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Why I write? In a climate against intellectual dissidence

Shah, Alpa ORCID: 0000-0003-1233-6516 (2020) Why I write? In a climate against intellectual dissidence. Current Anthropology. ISSN 0011-3204 (In Press)

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Why write? The spaces of intellectual dissidence once provided by universities – promoting disinterested enquiry, encouraging critical analysis, challenging conventional wisdoms – are increasingly controlled, if not squeezed out. A lethal mix of neoliberalism, authoritarianism and right-wing populism is unfolding in different combinations around the world and one of its key targets of attack is intellectual freedom. It is pressing for academics as writers to ask: What is our purpose? Who is our reader? How do we navigate the tension between the constrains of academic evaluation criteria versus the compulsions of writing for wider publics; scholarly fidelity versus activist commitments; writing as scholars versus producing journalism or fiction? This article reflects on these questions through the writing of the book Nightmarch, an anthropologist’s account of the spread of the Naxalites, a Marx Lenin and Mao inspired guerrilla struggle, among indigenous people in the heart of India. The backdrop is the rise of neoliberal audit cultures in UK universities sapping writing of its vitality and Hindu nationalism in India clamping down fiercely on debate, deliberation and critique with human rights activists and intellectuals imprisoned as alleged Maoists or ‘Urban Naxals’. The overall aim is to open the space for intellectual dissidence and ignite scholarly relevance beyond academia.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2020 The Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research
Divisions: Anthropology
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Date Deposited: 03 Jun 2020 10:18
Last Modified: 31 May 2022 11:30

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