Tata Institute of Social Sciences
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2nd Hetukar Jha Memorial Lecture at TISS Patna Centre


Feb. 17, 2019

Public Event

Second Hetukar Jha Memorial Lecure

by Savyasaachi, Professor of Sociology, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi

Title of Lecture

‘The Unwanted’: The Normative Fetish and Epistemological Trust


How inclusive can modernity be is perhaps not entirely dependent on good governance with the three arms of a democratic polity namely, the legislature, judiciary and the executive. This observation is an acknowledgement of the ontological imperative of the ‘rule’ that is, in all its forms, be it laws or customs or conventions, it draws boundary lines between prescribed and proscribed modes of thought and codes of conduct. In the absence of rule or with the annihilation of rule, as such social life cannot be conceived on the one hand and ‘all inclusiveness’ in not possible, on the other. Correspondingly, some people will be excluded at any point of time.

One significant attribute of modernity is that it makes for individuals and collectives a clear ground with adequate and appropriate reflexive knowledge for negotiating these boundary lines not only within of the democratic polity (with its three arms) but in all forums and sites of social interaction in society at large. This grounds and contours the discussion on freedom, equality and fraternity.  For this reason, it is different and desirable over non-modern/not-modern social structures where these boundaries lines based on non-reflexive knowledge are fixed such that collectives either suffocate individuals (e.g. orthodox social institutions such as caste) or individuals undermine the collective (e. g., dictatorships).  

Accordingly, the promise of modernity is in the possibility of negotiating the dissolution of boundary lines. This is the basis of a hope that over time fewer and fewer will be excluded and, will be freed from the ontology of the rule to ensure what is good for individuals is also good for the collectives and vice versa.  

In this paper, I try to draw attention to a growing populations who have been waiting ever since modernity came with its promise, to become part of the process of negotiation. I have tried to argue that so long as this waiting is prolonged these people live as ‘beings in endless waiting’ they are ‘unwanted’, that underlying this prolongation there is discernible a certain epistemological deceit of attributing these people with what they are not and, this reflects a ‘normative fetish’ as an attribute of contemporary social life.

I also try to suggest that to be released from this fetish it is worthwhile to listen to what these people have to say.

Venue: Hotel Buddha Inn, Plot 14/D, East Boring Canal Road, Opp. Sidodiya Palace, S.K. Puri,
Patna - 800001.

Note: Since seats are limited in the hall, kindly confirm your participation by mail to: patnacentre@tiss.edu.

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