Social Psychoanalysis

Ankhi Mukherjee talks about that looks at the subject of psychoanalysis as a product of social and cultural processes, and thereby reorients concepts of parental and familial bonds, trauma, coping mechanisms and so on. The conversation focuses on her recent book on the subject, Unseen City: The Psychic Lives of the Urban Poor, which studies community-based psychiatry and how it serves the working classes in three global cities.

Ankhi Mukherjee is Professor of English and World Literatures at the University of Oxford and a Fellow in English at Wadham College. Her most recent book is Unseen City: The Psychic Lives of the Urban Poor, published by Cambridge University Press in December 2021. Her second monograph, What Is a Classic? Postcolonial Rewriting and Invention of the Canon (Stanford, 2014) won the British Academy prize in English Literature in 2015. Mukherjee’s other publications include Aesthetic Hysteria: The Great Neurosis in Victorian Melodrama and Contemporary Fiction (Routledge, 2007) and the collections of essays she has edited, namely A Concise Companion to Psychoanalysis, Literature, and Culture (with Laura Marcus, Wiley-Blackwell, 2015) and After Lacan (Cambridge UP, 2018). Mukherjee has published in competitive peer-reviewed journals, including PMLAMLQContemporary LiteratureParallax, and the Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry, and sits on the editorial boards of several international journals. At present, Mukherjee has two books under contract. She is writing A Very Short Introduction to Postcolonial Literature in the widely circulated VSI series (Oxford UP, 2023) and co-editing (with Ato Quayson) a collaborative volume titled Decolonizing the English Literary Curriculum (Cambridge UP, 2022). 

Image: © 2022 Saronik Bosu

Music used in promotional material: ‘Avec Toi’ by Dana Boulé.

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World Literature

Roanne Kantor tells us about World Literature, in the ideas and practices of readers, writers, and scholars. Spatial metaphors like libraries, closets, and airport bookshops, help her imagine the “world” in world literature.

In the episode Roanne references work by many scholars in the field, including David Damrosch’s What is World Literature (Princeton UP, 2003); Debjani Ganguly’s This Thing Called the World (Duke UP, 2016), and Gloria Fisk’s Orhan Pamuk and the Good of World Literature (Columbia UP, 2018). In the longer version of our conversation, we talked about how little magazines from the 1970s New York literary scene, like Ed Sanders’ Fuck You: A Magazine of the Arts, circulated in South Asia, inspiring avant-garde magazines like Arvind Krishna Mehrotra’s damn you/a magazine of the arts.

Roanne is an assistant professor of English and Comparative Literature at Stanford University. She has a brand new book, South Asian Writers, Latin American Literature, and the Rise of Global English, (Cambridge UP, 2022). If you want to learn more about the world of world lit, check it out.

This week’s image of an airport bookshop at the Incheon International Airport in South Korea, was photographed by Adli Wahid and made publicly available on Wikimedia Commons under a Creative Commons License.

Music used in promotional material: ‘Six More Weeks’ by Evening Fires

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Epic

Sohini Sarah Pillai talks about epics, long narrative poems about heroic events – whether all such poems can be called epics, and how they continue to generate cultural and political material. The conversation covers epic poems ranging from the Iliad to Jack Mitchell’s The Odyssey of Star Wars.

Sohini Pillai is Assistant Professor of Religion at Kalamazoo College where she teaches courses on religious traditions in South Asia. She is a comparatist of South Asian religious literature and her area of specialization is the Mahabharata and Ramayana narrative traditions with a particular focus on retellings created in Hindi and Tamil. She is also the co-editor with Nell Shapiro Hawley of Many Mahabharatas (State University of New York Press, 2021).

Image by Saronik Bosu (This image is a work of fan art that adapts characters from the Star Wars franchise owned by Lucasfilm ltd.)

Music used in promotional material: ‘Yoliyoli’ by 33nano

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Trace

Farah Bakaari talks about Trace, a core concept in deconstruction, that denotes an absent presence, a mark of something that is no longer there. She talks about how in her own work she has used the concept of trace to write about legacies of colonialism and slave trade in the Atlantic and Indian oceans, for which there is no archive that is conventionally legible.

In the episode Farah mentions the work of Parisa Vaziri on Iranian cinema and music as an example of work that interrogates an historical trace. You can listen to Parisa discuss forthcoming book here.

Farah Bakaari is a doctoral student in the Department of Literatures in English at Cornell University. Her research focuses on twentieth-century African literature, in particular the politics of time in anti-colonial and postcolonial works of art. She also works in memory studies and trauma theory. She holds a BA in English and Political Science from Grinnell College.

Image: © 2021 Saronik Bosu

Music used in promotional material: ‘The Lost and Forgotten’ by Hellenica

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Theory from the South with Borderlines

Olga Verlato and Antara Chakrabarti, contributing editors at Borderlines, talk about the concept of theory from the south, which critiques the notion that theory originating from the global north exhausts the possibilities of critical theoretical understanding.

Olga Verlato is a PhD candidate at New York University in History and Middle Eastern and Islamic studies, and a Contributing Editor for the Middle East at Borderlines. She works on the modern history of Egypt and the Mediterranean, focusing on the impact of multilingual practices and language ideologies on politics, society, and culture.

Antara Chakrabarti is a Doctoral Student in the Sociocultural track of the Dept. of Anthropology in Columbia University. Her research strives to ethnographically and historically understand the intersections of environment, mobilities, and infrastructures in contemporary South Asia. She is a Contributing Editor for South Asia at Borderlines.

Borderlines is a student-run, open-access site mentored by the editors of Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East (CSSAAME). It seeks to rethink ideas of region and area studies by exploring different categories and histories within and across borderlines that have constructed areas of Africa, the Middle East and South Asia.

Antara and Olga also interview Saronik about High Theory in this episode, about its origins and the work that it does. Find the full transcript of the episode at Borderlines.

Image: “Binoculars” © 2021 Saronik Bosu

Music used in promotional material: ‘Early Rising’ by Dlay

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Racial Affect

Oishani Sengupta talks about the felt experiences of racism, especially as they are represented in Victorian literature and its contemporary readership, which is the subject of her research. The conversation ranges from the novels of H. Rider Haggard and Charles Dickens to the felt experience of caste, as analyzed in the work of scholars like Junaid Shaikh.

Oishani Sengupta (@oishani on Twitter) is a PhD candidate at the University of Rochester exploring histories of racial affect and visual print culture in the nineteenth century British empire. Also the project coordinator of the William Blake Archive, she looks closely at racist illustration practices and their central role in colonial politics.

Image: Cover of the first French edition of H. Rider Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines

Music used in promotional material: ‘Last Sigh’ by Holy Pain

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