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thanks to Frank Conlon of H-ASIA for passing this LONG message along Conference: "The State of Hurt: Sentiment, Politics, Censorship", Delhi University (South Campus), October 12-13, 2012 ***************************************************************** Ed note: This conference announcement reflects a gathering later this week in Delhi on a subject of enormous importance for the life of India's civil society--the politics of the 'hurting of feelings' of essentialist groups of people, eg, religion, caste, community. The notice as posted on H-Announcements contains a general description, but is lacking any information as to the time or venue of the conference. A Google search led me to a Facebook page which provides much more complete information which I am adding to this post at the end. Because presumably only readers in the Delhi area could anticipate being able to attend this event, I include the schedule of presentations on the assumption that the end-product should be familiar to any scholar interested in contemporary India--or, come to that, just about anywhere else in the world where identity politics is practiced. [SEE APPENDIX AT END OF ANNOUNCEMENT] FFC ---------------------------------------------------------------------- From: H-Net Announcements: The State of Hurt: Sentiment, Politics, Censorship Location: India Conference Date: 2012-10-12 (in 3 days) Date Submitted: 2012-10-08 Announcement ID: 197690 Situated at a historic conjuncture of mass-mediated outrage, this conference will attempt to interrogate the political register of hurt vis--vis its conditions of production and retaliation. Recent events such as the furore over a public reading from Salman Rushdies banned novel The Satanic Verses, the fractious debates in the Indian Parliament over an Ambedkar cartoon in NCERT school curriculum and the arbitrary removal of a Ramanujan essay on The Ramayana from university textbooks are only symptomatic of larger tendencies in political expression. The latter has invented a new vocabulary of vulnerable political subjectivities, constantly living in fear of difference and critique. It has then periodically called upon the sovereign state to revive its pledge for democratic pluralism through punitive-prohibitive checks on the freedom of expression or protest. The currency of hurt as a claim to and pretext for political correctionism and often taking recourse to the logic of the anti-popular as anti-state has helped institute a machinery of censorship, ever governed by the economies and excesses of a marketplace of outrage. It is this ready vocabulary of a potential victimhood and how it can become an excuse for repressive regimes of state-vigilantism that we seek to map through dialogues and discussions at the conference. Moving past the clinical notion of hurt as bodily harm, one needs to discern the definitional contours of this new economy of fear and pain. What constitutes the tangibility of hurt, in order to be recognized by the political apparatus as a sentiment worthy of redressal? Or, in other words, when and with how much of it does hurt become political? Does it need to be reciprocally collectivized in order to gain political credence and visibility? Would some individual litigants petition in the Delhi High Court against an apparently defamatory depiction of Bharat Mata in a film song count as a case of hurt? Or, must the litigant as indeed he did necessarily reference all Indian citizens in his PIL as a precondition for the seriousness (because, publicness) of his being hurt? Is the political emergency of hurt, therefore, in its inherence within a logic of the community -- the people-as-state? And does it hence empower the state to act on behalf of its citizens, by summarily outlawing difference as criminal a social therapy for a public injury? Significantly, Section 153 of the IPC makes a criminal offence of anything that promotes disharmony or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will between different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes and communities. Does hurt then authorize the law-court [read: sovereign power] to counter-hurt or counter-offend as the only legitimate cure for it? Or, is it that the authoritarian state manufactures and strategically facilitates different articulations of hurt to potentially eliminate every threat to its own constitutional sovereignty, every trace of dissent? Inasmuch as the epistemological validity of hurt is in its being only a claim based on perception(s) of potential threat, it is yet unreal(ized). And despite its logic of a pure possibility of harm or pain, this political definition of hurt as claim-against-threat has mobilized an entire history of real oppression through legislative action. While the states condemnation of motivated fundamentalist attempts to hurt (through divisive rhetoric and hate speech) must of course be lauded, when does power end up using popular sentiment as a pretext for self-defence? While on the one hand dominant majoritarian forces have repeatedly injured the sentiments of religious-ethnic communities, they have on the other ironically fetishized hurt as the only guarantor of a status quo. M.F. Hussain, arguably Indias most eminent painter, was charged with hurting the sentiments of the people by the court in 2006, for depicting female Hindu deities in the nude, and faced death threats from various nationalist groups in India. Arundhati Roy, writer and political activist, was charged with sedition in 2010 for a purported anti-India speech. The four writers, who read from The Satanic Verses at the Jaipur Literature Festival in 2012, were threatened with physical harm, to say nothing of the author of the text, Salman Rushdie, who has been labouring under the excesses begotten by the fatwa against him. A peoples Chief Minister in an Indian state made way for the first anniversary of her term in office by ordering the arrest of a university professor for circulating via e-mail a cartoon graphic of her. The instances have been many, but it would seem from these instances, that the many people of India remain in a ready state of hurtfulness, amenable to the slightest provocation, the smallest incitement, and least aggravation. It is this state of ready hurt that led senior journalist and editor, Mukund Padmanabhan, to term ours a republic of hurt sentiments. This conference aims to bring together all these different events to bear upon the politics of hurt, and investigate the many ways in which such hurt is expressed, engendered and elaborated. Dr. Rina Ramdev Associate Professor Department of English Sri Venkateswara College University of Delhi Email: email@example.com ========================================================== APPENDIX from the conference Facebook page: .. Venue: Conference Hall 117, South Campus, Delhi University. UGC National Conference organized by English Literary Association, Sri Venkateswara College in collaboration with Department of English, DU. Speakers: Romila Thapar, Mushirul Hasan, Janaki Nair, PK Datta, Uma Chakravarti, Lakshmi Subramanian, Shohini Ghosh,Tapan Basu, Radhika Chopra, Prasanta Chakravarty, Anup Dhar, Mukul Manglik, Dilip Simeon, Githa Hariharan, Krishna Menon, Lawrence Liang, Sudhanva Deshpande, Vinita Chandra, Karen Gabriel, Siddharth Narrain, Soumyabrata Choudhury, Paromita Vohra, Vishwajyoti Ghosh, Sunalini Kumar, Akhil Katyal and Gautam Bhan Programme Schedule: Day 1: October 12, 2012 (Friday) 9:00 am: Inauguration 9:30 am-11:00 am Panel 1 The Hermeneutics of Hurt Chair: Mushirul Hasan Dilip Simeon, Between Speech and Silence Shohini Ghosh, The Alchemy of Hate and Hurt: Hate Speech and the Politics of Censorship Anup Dhar, What if the Hurt is Real? 11:00 am-11:15 am: Tea 11:15 am-12:45 pm Panel 2 The Hurting State, Stating Hurt Chair: Sambudha Sen Mushirul Hasan, The Muslim Hurt Radhika Chopra, Commemorating Hurt Akhil Katyal, The Re-ascription of Hurt: When Abu Gharaib came to Kashmir 12:45 pm-1:30 pm: Lunch 1:30 pm-3:00 pm Panel 3 Knowledge and its Discontents Chair: Shohini Ghosh Prasanta Chakravarty, Silences and Conditionals Krishna Menon, Revisiting Harm, Humour and Humiliation Mukul Manglik, AK Ramanujans Tryst with the Politics of Hurt Sentiments 3:00 pm-3:15 pm: Tea 3:15 pm-4:45 pm Panel 4 Gating Communities, Sensing the Political Chair: Lawrence Liang Sunalini Kumar, Sense and Sentimentality: A Political Fable Tapan Basu, Writing Humiliation, Righting Humiliation: Marking the Dalit Moment in the History of Indias Untouchables and Beyond Soumyabrata Choudhury, Which is the Body that Hurts? Ambedkars Analytical Question vis--vis the Experience of Violence 5:00 pm onwards Stand-Up Comedy by Gautam Bhan Day 2: October 13, 2012 (Saturday) 9:30 am-11:00 am Panel 5 Hurt Selves: In Protest and Performance Chair: Tapan Basu Lakshmi Subramanian, A Plea for Tamil Music: Politics of Hurt Sudhanva Deshpande, The Discreet Charm of Identity Politics Vinita Chandra, Giti Chandra and Rina Ramdev, Of JAB and Hurt: Exploring Spaces of Resistance within the University 11:00 am-11:15 am: Tea 11:30 am-12:45 pm Panel 6 Dirty Picture: Grimy Transgressions within Film and New Media Chair: PK Datta Lawrence Liang, Publicity, Privacy and the Erotics of Law and Scandal Paromita Vohra, Unsealed with a Kiss: Intimacy, Cinema and Outrage' Karen Gabriel, Pleasure, Excess and Containment in the Field of Vision 12:45 pm-1:30 pm: Lunch 1:30 pm3:00 pm Panel 7 The New Republics of Hurt Chair: Lakshmi Subramanian PK Datta, Communities of Hurt and the Politics of Sentiment Uma Chakravarti, A Different Kind of Hurt: Understanding the Politics of Sentiment Siddharth Narrain, Hate, Hurt and the Law: Examining the Law on Hate Speech in India 3:00 pm-3:15 pm: Tea 3:15 pm-5:15 pm Panel Discussion: Romila Thapar, Janaki Nair, Githa Hariharan, Vishwajyoti Ghosh 5:15 pm-5:30 pm: Valedictory 5:30 pm onwards: Student Performances ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- About Speakers/ Papers: DILIP SIMEON 'Between Speech and Silence' If Aristotle's definition of humans as political animals (zoon politikon) is true, equally true is the proposition that politics is based on speech. Politics involves speech about common concerns - between equals, even if the equality lasts only for the duration of the communication. Where there is no speech, there is no politics. The advent of violence implies the end of speech. It also implies the weakness of the violent actors. The exercise of control based upon violence and intimidation signifies a subtraction of power, because as Gandhi said, what is granted under fear can be retained only as long as the fear lasts. Tyrants are the most unstable rulers, because they possess implements of enforcement, but lack power. When sentiment is used as a means to dominate the speech of others by way of force, then this reference to sentiment symbolizes tyranny, not democracy. It is also the enforcement of public deceit, because what is being stated is not that I am offended, and the reasons thereof, but that I propose to be violent and destructive unless my demands are accepted. So called hurt sentiment has now become the cutting edge of a campaign to replace democracy with mob rule. Dilip Simeon is a well-known labour historian and author. He taught history at Ramjas College from 1974 till 1994. From 1998 till 2003 he worked on a conflict-mitigation project with Oxfam; and is now chairperson of the Aman Trust, which works to reduce violent conflict. He has been a visiting scholar in Surat, Sussex, Chicago, Leiden and Princeton. His thesis, The Politics of Labour Under Late Colonialism, was published in 1995; and his first novel, Revolution Highway in September 2010. He was an active participant in the first phase of the Naxalite movement. From 1984 onward, he participated in the Sampradayikta Virodhi Andolan. SHOHINI GHOSH 'The Alchemy of Hate and Hurt: Hate Speech and Censorship' Hate speech involves words or images that promote hatred towards particular groups or individuals or convey hatred and prejudice based on race, religion, gender and/or some social grouping. Internationally, hate speech is the generic term for speech attacks on race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation or any other social grouping. Advocates of suppressing hate speech claim that this kind of speech promotes discrimination and violence against those it describes. The protection of hate speech has been a bitter bone of contention among those who want to protect the Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression. While acknowledging the centrality of censorship in this debate, the presentation will attempt to present a series of reflections on wounding, the many `states of injury and what I will describe as a `hierarchy of hurt. Shohini Ghosh is Professor at the AJK Mass Communication Centre at Jamia Millia Islamia. She is the author of 'Fire: A Queer Film Classic' (2010) published by Arsenal Pulp Press, Vancouver/Orient paperbacks, Delhi. Her documentary Tales of the Night Fairies (2002) is on the sex workers movement in Calcutta and an intervention in the feminist debates on the decriminalization of sex work. Ghosh works on popular cinema, documentary, censorship and issues concerning media and sexuality. ANUP DHAR 'What, if the hurt is Real?' This paper looks at hurt at two related levels. One is at the level of the experience of hurt: who is hurt? Who can hurt? When and how is one hurt? Is nearness/relatedness the condition of being hurt? The other is the level of the response to hurt; and the politics (at times, mobilization and consolidation) around hurt. While treatment (that is akin to the response and the politics) may at times by far overtake the menace of the disease (that is akin to the experience of hurt), the pain/suffering of disease can nevertheless be ignored. The ground of experience cannot be erased by the groundlessness (or the instrumental use of the rhetoric of hurt, or the irrational, at times politically incorrect nature) of the response. One cannot disavow the experience pole through a denouncement of the response pole. The paper shall argue that if the phenomenology of pain/suffering attends to one pole of the issue of hurt, the concept of the political attends to the other; and the uncanny, perhaps politically perplexing response of those at the receiving end need to be understood not in terms of the accepted/conventional idioms of resistance but from what Cornel West calls ontological wounding. An argument premised on one pole (that is the political) cannot cancel the other pole (here pain/suffering), necessarily. The paper shall understand the experience of hurt, again, at two related levels; it would ask: should one approach hurt through the question of the really real, or could it be approached through the perspective of the Lacanian Real. Anup Dhar is Associate Professor at the School of Human Studies, Ambedkar University, Delhi. A trained doctor, he has been a Research Fellow in Women's Studies at The Asiatic Society, Kolkata and a Fellow in Cultural Studies at the Centre for the Study of Culture and Society (CSCS), Bangalore. He has also taught at the School of Women's Studies, Jadavpur University, Christ University-Bangalore, University of Calcutta and Symbiosis Institute of Mass Communication. He is the Research Coordinator of CUSP an applied research programme on Rethinking Mental Health. He was one of the founder members of From the Margins: a journal of critical theory in a postcolonial setting Kolkata (1998-2003). His publications include 'Dislocation and Resettlement in Development: From Third World to World of the Third' (2009, co-authored by A. Chakrabarti) and 'Global Capitalism and World of the Third' (2011, co-authored with A. Chakrabarti and S. Cullenberg). He is currently completing a book titled 'The Secret Politics of Ab-Original Psychoanalysis: Fort-Da between the Windscreen and the Rear-view Mirror'. RADHIKA CHOPRA 'Commemorating Hurt' The storming of the Golden Temple, a Sikh sacred site, and its premier sacred buildings, by the Indian army on 6 June 1984, is commemorated as Ghallughara Diwas (Day of Genocide) every year in the first week of June. Evoking a sense of continuity across space and time, the meaning of Ghallughara Diwas has nevertheless altered significantly. This paper traces the performance of the commemorative ritual at two sites of its enactment. At the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India, the commemoration is a ritualized critique of state violence, continually referencing the devastation of the Akal Takht while celebrating martyrs killed in the army action. Within Temple celebrations, a sense of a restoration of order and divine authority prevail. The ritual referencing to the hurt inflicted on community and temporal authority, embodied by the Akal Takht, coupled with the merging of individual leaders of Khalistan within the generalized category of martyr, eclipse the charisma of individuals, to reassert the order of the collective. But subtle shifts in meanings surface through the performances shift and alter the site of hurt away from the mutilated Takht to the militant-martyr. Disappeared Persons are the focus of ritual observances among the Sikh Diaspora in London. The assertion of trauma and loss of homeland as central to discursive formations of hurt link claims for political asylum and rights of residence with Human Rights discourses. Simultaneously, visually dramatic processions in central London and huge digital displays, spectacularly present the sangat (the sacred collective) to itself. Ritual enactments address the estrangement, distance and loss that cohere around the idea of hurt within the Diaspora through recreated event. The literal and metaphoric resurrection of the event becomes a way of inserting the migrant self within the political histories of Homeland and keeping alive the sense of collective hurt. Radhika Chopra is the author of Militant and Migrant: The Politics and Social History of Punjab (Routledge, 2011) and co-editor of South Asian Masculinities: Contexts of Change, Sites of Continuity (2004), among other publications. Her areas of research and interest are the sociologies of Punjab, gender and masculinities, visual anthropology and she is currently working on the politics of the museum of the Darbar Sahib. She has curated two film-cum-discussion series Making Migrants: Dialogues through Film (2009), and School in Cinema (2004), and an exhibition Men and Masculinities. She is on the Editorial Board of Culture Society and Masculinities, Mens Studies Press and Sikh Formations: Religion, Culture, Theory, Taylor and Francis. Most recently she convened a panel Shards of Memory: Memorials, Commemorations, Remembrance at the 40th IIS World Congress, The International Institute of Sociology, and the Annual Conference, ASA2012. AKHIL KATYAL 'The Reascription of Hurt: When Abu Gharaib came to Kashmir' When the hurting body is the State, the expression of that hurt is a political crisis. The State turns this crisis into an opportunity for censorship by a reascription of the cause of this hurt. After the allegations of crying wolf run aground, the branches of the State try and bury the evidence of the hurt by the logic of keeping 'law and order'. Justice, in this etiological turn, is the cause of hurt not its salve. In Sept, 2012, the J&K Home Ministry rejected the testing of DNA from the unidentified graves, as desired by the SHRC as it would 'hurt the local sentiments' of the people, 'attract undesired media attention, cause prolonged trauma' and would 'also act as a trigger point...for causing serious law and order disturbances'. I will look into the case of the frantic sharing of the 8 Sept, 2010 video 'India's Abu Gharib (sic)' where Indian security forces paraded young Kashmiri men naked in a field. Once the video began to dig its heels into the internet, the State police formally ascribed the cause of hurt to the very sharing of the video, not to the actions within it. The police threatened to sue Facebook and Youtube vis-a-vis the video for 'attribut[ing] it to security forces with the intention of maligning them and spreading disaffection among the people'. In Kashmir, the cause of hurt is the sharing of hurt. The State attempts to mute the crisis etiologically by appropriating the language of trauma. However, the censored material spills over the ban, and finally, causes to split the State and pit its branches against one another. Akhil Katyal finished his PhD at SOAS and currently teaches literature at Delhi University. He is currently writing the biography of the poet Agha Shahid Ali. He blogs at akhilkatyalpoetry.blogspot.com. PRASANTA CHAKRAVARTY 'Silences and Conditionals' One of the significant ways in which literary interpretation and institutional building can come together is by calibrating and managing an experiential notion of political hurt through an ethics of silence: in the way, one reads texts, expects a community of professional readers to engage with texts, books, other cultural artefacts and to finally take it over methodologically for running and strategizing the day to day governance of our educational and research institutions. This mode could at once be deeply ethical, quiescent and anarchic and yet thoroughly stand as modern and professional in its ruthlessness and reach. The paper will try to unfold, by means of textually reading this ethical approach as practised by a few influential literary scholars from South Asia, a pattern by which the excesses of hurt and rage are rationalized and channelized in order to churn responsible citizens and nation builders. Prasanta Chakravarty works at the cusp of arts and political philosophy. His principal research interest lies in heterodox and non-conformist political and religious writings /movements of early modern Europe where he explores the connections between the hermeneutical-interpretive traditions of literature, especially those encountered in heterodox pamphlets and treatises and the public political nature of those writings. Like Parchment in the Fire: Literature and Radicalism in the English Civil War (Routledge, New York and London, 2006) investigates these interests. He is also deeply invested in contemporary debates on humanities studies--globally and in South Asia. He is Associate Professor of English at The University of Delhi. KRISHNA MENON 'Revisiting Harm, Humour and Humiliation' Free speech and expression despite being central to the definition of a liberal society, is a very contentious issue. It is so because this right is enjoyed within a sovereign modern nation-state that has immense control and surveillance, censorship initiated by the state is a constant threat to the right to free speech and expression. Free speech in any democratic society can however only be a limited right and not absolute because speech and expression we need to remind ourselves takes place within a specific context of competing values and hierarchies. My paper will re-present the principles on which liberal societies restrict the right to free speech and expression. John Stuart Mills harm principle suggests that speech that could cause harm to others would need to be regulated and indeed restricted. Liberals find it very difficult to defend free speech once it can be demonstrated that it invades the rights of others or causes harm. The other principle invoked to restrict free speech and expression in a liberal society is the offense principle postulated by Joel Feinberg. This principle is based on the idea that sometimes speech could be deeply offensive to some people while not necessarily causing harm. Most liberals today would adopt the offense principle along with the Millian harm principle; they would extend the need for some sort of curtailment of free speech on the grounds that sometimes it is not consistent with the basic principles of a liberal democracy. Thus for instance, speech that suggests that some sections of citizens are inferior to others on grounds of their caste or sexual orientation would need regulation. The claim is that free speech cannot be automatically privileged. The liberal idea that the free market place of ideas would help discover and understand the truth is however not borne out in the contexts of highly unequal and hierarchical societies such as ours. Such a free market place of ideas does not exist, mitigated as it is by oppression based on caste, gender, class etc. However, the centrality of free speech in emancipatory movements needs to be simultaneously stated. Dworkin, Rawls, Raz, Ely and Sustein are among the contemporary theorists whose positions on free speech need appreciation. What happens when humour is seen as humiliating? Would this justify a ban on such expressions? Here, I would refer to the Ambedkar cartoon controversy and examine the alleged lack of humour on the part of Dalit groups. I would place this discussion in the context of the feminist critique of sexist humour. Dalit groups have argued in a similar vein that while the cartoon might appear innocuous to upper caste viewers it is deeply offensive and indeed humiliating to Dalits. Clearly, caste mediates our perception of cartoons and other similar representations. In this context should censorship be the answer? A section of feminists in India have realized and now argue that censorship by the state is always a dangerous suggestion, rather political engagement and the creation of a public culture of debate and dissent might be a better option. In that vein, I would like to propose that while the Dalit objections are valid- and my paper will address the nature of these objections, but in the final instance it would be better to create spaces where such cartoons or similar representations can be debated and discussed rather than ask for a ban. Such a ban would facilitate the states repeated encroachment into the sphere of citizens right to learn, understand and critique. Krishna Menon is Associate Professor at the Department of Political Science, Lady Shri Ram College. She has extensively worked and published on political theory, Indian politics, and feminist theory and politics. Apart from academics, classical music and dance are her other areas of involvement. She is the author of 'Human Rights, Gender and the Environment' (2009; co-authored by Manisha Priyam and Madhulika Banerjee). SUNALINI KUMAR 'Sense and Sentimentality: A Political Fable' Liberal political theory has scant discussion of sentiment. On the other hand, modern parliamentary democracies are rife with the politics of sentiment; and not merely within postcolonial democracies such as our own. While such politics often take a violent or censoring turn - increasingly through what the concept-note refers to as mass-mediated outrage it may be time to disarticulate the uses of sentiment in modern mass politics and its collusion with powerful blocs like the State and communally organized groups on the one hand; and the status of sentiment in ordinary life on the other hand. The argument here is not for looking at sentiment through rose-tinted lenses - as an eternal human attribute -but precisely to uncover its life as a historically constructed category. The paper will also critically examine the thought of Spinoza and Deleuze, and to see if their notion of affect and their suggestive expressionism, naturalism and anti-humanism provide a route or at least a bridge out of the impasse that is created in our polity between potentially violent politics of sentiment on the one hand, and a potentially ineffectual rationalist and humanist liberalism on the other. Sunalini Kumar is Assistant Professor, Department of political science, Lady Shri Ram College. She received a masters in social and political sciences from Cambridge University and an MPhil from Jawaharlal Nehru University. Her doctoral research is on the idea of a National Capital Region. Her publications include Chronicle of A Death Untold: The Lethal Geographies of Delhi's Periphery in Critical Studies in Politics (edited) Aditya Nigam, Nivedita Menon and Sanjay Palshikar, Delhi, Orient Blackswan (forthcoming) and Clean Air, Dirty Logic? Environmental Activism, Citizenship and the Public Sphere in Delhi in Urbanising Citizenship: Contested Spaces in Indian Cities (edited) Renu Desai and Romola Sanyal, Thousand Oaks, Delhi and London, Sage 2012. Sunalini's interests revolve around comparative urban politics, political philosophy and feminist theory. She blogs on contemporary politics at Kafila. TAPAN BASU 'Writing Humiliation, Righting Humiliation: Marking the 'Dalit' Moment in the History of India's 'Untouchables,' and Beyond.' My paper will focus upon the dualistic connotations of the term 'Dalit' --- the term signifying at once the so-called outcastes' experience of downtrodden-ness as well as their attempts to engage with this experience. In the words of Eleanor Zelliot, " The term 'Dalit' [is] not only to be interpreted as 'the oppressed' but also as ' the proud, the defiant.' " Dalit political subjectivity, which emanates out of the ex-untouchables' consciousness of their everyday debasement within caste society, can, however, become immobilised into a posture of perpetual if protesting victimhood, unless informed by Babasaheb Ambedkar's far--reaching vision of the :"annihilation of caste". The paper will reflect upon the difficulties of fulfilling the Ambedkarite project within the framework of India's caste-based social order. Tapan Basu taught for twenty-eight years in the Department of English, Hindu College, Delhi, before he took up his present appointment as Associate Professor in the Department of English, Delhi University. He has a keen interest in the study of the politics of identity-constructions and identity-confrontations, especially along religious and caste lines, in contemporary India. He has edited Translating Caste (Delhi:Katha:2002), an anthology of fictional and non-fictional narratives of caste and caste-consciousness. and is the author of an unpublished monograph on The Writings of B.R.Ambedkar and the Construction of a Dalit Cultural Identity, written under the aegis of a fellowship he received from the Social Science Research Council, New York. SOUMYABRATA CHOUDHURY 'Which is the body that hurts? Ambedkars analytical question vis--vis the experience of violence' Which is the body that hurts, when violence is felt or threatened to be felt? Is it an anachronistic body that is victim of a contingent web of perversions of an otherwise general state of health and peace? a body excepted and fallen from a normal constitution? Or is what hurts a self-anathemizing body, which in every instance of wounding, falls from its own universal and constitutional status and claim? a body that excepts itself every time its parts hurt, collide against or threaten to separate from each other? Anachronism, anathema these are two key words B.R Ambedkar uses in his criticism of Gandhi with regard to the latters interpretation of Untouchability and caste-violence in Hindu society and religion. I will argue that the question is very much alive in contemporary investigations of Indian society as to whether that which hurts in a situation of violence and its perceived threat, is an exceptional/anachronistic part or the body of society itself in the exposure to its own self-anathemized, self-separated core. Soumyabrata Choudhury is a Visiting Fellow at CSDS, Delhi. He taught at the School of Arts and Aesthetics, JNU for several years. He was Fellow at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study till recently (2012). His book Theatre, Number, Event: Three Studies on the Relationship of Sovereignty, Power and Truth will come out by the end of the year from IIAS, Shimla. GAUTAM BHAN is a stand-up comedian who has lamentably never been charged with sedition despite many attempts at betraying the nation. He teaches at the Indian Institute for Human Settlements and is also a sexuality rights activist. SUDHANVA DESHPANDE 'The Discreet Charm of Identity Politics' When we think of censorship, we think, possibly in that order, the censorship exercised by the State, and the censorship exercised by the religious right. Both these kinds of censorships are alive and kicking. Think of cartoonists being arrested in Kolkata or Mumbai, or the Hindu Right's relentless hounding of India's best-known painter that did not allow him the dignity of dying in the country he so loved. The first uses the rhetoric of disrespect (to Nation, State, or merely the individual who stands for these), while the latter uses the rhetoric of hurt sentiments. Both these kinds of censorship are easy to recognize and condemn. But there is a third kind of censorship which uses the same rhetoric of hurt sentiments, but we are far more ambivalent about this. This is the censorship of caste groups that see themselves, legitimately or otherwise, as oppressed. For those who stand in solidarity with the oppressed, it becomes hard to condemn this sort of censorship, provided we recognize it as such in the first place. I will explore these ideas with reference to two plays: Habib Tanvir's Charandas Chor and Govind Deshpande's Satyashodhak. The attacks on these plays stem from the logic of identity politics. The question I want to ask is: what is the future of political art in times of identity politics? And, what is the future of that -- perhaps utopian -- horizon of the emancipation of all humankind? Sudhanva Deshpande is an actor and director with Jana Natya Manch, Delhi. He works as editor at LeftWord Books. He moonlights as barrista at May Day Bookstore and Caf and uses the bicycle as his default mode of transport. LAWRENCE LIANG 'Publicity, Privacy and the Erotics of Law and Scandal' The Sting Operations revelation of public corruption and SMS sex scandals have been two important signposts of contemporary media life. They have also been at the heart of legal debates over privacy, media ethics and the legal disorder. The scandal has always been of one of the sites for the production of a public discourse on law and the relationship between the public, private and the secret. The accelerated world of media circulation reworks our understanding of the scandal and the divide between ideas of public and private. This paper examines how the discourses of corruption and sexuality in media constantly reference each other as they meet in the inappropriate overlap of public and private desires. Lawrence Liang is a founder member of the Alternative Law Forum, a collective of inter disciplinary lawyers in Bangalore. He works on the intersection of law and culture especially as they converge in intellectual property and media laws. He is also one of the initiators of Pad.ma (Public Access Digital media Archive) and has taught in a number of universities across the country. PAROMITA VOHRA 'Unsealed with a Kiss: Intimacy, Cinema and Outrage' The presentation will trace the frequently changing presence of the kiss in Hindi cinema from the 1930s in the context of changing intimate relations, discussions around personal law and censorship. Via this story I will also look at the interplay between outrage, the amplification of scandal via increasingly visual media contexts and the changing meanings of the represented kiss. Paromita Vohra is a filmmaker and writer whose work has focused on gender, politics, urban life and popular culture. Her films as director include Partners in Crime, Morality TV aur Loving Jehad: Ek Manohar Kahani, Q2P, Where Sandra?, Work In Progress, Cosmopolis: Two Tales of a City, Unlimited Girls , A Womans Place, A Short Film About Time and Annapurna: Goddess of Food. She is the writer of the international feature Khamosh Pani, and the documentaries A Few Things I Know About Her, If You Pause, The Stuntment of Bollywod and Skin Deep. Her writings both fiction and non-fiction have been published in various anthologies including Electric Feather: The Tranquebar Book of Erotica, Recess: The Penguin Book of Schooldays, Bombay Meri Jaan and First Proof, Signs, Bioscope and The South Asian Journal of Popular Culture. She has worked extensively with young people doing workshops on creativity and politics. She teaches writing for film as visiting faculty in different universities around the world and has been a mentor at international scriptwriting workshops including the British Council-SaReGaMa screenplay workshop besides being a member of the script committee, Childrens Film Society of India. She also writes a popular weekly column in the Sunday Mid-day. KAREN GABRIEL 'Pleasure. Excess. Containment' The discourse of hurt has appeared as a renewed one in the realm of the political, with a consistency and pervasiveness that have given rise to such disparaging epithets as 'the republic of hurt sentiments'. Not without reason, the suspicion here is that the hurt sentiment is often a manufactured one, seeking to incite a move to community dominance rather paradoxically by alleging the weakness/vulnerability of the community in the face of a particular form of 'hurt'. However, this particular dynamic, in this particular form of alleging hurt in the public domain and seeking redressal, repair or revenge for the same from the state remains a feature of the womens movements and of identity politics. In this paper, I will reexamine an iconic and enduringly resonant theoretical and political moment in the articulation of this dynamic of hurt, in which two fundamentally compatible notions of emancipation of the (female) body and the female subject were juxtaposed polemically, and therefore oppositionally, with peculiar consequences for the understandings of pleasure, pain, violence and excess. The paper will instantiate and elaborate this using two or three significant moments in the history of cinematic representation. Karen Gabriel is Associate Professor at the department of English, St. Stephens College, University of Delhi, and Director, Center for Gender, Culture and Social Processes at St Stephens College. She has written extensively on issues of gender, sexuality, cinema and the nation-state. Her book Melodrama and the Nation: Sexual Economies of Bombay cinema 1970-2000 was published by Women Unlimited in 2010. She is currently working on a book on sexuality, transnationalisation and convergence. She has received various international fellowships and most recently, in 2012, the prestigious European Union's International Incoming Marie Curie Fellowship. PRADIP KUMAR DATTA 'The Politics of Sentiment and Communities of Hurt' The presentation will locate the emergence of the politics of sentiment in the importance given to collective selfhood in nineteenth century India. Self-fashioning was regarded a precious resource for both freeing oneself from the representations of dominant social and political groups such as colonial authority and upper caste social hegemony as well as producing a new self that would, grounded on a sense of equality and\or of competition, be collectively able to compete successfully in the pursuit of power and respect. The sense of sentiment was crucial to the production of this new subject since it expressed the ways in which the community experienced itself as a social subject. Further, sentiment produced a claim that could rival the transcendental status of Colonial Law and, being located in the interstices of personal and criminal law, proclaim the sanctity of extra-local communities. It is within this emergence of the politics of selfhood that I will locate the communities of hurt. Hurt communities complicate the functioning of Law by privileging their sentiment and honour over the other. The result is the formation of communities that define themselves by antagonism with their other which in turn, produces new authority structures within the community itself. The other for these communities are rivals rather than oppressors since these are posited on competition for dominant status in the polity and civic life of the nation. Schematically put then, the politics of selfhood produces two kinds of grounding principles of competition: that of equality which corresponds to acquiring the resources to compete with dominant others on the one hand and of a rivalry directed towards the domination of the other. Of course this is an analytical schema and is complicated in the actual workings out of these politics. This is important to bear in mind when we look at such communities under globalisation. The contemporary period of globalisation has weakened the nation-state but not replaced it. This opens up various gaps in political authority and law that are sought to be filled in with new kinds of communities operating within nations which also aspire towards globalising themselves. These communities typically draw on apparently negative representations of itself by others to produce controls over its own self-representations. Further, their aspirations to either majoritiarian domination or to seclusion lead, in different ways, to remaking the bases of their existing nation states. The claims on sentiment produce the grounds of authority on top of which these communities can claim a new kind of legitimacy that will reinforce their community boundaries and provide an alternative law. The appeal to hurt and to sentiment represents the first fracture with such laws and holds out the promise of authoritarian communities that are so precisely because they need to engage in violence against other communities. Pradip Kumar Datta teaches at the Department of Political Science, Delhi University. Among other institutions, he has taught for several years at the Department of English, Sri Venkateswara College. His work focuses on debates in contemporary Indian politics, the history of communalism and modern Bengali literature. He is the author of 'Carving Blocs: Communal Ideology in Early Twentieth-Century Bengal' (1999), 'Nandigram and Other Struggles: Emergence of New Political Movements' (2007) and 'Heterogeneities: Identity Formations in Modern India' (2010). Professor Datta has also edited a critical companion to Tagore's The Home and the World (Permanent Black; 2003) SIDDHARTH NARRAIN 'Hate, Hurt and the Law: Examining the law on Hate Speech in India' Hate Speech is often described as the faultline that divides advocates of free speech in India. In India hate speech legislation has taken the form of criminal law codified in the Indian Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code. This paper attempts to look at the history and development of the category of hate speech in India beginning at the time of the colonial encounter, and examining how the memory of Partition, and the anxieties of the postcolonial state shape the contours of the law on hate speech. Siddharth Narrain is a legal researcher and lawyer with the Alternative Law Forum, Bangalore. His areas of interest include, media laws and censorship, and the gender and sexuality politics of the Indian judiciary. He has worked as a journalist for Frontline Magazine and The Hindu newspaper in New Delhi. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org ROMILA THAPAR is Professor Emeritus at the Centre for Historical Studies, JNU. An internationally famed historian, her work revolves around the study of ancient India. Having earned her doctorate from SOAS - London, she taught at the Department of History in DU before moving to Jawaharlal Nehru University as the Chair in Ancient Indian History. Professor Thapar is Honorary Fellow of Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford and has been Visiting Professor at Cornell University and the University of Pennsylvania as well as the Collge de France in Paris. In 1983 she was elected General President of the Indian History Congress and in 1999 a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy. In 2004, the U.S. Library of Congress appointed her as the first holder of the Kluge Chair in Countries and Cultures of the South. She holds honorary doctorates from University of Chicago, Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales in Paris, University of Oxford, University of Edinburgh, University of Calcutta and University of Hyderabad. Twice awarded the Padma Bhushan, Professor Thapar declined it by saying that she doesn't accept state-disbursed titles. Her publications include 'Ashoka and the Decline of the Mauryas' (1961), 'A History of India' (1966), 'The Past and Prejudice' (1971), 'Ancient Indian Social History: Some Interpretations' (1978), 'From Lineage to State: Social Formations of the Mid-First Millennium B.C. in the Ganges Valley' (1985), 'History and Beyond' (2000), 'Sakuntala: Texts, Readings, Histories' (2002), 'Cultural Pasts: Essays in Earlier Indian History' (2003), 'Somanatha: The Many Voices of History' (2005), 'The Aryan: Recasting Constructs' (2008). JANAKI NAIR is Professor at the Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi. Her research and teaching interests include urban, visual, legal and labour history, and feminist studies. Her books include Women and Law in Colonial India (1996), The Promise of the Metropolis (2005) and Mysore Modern: Rethinking the Region under Princely Rule (2011). GITHA HARIHARAN is a writer and scholar whose published work includes novels, short stories, essays, newspaper articles and columns. In 1995, Hariharan challenged the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act as discriminatory against women. The case, Githa Hariharan and Another vs. Reserve Bank of India and Another, led to a Supreme Court judgment in 1999 on guardianship. Her first novel, The Thousand Faces of Night (1992) won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize in 1993. Her other novels include The Ghosts of Vasu Master (1994), When Dreams Travel (1999), In Times of Siege (2003), and Fugitive Histories (2009). A collection of highly acclaimed short stories, The Art of Dying, was published in 1993, and a book of stories for children, The Winning Team, in 2004. Githa Hariharan has also edited a volume of stories in English translation from four major South Indian languages, A Southern Harvest (1993); and co-edited a collection of stories for children, Sorry, Best Friend! (1997). Hariharan's fiction has been translated into a number of languages including French, Italian, Spanish, German, Dutch, Greek, Urdu and Vietnamese; her essays and fiction have also been included in anthologies such as Salman Rushdie's Mirrorwork: 50 Years of Indian Writing 1947-1997. Hariharan wrote, for several years, a regular column for the major Indian newspaper The Telegraph. She has been Visiting Professor or Writer-in-Residence in several universities, including Dartmouth College and George Washington University in the United States, the University of Canterbury at Kent in the UK, and Jamia Millia Islamia in India, where she is, at present, Scholar-in-Residence. VISHWAJYOTI GHOSH is the author of the graphic novel Delhi Calm (www. delhicalm.wordpress.com), a political graphic novel set in the 70's and a visual book of postcards Times New Roman & Countrymen. Ghosh is also the creator of the cartoon column Full Toss in Hindustan Times Edit Page, every Sunday, besides his earlier columns like Backlog in Little Magazine and Acid Test in Down to Earth. His comics are regularly published in various journals and anthologies, both in India and abroad. Associated with Inverted Commas a communications initiative, he is currently working on a mapping project in the wokers clusters of Gurgaon. As a founder member of the Pao Collective, he also remains an active and dynamic participant in graphic/comics artists collective projects and works often with graphic artists from different parts of South Asia. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- Concept Note: Situated at a historic conjuncture of mass-mediated outrage, this conference will attempt to interrogate the political register of hurt vis--vis its conditions of production and retaliation. Recent events such as the furore over a public reading from Salman Rushdies banned novel The Satanic Verses, the fractious debates in the Indian Parliament over an Ambedkar cartoon in NCERT school curriculum and the arbitrary removal of a Ramanujan essay on The Ramayana from university textbooks are only symptomatic of larger tendencies in political expression. The latter has invented a new vocabulary of vulnerable political subjectivities, constantly living in fear of difference and critique. It has then periodically called upon the sovereign state to revive its pledge for democratic pluralism through punitive-prohibitive checks on the freedom of expression or protest. The currency of hurt as a claim to and pretext for political correctionism and often taking recourse to the logic of the anti-popular as anti-state has helped institute a machinery of censorship, ever governed by the economies and excesses of a marketplace of outrage. It is this ready vocabulary of a potential victimhood and how it can become an excuse for repressive regimes of state-vigilantism that we seek to map through dialogues and discussions at the conference. Moving past the clinical notion of hurt as bodily harm, one needs to discern the definitional contours of this new economy of fear and pain. What constitutes the tangibility of hurt, in order to be recognized by the political apparatus as a sentiment worthy of redressal? Or, in other words, when and with how much of it does hurt become political? Does it need to be reciprocally collectivized in order to gain political credence and visibility? Would some individual litigants petition in the Delhi High Court against an apparently defamatory depiction of Bharat Mata in a film song count as a case of hurt? Or, must the litigant as indeed he did necessarily reference all Indian citizens in his PIL as a precondition for the seriousness (because, publicness) of his being hurt? Is the political emergency of hurt, therefore, in its inherence within a logic of the community -- the people-as-state? And does it hence empower the state to act on behalf of its citizens, by summarily outlawing difference as criminal a social therapy for a public injury? Significantly, Section 153 of the IPC makes a criminal offence of anything that promotes disharmony or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will between different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes and communities. Does hurt then authorize the law-court [read: sovereign power] to counter-hurt or counter-offend as the only legitimate cure for it? Or, is it that the authoritarian state manufactures and strategically facilitates different articulations of hurt to potentially eliminate every threat to its own constitutional sovereignty, every trace of dissent? Inasmuch as the epistemological validity of hurt is in its being only a claim based on perception(s) of potential threat, it is yet unreal(ized). And despite its logic of a pure possibility of harm or pain, this political definition of hurt as claim-against-threat has mobilized an entire history of real oppression through legislative action. While the states condemnation of motivated fundamentalist attempts to hurt (through divisive rhetoric and hate speech) must of course be lauded, when does power end up using popular sentiment as a pretext for self-defence? While on the one hand dominant majoritarian forces have repeatedly injured the sentiments of religious-ethnic communities, they have on the other ironically fetishized hurt as the only guarantor of a status quo. M.F. Hussain, arguably Indias most eminent painter, was charged with hurting the sentiments of the people by the court in 2006, for depicting female Hindu deities in the nude, and faced death threats from various nationalist groups in India. Arundhati Roy, writer and political activist, was charged with sedition in 2010 for a purported anti-India speech. The four writers, who read from The Satanic Verses at the Jaipur Literature Festival in 2012, were threatened with physical harm, to say nothing of the author of the text, Salman Rushdie, who has been labouring under the excesses begotten by the fatwa against him. A peoples Chief Minister in an Indian state made way for the first anniversary of her term in office by ordering the arrest of a university professor for circulating via e-mail a cartoon graphic of her. The instances have been many, but it would seem from these instances, that the many people of India remain in a ready state of hurtfulness, amenable to the slightest provocation, the smallest incitement, and least aggravation. It is this state of ready hurt that led senior journalist and editor, Mukund Padmanabhan, to term ours a republic of hurt sentiments. This conference aims to bring together all these different events to bear upon the politics of hurt, and investigate the many ways in which such hurt is expressed, engendered and elaborated. ****************************************************************** --30--