Modern South Asian Studies seminar MT21 Wk 5: Citizenship, Publicness and the Politics of Inclusive Democracy in India

Conveners: Nayanika Mathur, Imre Bangha, Kira Huju, Thiruni Kelegama and Anwesha Roy

Speakers: Suryakant Waghmore (IIT-Bombay); Hugo Gorringe (University of Edinburgh)

Suryakant Waghmore and Hugo Gorringe will discuss their recent edited volume on civility in India. Democracy and its success can very often be reduced to political institutions and procedures, but democracy has socio-cultural meanings and has always carried with it the possibility that the majority might tyrannize minorities.  The vote for Brexit in Britain and the presidential election of Donald Trump in the USA arguably signify growing solidarity on racial and ethnic lines in these western democracies. Indeed, in democracies across the world issues of social and economic inequalities are increasingly framed along ethno-cultural lines, and India provides no postcolonial exception to this generalisation. Collective identities in democracies in an age of information revolution and hyper-globalisation need not be cosmopolitan and can privilege cultural majoritarianism, simultaneously constructing a fear of minority cultures and numbers.  Such fears mobilized on cultural grounds through democratic processes and procedures could bring many projects of subaltern emancipation into conflict with majoritarian sensibilities. While democracy as a global project has significant achievements over the last century, present developments and past experiences highlight the universal problems of achieving trust and greater civility. In this talk we engage with the central concept of civility and offer an insight into the contributions of the volume.

Suryakant Waghmore is a public sociologist and professor of Sociology at the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT-Bombay, he earned his PhD in Sociology as a Commonwealth Scholar from University of Edinburgh (2011). He is author of Civility against Caste (2013) and Co-editor of Civility in Crisis (2020) with Hugo Gorringe. He was recently awarded the New India Foundation Fellowship (2021) to work on his book tentatively titled, Is a Post Caste City Possible? He was previously Professor and Chairperson at the Centre for Social Justice and Governance, TISS (Mumbai) and has held visiting faculty positions at Fudan University, University of Hyderabad, Stanford University and Göttingen University. 

Hugo Gorringe is a senior lecturer in Sociology and the Co-Director of the Centre for South Asian Studies at the University of Edinburgh. His research focuses on the interplay between caste, politics and Dalit movements in Tamil Nadu. He is author of Untouchable Citizens (Sage, 2005) and Panthers in Parliament: Dalits, Caste and Political Power in South India, as well as numerous articles on chapters on identity, violence, space, caste and politics. Having grown up in Tamil Nadu, he has a long-standing interest in Tamil cinema.

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