MODERNITY AND CHANGING SOCIAL FABRIC OF PUNJAB AND HARYANA
Indian Institute of Advanced Study (IIAS), Rashtrapati Nivas, Shimla (India)
27-28 September 2010
This seminar proposes to interrogate the complexities of contemporary social formation in Punjab and Haryana. The organizers underline that despite the recent emergence of post-modern studies which present a critique of the ‘abstract notion of the term modern’, modernity carries immense significance for an understanding of contemporary social processes. Apart from theoretical debates, modernity as a value system, also amply reflected in the Indian Constitution, as an alternative or contrast to orthodox traditions offers multiple historical possibilities. Many of these debates emerged earlier when the normative traditions of the different regions of India had an interface with colonialism.
The conceptual foundations of Modernity particularly in the Indian context have often been theorised by social and political scientists but these have primarily been capturing macro-aspects of our social formations. Thus we need to locate the regional diversity on the one hand, and its philosophical and material basis on the other. Also, the claims of 'state oriented modernity' have induced uneven processes of development in the regional contexts. These processes, culminating with globalisation and its inbuilt contradictions, require further interrogation to comprehend and analyse the changing social fabric of Punjab and Haryana.
After the partition and reorganization of Punjab in 1966, both Punjab and Haryana embarked on the project of Green Revolution which not only intended to ensure food security in India but also supposedly ushered a modern era in Indian economic growth. Subsequently, along with the imminent commercialisation of agriculture and increase in incomes, the capital inputs and cost of agricultural inputs also increased, thereby exposing the vulnerabilities of this project. Green revolution not only affected the economic formation of these states but also influenced the urban and rural social structures. Thus, even though the jajmani system weaned, caste structures continued to dominate social relations. Fragmentation of land affected the farm productivity, but land continued to play considerable role in defining rural social structures.
Another significant facet of the contemporary social formations of this region is its relation with the rising trend of in-migration and immigration. Although the latter began as early as late nineteenth century, its role in defining the social fabric of this region is being reflected in the current debates on society and economy. Thus, while migration has become an important facet of economic formation in this region, affecting entire spectrum of labour relations, it has also redefined the cultural and social exchanges between the swelling ranks of Diaspora and the ‘home region’.
It is as well significant to analyse the nature of caste politics of the Jats as rural elites and probe it in terms of its equations and contradictions with the debates on Sikh identity in Punjab and politics of reservations in Haryana. In this context the recent upsurge of Dera politics and its role in subaltern/dalit assertion assumes significance. It is important to underline its relative differentiation in Punjab and Haryana. There is also an apparent dichotomy between the radical critique of caste by Arya Samaj in colonial India on the one hand and dominant Jat politics in contemporary Haryana on the other. It would be further intriguing to see how caste relations in the rural and urban landscape of this region get translated in the new diasporic environments and what role do they play in redefining the caste structures in Punjab and Haryana.
Significantly, the nature of immigration and Diaspora’s perceived affluence also considerably affects the aspirations of a large segment of region’s youth and creates a paradox of the ‘lived environment’ and the ‘dream environment’. Besides, given the present context of the declining sex-ratios and incidence of crimes against women in the region, it would be essential to investigate the interplay of gender in these settings, its relation with the notion of honour, dowry, etc. A nuanced understanding of the marginal dissenting voices of the queer politics, particularly in the context of the recent Delhi High Court verdict on the issue, also becomes significant to unravel and unpack the complex nature of sexualities in the region.
Both Punjab and Haryana have pockets of Muslim populations in Malerkotla and Mewat region respectively. After the partition of Punjab these regions have drawn significant attention of some scholars, but there is an impending need for a long-term understanding of the region’s Muslims through the framework modernity. It is in this framework that this Seminar intends to probe the changing social fabric of Punjab and Haryana through following suggested themes;
1. Marriage, izzat (honour) and khap panchayats
2. Female infanticide and Foeticide
3. Farmers’ suicides and agrarian distress
4. Debates on migration and NRIs
5. Modern Diaspora
6. Caste and dalit politics/identity
7. Gender, region and religion
8. Sexuality and queer articulations
9. Modernity and urban space
10. Media, popular music and cinematic representations
11. Regional and Diaspora literature
12. Folk modernity and popular culture
13. Meos of Mewat and Punjabi Muslims of Malerkotla
14. Against modernity
15. Globalisation and changing notions of modernity
16. Paradoxical modernities
Scholars are invited to present empirically grounded and theoretically nuanced papers on the above suggested themes. These themes are merely suggestive and such papers which relate to the broader context of the Seminar, but have not have been listed above, are also invited. Interested scholars may send their abstract of around 500 words to the conveners by 15 August 2010 at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. The final papers should be sent on or before 15 September 2010.
Indian Institute of Advanced Study will make arrangements for comfortable stay of participants at Shimla. Participants from India will be reimbursed their cost of travel. For participants coming from abroad, the Institute will ONLY reimburse fare from New Delhi to Shimla and back.
Yogesh Snehi, Department of History, DAV College, Katra Sher Singh, Amritsar (Punjab)- 143006, India. Phone: +91-9501025923
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