ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Climate Change as Meme

The ideas and concepts which make up climate change can be viewed through the theory of meme, as developed by Richard Dawkins. This helps us understand how these ideas emerged from the scientific discourse and have permeated social life and action, being transmitted and transformed in this act. A better recognition of how these memes function will help us understand the manner in which climate change is perceived and acted upon.

Heritage Appropriation: The Patiala Festival

Heritage is a contested arena - a fact brought out during the recent Patiala heritage week celebrations in Punjab. Patiala's heritage is evident in its rich tradition in the fine arts, patronised by its erstwhile ruling family. However, another aspect of its heritage - the politically oppressive rule by its royal family - has been entirely glossed over. Sagas of exploitation, however, are still preserved in folk memories and songs of the peasantry.

Civilisational Change: Markets and Privatisation among Indigenous Peoples

The paper deals with changes in the social and economic system of indigenous peoples upon integration into market systems. The change in production norms is not confined to elite accumulation but also results in a change at all levels, marking a civilisational change from a system based on stability to one based on accumulation. The new norms, however,come at the price of loss of guaranteed access to productive resources, the decline of traditional social welfare systems and the spread of commoditisation. Such a transition, however, need not be a surrender to laissez-faire or neo-liberal policies, but can deal with negativities, including increasing masculine domination. New forms of community and continued non-market access to critical resources, like land and forests, would allow for a greater spread of the benefits.

Where Have the Mangoes Gone?

Mangoes have always been the most popular illustrations in primary school mathematics textbooks. But they have been replaced by apples, peaches, hazelnuts and cherries in the brand new NCERT textbook for class one. Worse still is the replacement of the Indian bullock cart with an American model. Serious note must be taken of these changes since illustrations play an important pedagogic role in school textbooks.

Jarwas of Andaman Islands

For long an isolated community in the Andaman Isands resisting any contact with the outside world, the Jarwas underwent a 'sudden' transformation in the late 1990s. The 'problem of the changing' behaviour of the Jarwas was articulated by outsiders - experts and others - as one driven by contradictions imposed by a changing world and the Jarwas need to preserve their own cultures. Such articulations, however, follow a similar trajectory of thought that has prevailed largely unchanged through much of colonial and post-independence India. It is a view that continues to ignore the Jarwas' worldview and their own need to 'reinterpret' a changing environment.

Gender, Culture and Space in the Shimla Mall

The 'mall' in Shimla has imparted to the town a distinct identity, its own identity, too has been shaped over time. Though a colonial ambience persists, it has managed to transgress colonial boundaries, and today reflects more modern sensations and perceptions. For women especially, it is a place not merely for shopping but a forum to seek their own identity.

Conceptualising Popular Culture

The sphere of cultural studies, as it has developed in India, has viewed the 'popular' in terms of mass-mediated forms - cinema and art. Its relative silence on caste-based cultural forms or forms that contested caste is surprising, since several of these forms had contested the claims of national culture and national identity. While these caste-based cultural practices with their roots in the social and material conditions of the dalits and bahujans have long been marginalised by bourgeois forms of art and entertainment, the category of the popular lives on and continues to relate to everyday lives, struggles and labour of different classes, castes and gender. This paper looks at caste-based forms of cultural labour such as the lavani and the powada as grounds on which cultural and political struggles are worked out and argue that struggles over cultural meanings are inseparable from struggles of survival.

Violence of Commodity Aesthetics

As increasing trends point to businesses and political parties targeting persons rather than masses, forms of patriarchal authority are softened and diffused, leading to a revision of the older distinctions that prevailed between public and private. At the same time, as relations between individuals are mediated more through markets and media, they also generate new kinds of rights and new capacities for imagination along with new ideas of belonging or inclusion that in turn, lead to novel ways of exercising citizenship rights and conceiving politics. This experience of inclusion in new circuits of communication and of sharing intellectual property across classes, such as seen with television, can help to politicise those sections previously marginalised. This paper, examines the implications of this argument in terms of recent debates over the rights of the hawker, or the 'pheriwala', in Mumbai.

Historical Identity and Cultural Difference

Questions of identity and difference have often been articulated within two broad strands of scholarship. One that stresses transnational processes and overlapping histories and the other that looks to the fragmentary and everyday processes in the past and the present, emphasising critical difference over historical identity. This paper explores two critical events of current history; two seemingly disparate cases that show persistent affinities - the opening ceremony of the Sydney Games in 2000 and the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas early this year - as a starting point in thinking through discrete academic orientations toward identity and difference.

Metaphors of Membership

Culture, Space and the NationState: From Sentiment to Structure by Dipankar Gupta; Sage Publications, New Delhi, 2000; pp 282, Rs 445.

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