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The Cunning of Capital: Dalit and Queer Aesthetics of Resistance

March 8, 2021 @ 10:00 am11:00 am

The Cunning of Capital: Dalit and Queer Aesthetics of Resistance, by Nimanthi Perera-Rajasingham and Ani Maitra

Rajasingham’s talk will draw from her book, Assembling Ethnicities in Neoliberal Times, to argue that Sri Lanka’s thirty-year ethnic war, and post-conflict contexts must be understood as shaped by the forces of global capitalism. She makes her arguments through an examination of ethnographic fictions— work invested in documenting the external world—to unpack how war and neoliberalism intersect. The talk will turn to the work of Shobasakthi, a Paris-based Dalit writer and actor, who fled the Tamil Tigers as a child soldier during Sri Lanka’s separatist war. In his novel Gorilla and the film Dheepan, he depicts life in Sri Lanka and Paris as conditioned by, “neoliberalism in the shadows,” an economic form deeply entangled in ethnonationalism and racism. The talk will explore, further, how the characters in novel and film resist racial capitalism through formal aesthetic experiments and embedded forms of witnessing.

Maitra’s talk will argue for the need to see queer identity politics in contemporary India as a multiply mediated fragmentation regulated by neoliberal capital. The first half of the talk will scrutinize the neoliberal logic of diversity shaping the rhetoric of a queer film festival in India—the KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival—and its strategic cinephilic alliance with the corporatized language of LGBTQ+ rights. The second half of the talk will examine how the film Devi (Karishma Dube, 2017) troubles this logic of inclusion through a sustained aesthetic attention to the gendered and classed inequalities mediating and splitting lesbian identity in the post-colony.

Nimanthi Perera-Rajasingham is associate professor of English and Women’s Studies at Colgate University. She teaches Marxism, Postcolonial Studies, Critical Race and Ethnic Studies and Feminism. Her book, Assembling Ethnicities in Neoliberal Times: Ethnographic Fictions and Sri Lanka’s War was published in the series, Critical Insurgencies, out of Northwestern University Press. She is presently working on her second book project on Global Apartheid and the War on Terror, which discusses the ongoing and recalibrated forms of segregation that the War on Terror has enabled.

Ani Maitra is associate professor of Film and Media Studies at Colgate University. His teaching and research interests span the fields of postcolonial and diaspora media cultures and gender and sexuality studies. His essays have appeared in edited volumes and journals like Camera ObscuraContinuumdifferences, Film QuarterlyJindal Global Law Review and World Records. Maitra is the author of Identity, Mediation, and the Cunning of Capital (Northwestern University Press, 2020).

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