Friday, June 15, 2018

Interview with Daud Ali

The interview from The Hindu
But, somehow, I stumbled onto the work of Norbert Elias and I had, of course, read Foucault who was very fashionable at the time. I made a connection between these two scholars and became interested in how one could think about the formation of what we may call “subjects”. Foucault focuses on the formation of modern subjects and looks at disciplinary practices at large. But Elias takes a more longue durée-cum-sociological approach about the development of manners, habits, mental dispositions and attitudes, linking them with behaviour. He was trying to map them onto particular sociologies.
What occurred to me, which I have been elaborating in my work ever since, is that the material from medieval India has not been looked at from this particular point of view. Everybody has been obsessed with mapping state structures and talking about either dynastic history or social history of a more empirical type, ignoring the whole question of mental dispositions, of bodies, of emotions, of these less tangible things which are incredibly important for the understanding of state structures, social relationships and the sinews of social life. There were people coming at it from the perspective of religious studies. But in terms of history, there was an indifference to these problems; they had not been explored. So most of my career has been working on what I would consider the completely virgin territory of what you could call the history of practice or mentalité.”
The real driver of global history in the U.S. is, sadly, the opening up of Asian markets to American educational institutions. That sounds cynical but I am afraid it is the truth. And a lot of global history is simply re-washed neoliberal claptrap about the rise of capitalism, put in a more acceptable language.”
The Wikipedia article on Daud Ali

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