Saturday, May 21, 2011

Seminar on Globalization and Tribal Identities in NE India

The recent seminar on globalization and tribal identities in north-east India held at the university conference hall by a Naga-based cultural and research council had the potential to be an interesting seminar on an extremely interesting topic, but it did not deliver. The papers were severely low-quality and they completely skirted the issue of "tribal identities" in favour of a more personalized and anecdotal, or sometimes pseudo-academic/ jargonistic, approach. The collection of speakers included professors and assistant professors from DU who did not live up to their job profiles, and in some cases, completely baffled me with their lack of academic credibility. Some of their papers had no logical train of thought, jumping incoherently from one thought to another without the slightest consideration for standard academic writing quality or for logical connectivity.

One paper on contemporary tribal youth really stood out for its lack of sensibility, argument and its academic pretensions, spending a lot of its already-constrained time-limit on defining "youth" from psychological dictionaries and quoting unnecessary definitions from this or that psychologist. In his argument, he made broad-brush generalizations and relied on stereotypical modes of addressing the issue - "The govt. must spend more on the development of youth, etc., etc." Most of the papers ran in a similar vein. One member of the audience even broke into a self-composed "national anthem" for the north-east, which, besides its obvious problems, embarrassed me greatly by virtue of its severe musical and lyrical demerits. I noticed a lot of the participants who spoke seemed fixated on mentioning their "travel abroad" in some way or the other. This seemed like a poorly veiled attempt to deal with a lack of self-confidence, whether personal or ethnic.

This pertinent topic deserved much better handling.

3 comments:

oh look, stars! said...

" One member of the audience even broke into a self-composed "national anthem" for the north-east, which, besides its obvious problems, embarrassed me greatly by virtue of its severe musical and lyrical demerits. "

LOL! Can't help it!

I think the topic had much potential considering how NE India is taken for a ride in this country. It's a pity it didn't live to it's expectations.

RITA MAJUMDAR (Rita Chowdhury) said...

People are scared to live in NE and feel its the nerve center of extremist. News reports across India are blown apart on the situation in Nagaland or NE which have little or no relevance to the reality. In such scenario, its difficult to find an in-depth study on the subject.

M said...

I wasn't there at the conference, I heard about it though. Personally id idnt expect any better, especially if its a cultural/multicultural/political issue. Several people who went had pretty much the same to say. Academic jargon is like a plague among Indian academics if you want to call them that. One cant help it; it almost invariably comes supplied with a mention of their 'academic ventures abroad' cleverly in passing. Its a pitiable state, but what can one do? there's a true scarcity of intellectual depth and it is often masked by useless jargon.