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.
Roma Chatterji is Professor at the Department of Sociology, Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi. She has authored Speaking with Pictures: Folk Art and the Narrative Tradition in India (2012), Writing Identities: Folklore and the Performing Arts of Purulia, West Bengal (2009) and (with Deepak Mehta) Living with Violence: An Anthropology of Events and Everyday Life (2007). She is currently working on folk art and new media.
1. Conversations, Generations, Genres: Anthropological Knowing as a Form of Life Roma Chatterji 2. Ethnography in the Time of Martyrs: History and Pain in Current Anthropological Practice Sylvain Perdigon 3. Pedagogies of the Clinic: Learning to Live (Again and Again) Aaron Goodfellow 4. Disembodied Conjugality Lotte Buch Segal 5. World, Image and Movement: Translating Pain Ein Lal and Roma Chatterji 6. Conceptual Vita Bhrigupati Singh 7. The Child Bears Witness: Menace, Despair and Hope in a Courtroom Pratiksha Baxi 8. Experiments with Fate: Buddhist Morality and Human Rights in Thailand Don Selby 9. Communities and Recovered Life: Suffering and Recovery in the Sikh Carnage of 1984 Yasmeen Arif 10. Sexual Violence, Law and Qualities of Affiliation Sameena Mulla 11. On Feelings and Finiteness in Everyday Life Clara Han 12. 'Listening to Voices': Immigrants, Settlers and Citizens at the Ethnic Margins of the State Sangeeta Chattoo 13. Punjabi Inscriptions of Kinship and Gender: Sayings and Songs Rita Brara 14. In the Event of an Anthropological Thought Anand Pandian 15. The Ayodhya Dispute: Law's Imagination and the Functions of the Status Quo Deepak Mehta 16. The Death of Nature in the Era of Global Warming Naveeda Khan 17. Triste Romantik: Ruminations on an Ethnographic Encounter with Philosophy Andrew Brandel 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 Roma Chatterji 20. Adjacent Thinking: A Postscript Veena Das 21. Between Words and Lives: A Thought of the Coming Together of Margins, Violence, and Suffering An Interview with Veena Das