Every End is a New Beginning: The Teach-in on “Nation and Nationalism” to be Followed by New Lecture Series on “Azadi”

17 March 2016 | 05:00 PM: Today, the Teach-in at the “Freedom Square” completed one month. The Teach-in which began on 17 February 2016, saw 23 speakers articulate their thoughts on ‘nation’ and ‘nationalism’ across diverse political, cultural, economic, geographical, linguistic and artistic fields. It ended with a lecture by Prof. Suvir Kaul from University of Pennsylvania, aptly called “The Postcolonial Nation”.

    The announcement of the end of the lecture series was followed with another announcement of commencement of a new set of lectures on the idea of ‘azadi’. These lectures titled “Azadi: The Many Meanings of Freedom” will begin from 21 March 2016, the timings of which will be announced later (most probably at 6 PM, as per the announcement). The schedule of which will be circulated shortly.

    Prof. Bikramaditya K. Choudhary on behalf of JNUTA congratulated Prof Janaki Nair, Dr Vikas Rawal and other members of the team for successfully organizing the lecture series on ‘Nation and Nationalism’; he also expressed gratitude towards the students who made the lecture series a success by attending and participating in it every day. He then announced the members of the new team for the lectures on ‘azadi’ which will include Prof. Niladri Chowdhury, Prof. Uday Kumar, Dr Veena Hariharan, Dr Rohit Azad and Dr Vikas Rawal.

    “We now want to shift our focus and pick up another idea which has become so important in our present struggle, we entitle the next series ‘Azadi: The Many Meanings of Freedom’. As you know it is a cherished idea, it’s a rich idea with many, many layers of meanings, philosophers have recollected on the idea, movements have been inspired by the idea, constitutions have enshrined this idea and social groups have dreamt of freedom in many, many different ways”, said Prof. Niladri Chowdhury who will be in-charge of the lectures along with Prof. Uday Kumar.

    Providing more information on the nature of the lectures, he said, “The second series of lectures will pose a series of questions which explores and unpacks this idea at different levels.” The lectures aim to raise questions on the idea of freedom, such as: “What is the idea of freedom enshrined in the Constitution? How has this idea evolved? What were the debates through which this idea evolved?”; “How did the constitutional idea differed in different countries?”; “How has the idea of freedom evolved through philosophical discourses of modernity?”; “How has the idea mandated over time?”; “How has the idea been thought about by thinkers in non-Western countries?”

    Keeping in mind, how ‘azadi’ was a rallying cry during various historical movements, Prof. Chowdhury said, the lectures will also question: “How is the idea being re-signified in social movements and through social movements?”; “How new ideas of freedom emerge within social movements and inscribe themselves?” and “What has the idea of freedom meant for women, for Dalits and what happens to the category if we gender the term of the idea, gender the idea of freedom itself?”

    He flagged some more questions thereafter: “What has freedom and un-freedom meant in the practices of science?”; “What happens when the freedom to think of new ideas is constrained by the tyranny of hegemonic paradigms?”; “How does substantive economic and social freedom differ from the constitutional idea of freedom?” and “What has freedom meant to artists, to performers, to writers, to poets, to practitioners of culture in general; what has un-freedom meant to them, how does one define the limits of freedom itself?”. Finally, he said, “We wish to explore freedom not only as a Constitutional idea, as law, but also as experience, dream, desire….”
    The lecture series will be inaugurated on Monday by Prof. Partha Chatterjee.  With the tremendous response received from all quarters, not just within the country but also beyond; JNUTA expects a huge turnout of students and faculty members on the first day of the lecture.

The Informer correspondent.