Sundarbans, Climate, Tigers, Law.

Liquidity of the Sundarbans:

If the Tigers and Cyclones Don’t Get You, the Law Will

This forms the first part of a new research concentration for me, and owes much to colleagues at Jadavpur Uni now battling the BJP monstrosity. This sort of work relies upon the University remaining an open, critical, creative and thinking place. And such works as discussed here – more than three, a whole series of works are considered, reaching back to when I first met the history and philosophy folks at Jadavpur – are indicative of what remains that is good in the university, despite all that is happening.

50 e-prints for those quick off the mark, here: https://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/AVPTDBBTQNKUBBVHPHSV/full?target=10.1080/00856401.2019.1663884

 

Screen Shot 2019-09-24 at 08.57.06

Fred Moten and Stefano Harney, saying…

From The Undercommens: Fugitive Planning and Black Study:

Harney and Moten 2013-30Harney and Moten 2013-29

 

So, as a youngster heading out to do what damage I could to the world, I inadvertently joined, as if by accident and certainly by bluff, a research project in which, in the end, it turned out that the leader, when report time came around, decided that the report back to the funding council should say that I had been incapable of doing the research required. This  because I was too cautious in not wanting to orientalise the other,. Damning indictment. I saw the thing rather differently – having joined the project to maim it, there was nothing cautious in a critique of lame versions of identity, hybridity, and oooh, culture. The critique of ethnomusicology logically followed, for form’s sake, and of exoticism, of egoistic cult scholarship and professor-ism, of the inheritance of baubles and trinkets of election to a clergy that no-one believed, not even themselves. There wasn’t even any need to condemn them as they condemned themselves, and the riposte ‘I thought you were dead’ still brings laughter and joy. In amongst the ashes and horrors, and rent-a-kill terrors. They do have the resources that still make some things possible, get in an grab some, since soon it will be gone. And all the while give some back, not just lip – I have lent out more books than I own, and I own a lot of the bloody things. leaving them lying around (though particular about not leaving them spine open, or on a wet bench. Yes, bloody things they are – written in letters of blood and fire, shares of a capital produced through pain and struggle just to escape beyond the enthusiasm-sucking routine of having to pay the rent and feed the kids while syphoning a substantial packet off into projects, and more books, because, yes, the research councils were a bit wary after that. Oh, and then apparently named the enemy of anthropology from within. I’ll take that too. With chips. More soon.

International Conference on Innovations in the Social Sciences and Humanities at Ton Duc Thang University October 4-5, 2019

International Conference at Ton Duc Thang University October 4-5, 2019

Innovations in the Social Sciences and Humanities

Innovations are the key. In method and analysis, in the ways in which scholarship engages with society and organisations today, there can be no doubting the relevance of the social science and humanities to all our pressing questions. The Innovations to be discussed at the conference challenge our thinking. The topics are wide-ranging and varied, the approaches distinctly alive; some of the papers demonstrate a vivid combination of theoretical and  practical research, some are insistently in a humanities’-oriented style, others more forthright and strictly social science, and still others experiment with the form and tone of the social sciences. Perhaps bringing new methods to Vietnam, the creativity of the social sciences and relevance of the humanities for contemporary understanding is brought out by the diversity of themes and perspectives. Of course the traditional scholarship of the social sciences is represented, but in writing that has an urgency and verve that will excite discussion.

The features include a keynote lecture by Professor Stephen Muecke, a hugely important voice in cultural studies and theorist of notions of cultural landscape and ways of reading cultural relations between settler and Aboriginal Australia. His walking method will inspire reflection.

A keynote lecture by Professor Joyce Liu on new methods of inter-Asian joint and multi-site research inaugurates a perspective on cultural research that promises new opportunities for collaboration and debate across borders, and with an engagement that should never be sacrificed in the social science and humanities. There are many urgent and relevant issues upon which scholars must comment as the leading presenters of, explorers of, and advocates for ideas

The conference as a whole addresses debates about why innovation and new methods in the social sciences and humanities in Vietnam are needed. This is to respond to clear demands within Vietnam for such methods and enthusiasms (perspectives of a number of Government and non-Government agencies have supported this with relevant statements, such as the government Global Challenges position papers in 2018, and the work of independent research units like Social Life).

Professor Ursula Rao will explore new thinking on the challenges of development in anthropology. Professor Elaine Carey on women and research, in the archive, on drugs. There are no short cuts and no easy solutions – we are challenged to think hard with the leading international scholars of our times.

The conference brings articles/panels on 43 topics by cutting edge thinkers and on themes that are urgent and pressing – for example, there is a session on the new area of sociobiology by Jon Solomon and Samiksha Bahn, or there is the panel on education provision and socialization with discussion of Vietnam and Australia on higher education successes and problems. There is an engaging panel on participatory methods as a research tool eminently suited for new ways of doing research in the social sciences and humanities. Experts and serious scholars are involved in every panel of the conference, though the discussions will spill out into conversations and publications that will continue to have an impact on scholarship in Vietnam and the region. The effect of the conference is to make TDTU one of the hubs in Vietnam for discussion of new research in these areas.

The conference is open-ended and will continue long afterwards, with consequences that will shape ongoing research. As such, the papers presented are not only about new results, so much about new ways of going about getting those results and discussing those results – fostering a culture of research in the Universities that are open to the experience of social change, the challenges of the times and globally, shifting the locus of advanced research towards the region again, so that perhaps we will begin to arrest the so-called brain-drain where so much budding talent leaves the country for several, sometimes many, years . The conference will be part of a much-needed boost to refresh the social sciences and humanities.

The key point to make is: that with a number of regional delegates – India, Indonesia, Taiwan, the Philippines – and a number of wider international guests – from the USA, Europe and Australia – this conference can be a crucial establishing part of the project of making Vietnam, and TDTU, a key hub in the region for discussions about innovative research in the social sciences and humanities – highly appropriate then that this conference will be held at TDTU – a young university, able to do things in a creative and exciting new way.

More soon…

See https://issh2019.tdtu.edu.vn

Jadavpur University and the pecuniary investment jealousy rag (need some infrastructure surely).

I don’t have cause to say so often enough, but I consider Jadavpur a second alma mater for me (just as second breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so is what I have learned at Jadavpur over 30 years sustaining). There is a long background behind this below, but those with the ability to read between the lines can make the necessary analytic dot joinings…

Screen Shot 2019-09-21 at 19.32.59

 

In a widely shared post on FB Somak Mukherjee writes passionately about what is being done to Jadavpur:

Friends and colleagues there [at JU]; I applaud your sense of integrity and courage. Stay safe. The machinery of politics is not merely random and arbitrary, but peculiarly random in its vengeful rhetoric.

Absolutely wonderful to see a large turnout yesterday for the protest procession. Current or former students, kudos to you.

A humble request in anticipation of a rising narrative, maliciously aimed at the students community of the university: that Jadavpur’s “aimless and disorganized environment/ politics” is the result of a decline in academic standard”. This rhetoric will find a large following/support in a rising section of Bengali bourgeoisie welcoming unprecedented cultural regression in our city/state. Political IT cells will ensure this narrative finds wide currency in tv shouting matches/whatsapp forwards/facebook communities.

Nothing is further from the truth. Students/teachers/scholars there already know this. But please combat this narrative with consistency and conviction.

Jadavpur University is still among the top five public universities in the naton: an astonishing feat considering the comparative but consistent against state public universities in India in the last several decades. When looking at rankings, please consider the fact that IITs lack the diversity of disciplines taught here. There are Depts+schools+centers= almost 60 academic units alone in this university, outnumbering JNU. This university always punched above its weight in the national arena with a self assured recognition of being an underdog. It champions underdogs going beyond the tired binary of success/failure in meritocracy.

I had to do a little bit of research for an article about the recent academic progress of JU. Some facts:

a) Under a specific scheme of RUSA ( Rashtriya Ucchatar Shiksha Abhiyaan) aimed at 10 state public universities, JU has been a rare exception in timely utilization of the funds disbursed in the last 4 years.

b) There are only two state public universities getting the coveted Institution of Eminence (IOE) tag: Jadavpur and Anna. If the 1000 Crores indeed get disbursed over the next five years, it can potentially double the university budget ( Proviso: this fund, apparently, cannot be allotted for additional posts: a MHRD criteria. Bizarre.) for research and overall infrastructure. Again, JU qualified despite the odds, countering indifferent and arrogant educational bureaucracy at the center. At least three major newspapers in only the last weeks have published confused and misleading news reports about 1. Amount of funding requested and, this is more crucial, 2. the proviso of state government providing the supplementary funds, attaching negative comments from state government officials. Again, apparently there is no proviso that the full funding is tied to supplementary funding from “bankrupt” state govern An independent verification and clarification of this might be useful.

3. 2018 FET placements have been astonishingly good.

Story 3 was tucked away in the corner of page 8 of a Bengali daily recently. Story 1 was hardly reported. Story 2, as I mentioned, has been reported in a confusing and self contradictory manner. My larger points: this fits a narrative of intention of the mainstream India ( English or vernacular) about which specific optics about the university should be fed to public discourse. The spectacle of passionate protest, while incredibly effective, can also take time in realizing the double edged sword of the media rhetoric. This is why the awareness of the institutional progress can be quite useful.

This university was once “unfashionably” nationalistic in pre-independence time. It did not care when critics railed against the university enrolling revolutionaries as mature students. This university employed one of the greatest 20th century Bengali poets despite his lack of formal ‘qualifications’. This university made a 25 year old founding HOD of its economics department. Then, it was made fun of for its suburban obscurity. Yet it thrived: because of its gloriously scattered intellectual currents relished the accusation of suburban subversions with delightful irony. Times changed: hell, KP took over jurisdiction. But JU remained sufficiently downmarket for the elite of the ‘proper south’ and yet marvelously dreamy for suburbia kids like myself.

I know these are deeply cynical times, but I will stick my neck out and say: best days for Jadavpur are yet to come. If you agree then good: strength of optimism can be quite revolutionary itself. If you disagree, then disregard this rant as an inevitable outcome of suburban longings. Jadavpur was never Calcutta’s university. It was/and still is, a gateway university.

Global South Asia On Screen: India only edition.

via Global South Asia On Screen: India only edition.

Screenshot 2018-12-26 at 10.22.29

Available from Aakar Books Here.

Rest of the world here (bloomsbury paperback in November)

https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4826-8949

 

Just because its only out cheaply in India does not mean you canot still buy stauff – the Hardback is 20 quid on some sites.

ANd there are a few older things still kicking about:

 

John Hutnyk is the author of Bad Marxism (Pluto Press, 2004) and Critique of Exotica …
The Rumour of Calcutta: Tourism, Charity and the Poverty of Representation [John Hutnyk] on Amazon.com. *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers.

Mother of Pearl

Moving from detective fiction in Thailand to commercial reproduction makes sense when its Angela Savage. This is my next non-work read:

Screen Shot 2019-09-09 at 14.32.15

Some review snippets lifted from Angela’s blog:

Marian Woolf’s review A gripping story of surrogacy, sisters and power dynamics in The Age and Sydney Morning Herald

Surrogacy and the complicated moral and ethical questions around commercial reproduction is a minefield. The decision to use a surrogate, to become a surrogate, or to facilitate a surrogate pregnancy, are all examined in Mother of Pearl.
However, Savage is interested in more than the individual, and uses surrogacy as a lens through which to probe the differences between Third and First World choices. She tiptoes into frustration at the inward nature of Australian charity, our generosity towards our own relatively wealthy society while seemingly immune to the already poor elsewhere.

Ultimately … Mother of Pearl is a book about relationships – between people, countries and cultures – between those who have, and those who have not.

Linda Jaivin reviewed Mother of Pearl for The Saturday Paper.

‘At times, each character veers dangerously close to stereotype… But author Angela Savage is too skilful a writer to deal in clichés. As the narrative of this, her fourth novel, develops, each of the women reveals herself to be more complex and capable than she first appears.’

Savage, who writes with a tough mind and tender heart, tackles the moral and ethical issues around surrogacy with an unsentimental yet sympathetic eye: this is a novel, not a polemic.

Ken Hayley in the Courier Mail, writes:

‘Even a hard-bitten old codger like myself found certain passages of this work tearful going … Authorial attention to technical detail combined with raw emotional honesty and cross-cultural empathy has produced a narrative of resounding depth … This book is a window opening onto an intersection of economic choices and biological imperatives. We have here a rough literary equivalent of the Mexican movie Roma, except that Savage sees the view, with equal clarity, from both sides.’

And then from the transit lounge sales page for the book, the blurb followed by a review by Christos:

A luminous and courageous story about the hopes and dreams we all have for our lives and relationships, and the often fraught and unexpected ways they may be realised.

Angela Savage draws us masterfully into the lives of Anna, an aid worker trying to settle back into life in Australia after more than a decade in Southeast Asia; Meg, Anna’s sister, who holds out hope for a child despite seven fruitless years of IVF; Meg’s husband Nate, and Mukda, a single mother in provincial Thailand who wants to do the right thing by her son and parents.

The women and their families’ lives become intimately intertwined in the unsettling and extraordinary process of trying to bring a child into the world across borders of class, culture and nationality. Rich in characterisation and feeling, Mother of Pearl and the timely issues it raises will generate discussion among readers everywhere.

‘This is a story of family and motherhood, and also a story of culture and exploitation that asks us to think through the costs of our insatiable desire in the West to have everything. What I find remarkable about this novel is how it refuses easy and lazy judgement, how it takes seriously questions of loss, longing, and our human need to connect with each other.’

Christos Tsiolkas, author of The Slap

and finally:

‘A beautifully crafted novel from an incredibly gifted writer. Angela Savage explores the ethical minefield of international surrogacy through the stories of three women, desperate but determined to repair the broken parts of their lives The prose is as precise as it is poetic, the characters so deftly drawn. I read this book compulsively, racing to its poignant conclusion with my heart in my throat.’

Melanie Cheng, author of Australia Day and Room for a Stranger

 

With reviews like this…

Marx on farming, money markets, silver to India and umbrella manufacture

The recent excerpts from Marx’s notebooks from 1866-1869 coming out in MEGA IV / 19 offer much of fabulous interest (after the revelations of IV/18). Here he is cribbing notes from The Economist and is revealed yet again as concerned with the ecology and exploitation of agriculture, of the Raj expropriations in India (drain on silver) and micro detail about production processes.

And all this in a marvellous German-English mish-mash as all notes can be. Recall this is a year after the publication of Capital vol 1.

Here he is on English farming:

Grosser Unterschied z. B. in Midland Counties agreements, containing terms and stipulations so one-sided, so onerous and unfair towards the tenant farmers that incredible. Besides regulations as to cropping and farm-management, which place the tenants most completely at the landlord’s mercy, provided that the landlord shall have power to distrain for his rent a year or 9 months in advance! Z. B. where a tenancy commenced on 25. March, when one quarter’s rent due on 24. June, the landlord is empowered by the terms to enforce by distress the whole year’s rent to then following 25. March – 9 months in advance! Diese tenants have little or no capital, kaum any live stock of their own, also obliged to let their grass and aftergrass, or to take in stock to keep, in order to consume the produce of their land. In such cases, the hirers of the grass, or the putters out of the livestock, have no idea that their animals can be seized for payment of the tenants’ rent in advance. Yet in some districts the landlord or his agent relies on the opportunity of distraining the stock of strangers to secure the payment 13of the tenants’ rent. Wenn Dazu reservation u. preservation of game, the tenant farmers in a terrestrial purgatory. Lausestand dieser estates, charged too, meist mit debts and encumbrances.

Dagegen Musterfarm of Mr. Robert Leeds, of the West Lexham (Graf Leicester landlord), near Brandon, Norfolk. 1200 acres land, 1100 arable, 50 water meadows. „Whoever knows the district will be aware that the soil is light and sandy, only to be farmed profitably by being farmed highly.“ 20 years lease, Jagdrecht allein der tenant etc

„The homestead is fitted up with the best possible machinery, where corn is dressed, chaff cut, seed crushed, and cake ground by steam power. This cake a grand consideration at Lexham, where from 3 to 4 times the rent of the farm is annually expended in feeding stuffs and artificial manures. Er buys forward animals at from 20l. to 25l. each, and puts these on all the cake and corn they can eat, but never more than 2 bushels of roots a day. The beasts are on the farm 12‒16 weeks, and the yards are continually filled up with animals as those fit are disposed of. Except the bullocks bought in for grazing the water meadows, and which do not require any until July, alles sonst at Lexham is always eating cake, and the flock of ewes are now having 12 pound of cotton cake, with a limited ratio of bran at night. The breeding flock averages 300 ewes, and about 1200 hoggets are fattened during winter.“

and here on umbrellas (and books):

„In the case of the umbrella and parasol manufacture, the cover, as a constituent element of construction, represents from the entire cost of the finished article. The silk, the alpaca and Scotish gingham, of which the covers are made, are all imported, the former paying a duty of 60% and the latter two about 50% ad valorem, the variation being slight on the quality of the texture. The manufactured umbrella, covered with the same material, whose constituent parts are not taxed, either on the material used in their fabrication or on their sale, are, however, admitted under the present tariff at a duty of 35% ad valorem, or at a discriminating duty against the American and in favour of the foreign producer of from 15 to 25%. If we make allowance for the various U. St. internal revenue taxes, it is claimed by the American manufacturer that the discrimination in favour of the foreign producer is fully equal to 40%. It needs hardly to be added that, during the past 6 months imported umbrellas have been sold at auction in New York and Boston, with the original cost, duty, freight and charges paid in gold, for a less price than the American article can be manufactured; or that the business of making umbrellas and parasols in New York and Philadelphia, involving a capital of 2,000,000 dollars and employing the labour of some 5000 persons, a majority of whom are females, is threatened with utter destruction. In two instances cited to the Commission, umbrella manufactures have closed their factories in the U. St., and, with a view of exporting to this country, have transferred their capital and skill to Europe. In a communication submitted to the Commission by a committee of umbrella manufacturers, they state that, unless relief is speedily obtained, we can perceive no other possible course to pursue but the alternative of retiring entirely from the field, and leaving it entirely to foreign hands.“

Ebenso mit [also with] books.

„The Commission would add that at the present time the one article which, above all others, would seem to be a peculiar product of American industry, viz. Webster’s Spelling Book, is now being printed in large quantities in London for the use of American schools.“

 

and finally on India and Silver (dig at the irony of the French as couriers) and the implications for fluctuating credit availability, which is key to Volume three:

For the present the foreign drain (to the East) is checked; the silver market in London is dull.

Where does our gold go? Früher, in drain to India, silver went, nicht gold. Grund: Till a recent period, whatever silver was wanted for India was collected on the Continent and sent here. We sent it on to India. But now there is a French compagny sending silver, and French seamen carrying it from Marseilles without its coming here … Our gold goes to pay for the silver which formerly used to be sent to us bodily; but now it is used on our account indirectly, it is transmitted from Marseilles to India to pay our debts.

Many people wonder why, when there is a quick rise of money in Lombard Street, it should be cheap on the Stock Exchange. It is cheap in the latter, because it has quickly changed in the former. The quick change makes people uncertain u. dann der easiest market ist der Stock Exchange „from day to day“. Discount houses etc deal dann möglichst wenig in bills, use it daher on the Stock Exchange, where they can have it at once, just because they do not feel sure enough of the future to lock up their resources till definite dates.

 

https://megadigital.bbaw.de/exzerpte/detail.xql?id=1

The Higher Learning

“even the scholars occupied with the “humanities,” are at pains to find some colourable answer that shall satisfy the worldly-wise that this learning for which they speak is in some way useful for pecuniary gain” – Thorstein Veblen, 1919.

Veblen.jpg.860x0_q70_crop-scale

building my TB fan site.

 

Also: “Among the immediate consequences of this latter feature, as shown in the example of the law schools, is a relatively high cost. The schedule of salaries in the law schools attached to the universities, e. g., runs appreciably higher than in the university proper ; the reason being, of course, that men suitable efficiently to serve as instructors and directive officials in a school of law are almost necessarily men whose services in the practice of the law would command a high rate of pay. What is needed in the law school (as in the school of commerce) is men who are practically conversant with the ways and means of earning large fees, that being the point of it all”  Veblen on p214 of The Higher Learning. [My italics]

Comparison

Cities of Entanglements: Social Life in Johannesburg and Maputo Through Ethnographic Comparison.

By Barbara Heer  (2019 transcript Verlag, Bielefeld)

 

Screen Shot 2019-09-03 at 15.44.40

and on page 282:

Screen Shot 2019-09-03 at 15.43.53

 

 

yes, jealous the supervisory Hannerz get to say it: anths giving up what they cannot avoid. Ah well. If I was not already the enemy of anthropology in 1990, I was certainly aspiring to it.

And still:

https://www.academia.edu/37841048/City_The_museum_of_vernacular_regeneration