Paula Richman discussed the Ramayana stories as represented in the South Indian traditions of Kattaikoothu, Nangiar Koothu, and Yakshagana. Prof Richman’s scintillating presentation was matched by Prof. Rustom Bharucha‘s insightful intervention as Chair. This event offered us a fine illustration of a LILA Lecture programme: the speaker is introduced in terms of her core strengths, the lecture is presented in the context of her work in its continuity, and in relevant terms as a LILA event.
Dr Rich Rice made a remarkable distinction between ‘connecting‘ and ‘networking‘. He stressed the need to find a way to develop intercultural competence in our times, in order to communicate more effectively. LILA finds Dr. Rice’s deliberations very seminal, on how new media may facilitate translocal communications in a country as complex as India. Prof. Sumanyu Satpathy served as Chair during the lecture, and facilitated a very lively interaction. The Q &A gave rise to an interesting discussion on ‘sameness‘ and ‘difference‘ in our multicultural context.
Jonathan Gil Harris’ lecture extended the discourse on the meaning of inclusiveness in the Indian context. By asking ‘what does it mean to be called a ‘firangi’ in our pluralistic space?’, Jonathan Gil Harris led us to reflect on the construction of nation, identities, and on terms such as ‘self’ and the ‘other’, ‘authentic’ and ‘foreign’. How can we responsibly place this discourse within the modern Indian state to effect the necessary transformation? How will we avoid indulgence and excesses in taking this forward in these fragmenting times?
In this first LILA PRISM lecture, ‘We Have Always Been Lesbians’ by Madhavi Menon, we tried to understand and critique our processes of constructing identities and categories in relation to sexualities. The immediate body-mind experience of an individual acquires cultural, socio-political and legal implications in our times. Then, we must ask ourselves what we really mean when we say ‘we’.