South Asia

Organized Panel Session

3 - Non conformist geographies: Social perceptions and community

Saturday, July 7
10:20 AM - 11:50 AM
Location: Maple, Lower Ground Floor

Social constructions of geographies are usually influenced by utilitarian concerns and aesthetics of the literary traditions. Most of these idealised, ‘utilitarian’ depictions  capture agrarian landscapes which can be termed as ‘conformist.’ Most of the time, non-agrarian landscapes find depictions in the negative as these do not conform to the requirements of the agrarian societies. Bagar which is a semi-arid region of Thar Desert does not conform to the accepted genealogies. It does not fit into the chivalrous Rajputana or the self-sufficient ‘Mughal agrarian system.’ It will be interesting to trace the genealogies of constructions of conformists as well non-conformist geographies.


The ‘non-conformist’ becomes the binary opposite which the state and people despise univocally. Kabir warns against going to Bagar as one can get burned by the heat whereas a girl does not want to get married in the water thirsty region of Bagar. This imagery has formed the collective identity of Bagari community in similar negative connotations. The British characterised them as dirty, uncivilised, black and ghastly. This stereotype continues to the present day wherein a Bagari is considered to be an object of mockery. These conformists and non-conformist depictions offer interesting entry points to examine their genealogies. The present paper examines the ‘non-conformist’ geographical region called Bagar. This examination of a ‘non-conformist’ region offers us an explanation into the interplay of characterisation of communities living in these geographies and identity formation. 

Prateek C.

Jwaharlal Nehru University, India

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