A deep disenchantment with academics seems to have set in. The last time I was sitting in a classroom, the entire world seemed to present itself to my abstract picking and blurred gaze. Countries and their internal conflicts were art forms I sought to master; theories and theorists I wore like branded clothes;film movements and television series dissected and analysed, each with a sticky note of political context. But I am tired of the various affectations of academia. Sitting in class with a globe in the middle,countries picked blindly and politics torn away from cultures by the blind,deaf and dumb has bored me thoroughly.
I am beginning to feel like I walk into class in a slow strut, brown skin and Indian accent, with a sash across my body that says ‘India’. China and Indonesia have their own too. Anytime we get mentioned, we sit up straight and smile and nod. We represent whole countries. I become a farmer with a family to feed on the verge of suicide thanks to Monsanto, I become Modi’s personal PR machinery, I become the nation languishing with an antiquated caste system, I have also supposedly suffered the terrible effects of inequality in income distribution. Everyday is a different role and a different representation. I am dreading the Swimsuit competition.
If you have just read a news article on Paris, do you have to write an angry article in rage about terrorism? Do you have to go for that candlelight vigil because a friend sent you a Fb invite?Do you have to claim you mourn every death in the world and casually throw in everything from Black slavery to Afghanistan? How can we possibly claim to understand the particulars of every conflict in the world, wax eloquent as experts on each of these “issues” when you might struggle to point out where it is on a well-marked map?
I have done a terrible injustice when I have written or spoken about these “issues” in the past. How can I write anything about an Afghani woman’s life, when I can’t even give her a name?
I don’t know what the coloured woman’s perspective is either. I have brown skin, but I haven’t ever experienced racism. I only have brown skin when I am in a sea of Whites.
Studying politics in the First World has reduced experiences to just this: slotting and categorisation of experiences in text book chapters, an ‘ism’ in each title. These theories that serve as rule books to explain the functioning of a world-system does little to situate humanity within it. Terrorism slips into critiques of neo-liberalism,occupations in postcolonialism, various trajectories of being a woman into feminism. Where are the people here?Where the lives? Where their different realities?
Meanwhile I sit in a class where Triumphs Of Brit Army says all of colonisation was not bad.
We’ve been raging about who we mourn, but who do you think gets to mourn? The blog does not support Youtube videos anymore, but here’s a little something: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVodbIi798w