the premise of both state policy and public opinion which tends to assume an essentialist separation between Hindu and Muslim communities in India. The overall scarcity of an identifiable body of critical work exploring caste-like practices amongst Muslims creates the need for more research and analysis in this field – an analysis that is interdisciplinary in its organization and utilizes a diverse body of literary and archival resources. I intend to fill this lacuna in current research with my paper by enabling a nuanced understanding of the vacillating overlaps between caste politics and religious practices in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar in North India. From literary and ethnographic writings of the late 19th century to the 21st century rhetoric of solidarity politics, I examine the fabrication of a seamless narrative of a homogenous Indian Muslim community that conceals asymmetrical ordering of power in nation-state’s construction of its citizen-subjects.

Abstract 2014 Andrea Hagn

Andrea Hagn, Department Architecture, ETH Zurich


Of “old bastis” and “new slums”: Persistent and emerging inequalities in the socio-spatial fabric of the temple town Puri in the context of government programmes for slum improvement

With this paper I would like to contribute to rethinking inequalities in South Asia, with a particular focus on the ‘intersections’ of various markers of difference and inequality in India. In the context of two ‘flagship’ urban development programmes, the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) and the Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY), my research explores what makes urban poor communities successful in accessing these schemes to improve their houses and neighbourhoods. Acknowledging that the concept of urban poor communities in itself deserves reflection, the research in Puri is guided by the question who in Puri has had or will have access to these schemes, first?
The emerging socio-spatial fabric of the temple town contains old bastis, homogeneous neighbourhoods with a particular caste identity and occupation linked to the Jagannath temple. While old bastis are ‘traditionally’ socio-economically marginalised communities, they often own land. Land ownership, however, is one of two markers that distinguish these
communities from new slums; they are, secondly, local communities. In a racist urban sociality that speaks of the beach facing an old village of fishermen from Andhra Pradesh as “the African beach” (in fact, it is the biggest new slum in Puri), being from Puri and “always linked with Jagannath” makes a difference when it comes to accessing BSUP. Yet, despite their privileged access to BSUP, old bastis suffer from persistent inequalities when it comes to dealing with bureaucracy and politicians in order to cope with the failure of BSUP. It remains to be seen whether their experience with bureaucracy and politicians as well as other key stakeholders is different from the experience of communities in new slums, the heterogeneous “mixed communities” of migrants from Orissa and beyond. As encroachers and illegals, these are now, for the first time, surveyed and mapped under RAY, the “Slum- Free India Mission”. While again the question is who is on the “list of RAY slums”, it is even more important to see who will be in the first phase of RAY.
With “new slums” representing a major vote bank to local politicians, I argue that RAY represents a turning point in the transformation of the socio-spatial and political fabric of Puri.

Abstract 2014 David Devadas

David Devadas, Institute for Asian and Africa Studies, Humboldt-University Berlin

Hierarchy as State Strategy: Feudatories in the Politics and Economics of Jammu & Kashmir

This paper describes how the State has deployed feudal and other hierarchical forces strategically to prevent restiveness among the followers of these patriarchal forces. Although Jammu and Kashmir had the most radical land reforms outside the Communist bloc, sectarian authorities who were among the biggest landlords during Dogra rule (1846-1947) were allowed to retain some of their vast holdings beyond the legal ceiling. On the political front, the State helped figures from these regal, tribal and other hierarchies to win seats in a series of rigged elections – ever since a Constituent assembly was formed in 1951 with 73 of 75 members `elected’ unopposed. The paper argues that these State strategies have strengthened these feudal forces, contradicting its stated objective to promote equality. Over the past 15 years, a grandson of the last Maharaja, the state’s leading Shia `pir,’ a scion of the rival Shia feudatory family, the son of the state’s leading Gujjar `pir,’ two Imams in Kargil district and the Imam of Doda’s Jama Masjid have either been ministers or held other powerful positions. A leading Rinpoche and a member of Leh’s erstwhile royal family represented Ladakh in India’s Parliament until the beginning of the 1980s.

This paper presents hitherto unpublished facts from the author’s field research over the past four years. It focuses the interaction of politics, geopolitics, economics and patriarchal culture on the matrix of religion, sect, ethnicity and caste in this state. It highlights the vertical and lateral structures of inequality which the State has in effect promoted. It not only interrogates the role of the State in propping up established structures of inequality in the political and economic spheres. It investigates the extent to which the State has, in so doing, deepened social divides and the consciousness of identities based on sect, ethnicity or religion. On the other hand, it goes into the pattern of repressive State responses to grassroots movements in different parts of the state since the 1960s. It demonstrates that, in trying to control sections of the population through such feudatory forces, the State has undermined egalitarian and homogenizing tendencies in society, as well as democratic institutions.

Abstract 2014 Sabrina Regmi

Sabrina Regmi, Ochanomizu University

Unequal Development: Micro-Business Creation and Gendered Outcomes in Rural Nepal

Mainstream development theory relies on the assumption that microcredit /microenterprise creation provides equal opportunity to both men and women. It is perceived as an equitable strategy that integrates men and women in development regardless of their gendered identity and transforms unequal gendered roles and relations. Development projects promote it as a promising strategy to achieve gender equal outcomes such as women's empowerment, while the primary goal remains household poverty reduction. This paper examines the strength and weakness of microcredit/ microenterprise development projects and gender mainstreaming (integration) policy in empowering female beneficiaries of rural Nepal. It seeks to determine, whether microcredit/microenterprise creation has potential to transform unequal gender roles and relations in Nepal's rural household by looking at the intra- as well as extra -household gender roles and relations and power dynamics. The findings show that gender roles and relations are changing, with women's opportunity to microcredit access and microenterprise creation. Women are now working in men's domain and men are gradually seeing their wives as partners if not co-equals. However the change has brought flexible yet rigid gender division of labour, from which men benefit more than women. Whereas husband's workload decreases with wives' share in the household income, wives' workload doubles and sometimes triples. While women's work outside may be appreciated by the relaxed and healthy husbands, it may severely affect women's physical and psychological health. Thus while the goal of overall household poverty alleviation could be met by women's microenterprise creation, it may come in the cost of women's disempowerment. Moreover the neoliberal conceptualization of empowerment based on equal opportunity and integration (gender mainstreaming) is not applicable in Nepal's context as it largely ignores the socio-cultural and contextual factors that rather tends to limit women's choices, intensifies their gendered roles and marginalizes them while mainstreaming males in development.

Abstract 2014 Anna-Lena Wolf

Anna-Lena Wolf, University Bern


The Claim to Equality and the Right to Development in India

The struggle for equality in post-colonial India has been framed in a language of non-discrimination or affirmative action mainly with regard to religion, race, caste or sex. These four categories are acknowledged in the Indian constitution (article 15) to ensure equality to Indian subjects. Moreover, recently persons with disabilities were additionally brought into focus (Kannabiran 2012). The present paper seeks to broaden the study of equality in India by focusing on the question, how different notions and claims to equality are negotiated regarding the right to development in India.

In 1986 the United Nations proclaimed the right to development, which is included in the so-called third-generation human rights or solidarity rights. The notion of development has played a crucial role in global politics ever since the era of colonialism. With regard to British rule in the Indian subcontinent the image of underdeveloped and primitive Indians helped to justify a „civilizing mission“ and to generate and maintain structures of dominance. Nowadays „development“ remains a core concept in international relations, although it has been highly criticized in post-development discourses. The historical and contemporary discourses on the concept of development evoke different meanings of equality such as equality before the law, distributive justice or equality of opportunity, for instance. The present paper aims to show how notions and claims to equality are currently negotiated in India regarding actors engaged in human rights and the right to development, including national and federal commissions (e.g. National Human Rights Commission in Delhi), law institutions (Supreme Court in Delhi and High Courts in federal capital cities), international and local NGOs (e.g. Human Rights Law Network in Delhi) as well as individuals (e.g. politicians, judges, activists, claimants, academics). Central questions are: What are the impacts of the global propagation of the right to development and the right to equality on local concepts and practices? How do implementations and consequently interpretations of the right to development and the idea of equality on a local level in turn transform meanings of universal human rights in global discourses?

Abstract 2014 Jana Tschurenev

Jana Tschurenev, Centre for Modern Indian Studies, Göttingen University


Mothers, Wives, Teachers: Agendas of Female Education in Colonial India

Sociological and historical studies which analyse the nexus between class stratification and education, such as Bourdieu’s concept of reproduction, or Willis’ exploration of “how working class kids get working class jobs”, often center on the question of how education systems tend to uphold the existing patterns of social inequality. The literature on female education, in contrast, tends to foreground questions of social change and individual empowerment. By contrasting different experiments in female education in nineteenth century India, this paper outlines some of the contradictory agendas and effects of female education within and on the colonial social order.

From the 1820s onwards, female education became a prominent site for debates about social reform. In Bengal and Bombay, British missionaries and the novel education societies (such as the Calcutta School Book Society or the Bombay Education Society) started to promote the education of girls and young women belonging to the urban underclass of European descent – which is the first case study this paper focuses on. Lessons in Christian morality and needle work were supposed to prepare them for their role as wives and mothers within “their respective social sphere.” Given the strong Christian agenda, and the promotion of the evangelical model of female domesticity, which was also part of the first efforts of British missionaries to “diffuse” new forms of education among Indian women, female education soon turned into a site of competing visions of social order and the formation of cultural identities. Women’s role as mothers of future generations became increasingly politicized in the course of the nineteenth century.

At the same time, female education became a crucial field for the development of women’s reform activism and women’s professional activities. From the 1820s onwards, British women used the engagement with the imperial “civilizing mission” as a way to enter the public sphere, to go abroad as teachers of female schools and act as missionaries among women. Towards the later nineteenth century, a strong link was formed between feminist activism and the promotion of female education in many countries. In this context, the second case study of this paper focuses on the educational activities of Pandita Ramabai (1858-1922), and the ways in which she linked the education of high caste Hindu widows to questions of the social emancipation of women. Her case is particularly interesting since it reveals the nationalist opposition towards the project of modern public female education, but also the limits of feminist emancipation within the caste frame. Applying an intersectionality perspective on inequality and empowerment, the paper points to the contradictory effects of (women’s engagement with) female education in colonial India.

Abstract 2014 Raphael Susewind

Raphael Susewind, University of Bielefeld and University of Oxford


Middle class moralities and masculine aspirations: Anti-poor rhetoric in Lucknow's contemporary Muslim landscape

Lucknow, the capital of India’s largest and one of her poorest states, can be a strange place. Former rulers speak of their nostalgia for a past long gone – but they don’t seem melancholic at all, having found new ways to sustain their wealth in the real estate boom. Politicians promise affirmative action for less fortunate Muslims and win elections on this count – though few actually believe them. And aspiring young clerics propagate a masculine morality for the emerging middle classes that explicitly blames the poor for their own predicament.

It is on the latter phenomenon that this paper puts its focus. At the example of Maulana Abid Bilgrami, a locally prominent Shia orator, I show how a conception of ethical life stripped of social responsibility and reduced to a (gendered) code of propriety – effectively a checklist of do’s and dont’s in individual conduct – takes root among Lucknow’s Muslims (despite subversive counter-trends, which shall also be mentioned). Based on an extensive analysis of Bilgrami’s videotaped sermons as well as my own ethnographic material from 16 months of fieldwork in the neighbourhood where he is most prominent, I further contextualize this “middle class morality” (Saavala 2010) in local class rivalry, masculine aspirations and the changing political economy of real estate. The entanglement of religious rhetoric with class and gender demonstrates that inequality is not only based in the complexities of social stratification, but also needs to be justified and sustained in social imagination – in this case through the startling project of an Islamic ethic without equality.