Monday, March 26, 2012

Refresher Course

Twenty six teachers came from all over the country to participate in the Refresher Course, and every day there were an average of three lectures for them. What was interesting for me was the way in which teachers respond to JNU, because at first they feel quite alienated from their routines, but soon, the teachers just respond to the intellectual zing of being in an environment which is certainly therapeutic in terms of its debates and its sense of the participation in the everyday. They get activated by the contributions that they make in interactions among themselves on questons of language and text, the politics of difference, the different orientations that those who come to speak have with one another speaking emphatically on perspectives which are quite opposed in content. In Sociology, this is called perspectives, and the receiver is supposed to work with these as best as he or she can. Contestation is an acceptable part of Sociological interaction, and the teachers begin to accept the largesse of JNU as the patronage of the State. As an experiment the JNU case has been one which communicates that learning is always interactive, and rather than the hierarchies of class, status, and gender the real problematic is how coherent one can be in persuading the other of a point of view of which he or she is not at all drawn towards. This dialogue is ofcourse ephemeral and people have to go back to their real lives, which is absence of libraries and research funding right across the country.
Yesterday I went to buy fish because it was Sunday, and sometimes I fall back into the cultural coding of my childhood. When I asked the auto driver to take me to the fish market, he said "Why are you buying fish during Durga puja week?" So I said, "I am a Malayali, so we buy fish on Sundays." While I bought the fish, he bought some toris ( a gourd that North Indians eat a lot of). He was not very interested in politics outside of U.P. Bengal did not interest him one was really obscure to him, the suggestion that politics might mean a mosaic of Mulayam and Mamta! For Sociologists the everyday reality that they face is similar, because if you are from Tamil country and living in Bangalore and teaching in a Jain college, then will the text of bureaucracy be different from teaching Sociology in a Jesuit College or in a Government College?

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