Journal article / Runaway Slaves and Their Social Networks in Dutch-ruled Cochin

Geelen, Alexander, Bram van den Hout, Merve Tosun, Mike de Windt, and Matthias van Rossum. ‘On the Run: Runaway Slaves and Their Social Networks in Eighteenth-Century Cochin’. Journal of Social History 54, no. 1 (September 2020): 66–87.

Abstract (edited): Despite growing attention to the history of slavery in the Indian Ocean and Indonesian Archipelago worlds, the debate on the nature or characteristics of slavery in these regions has been left largely unsettled. Whereas some scholars emphasise the existence of harsh forms of hereditary slavery similar to those found in the Americas, others argue that the nature of slavery in Asia was urban, status-based, and milder than in the Atlantic world.

This article explores case studies of slaves escaping in and around the Dutch East India Company (VOC) city of Cochin. Studying court records that bring to light the strategies and social networks of enslaved runaways provides new insights into the characteristics of slavery and the conditions of slaves in and around VOC-Cochin.
The findings indicate that the social and everyday conditions under which slaves lived were highly diverse and shaped by the direct relations between slave and master, influenced by elements of trust, skill, and control. Relations of slavery nevertheless remained engrained by the recurrence of physical punishments and verbal threats, despite sometimes relatively open situations. This reminds us that easy dichotomies of “benign,” “Asian,” “household,” or “urban” versus “European,” “Atlantic,” or “plantation” slavery obscure as much as they reveal.

 

Reposted from Kerala Scholars eGroup

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Journal article / Human-leech Interactions in Ayurvedic Practice in Kerala

Brooks, Lisa Allette. ‘The Vascularity of Ayurvedic Leech Therapy: Sensory Translations and Emergent Agencies in Interspecies Medicine’. Medical Anthropology Quarterly. Published ahead of print, 10 August 2020.

Abstract (edited): This article offers vascularity as a multidimensional imaginary for the interspecies entanglements constituting Ayurvedic leech therapy. Whether, when, where, and how a leech decides to bite, suck, and release comprise pivotal junctures in leech therapy as practiced in southern Kerala. In the course of leech–human intra‐actions, leeches translate matter, providing sensory mediation, relief, and amusement.
Enmeshed in social and ecological relations inflected by gender, religion, class, and caste, this analysis of Ayurvedic leech therapy reframes questions of agencies starting with and from the viewpoint of the vascular capacities of leeches in their interactions with humans. This image of vascularity provides an analytic for the emergent agencies of humans and leeches constituted by sensory intra‐actions at branching points in this multispecies clinical practice.

 

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Journal article / Ayurvedic Mental Health Services in Kerala and Pluralistic Healing Practices

Halliburton, Murphy. ‘Hegemony versus Pluralism: Ayurveda and the Movement for Global Mental Health’. Anthropology & Medicine. Published ahead of print, 2 September 2020.

Abstract (edited): Under the aegis of the World Health Organization, the Movement for Global Mental Health, and an Indian Supreme Court ruling, biomedical psychiatric interventions have expanded in India, augmenting biomedical hegemony in a place that is known for its variety of healing modalities. This occurs despite the fact that studies by the WHO show better outcomes in India for people suffering from schizophrenia and related diagnoses when compared to people in developed countries with greater access to biomedical psychiatry. Practitioners of ayurvedic medicine in Kerala have been mounting a claim for a significant role in public mental health in the face of this growing hegemony.

This study examines efforts by ayurvedic practitioners to expand access to ayurvedic mental health services in Kerala, and profiles a rehabilitation center which combines biomedical and ayurvedic therapies and has been a key player in efforts to expand the use of Ayurveda for mental health. The paper argues for maintaining a pluralistic healing environment for treating mental illness rather than displacing other healing modalities in favor of a biomedical psychiatric approach.

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Journal article (OA) / Composting and Rainwater Harvesting as ‘Slow Infrastructure’ in Kerala

Barlow, Matt, and Georgina Drew. ‘Slow Infrastructures in Times of Crisis: Unworking Speed and Convenience’. Postcolonial Studies. Published ahead of print, 16 August 2020.

Abstract (edited): The (post)colonial logics of speed and convenience are manifest in many of today’s infrastructural projects, creating what we consider to be ‘fast infrastructures’. These infrastructures create ease for some and harm for others while exacerbating social and environmental crises around the world. Addressing these crises requires, we argue, a slowing down. Enter the role of ‘slow infrastructures’. In this paper, we highlight two forms of slow infrastructure that provide possibilities for rearranging our infrastructural orientations: composting and rainwater harvesting.

Drawing on fieldwork conducted throughout 2018 and 2019 in Kochi, Kerala, this research asserts that in order to do infrastructure differently, an unworking of convenience and speed is required. This unworking can be achieved through an attunement to multi-species and more-than-human relations, matched with a distributed ethic of maintenance and care. Our ethnographic examples, one from a hospital and another from a hotel, suggest that slow infrastructures can meaningfully offset the threat of disfunction and ‘urban failure’ that confronts cities increasingly marked by turbulence and uncertainty. While these examples draw from the tropics of urban South India, they offer lessons helpful to unworking the harm caused by fast infrastructures in other parts of the globe.

 

Reposted from Kerala Scholars eGroup

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Journal article / Effect of Employee Desire and Engagement on Organizational Performance

Sabu V.G., and Manoj M. ‘The Effect of Employee Desire and Employee Engagement on Organizational Performance: Evidence from ICT Sector in Kerala, India’. Management and Labour Studies. Published ahead of print, 31 July 2020.

Abstract: This study analyses the multivariate effect of employee desire (ED) and employee engagement (EE) on organisational performance (OP). The data were collected from 352 executive employees belonging to public and private information and communications technology (ICT) sector organisations in Kerala.
The stratified random sampling technique was applied for selecting the samples and the data were collected using a structured questionnaire. The structural equation modeling (SEM) technique was applied to study the causal linkage among the variables.
The analysis revealed that OP is positively influenced by ED and EE. The study further confirms the mediation effect of EE in the relationship between ED and OP. The effects are statistically significant. The study furnishes beneficial inputs for practising managers, which can encourage EE and strengthen OP.

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Journal article / Gender and Human Development in Kerala

Shraddha Jain. “Human Development, Gender and Capability Approach”.
Indian Journal of Human Development 14(2), 2020.

Abstract : This article critically reviews Human Development Report (HDR) 2019 that calls for addressing inequalities that are beyond income, beyond averages and beyond today. Inequalities result from differential exposure to opportunities and constraints during a life cycle.

One way in which power relations are exhibited is through gender norms. The article discusses the advancements made in the capability approach using the gender lens and the policy framework intended to address gender inequality. It stresses the need to acknowledge and understand varied forms of data collection that enhance our understanding of underlying social processes.

Finally, it discusses the case of Kerala state to understand the complex nature of human development. The state made strides in education and health, but rising inequalities, gender violence and ecological changes remain major concerns.

More info: https://doi.org/10.1177/0973703020944754

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Journal article / Feminine Subjectivities and Transnational Labour Migration

Anamika Ajay. ‘Differentiation of Femininities in Contemporary Kerala: Evidence from Left-Behind Families of Women Transmigrant Workers’. Migration and Development. Published ahead of print, 23 August 2020.

Abstract: This article explores a largely understudied aspect of women’s transnational labour migration: how localised frameworks of feminine ideals and subjectivities interact with women’s migration. It is based on a mixed-methods field research conducted in 2016 in a village in Central Kerala with a long history of women’s labour migration.

Analyses revealed the emergence of five local categories of feminine subjectivities: the dutiful daughters, young educated and typically unmarried women who are considered as assets rather than burdens by their families; the responsible mothers, who are responsible for the social reproduction of dutiful daughters; the flying grandmas, commonly older mothers who engage in temporary migration to support the transmigrant women with their domestic responsibilities; the defiant wives, mostly married women whose autonomous migration is perceived as a transgression of the conjugal family ideals even though these families survive on their earnings; and the substitute women, typically older women who take over the role of caregivers when married women migrate leaving behind their husbands and children.

The paper concludes by demonstrating how globalising processes like women’s international labour migration interact with localised gender, caste and class structures to produce new and unequal categories of femininities.

More info: https://doi.org/10.1080/21632324.2020.1806604

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Journal article / Internal Migration and Wage Inequality in Kerala

Jajati K Parida, Merry Elizabeth John, and Justin Sunny. ‘Construction Labour Migrants and Wage Inequality in Kerala’. Journal of Social and Economic Development, 6 August 2020.

Abstract: This study explores the patterns and determinants of construction-led migration and measures the existing wage differential between migrant and native workers in Kerala using both secondary and primary data.

While secondary data were compiled from Census and NSS migration surveys, primary data were collected from three districts of Kerala using a stratified random sampling method.

It is found that the pattern of internal migration is changing in Kerala with a declining share of migrants from neighbouring states, along with the corresponding upsurge in the inflows from far-off states like West Bengal, Assam and Bihar.

Though poverty and rising unemployment at the place of origin are the pushing factors, relatively higher wages and availability of employment throughout the years are the main pulling factors of in-migration to Kerala.

Since a higher proportion of remittance is spent on basic necessities like food, clothing and housing consumptions, it has a positive implication on poverty reduction at the origin states.

However, it is noted that migrant workers, on the average, earn less than their non-migrant counterparts in Kerala.

Given the importance of these low-skilled migrants in sustaining the long-term economic growth in Kerala, their poor and unhygienic living arrangements should also attract the attention of the policymakers.

More info: https://doi.org/10.1007/s40847-020-00104-2

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Journal article (OA) / Everyday Religiosity among Contemporary Muslims in Kerala

Filippo Osella and Benjamin Soares. ‘Religiosity and its Others: Lived Islam in West Africa and South India’. Social Anthropology 28, no. 2 (2020): 466-81.

Abstract: Drawing on research about settings in South India and West Africa characterised by significant religious diversity, we reflect on the ways in which everyday religiosity among contemporary Muslims is constituted through difference and contestation.

Our cases are from two ostensibly secular states – India and Nigeria – both former British colonies where secularism has been interrogated over the past few decades.

In our focus on what we call ‘lived’ Islam, we pay attention not only to intra‐Muslim differences but also to how religiosity is formed and experienced through engagement and encounters with Others, whether religious, ethnic or political, both locally and globally.

Everyday religiosity in such settings as South India and Nigeria emerges at the interstices of such encounters where Muslims often seek to draw boundaries at the same time as they fashion themselves – in lifestyle, sociality, aesthetics – in relation to various Others.

As we argue, such ethnographic cases with their comparative angle underscore the importance of studying religiosity in heterogeneous settings so as to explode the flawed, idealised sense of wholeness that emerges in some of the literature on the anthropology of one religious tradition or another with such traditions sometimes represented as deriving from self‐contained theologies.

More info and full text: https://doi.org/10.1111/1469-8676.12767

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Journal article / Student Police Cadet Project and New Distinctions in Schools

Chacko, Mary Ann. ‘English-Educated as “Ready-Made” Leaders: Re-Inscribing Distinction through the Student Police Cadet Project in Kerala, India.’ South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies. Published ahead of print, 5 August 2020.

Abstract: This ethnographic study of a police cadet programme in government high schools in Kerala describes how efforts to develop future leaders dovetail with educational strategies for acquiring class distinction in liberalising India.

I show how the counter-intuitive movement of children from private English-medium schools to English-medium sections of government schools accrued social and cultural capital for children while establishing newer distinctions in these schools—distinctions which the cadet programme reinforced.

While all cadets appreciated the exposure provided by the cadet programme, the programme’s practical logic of risk reduction and efficiency enabled English-educated cadets to emerge as ‘ready-made leaders’ requiring very little training.

More info: https://doi.org/10.1080/00856401.2020.1775356

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