South Asia

Organized Panel Session

2 - The Anthropocentrism of Social Sciences

Friday, July 6
2:40 PM - 4:10 PM
Location: Juniper, New Building

I will argue that the people who have been pushed to the margins are now on the frontiers. It is no longer necessary for them to become mainstream, for to become part of the mainstream only reproduces and perpetuates the violence of binaries and the process of marginalization. We must ask why the “rethinking of ‘ecology,’ ‘nature’ and the cultural logics of differentiation" produce equally problematic binary conceptualizations of the world.  Following Ngugi wa Thiongo’s “Decolonization of the Mind,” it is worth considering that these logics have not disengaged from the logics of mainstreaming.  For instance, the rendering of phenomenon that occur in the vernacular languages into the language of social sciences is mainstreaming. Similarly, the rendering of mainstream phenomenon in vernaculars is mainstreaming. Likewise, a critique of the mainstream from the standpoint of the vernacular is mainstreaming as well. All these could be instances of the anthropocentricism of the social sciences.  They strengthen the social sciences and maintain the distance from the people.   To see that the margins are in fact the frontiers, we need to make a deliberate attempt to decommission a set of terms (the vocabulary of social sciences) and observe if this creates time and space for phenomenon outside the mainstream to stand on their own. I will share a few questions on the frontier that have not been, and perhaps cannot be, addressed with the available social science vocabulary. To address such questions will require a decommissioning of this vocabulary.

Professor Savyasaachi

Jamia Millia Islamia, India

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