A parleyArts Colloquium on The Popular & the Idea of the Mass, Delhi October 2011

Popular is one of the most widely circulated terms in contemporary critical vocabulary: in literature, politics and social studies, it pertains to the ordinary, the accessible, well-liked, informal, and to policies and artefacts benefiting people. The idea of the mass, on the other hand, is originally a Christian liturgical concept which took distinct left ideological connotations: one thinks of rousing artisans and small producers, vagabonds and whore-mongers as constituting the modern mass: a unified body of unspecified quantity of people of low socioeconomic status. A sense of purpose and spontaneity coalesce at the same time. There seems to be, almost, a natural relationship between the popular and the masses.

But is this relationship evolving and transforming? The economically upwardly-mobile middling sorts and cultural nationalists fiercely demand a communitarian space that redefines radically the idea of the masses. The sense of purpose is individualistic, ritualistic and well-worked-out. When does the idea of the popular veer to the populist—to personalism, authoritarianism and manipulative ventures? Economically, such a brand of popular is identified with fiscal profligacy that exchanges short-term gain for long-term pain. Cultural and artistic artefacts—from blogs and pamphlets to graphic literature and the performative space are also now re-routed through other kinds of negotiations between the popular and massification. 

Come October, parleyArts, in its maiden day-long colloquium, would like to facilitate discussion, debate and polemics on this fraught subject. Come, join a heated session of considered adda.

The programme and speakers to be announced soon.


A parleyArts Conversation on Documentary Film Practice, Delhi, February 2012

margHumanities is delighted to partner Magic Lantern Foundation in extending its Persistence Resistance Film Festival of 2012 to conversations on campus on contemporary documentary film practice between filmmakers, academics, critics and students of cinema. The programme will be organised in collaboration with the Magic Lantern Foundation and 4 colleges of London University with whom the MLF is launching a series of such discussions in November this year, and will bring these confabulations back to Delhi around the time of the film festival in the city.
The Magic Lantern Foundation has organised 4 editions of the Persistence Resistance Film Festival in Delhi since 2008 which has grown into a signal winter event in the city at which, along with a bonanza of films, MLF attempts to bring together artists and art movements spanning diverse mediums to explore symbiotic relationships between various art forms. The Festival also tries to complement the diversity of its films with a similar diversity in viewing experience by creating a multitude of screening spaces.
In connection with the next edition of Persistence Resistance Film Festival to be held at the India International Centre, New Delhi, in mid-February 2012, we plan to expand the reach of the Festival to the space of the campus where film practitioners and scholars will engage in lively exchanges on documentary film praxis.

Watch this space for more details as plans unfurl.


1st international GHI conference, Charlottesville, USA, April 2012

Our 1st international GHI conference will be hosted by Professor Mchael Levenson, Director of the Humanities Center at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, USA, in April 2012.
As the Conference that will flag off the Global Humanities Initiative that is proposed to travel to at least 4-6 different parts of the world in the following 3 years, this meeting will start from the premise that whatever serious difficulties may confront distinct fields in different countries, the Humanities are not likely to disappear. And it is the task of all of us to sustain it.

  1. But on what terms? At what scale? Under what constraints? Fashioning what kind of resistance?
  2. The 1st GHI international conference will address the reach of implication posed by such questions; it will also respect the specificity and variety of circumstances. Acknowledgment of the diverse settings is indispensable to the work of the GHI.
  3. There are, of course, trans-national and cross-disciplinary perspectives on central questions recurrent around the world that have taken on a global character.

Any effort to appraise the current state must recognize the scale of the problem as requiring fully international collaboration, dialogue and debate. The 1st GHI will attempt to bring to one table the global and the local, the problems and the privileges of practising the Humanities in the 21st century.


2nd international GHI conference, New Delhi, August 2012

Our 2nd international GHI conference, The Humanities in Ferment: Strategizing for Our Times, is proposed to be held at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi, in August 2012.
This conference will broadly approach the debates around the current 'crisis of the Humanities' in four areas:

  1. Critical Thinking in Arts and Aesthetics
  2. Text, Print, Interpretations
  3. Ethics and Subjectivities
  4. Literature and Politics

In an eclectic mix of serious round-table engagements, papers, and performances through 3 days, the conference will critically and academically consider questions of the Humanities in these four areas. Speakers and performers from Delhi and around India, as well as from abroad, will take part in these deliberations, which we hope will make a significant contribution to an emergent debate.

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