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Theorising the Aporia of Communist Asceticism in India

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  • UserRiccardo Jaede – MPhil Student, Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, St Antony’s College
  • ClockFriday 04 March 2016, 17:20-17:30
  • HouseLee Hall, Wolfson College.

If you have a question about this talk, please contact Francisco Orozco.

My thesis will explore the theoretical implications certain forms of asceticism may have for the recent anthropology of ethics. According to this, the renunciation of privileges as the cultivation of an ethical self may be viewed in a way that emphasises an understanding of the internal life of an ascetic on its own terms and which, for methodological reasons, avoids questions about the social and structural outcomes. However, in certain ascetic traditions the teleology of the self is both explicitly and implicitly linked to the social. Furthermore, recent ethnographic observations suggests instances where the very project of transforming the self and becoming an ascetic is premised on elements of the pre-ascetic stage which are thus reproduced in the renouncers and their context. It is in these instances that aspects of the social appear to subvert the very project aimed at overcoming the status quo at both the individual and social level. The anthropology of ethics must therefore address the very questions that rendered its intellectual predecessor a conceptually and methodologically flawed endeavour. The task, therefore, is to confront these questions without reproducing their structural weaknesses.

This talk is part of the Wolfson Research Event 2016 series.

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