Academic journal article Social Alternatives

Introduction to the Symposia 'Cross-Fertilising Roots and Routes', Edited by Ananta Kumar Giri

Academic journal article Social Alternatives

Introduction to the Symposia 'Cross-Fertilising Roots and Routes', Edited by Ananta Kumar Giri

Article excerpt

Traditionally, symposia followed a banquet so I must apologise for not providing a sumptuous meal with this special issue. However, this issue's exploration of Roots and Routes holds true to the initial idea of the symposium as a discussion amongst friends/colleagues of some weighty matter. In this case we come together at the invitation of Professor Ananta Kumar Giri from the Madras Institute of Development Studies, Chennai, India to explore issues pertaining to ethnicity, sociocultural regeneration and planetary realisations. It was Professor Giri who coordinated these special symposium contributions. The format presented here is one occasionally practised by various disciplines where a leading scholar in the field sets out a range of issues in a 'poser' and invites trusted colleagues to engage with their ideas. So this is not so much a dialogue in the sense of an interactive or combative engagement but a series of scholarly reflections provoked by Giri's poser.

The immediate context for Giri is his native India where there are ongoing issues of marginalisation and resistance, both political and violent, afflicting India's many indigenous tribal communities and indeed many other parts of the world. Giri offers a critique of the dominant trend to essentialise ethnicity to block identities that have arisen in attempts at resistance and selfdefinition in the face of an uncomprehending nationalist agenda. For Giri, the issue hinges on the pluralisation of identity which can resist essentialist discourse. For him, ethnicity is not a simple category but an invitation to explore our identities as both local and global sojourners. He sees such explorations as creative and generative of multiple trajectories and accompanying narratives in which identity is enacted, as verbal processes of being and becoming. This reframing is what the respondents in this special issue all tackle from various perspectives.

The short reflections that follow Giri's opening paper range in formality and temper from the free flowing of ideas as in the three opening responses by Fred Dallmayr, Piet Strydom and Ivan Marquez to structured and formal papers such as those offered by Zazie Bowen and John Clammer. Somewhere in between these two poles my paper considers the question of rootedness and our many routes through the lens of cosmopoesis whilst Meera Chakravorty approaches Giri's work through the lens of mystical and indigenous poetry drawn from her deep knowledge of Baul, Sufi and tribal oral traditions. …

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