The essays in this book explore the critical possibilities that have been opened by Veena Das’s work. Taking off from her writing on pain as a call for acknowledgment, several essays explore how social sciences render pain, suffering, and the claims of the other as part of an ethics of responsibility. They search for disciplinary resources to contest the implicit division between those whose pain receives attention and those whose pain is seen as out of sync with the times and hence written out of the historical record.
Another theme is the co-constitution of the event and the everyday, especially in the context of violence. Das’s groundbreaking formulation of the everyday provides a frame for understanding how both violence and healing might grow out of it. Drawing on notions of life and voice and the struggle to write one’s own narrative, the contributors provide rich ethnographies of what it is to inhabit a devastated world.
Ethics as a form of attentiveness to the other, especially in the context of poverty, deprivation, and the corrosion of everyday life, appears in several of the essays. They take up the classic themes of kinship and obligation but give them entirely new meaning.
Finally, anthropology’s affinities with the literary are reflected in a final set of essays that show how forms of knowing in art and in anthropology are related through work with painters, performance artists, and writers.
The book brings together case studies from different parts of the world, from Palestine, Lebanon, Chile, the US and India. It will be of interest not only to anthropologists and sociologists interested in comparative perspectives but also to artists, scholars in art, literary studies and philosophy.
1. Conversations, Generations, Genres: Anthropological Knowing as a Form of Life
2. Ethnography in the Time of Martyrs: History and Pain in Current Anthropological
3. Pedagogies of the Clinic: Learning to Live (Again and Again)
4. Disembodied Conjugality
Lotte Buch Segal
5. World, Image and Movement: Translating Pain
Ein Lal and Roma Chatterji
6. Conceptual Vita
7. The Child Bears Witness: Menace, Despair and Hope in a Courtroom
8. Experiments with Fate: Buddhist Morality and Human Rights in Thailand
9. Communities and Recovered Life: Suffering and Recovery in the Sikh Carnage of 1984
10. Sexual Violence, Law and Qualities of Affiliation
11. On Feelings and Finiteness in Everyday Life
12. ’Listening to Voices’: Immigrants, Settlers and Citizens at the Ethnic Margins
of the State
13. Punjabi Inscriptions of Kinship and Gender: Sayings and Songs
14. In the Event of an Anthropological Thought
15. The Ayodhya Dispute: Law’s Imagination and the Functions of the Status Quo
16. The Death of Nature in the Era of Global Warming
17. Triste Romantik: Ruminations on an Ethnographic Encounter with Philosophy
18. Making Claims to Tradition: Poetics and Politics in the Works of Young Maithil Painters
Mani Shekhar Singh
19. The Mirror as Frame: Time and Narrative in the Folk Art of Bengal
20. Adjacent Thinking: A Postscript
21. Between Words and Lives: A Thought of the Coming Together of Margins, Violence,
An Interview with Veena Das
Roma Chatterji is Professor of Sociology at the Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi.