We are privileged to have Dr. Nandini Sundar, professor of sociology, Delhi University, winner of the Infosys Prize for Social Sciences in 2010, and who has been writing about Bastar and its people for 26 years, in residence as the Indo-American Community Lecturer at the Institute for South Asia Studies in November 2017.
In this talk, Dr. Sundar will attempt to explore the aporias of democracy, to show how both procedural and substantive democracy, or at least certain constructs of need operate to render the lives of sections of the citizenry precarious. More specifically, in the context of an ongoing civil war in central India between Maoist guerilla and the Indian state, she will argue that far from being a palliative or alternative to insurgency, Indian democracy as practiced today both in its procedural electoral aspects, and its substantive welfare aspects may serve as an active tool of counterinsurgency and a means of evading accountability.
About the Speaker
Nandini Sundar is a professor of sociology at the Delhi School of Economics whose research interests include political sociology, law, and inequality. Professor Sundar is a recipient of the Infosys Prize for Social Sciences in 2010, for which the citation reads: Professor Nandini Sundar is an outstanding social anthropologist of South Asia, who has made major and original contributions to our understanding of environmental struggles, of the impact of central and state policies on tribal politics, and of the moral ambiguities associated with subaltern political movements in contemporary India. These contributions are anchored in her deep grasp of the legacies of colonial rule for cultural politics in contemporary India, and in theoretically innovative understanding of the relationship of major historical events to persistent structural tensions in Indian society. Professor Sundar has placed her detailed studies of tribal politics in Central India in the broader frame of studies of the law, bureaucracy and morality in modern India. In so doing, she has combined innovative empirical and ethnographic methods and cutting-edge approaches to those sociological debates which link the study of social change in modern India to central debates in comparative social theory
Professor Nandini Sundar obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Oxford University in 1989 and Master of Arts, Master of Philosophy and Ph.D. degrees in Anthropology from Columbia University in 1989, 1991 and 1995 respectively.
Professor Sundar was the co-editor of India's flagship sociology journal Contributions to Indian Sociology along with Professor Amita Baviskar from 2007-11. She is associated with several governing boards of academic journals, government committees and non-governmental organizations in various capacities and working on issues related to the environment, tribal rights and discrimination/exclusion.
She is currently a Professor in the Department of Sociology at the Delhi School of Economics. She has held visiting positions at Punjab, Yale, Michigan, Cambridge and Chandigarh universities. She was awarded the M. N. Srinivas Memorial Prize of the Indian Sociological Society in 2002-03, the L. M. Singhvi Visiting Fellowship at Cambridge in 2003, the Hughes Visiting Fellowship at Michigan in 2005, and the Ester Boserup Prize for Development Research in 2016.
Her publications include The Burning Forest: India's War in Bastar (Juggernaut Press, 2016), The Scheduled Tribes and their India (edited volume, OUP, 2016), Civil Wars in South Asia: State, Sovereignty, Development (Sage 2014, co-edited), Subalterns and Sovereigns: An Anthropological History of Bastar (2nd ed 2007, 1997), Branching Out: Joint Forest Management in India (co-authored, OUP, 2001), Legal Grounds: Natural Resources, Identity and the Law in Jharkhand (edited OUP, 2009), Anthropology in the East: The founders of Indian sociology and anthropology (co-edited, Permanent Black, 2007) A New Moral Economy for India's Forests (co-edited, Sage, 1999).
Dr. Sundar's research interests are wide and include citizenship, war and counterinsurgency in South Asia, indigenous identity and politics in South Asia, the sociology of law and inequality. Her public writings are available in her blogpost here.
About the Lecture Series
The Indo-American Community Lectureship in India Studies is a part of UC Berkeley's Indo-American Community Chair in India Studies, a chair endowed in 1990-91 with the support of the CG of India in San Francisco, the Hon. Satinder K. Lambah and hundreds of members of the Indo-American community. This lectureship enables ISAS, with the support of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), to bring prominent individuals from India to Berkeley to deliver a lecture and interact with campus and community members during a two-week stay. Past Lectureship holders include Upendra Baxi, Andre Beteille, Madhav Gadgil, Ramachandra Guha, Meenakshi Mukherjee, Narendra Panjwani, Anuradha Kapur, Ashis Nandy, Amita Baviskar, Romila Thapar, Nivedita Menon, and Pratap Bhanu Mehta.