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The conference will host over 40 scholars of various disciplines from North America, Europe, South Asia, and Australasia:


Artist: Vasuki
Artist: Kiko
Artist: Vasan

Abraham, S.
Ambalavanar, D.
Arasu, V.
Champakalakshmi, R.
Cheran, R.
Fukao, J.
George, G.
George, U.
Ghose, R.
Guruge, S.
Jegathesan, M.
Kanaganayakam, C.
Kanthasamy, P.
Karunakaran, K.
Karunanithi, G.
Kingsolver, A.
Mason, R.
Maunaguru, S.
Maunaguru, Sitralega
McNaughton, S.
More, J.B.P.
Orr, L.
Pai, G.
Palaniappan, S.
Pandian, M.S.S.
Rajesh, V.
Renganathan, V.
Sangarasivam, Y.
Seylon, R.
Shanmugam, K.
Sivalingam, H.
Sriramachandran, R.
Sundar, A.
Tambiah, S.J.
Tyyskä, V.
Vaitheespara, R.
Vivekananthan, P.
Whitaker, M.
Xavier, S.
Young, K.
Younger, P.

Ravi Sriramachandran

Graduate Student
Department of Anthropology
Columbia University

States of Transgression:
Strategies of Domination, Accommodation, and Resistance Across Asia
Saturday, June 2nd | 9:30 - 11:30 AM

The question of identity has assumed a degree of significance in liberal democratic polities as never before. In India, in particular, the increasing prominence of this question in the political landscape is matched only by the recentness of the postcolonial nation state itself. My research concerns the multiple encounters of the ‘Indian’ plantation labor repatriated from Sri Lanka to India (and ‘settled’ in the plantation areas of South India), with Tamilnadu and Tamils as returning ‘sons of the soil’, and with the Indian State as political subjects. In this paper I confine myself to attempt to write an ethnography of the state as ‘embedded in practices, places, and languages considered to be at the margins of the nation-state.’ (Das and Poole 2004), and how these practices in the margins force us to rethink the boundaries between center and periphery, legal and illegal and public and private. Margins, here does not refer to peripheral spaces, but affects of panic and a sense of ‘not belonging’ that is produced through certain power/knowledge practices. I contend that these marginalized populations do not submit passively to these conditions but through a certain exercise of Metis or cunning (Detienne and Vernant 1988) deal with the state and their own imperatives. Through a number of instances I intend to explore how the repatriate through his practices of everyday resistance extends and remakes the conceptual boundaries of the state to secure survival and seeking justice in the everyday. The larger focus of my paper is to see how the state is experienced, reconfigured, and function through exceptions and margins of the nation-state.

Mr. Sriramachandran's doctoral thesis is on  repatriated 'Plantation workers' from Sri Lanka, titled ' Life is where we are not: making and managing the Tamil Plantation Repatriate.' His research interests are Making of the Tamil self, Tamil (Indian) intellectual history, Cinema and Performance and Tamil literature. His publications include "Suvadugal - A Review" Subamangala (1994); "A Telugu folk epic in Western Tamilnadu"  PILC Journal of Dravidian Studies; and Pachhamannu (translation).