CTF 2017: Poesis/Politics of Language and Place in Tamilagam

May 25-27, 2017

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.

Thursday May 25, 2017
Keynote address
Michael Silverstein (University of Chicago, Anthropology, Linguistics, Psychology)
Poesis, Power, and Politics” (4:30pm, Foster Hall 103)

Workshop papers

Friday May 26, 2017

Francis Cody (University of Toronto, Anthropology) – “Defamation and the Political Body.”

Sumathi Ramaswamy (Duke University, Department of History) – “From Mouth to Hand: The Poetics of Extreme Generosity in Tamil India.” (Published in Modern Asian Studies)

Rajan (Kurai) Krishnan (Ambedkar University – Delhi, School of Culture and Creative Expression) – “Signifying Tamil: DMK Rhetoric, Cinema, and Double Articulation of Sovereignty.”

Constantine V. Nakassis (University of Chicago, Anthropology) – “Poetics of Praise and Cinematic Encompassment.” (Also published in the Journal of Linguistic Anthropology)

Saturday May 27, 2017

Mythri Jegathesan (Santa Clara University, Anthropology) – “Coolie Landscapes: The Pragmatics of Community.”

Susan Seizer (Indiana University – Bloomington, Anthropology) – “A 2017 Update to: ‘Heredity Abandoned and Kannagi’s Courageous Decision to Act in Special Drama’.”

Martha Selby (University of Texas – Austin, Asian Studies) – “Voice, Language, and Spatial Dystopias in the Short Fiction of D. Dilip Kumar.”

David Shulman (Vivekananda Visiting Professorship at the University of Chicago; Hebrew University of Jerusalem) “Cinnattampip Pulavar’s Kalvalaiyantati or: Why Would an Eighteenth-Century Srilankan Tamil Poet Play Such Games? (Working Papers of the Chicago Tamil Forum)

E. Annamalai (University of Chicago, SALC) “Beauty and Power (A commentary).” (Working Papers of the Chicago Tamil Forum)