At LILA, we look at translation as a fundamental human act, with applications and implications that go way beyond the interlingual space. We are pleased that Lakshmi saw and appreciated the essential creative play that we are trying to integrate into the fields of knowledge and understanding. While the academic industry is inundated with theoretical papers on translation, Ambai’s lecture, the ninth in the LILA PRISM series, offered a seamlessly creative and witty study on the politics embedded in our myriad engagements with texts. Touching upon the difficulties involved in translating from other Indian languages to English with special reference to Tamil, she emphasized the need to let some linguistic mysteries be, so that cultures remain alluring.
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?