All rooms are equipped with an overhead projector
Rooms C, D, E, F, G and H (H only on Saturday): slide projector (framed slides, carrousel. There are extra carrousels available to set up your presentation in advance)
Rooms C, D, M, N, O, U and Committee Room 2: beamer to connect your laptop. You have to bring you own laptop. (If you want to use your Apple notebook, please contact us, as it may be incompatible.)
Rooms C, T and U: VCR
|Structure and functions of the past(s) amongst a denotified caste (Tamil Nadu) |
|De-constructing the past in order to highlight its contemporary re-construction by those it serves has recently become a prized activity of many researchers in Social Science, and not only for the academic historian whose legitimate activity it is. In this presentation, I will aim to leave the re-s and the de-s of historical constructions to others as these serve to create a before and after imagery in contradiction with the ongoing processes I have observed through my data.
The overall aim of this presentation will be to disentangle and pin down the various contemporary features and functions of the past amongst a Tamil sub-caste, the Pramalai Kallar. A contemporary typology of the past amongst the P.K. reveals three main media of transmission: oral tradition, audio tapes and written texts. Though there are some common grounds between these three media, the past they disseminate pretty much refers to different issues, as well as addressing differing audiences. More specifically, I will bring to light a series of dialogical relations located at very different levels of discourse which I believe will serve to elucidate the sociological functions of the past amongst the P.K. These relations take place between the following: identity / past, external boundaries / internal divisions and structural function / discursive function. These sets of relations should not be understood as a series of binary oppositions, but ongoing processes of definition and location of the collective self of the sub-caste.
The focus will rapidly narrow down to a specific form of the past to show a clear corroboration of the two main arguments I will set forth here. Firstly, from the point of view of the anthropologist, the uses of the past become apparent when analysed as ongoing processes of definition and location of the collective self. Secondly, from the point of view of the P.K. themselves, through their narration of the past, this highly discriminated and discriminating sub-caste has created over time a coherent image of itself as a whole in which the different gradients of superiority and inferiority, interior and exterior can negotiate their way through the present.