Rethinking the Global South
Mukoma Wa Ngugi
In “Modernity and the Public Sphere in the Vernacular,“ Purushottam Agrawal argues that to understand the Bhakti movement and the poet Kabir, one has to cast aside European understanding of modernity and “recognize that the pre-colonial past of non-European societies was not rigidly determined by prescriptive forces of depersonalized systems of ’civilizations,’ ’cultures’ and ’religious beliefs’ or in the case of India by compulsive caste identities.“ The Bhakti movement, which also sought to liberate society from the caste system, was not merely prescriptive, but also a cultural movement, which produced poets, musicians and philosophers. Kabir the poet was a product of a society in flux, as opposed to the one fixed in place by the colonial gaze.
Sanjay Kumar’s “The Fault Lines of Hindi and Urdu“ is a study of how the search of a pure origin rewrites history and ultimately drives a wedge between people are inextricably linked linguistically. By trying to purge Hindi of Urdu influences, and vice versa, to create two separate languages with distinct but false origins, a history of “what was once a shared common language of people of India stretching from Peshawar to the borders of Bengal“ is lost. Language becomes a barrier between Muslims and Hindus instead of bridge.Colonial ideas about different “races“ initiate a process that is not merely linguistic but ultimately socio-cultural, with devastating effects on the South Asian society.
In her essay, “Varieties of Cultural Chauvinism and the Relevance of Comparative Studies“ Tilottoma Misra makes the case that “literary histories were constructed in order to obliterate the existence of the earlier robust tradition of interactive cultures.“ Whereas Sanjay Kumar follows the fault lines of the Urdu and Hindu false divide, she follows the creation of minor and major Indian literatures, a creation that involves the gutting out of the intertexuality of the texts, and a denial of a history of cultural exchange amongst Indian peoples.
Writer and critic E.V. Ramakrishnan, in “Rethinking Comparative Literature from an Indian Perspective,“ calls for the use of “Western theoretical insights as well as indigenous epistemologies“ if we are to fully grasp the styles and contexts of Indian writers who were writing against the grain of national hegemonies. He argues that that “The oppositional worldviews that call hegemonic structures of power into question did not originate with the encounter with colonial modernity,“ a reason why “Comparative Literature in India needs to go beyond texts to the sub-texts that inform the texts. We need to evolve a discourse that can bring out these socio-political sub-texts.“
In “Reframing Colonialism and Modernity: An Endeavour through Sociology and Literature,“ University of Warwick sociologist Gurminder K. Bhambra gives an in-depth review of Colonialism, Modernity and Literature: A View from India, the volume edited by Mohanty that had provided the occasion for the interview. For Bhambra the volume tried to show “how values that have come to be seen as intimately tied to the emergence of a specific form of capitalist modernity in the West were also articulated in other geographic and historical contexts – that is, in geographic and historical contexts independent of European contact.“
Shivani Jha in “Literature to Combat Cultural Chauvinism: A Response“ looks at the role of the readers and critics in developing a cogent idea of what “Indian literature“ is. She is also interested in the challenges and opportunities presented to scholars who decide to embrace “vernacular“ literatures as Indian literature, and to think about Indian literature as world literature.
Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6
Essays in this Forum
Rethinking the Global South
by Mukoma Wa Ngugi
From Indian Literature to World Literature: A Conversation with Satya P. Mohanty
by Rashmi Dube Bhatnagar and Rajender Kaur
Asia in My Life
by Ngugi wa Thiong'o
The Global South and Cultural Struggles: On the Afro-Asian People’s Solidarity Organization
by Duncan Mceachern Yoon
The Fault Lines of Hindi and Urdu
by Sanjay Kumar
Reframing Colonialism and Modernity: An Endeavour through Sociology and Literature
by Gurminder K. Bhambra
Varieties of Cultural Chauvinism and the Relevance of Comparative Studies
by Tilottoma Misra
Literature to Combat Cultural Chauvinism: A Response
by Shivani Jha
Is There an Indian Way of Thinking about Comparative Literature?
by E. V. Ramakrishnan
Modernity and Public Sphere in Vernacular
by Purushottam Agrawal
West Indian Writers and Cultural Chauvinism
by Jerome Teelucksingh
Oral Knowledge in Berber Women’s Expressions of the Sacred
by Fatima Sadiki