Webinar Title: Matrilineal Ocean : Multiple Histories of Marumakkattayam in the Indian Ocean Littoral
: Dr. Mahmood Kooria, Leiden University, the Netherlands & Ashoka University, India
: Professor P. K. Michael Tharakan
Date and time
: 10 December 2020, Thursday, 3pm IST
Event link (Google Meet)
About the Webinar
: The origin of the matrilineal system has been a matter of long debate in academia, with social anthropologists, philosophers, archaeologists, feminists, and linguists making claims on its origin in prehistoric communities. Going beyond an obsession with search for origins, historians have rarely studied the premodern histories of the existing matrilineal communities.
In this talk, I engage with the matrilineal communities of the Indian Ocean littoral with a focus on the context of southwest India. I argue that the matrilineal system (identified as marumakkattayam
in the region) was one of the most convenient ways for Indian Ocean exchanges. On the basis of some fragmentary but significant evidence on matrilineal praxis between 800 and 1800 CE among Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, and Christian communities, I explore the nuances of conversion and incommensurability across religions. I investigate how the praxis benefited the oceanic mercantile system of southwest India as well as the dispersal of Abrahamic religions which are often interpreted as significant domains of patriarchy and patriliny.
About the Speaker: Mahmood Kooria is a Researcher at the Leiden University, the Netherlands, and Assistant Professor of History at Ashoka University, India. Earlier, he was a research fellow at the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS), the African Studies Centre (ASC), Leiden and the Dutch Institute in Morocco (NIMAR), Rabat, and Social Science Research Council (SSRC), New York. He has a PhD from the Leiden University Institute for History on the circulation of Islamic legal ideas and texts across the Indian Ocean and Mediterranean worlds. With Michael N. Pearson, he has edited Malabar in the Indian Ocean World: Cosmopolitanism in a Maritime Historical Region (Oxford University Press, 2018).
More info: http://kchr.ac.in/pages/151/Webinars-2020.html
Raman, K. Ravi. ‘Ecospatiality: Transforming Kerala’s Post-Flood “Riskscapes”’. Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society 13, no. 2 (25 November 2020): 319–41.
Abstract (edited): Kerala’s 2018 floods and landslides offer great lessons on risk governance and climate policies. The challenges in each phase of rescue, relief, and rebuilding were addressed in this case study. Through the strategic use of ‘ecospatiality’, it is shown that the ‘state–society synergy’ does exist in its potentiality, although, by and large, it is ignored in already existing ‘riskscape’ scholarship.
However, the context of this study proves to be an ideal site for illustrating the possibilities of actualising this latent potential through ecospatiality planning. Such attempts can, at the same time, be of local effectiveness and global significance.
C S Akhil, Ashwin Kumar and Sabeer V C.
Azim Premji University Practice Connect, 2020.
Excerpt : Kerala has had the experience of receiving large numbers of return migrants in the past due to political and economic shocks like the mass exit of people from the Gulf during the Gulf War of 1990 and the Global Financial Crisis of 2008 which hit economies all over the world severely.
The current COVID-19 crisis appears to be another such catalyst for large scale return. What is different, however, is the sheer numbers of workers that have been affected all over the globe as well as the reducing capacity of the ‘origin economies’ to rehabilitate them.
This issue requires governments all over the world to revisit and rethink strategies to ensure that this large section of the population is accounted for. This is, especially, of great significance in the case of Kerala.
More info – https://practiceconnect.azimpremjiuniversity.edu.in/reintegration-rehabilitation-policies-for-emigrants-in-kerala-strategies-for-a-post-covid-world/
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Raj, Jayaseelan. ‘Categorical Oppression: Performance of Identity in South India’. The Australian Journal of Anthropology. Published ahead of print, 17 November 2020.
Abstract (edited): What does ‘identity’ really mean for the migrant workforce beyond its function in production relations? How are forms of identity evoked within broader social relations in a migrant context? This article explores these questions by looking at how the Tamil Dalit tea workers in Kerala experience the stigmatisation of their identity categories in the context of two significant events that occurred in the tea belt—an economic crisis and a conflict between two states over managing a dam.
The way ‘migrant’ workers are categorised in their ‘host’ society is discussed here as fundamental to how they experience life both in and out of their workplaces. Extending Philippe Bourgois’s notion of conjugated oppression, I argue that when dominant groups stigmatise, evoke, and employ certain aspects of the workers’ identities to their disadvantage, they are engaging in a phenomenon that I call ‘categorical oppression’.
Kooria, Mahmood. ‘Eastern African Doyens in South Asia: Premodern Islamic Intellectual Interactions’. South Asian History and Culture. Published ahead of print, 15 November 2020.
Abstract (edited): This article explores fragmented historical references on African itinerants in South Asia, between the twelfth and fifteenth centuries, who worked in the coastal regions as Islamic scholars, benefactors, and leaders.
Utilising epigraphic, architectural and textual sources on a few such personalities from Malabar and Bengal, I take a preliminary step towards debunking the exclusive association of Africans in South Asia with slavery and military labour. These historical figures are not anomalies; rather, they are representatives of a larger intellectual, legal, and religious network that fared between Asia and Africa.
Although they are evident in historical sources, they have been systematically forgotten in contemporary memories and scholarship while this forgetfulness befits the prevalent stereotyping tendencies of Africa and Africans in South Asia.
Ashraf, Muhammed Niyas. ‘Islamic Reformism and Malayali Ummah in Nineteenth-Century Colonial Kerala, South West Indian Ocean’. SASNET Publications. Lund: SASNET – Swedish South Asian Studies Network, 2020.
Abstract (edited): This paper offers a social history of the relationship between Islamic reform and Malayali Muslims in the context of colonial Kerala. Kerala Muslims are one of the largest Muslim communities in India, and a majority are the descendants of Arab traders and local women, or of local converts known as Mappilas.
This article relates the reformist agenda in the writings of Sayyid Sana’ullah Makti Tannal (1847-1912), who argued for a reinterpretation of Islamic principle based on scriptural purity and return to pristine Islam. Makti Tannal believed direct access to, and proper understanding of, the Quran and the Hadith would distance Muslims from accretions to Islam that he thought of as impure. Invoking the distinction of ‘haramand halal’ as the cornerstone of Islamic law, he argued against the legitimacy of un-Islamic elements of popular Islam.
These efforts took place in late nineteenth-century Kerala, and had a huge impact on the socio-religious landscape, particularly on the inevitability and imminence of Islamic reform in the colonial era. Furthermore, this paper highlights how Makti advocated textually defined Islamic codes of practice to safeguard ‘Muslimness’ and shape a new vision of a moral community for Malayali Muslims.
Peter, Benoy, Shachi Sanghvi, and Vishnu Narendran. ‘Inclusion of Interstate Migrant Workers in Kerala and Lessons for India’. The Indian Journal of Labour Economics. Published ahead of print, 12 November 2020.
Abstract (edited): An estimated 3.5 million interstate migrant workers have become an indispensable part of Kerala’s economy. The state also offers the highest wages for migrant workers for jobs in the unorganised sector in the entire Indian subcontinent. Further, the state has evolved several measures for the inclusion of the workers and was able to effectively respond to their distress during the national lockdown.
This paper examines labour migration to Kerala, key measures by the government to promote the social security of the workers and the state’s response to the distress of migrant workers during lockdown, by synthesising the available secondary evidence. The welfare measures as well as interventions initiated by the state are exemplary and promising given the intent and provisions.
However, some of them do not appear to have consideration of the grassroots requirements and implementation mechanisms to enhance access. As a result, the policy intent and substantial investments have not yielded the expected results. The state’s effective response to the distress of workers during the lockdown emanates from its overall disaster preparedness and resilience achieved from confronting two consecutive state-wide natural disasters and a public health emergency in the immediate past.
While the government has played a strategic role through policy imperative and ensuring a synergistic response, the data presented by the state indicate a much larger but invisible role played by the employers and civil society in providing food and shelter to workers.
Kannan, K. P., and K. S. Hari. ‘Revisiting Kerala’s Gulf Connection: Half a Century of Emigration, Remittances and Their Macroeconomic Impact, 1972–2020’. The Indian Journal of Labour Economics. Published ahead of print, 19 October 2020.
Abstract (edited): In the literature on development studies, the state of Kerala is known for its high human and social development despite its low-income status. However, there has been a turnaround in its growth performance and has now come to occupy a high rank in terms of per capita income among Indian States. This has been largely through a high growth performance facilitated by significant remittances from abroad. However, there have not been consistent time-series data on annual remittances.
This paper is an attempt to fill this gap by estimating foreign remittances to Kerala for a period of 47 years that is close to half a century. Using these data, the paper has presented a Modified State Income for Kerala and calculated its impact on consumption and savings. The significance of the sizeable emigration to the labour market situation has also been highlighted. Given the fact that remittances come as household income confined to a small segment of the total households, the impact of annual remittances on income and consumption inequality has also been highlighted.
The results show an increasing trend in inequality. Despite a high growth performance aided by remittances, Kerala has not been able to address its long-standing problem of educated unemployment, especially for its women. In this context, the state’s inability to take advantage of the enhanced per capita income to maintain its tax-income ratio, let alone enhance it, assumes great significance as an area of concern.
Ala : A Kerala Studies Blog, October 2020.
Excerpt : K. R. Sunil captures the emotions, intensity, and the frenzied atmosphere of Kodungallur’s Meena Bharani in his series of photographs.
Reposted from Kerala Scholars eGroup
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