Inter-area/Border Crossing

Organized Panel Session

2 - Prayers to Kāli: Practicing Radical Numinosity

Saturday, July 7
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
Location: Marigold, New Building

Black and decolonial feminism does much of the work of dismantling the watertight compartments of theory, feeling, action, and justice. Distinctions between literature, life stories and theory are constantly and consciously unbound. In a related vein, Costas Douzinas (2007) writes about the de-sacralizing impact of “secular” society, and the ways in which discourses of colonial democracy have obfuscated and invisibilized people’s deep need to be loved and connected to the spiritual.

In this context I examine the spiritual, corporeal and political lifeworlds of resistance. Contemporary poets in Tamil Nadu, India, have been re-membering cultures of spirituality, goddesses and worship in their writing (Malathi Maithri in Holmstrom, 2015). Some of this writing has explicitly re- eroticised the sacred (Manivannan, 2017), other writing has recovered deities relegated to the margins as lesser gods, or so-called “violent” goddesses, unpalatable to an elite, “upper- caste" pantheon of worship (Rajkumar 2011). The experiences of violence, anguish, and fury in the  lives of marginalised and dispossessed peoples are expressed in the intimacy of sacrality and spiritual practice.

Audre Lorde (1984) radically unlocks the possibilities of anger for resistance and justice; bell hooks (2001) does something similar with love as a radical, political practice. Here, following the border trails of Anzaldúa (1987) and others, I explore the possibilities of decolonising and re-membering sacrality as a radical space of resistance, and ferocious joyousness, and how we might theorise such resistance, particularly in light of South Asia’s increasingly fraught relationships with discourses of religiosity and political ideology.

Anjana Raghavan

Sheffield Hallam University, United Kingdom


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2 - Prayers to Kāli: Practicing Radical Numinosity

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