Public Demonstrations

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 17:45
Oral Presentation
Gayatri MENON, Azim Premji University, India
Aparna SUNDAR, Azim Premji University, India
In a context of mounting political and material insecurity and stalled growth, precipitated in large part by the ascendance of the Hindu right, what is the fate of the category of ‘the public’? How are contemporary mobilisations redefining the public in India? In this paper we examine a range of protests and movements that have punctuated the past year - from campus conflagrations, to labour struggles and farmers’ struggles, to caste-based mobilisations, to the championing of the right to privacy - and consider the definitions of ‘the public’ that they demonstrate. We will investigate the site and subject of the public specified in these demonstrations, as we analyse them in terms of what they reveal about who is considered to be a legitimate member of the public, the fate of those who are considered to be encroachers on political and physical spaces of the public, and the role of private property in regulating access to ‘the public.’ Our focus will be to understand the challenges of organising for social justice in the contemporary era, where ‘the public’ is increasingly privatized and de-secularised, and the rights of citizens are suspended in the name of public interest and national security.