Remaindered Life (2022), with Neferti Tadiar
In Remaindered Life Neferti X. M. Tadiar offers a new conceptual vocabulary and framework for rethinking the dynamics of a global capitalism maintained through permanent imperial war. Tracking how contemporary capitalist accumulation depends on producing life-times of disposability, Tadiar focuses on what she terms remaindered life—practices of living that exceed the distinction between life worth living and life worth expending. Through this heuristic, Tadiar reinterprets the global significance and genealogy of the surplus life-making practices of migrant domestic and service workers, refugees fleeing wars and environmental disasters, criminalized communities, urban slum dwellers, and dispossessed Indigenous people. She also examines artists and filmmakers in the Global South who render forms of various living in the midst of disposability. In this popular podcast, we discuss the underlying logics that produce certain populations “waste,” and how “waste” undergirds the global empire of capitalist production. We also think with what remains, as the “remainder,” and how that can be a cause for hope, joy, and an escape, however brief, from the permanent war Tadiar’s writing forces us to recognize.
Courting Desire: Litigating for Love in North India (2020, with Rama Srinivasan
Through ethnographic research in courtrooms, community, and kinship spaces, Rama Srinivasan outlines the transformations in material culture and political economy that have led to renewed negotiations on the institution of marriage in North India, especially in legal spaces. Tracing organically evolving notions of sexual consent and legal subjectivity, Courting Desire underlines how non-normative decisions regarding marriage become possible in a region otherwise known for high instances of honor killings and rigid kinship structures. In our podcast, Rama and I traverse the aspirations and desires of inter-caste and inter-faith couples, and reflect on what that tells us about love, its place in north-Indian society, and its legislation across the sites of law, family, the courtroom, and the community.
Village Ties: Women, NGOs, and Informal Institutions in Rural Bangladesh (2021), with Nayma Qayum
Across the global South, poor women’s lives are embedded in their social relationships and governed not just by formal institutions – rules that exist on paper – but by informal norms and practices. Qayum’s macro-level sociological analysis reveals that grassroots women’s mobilization programs can empower women to challenge informal institutions when such programs are anti-oppression, deliberative, and embedded in their communities. In our conversation, we discuss how empowerment within the frameworks of transnational non-governmental organizing can offer limited but necessary mobility to the women involved, and how it can change the structure of social relations within the families, communities, and towns involved in such projects.
Pink Revolutions: Globalization, Hindutva, and Queer Triangles in Contemporary India (2021), with Nishant Shahani
In Pink Revolutions, Shahani describes how queer politics in India occupies an uneasy position between the forces of neoliberal globalization, on the one hand, and the nationalist Hindu fundamentalism that has emerged since the 1990s, on the other. He argues that this tension implicates queer politics within messy entanglements and knotted ideological triangulations, geometries of power in which local understandings of “authentic” nationalism brush up against global agendas of multinational capital. In our podcast, we chat about the various limits and possibilities of queer politics in India’s contemporary landscape.
Living with HIV in Post-Crisis Times: Beyond the Endgame (2021), with David Murray
In the anthology, Living with HIV in Post-Crisis Times, edited by David Murray, all the authors critique the claim that the end of the HIV/AIDS crisis is near and that HIV/AIDS is now a chronic but manageable disease. The contributors to Living with HIV in Post-Crisis Times explore how diverse communities of people living with HIV (PLHIV) and organizations that support them are navigating physical, social, political, and economic challenges during these so-called “post-crisis” times. In our conversation, David and I discuss the need to problematize “crisis” narratives, reveal the failures of HIV/AIDS management globally, and engage with broader questions of how we must imagine public health in times of increasing privatization. Finally, we think with with what this book teaches us about the Covid-19 pandemic.
Complaint! (2021), with Sara Ahmed
In Complaint! Sara Ahmed examines what we can learn about power from those who complain about abuses of power. Drawing on oral and written testimonies from academics and students who have made complaints about harassment, bullying, and unequal working conditions at universities, Ahmed explores the gap between what is supposed to happen when complaints are made and what actually happens. This book offers a systematic analysis of the methods used to stop complaints and a powerful and poetic meditation on what complaints can be used to do. In this episode, we chat about their journey of collecting the narratives of this book, how complaint can be a feminist pedagogy, how it can queer time, the politics of evidencing & testimony, & much more.
Unruly Figures: Queerness, Sex Work, and the Politics of Sexuality in Kerala (2019), with Navaneetha Mokkil
Navaneetha Mokkil tracks the cultural practices through which sexual figures—particularly the sex worker and the lesbian—are produced in the public imagination. Her analysis includes representations of the prostitute figure in popular media, trajectories of queerness in Malayalam films, public discourse on lesbian sexuality, the autobiographical project of sex worker and activist Nalini Jameela, and the memorialization of murdered transgender activist Sweet Maria, showing how various marginalized figures stage their own fractured journeys of resistance in the post-1990s context of globalization. In the episode, we chat about her book in the larger context of politics and culture in Kerala, and more.
Hijras, Lovers, Brothers: Surviving Sex and Poverty in Rural India (2021), with Vaibhav Saria
Against easy framings of hijras that render them marginalized, Saria shows how hijras makes the normative Indian family possible. The book also shows that particular practices of hijras, such as refusing to use condoms or comply with retroviral regimes, reflect not ignorance, irresponsibility, or illiteracy but rather a specific idiom of erotic asceticism arising in both Hindu and Islamic traditions. This idiom suffuses the densely intertwined registers of erotics, economics, and kinship that inform the everyday lives of hijras and offer a repertoire of self-fashioning beyond the secular horizons of public health or queer theory. In this widely heard episode, we chat about their book, our disdain for Lacan, the ethical and moral worlds of anthropologists, and much more.
Indian Migration and Empire: A Colonial Genealogy of the Modern State (2018), with Radhika Mongia
How did states come to monopolize control over migration? What do the processes that produced this monopoly tell us about the modern state? Radhika Mongia provocatively argues that the formation of colonial migration regulations was dependent upon, accompanied by, and generative of profound changes in normative conceptions of the modern state. Focused on state regulation of colonial Indian migration between 1834 and 1917, Mongia illuminates the genesis of central techniques of migration control. In this episode, we talk about how state control of migration was critical to the transformation of a world dominated by empire-states into a world dominated by nation-states, about consent and its temporality, pandemic borders, and more.
For a more expansive history of my institutional and voluntary service, you can find my full length CV below.