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Accepted paper:

Women's Vocality, Radical Sociality & Audiovisual Ethnography in Rural India

Author:

Rajat Nayyar (York University)

Paper short abstract:

My paper explores how we may attend to the ethics, accountability, and frictions within interventionist futures anthropology in rural India. I analyze the theory and practice of an audio-visual ethnography that constituted new futures through women's radically imagined vocalities and socialities.

Paper long abstract:

My paper explores the theory, methodology and practice of an interventionist futures anthropology within the context of economic development in rural India, where we constantly experience friction between our concern with the dispossession of rural values (Costa 2010), and the aspirations and imaginings (Appadurai 2013) of agrarian communities. I focus on my recent audiovisual ethnography with Aaji, a Dalit (lower-caste) woman from Burhwal village who had worked in the rice fields for forty years and became "Ropani" (a woman who sows paddy) every monsoon season. What began as a film project about Aaji's relationship with singing transformed into an interventionist, future-oriented project that attempted to constitute a performative space to examine the ontological and temporal politics of women's 'intangible' cultural heritage within the everyday life of the village. Aaji began to spearhead efforts to reimagine vocal traditions by bringing women of different ages and castes to sing in newly conceived village gatherings every evening. Such possibilities for interaction, place-making, filmmaking/digital archiving, and future-making directly complicate the restrictions that colonial, patriarchal, social reform, and Hindu nationalist movements have placed on the public performances of women and lower-caste people in India. I highlight the frictions that arose between stakeholders as community members of different genders, generations, and castes brought forth multiple visions of the future. Using videoclips, I hope to discuss how we may attend to the issues in accountability and ethics of interventionist anthropology, where community members are negotiating futures through radically imagined vocalities and socialities.

panel P026
Futures Anthropology as Interventional Theory and Practice [Future Anthropologies Network]