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Wednesday 18 March 2020 11.00 - 13.00
L-2 ASI01 Identities in Flux in Asia’s Transforming Cities in the 21st Century
Johan Huizinga, 023C
Networks: Asia , Urban Chair: John Davis
Organizer: Nandini Gooptu Discussants: -
Nandini Gooptu, Rangan Chakravarty : Food Consumption and Urban Identity: the Politics of Vegetarianism in India
With rapid urbanisation in contemporary India, growing anxiety about the stress and pace of urban life and the corrosive effects of pollution have elicited new life style preferences among the middle classes. One of these is vegetarianism, which has emerged to be at the forefront of debates on urban identity ... (Show more)
With rapid urbanisation in contemporary India, growing anxiety about the stress and pace of urban life and the corrosive effects of pollution have elicited new life style preferences among the middle classes. One of these is vegetarianism, which has emerged to be at the forefront of debates on urban identity and culture in India. As elsewhere in the world, the ascendance of vegetarianism pertains to concerns with health, well-being, the environment and responsible consumption. At the same time, in Indian cities, vegetarianism is entangled with Hindu religious identity and spiritual ideas, spurred on by Hindu nationalist politics and the official promotion of vegetarianism by the government as a marker of Hindu culture. However, vegetarianism is not always espoused for religious conformity, but is also posited as a form of cosmopolitan practice, animated by ethical urges. This paper explores the multiple meanings of vegetarianism in the Indian city to examine struggles over contested and competing urban identities. (Show less)

Shivangi Kaushik : Title of the Study: Understanding Racial Subjectivities of Women from Northeast India in the Spaces of Education and Work in New Delhi
New Delhi saw a rapid increase of educational and employment opportunities (especially the increase in private educational institutions and the retail sector of global brands) after India adopted the 1991 economic liberalization reforms; owing to which the city attracted a substantial number of young migrants from across the country. This ... (Show more)
New Delhi saw a rapid increase of educational and employment opportunities (especially the increase in private educational institutions and the retail sector of global brands) after India adopted the 1991 economic liberalization reforms; owing to which the city attracted a substantial number of young migrants from across the country. This paper then will study the subjectivities of one such migrant community. It seeks to understand the racial subjectivities of migrant women from the Northeastern region of India (NER), who come to New Delhi in search of employment and higher education. Using an intersectional approach (Yural Davis and Anthias 1992:12), the paper seeks to understand if gender, race and class intersect to mediate their access to employment and higher education in New Delhi. I look at women who identify their point of origin as one of the eight states of Northeast India and whose facial features resemble that of the people of various Himalayan countries like Tibet and Nepal; by virtue of which they are considered racially different from the rest of the Indian population. Owing to the fact that they have different physiognomic features they are not considered ‘Indian’ enough. The paper is based on observations deduced from in-depth ethnographic work conducted in New Delhi. The experiences of the migrant women who (look different) are employed in sales positions in the retail outlets of H&M and Zara and the young women from the who seek admission in the various undergraduate colleges of New Delhi; form the fulcrum of the paper. These women who have migrated from a region which has been marred by decades of conflict and insurgency; then how do they fulfil their aspirations and dreams in a city where they live cheek by jowl with other migrants from other parts of the country?
From an in-depth literature survey, it is revealed that the migrant women from the region face a very particular and unique form of racial discrimination within India, which starts from directing racial abuses at the women who have distinctive physiognomic features. This form of racial discrimination may then be extended to behaviourally stereotype them as ‘docile’ and ‘obedient’ by the people who do not look like them within New Delhi. Therefore, the study seeks to understand if racialization of women from the region in New Delhi, is a combination of both biological as well as cultural racism. (Visweswaran 2001; Balibar and Wallerstein 1991). (Show less)

Anjali Krishan : Housewife Suicides: Gender, Domestic Space and the Suicide Discourse amongst Middle-Class Housewives in Delhi-NCR
While cities undergo rapid global urbanization, one mostly hidden but widespread phenomenon in India, is that of the consistently high number of suicides amongst married women, particularly so-called ‘housewives.’ This paper examines middle-class women’s tales of suicides and suicidal impulses amongst their neighbours, friends and relatives in Delhi-NCR. While such ... (Show more)
While cities undergo rapid global urbanization, one mostly hidden but widespread phenomenon in India, is that of the consistently high number of suicides amongst married women, particularly so-called ‘housewives.’ This paper examines middle-class women’s tales of suicides and suicidal impulses amongst their neighbours, friends and relatives in Delhi-NCR. While such tales of suicides may be of little use to concretely establish why women kill themselves, they do reveal much about their narrator’s views on what makes a life worth living. This paper examines the emotions articulated or conspicuously not articulated, by women in their suicide narratives to understand how they redefine and reiterate ideas of womanhood, family, and domesticity. (Show less)

Sneha Krishnan : The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Hostel
Scholars increasingly argue that animals play significant roles in histories of imperialism, global capital, and urban planning. This paper is an attempt to make sense of dogs in women’s hostels – dormitory-style boarding houses accommodating students in Indian cities – as ostensible protectors, who also serve a carceral purpose: that ... (Show more)
Scholars increasingly argue that animals play significant roles in histories of imperialism, global capital, and urban planning. This paper is an attempt to make sense of dogs in women’s hostels – dormitory-style boarding houses accommodating students in Indian cities – as ostensible protectors, who also serve a carceral purpose: that of enforcing curfews. Drawing on ethnographic research in the city of Chennai, this paper argues that dogs open up a site of play that is always poised on the potential for violence. Even as young women find ways to negotiate with their non-human caregivers, the dogs often enforce discipline through grisly means. Building on this, the second half of the paper argues that the dog in the hostel thus simultaneously reanimates a site of imperial endurance. The dog’s role as boundary-keeper reinforces the place of the hostel within a colonial assemblage of social sanitation: as a site where ‘good’ women could be kept away from the moral contagion of the city. Contemporary anxieties about working-class and immigrant men as threats to middle-class women in Indian cities reanimate these colonial anxieties. In their role as border guards, dogs in the hostel reinforce this mapping of risk onto urban publics, while also marking sites where carceral violence is normalised as ordinary in the service of disciplinary regimes aimed at producing appropriate middle-class futures. (Show less)

Indrajit Roy : Circulating Identities
The paper analyses the "circulating identities" among circular labour migrants in India.



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