CTF 2015: Margins of Dravidianism

May 21-23, 2015

The theme of the 2015 workshop was “The Margins of Dravidianism,” a title that at the outset indicates the group’s attempt to rethink the so-called Dravidian Movement of south India from its margins, from somewhere other than its putative center, whatever that might be.

There are two senses of margin that the papers of the workshop underscore. The first is the sense of marginal phenomena, those social and historical processes, events, and the like that are at considered to be at the edge of what is called Dravidianism, which are not-quite part of the genealogy of the Dravidian movement. Such marginal phenomena are, by that very fact, often excluded from and rendered invisible within canonical narratives of the Dravidian movement, both in scholarly work and in that of the Dravidian movement itself.

Part of the work of this workshop was dedicated to interrogating these margins to show not simply how they cannot be thought outside of Dravidianism per se, but also the reverse. And for a particular reason linked to the second sense of margin that the papers of the workshop turn on: what we might call the phenomenology of marginality and the social processes of marginalization through which such lived experiences arise. This is marginality not in the epistemic or nominalist classificatory sense, but marginality as a social process of exclusion; this is the question of how margins are made and entailed and thereby lived and inscribed in various modalities: on the body, on the landscape, in the market, in the law, in the archive, and in scholarly tracts.

Both senses of margin are at play in the case studies presented and discussed in the workshop, and as a whole the papers suggest that each sense of margin should not be thought independently of each other, for they are each other’s Janus’s face, the very stuff of historical process itself. Margins of Dravidianism, then, interrogates the dialectical entanglement between ideologies of marginality and the pragmatics of marginalization as a social process in the legacies, unfolding presents, and potential futures of the Dravidian Movement of Tamil Nadu.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Rupa Viswanath (Center for Modern Indian Studies, University of Göttingen) “Performance of Solace: Violence, Caste and Administration in Postcolonial South India.” (Foster Hall, Room 103)

Friday, May 22, 2015
Workshop papers

Rupa Viswanath (University of Göttingen) “Being Seen and Being Heard: The Depressed Classes, Representation and Politics Proper in Colonial Madras.”

V. Rajesh (IISER Mohali) “The Left and the Dravidian Movement: Dialogue and Contestation in the Intellectual, Literary and Cultural Sphere, 1920–1960.” (Published in South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies)

Bernard Bate (Yale-NUS College, Singapore) “Swadeshi Bharati: Protestant Textuality and the Poetics of Tamil Political Modernity.”

Constantine V. Nakassis (The University of Chicago) “Bus Routes.”

Saturday, May 23, 2015
Workshop papers

Swarnavel Eswaran Pillai (Michigan State University) “Kamal Haasan’s Hey Ram: the Catharsis of Kamalahasan.”

Amanda Weidman (Bryn Mawr College) “The Voice of Dravidianism? The Star Power of T.M. Sounderarajan.”

E. Annamalai (The University of Chicago) “Language Ideology and Knowledge Production in Tamil.”

Roundtable discussion on emergent themes on the margins of Dravidianism.