Session Abstract: Decolonization was intended to be a one-way street in the twentieth century, from unjust inequalities of empires to ordered, inclusive symmetric nation-states. But the new world order has generated far less justice and more crossroads than its planners intended. In this light, “dilemmas of belonging,” an important theme in diaspora studies (see Hermann and Fuhse 2018), are relevant generally. Recovering vocabularies that have articulated dilemmas of belonging can begin with “partitions” in India, China, Malaysia-Singapore, and migration interleaving everywhere. But senses of these situations must also attend to asymmetries of power and position, to embraced ideologies of socialism, liberalism, and science, and to “intimate enemies” (Nandy1983) old and new. We begin with two biographies of leadership and its fate, applying social sciences to reset complex situations, an anthropologist representing “tribes” in changing 1960s Northeast India and an urban planner’s scripting of science and “race” into a new national future in 1960s and 1970s Singapore. We then connect these new origins to dilemmas of belonging in two remarkably different contemporary situations, first an insistent locality in contemporary Assam, where the Mayong fashion their own socio-political repair via the quests of a new stranger king, and then the lived complexities of cosmopolitan being and political belonging for contemporary Asian scientists in the ever more starkly racialized US. These papers seek a better understanding of the impact of decolonization and nation-state realities on dilemmas of belonging, seeking in a wide range of situations how some injustices are reconciled while others become newly urgent.
Paper Presenter: Poornima Paidipaty – London School of Economics
Paper Presenter: John Kelly – University of Chicago
Co-author: Martha Kaplan – Vassar College
Paper Presenter: Sean Dowdy – University of Chicago
Paper Presenter: Yu Zhou – Vassar College