Keynote address (May 25, 2017)

Michael Silverstein (University of Chicago, Anthropology)

Workshop participants (May 26-27, 2017)

Francis Cody (University of Toronto, Anthropology)

Mythri Jegathesan (Santa Clara University, Anthropology)

Rajan (Kurai) Krishnan (Ambedkar University - Delhi)

M. A. Nuhman (University of Peradeniya, Department of Tamil)

Sumathi Ramaswamy (Duke University, Department of History)

David Shulman (Vivekananda Visiting Professorship at the University of Chicago; Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

Susan Seizer (Indiana University – Bloomington, Anthropology)

Martha Selby (University of Texas – Austin, Asian Studies)


While a common trope in the 1990s was to conjoin “poetics” and “politics” (viz. “the poetics and politics of ______”) this workshop—taking a cue from the work of our recently departed colleague Bernard Bate's work on oratory and place-making in south India—aims to collapse and blur this distinction, exploring how the politics of place and language, among other communicative media, is immanent in their poesis, just as the poesis of language and place are inherently (rather than incidentally) political in nature. Focusing on Tamil-speaking communities (or “Tamilagam”), this workshop theme amounts to a rethinking of questions of mediation under conditions of postcoloniality, as always, at once, a strategic and interest-laden set of relations (“politics”) and a creative process of emergence (“poesis”).

This theme of poesis/politics builds on and continues the themes and conversations of the Chicago Tamil Forum's previous workshops, all of which were vital to Barney's own thinking and forged in conversation with him, from questions of media institutions and populist politics to questions of the legacies and prehistories of Dravidianism in modern south India.