Event / Ancient Systems of Writing

കേരളത്തിലെ പ്രാചീന ലിപികൾ (Ancient Systems of Writing in Kerala)

hosted by Kerala Council for Historical Research, Thiruvananthapuram (India)

7 April 2021 (Wednesday)
3:00 p.m. IST (India)
via Google Meet (event link)
in Malayalam

About the event: This is a part of KCHR’s web talk series on ‘Evolution of Kerala Society’ for students.

കേരള ചരിത്രത്തിൻ്റെ വികാസവും പരിണാമവുമായി ബന്ധപ്പെട്ട വിഷയങ്ങൾ, അക്കാദമിക പ്രാധാന്യത്തോടെ, വിദ്യാർത്ഥികൾക്ക് പ്രയോജനപ്രദമാകുന്ന രീതിയിൽ, ചർച്ച ചെയ്യുന്നതിന് കെ.സി.എച്ച്.ആർ ആരംഭിച്ച ‘കേരള സമൂഹത്തിന്റെ പരിണാമം’ സീരീസിലെ അടുത്ത വെബ്ടോക്കിൽ ‘കേരളത്തിലെ പ്രാചീന ലിപികൾ’ എന്ന വിഷയത്തിൽ പ്രമുഖ ചരിത്രകാരനായ പ്രൊഫസർ എം ആർ രാഘവ വാരിയർ പ്രഭാഷണം നടത്തുന്നു.

About the speaker: M. R. Raghava Varier is Director, Centre for Heritage Studies (Thrippunithura, Kerala). A noted epigraphist, he was Professor of History at Calicut University.

More info: About the web talk series at and all upcoming programmes of KCHR at http://kchr.ac.in/pages/172/Upcoming-Programs-2021.html

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Journal article / Runaway Slaves and Religious Conversion in Colonial Kerala, 1816–1855

Paul, Vinil Baby. ‘“Onesimus to Philemon”: Runaway Slaves and Religious Conversion in Colonial “Kerala”, India, 1816–1855’. International Journal of Asian Christianity 4, no. 1 (March 2021): 50–71.

Abstract (edited): Social and economic aspects predominate the study of religious conversion among the lower castes in Kerala. Most of these studies only explored the lower caste conversion after the legal abolition of slavery in Kerala (1855). The existing literature followed the mass movement phenomena.

These studies ignored the slave lifeworld and conversion history before the abolition period, and they argued that through religious conversion, the former slave castes began breaking social and caste hierarchy with the help of Protestant Christianity. The dominant Dalit Christian historiography does not open the complexity of slave Christian past.

Against this background, this paper explores the history of slave caste conversion before the abolition period. From the colonial period, missionary writings bear out that the slaves were hostile to and suspicious of new religions. They accepted Christianity only cautiously. It was a conscious choice, even as many Dalits refused Christian teachings.

More info: https://doi.org/10.1163/25424246-04010004
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Journal article / (OA) How Sabarimala Temple Entry Issue Played Out on TikTok

Vijay, Darsana, and Alex Gekker. ‘Playing Politics: How Sabarimala Played Out on TikTok’. American Behavioral Scientist. Published ahead of print, 25 January 2021.

Abstract (edited): TikTok is commonly known as a playful, silly platform where teenagers share 15-second videos of crazy stunts or act out funny snippets from popular culture. In the past few years, it has experienced exponential growth and popularity, unseating Facebook as the most downloaded app.

Interestingly, recent news coverage notes the emergence of TikTok as a political actor in the Indian context. They raise concerns over the abundance of divisive content, hate speech, and the lack of platform accountability in countering these issues.

In this article, we analyse how politics is performed on TikTok and how the platform’s design shapes such expressions and their circulation. What does the playful architecture of TikTok mean to the nature of its political discourse and participation?

To answer this, we review existing academic work on play, media, and political participation. We situate our examination of TikTok within the contentious issue of women’s entry into Sabarimala [in Kerala], a temple that women of menstruating age are barred from entering on religious grounds. We examine the case of Sabarimala through the double lens of ludic engagement and platform-specific features.

The efficacy of play as a productive heuristic to study political contention on social media platforms is demonstrated. Finally, we turn to ludo-literacy as a potential strategy that can reveal the structures that order playful political participation and can initiate alternative modes of playing politics.

More info and full text (OA): https://doi.org/10.1177/0002764221989769

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Book / Post pandemic realities in Kerala

Mathew, Jomon and Jins Varkey, editors. (2020) COVID 19: Unmasking the post pandemic realities
Kottayam: DC Books. ISBN: 978-93-5390-552-1 Rs. 250/- Pages:184.
URL – https://dcbookstore.com/books/-covid-19-unmasking-the-post-pandemic-realities-405308641646

Following papers in the book are on Kerala:

Covid-19, public health system and local governance in Kerala by T M
Thomas Isaac and Rajeev Sadanandan

Covid-19 lockdown: Protecting the poor means keeping the Indian
economy afloat by K P Kannan

Covid-19 and development path – A Kerala experience by T P Kunhikannan
and P K Sujathan

Social Sciences in Kerala in the context of Covid-19 by Shelly Johny

How to combat Covid-19: Lessons from Kerala experience by P K
Sujathan, Prasad M G and Azad P

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Journal article / Status of Mangrove Forests in Kerala

Sreelekshmi, S., Bijeesh Kozhikkodan Veettil, S. Bijoy Nandan, and M. Harikrishnan. ‘Mangrove Forests along the Coastline of Kerala, Southern India: Current Status and Future Prospects’. Regional Studies in Marine Science 41 (January 2021): 101573.

Abstract (edited): Mangrove forests are considered some of the world’s most productive ecosystems. However, these unique ecosystems are under pressure due to natural as well as anthropogenic threats globally.

Kerala has lost 95% of its mangroves during the last three decades. The floristic diversity of mangroves in Kerala was represented by 18 species of true mangroves of which, Sonneratia alba, Avicennia alba, and Ceriops tagal were found to be rare in the state.

This review examines the current status of mangrove vegetation along the Kerala coast, factors responsible for the decline of mangroves, various conservation measures adopted, and future prospects.

It was found that scientific information on the mangrove area of many districts in this state is still lacking. In this context, GIS and remote sensing would be effective tools for the identification and mapping of various mangrove patches in Kerala.

Furthermore, the conservation and restoration programmes of mangroves in the state have been accelerated after the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunamis.

Since mangroves are separate and unique ecosystems in the marine environment, exclusive mangrove forest conservation laws need to be framed, legislated, and enforced. Along with this, site-specific and community-based mangrove rejuvenation and restoration programmes have to be employed for the long-term management and conservation of this fast-dwindling ecosystem.

More info: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rsma.2020.101573

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Book chapter / Adaptations in Tourism After the 2018 Flood

Azzali, Simona, Zilmiyah Kamble, K. Thirumaran, Caroline Wong, and Jacob Wood. ‘Mitigating Impact From Natural Disasters, Building Resilience in Tourism: The Case of Kerala’. In Economic Effects of Natural Disasters, edited by Taha Chaiechi, 119–29. Academic Press, 2021.

Abstract: The spate of natural disasters in recent years has spawned a great deal of research on various challenges in disaster preparation, response, and recovery. Not much attention has been given to scholarly analyses of policies adapting to post–disaster management that have implications for key sectors of a country’s economy.

The strong inverse relationship between tourism and natural disasters underscores the vulnerability of tourism determined by the extent of direct and indirect impact from natural disasters, hence a need to evaluate post–disaster management.

This study examines the 2018 Kerala flood and its impact on tourism through a critical assessment of the responses of government agencies and organisations. Understanding the extent of policy adaptations during and after the 2018 Kerala flood in India allows us to develop a framework for policymakers and other stakeholders to consider impact-limiting measures and construct built-in resilience in the tourism industry.

More info: https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-817465-4.00008-X

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Journal article / Yoga as a Psychosocial Tool for the Flood-Affected

Mathew, D. ‘Yoga as a Potential Psychosocial Tool: Results from a Quasi-Experimental Study on Victims of Flood-Affected State of Kerala’. Advances in Integrative Medicine.

Abstract (edited): Natural disasters of any form leave individuals in agony. Mental and social health are among the notable domains affected by such disasters. According to WHO, 22% of the people living in an affected area express the symptoms of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia.

Thirty-two participants (Mean age 37.8 years) victims from a flood-affected state of India were enrolled for 15 days of yoga interventions after obtaining written consent. Breathing exercises and guided relaxation techniques were provided as intervention after obtaining a self-rated visual analog scale (VAS) for fear, sadness, anxiety, and lack of sleep.

All the participants completed the study. Statistically significant changes were observed in all the VAS-dependent scale variables, such as fear, sadness, anxiety, and lack of sleep. No adverse events were reported.

More info: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aimed.2021.01.004
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Journal article / Mitigating the Long-Term Psychosocial Impact of a Disaster

Kiran, P. S., Bindu Mohan, V. Abhijith, Amal Abraham, G. Anoop, R. S. Dinesh, Hareesh Krishnan, et al. ‘Framework for Strengthening Primary Health Care and Community Networks to Mitigate the Long-Term Psychosocial Impact of Floods in Kerala’. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction 52 (January 2021), Article 101947.

Abstract (edited): Individuals who encounter disasters experience negative consequences across physical, mental, and psychosocial domains. Impacts on mental health and psychosocial domains are more common, and last longer than physical health problems.

In August 2018, Kerala witnessed unprecedented floods that resulted in 483 deaths and significant loss of property and livelihood. Project ‘Pariraksha’ was implemented by the Government of Kerala, to mitigate the long-term psychosocial impact of the disaster. It has been one of the largest comprehensive post-disaster psychosocial projects in India, aimed to benefit approximately 2 million people across 93 panchayats which experienced severe flooding and loss of life.

This paper describes the detailed methodology of this project. In addition, the supplementary material includes the technical manuals that were prepared and are freely accessible to personnel in disaster-affected zones. Counsellors were newly appointed in all the primary health centres in affected panchayats to provide mental health and psychosocial support. Accredited Social Health Activists (community-level health workers) undertook home visits to ensure early case detection.

Medical officers in affected areas received booster training regarding pharmacological management of mental health issues. Multidisciplinary mobile mental health teams were constituted to ensure the availability of specialised mental health inputs locally. The project integrated additional mental health resource personnel, into the existing health care system. Existing health care personnel received training to improve competency in dealing with post-disaster psychosocial issues. This framework is expected to ensure early detection and intervention, thus facilitating timely psychosocial recovery of communities impacted by the floods.

More info: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijdrr.2020.101947
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Journal article / Social Vulnerability Index for Coastal Thiruvananthapuram

Shaji, J. Evaluating Social Vulnerability of People Inhabiting a Tropical Coast in Kerala, South West Coast of India. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction 56 (1 April 2021). Published ahead of print, 17 February 2021.

Abstract (edited): Coastal Social Vulnerability Index (CSoVI) studies have drawn considerable attention in recent years due to their significance in identifying the spatial variation of socially vulnerable people inhabiting the coast. CSoVI provides a comparative spatial assessment of human capacity to respond to coastal hazards.

The present study is an attempt to compute CSoVI for the coast of Thiruvananthapuram, which is densely populated and beset with several problems. This coast stretches for 75 km covering nine panchayats and two urban centres with an average population density of 3,119 persons per sq km.

CSoVI has been defined in this study in terms of eleven quantifiable variables, comprising four demographic, three economic, and four infrastructural variables. Social Vulnerability Index (CSoVI) of each coastal panchayat was computed after adding the factor scores of extracted four PCs placed in an additive model after adjusting their cardinality on social vulnerability.

The study reveals that about 25% (19 km) of the coastline in Thiruvananthapuram is high socially vulnerable. Medium Social Vulnerability is found in three local bodies of the coast and covered 55% (41 km) of the coastline. Low Social Vulnerability is observed for about 20% (15 km) of the coastline.

The findings will be useful for the concerned departments, Trivandrum Corporation, and coastal panchayats of Thiruvananthapuram district in framing out various strategies for disaster risk reduction and resilience increase in the coast.

More info: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijdrr.2021.102130
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Event / ISHORE Webinar on opening a unique Dutch window to Kerala history

I-SHORE (Institute for Social Science, Humanities and Oceanic Research), Kozhikode is organizing a webinar series titled Intersectional Confluences.

Prof. Jos J.L. Gommans (Colonial and Global History, Leiden University, The Netherlands) will deliver the inaugural lecture.

Topic : Cosmos Malabaricus: Opening a unique Dutch window to Kerala history?

Date and Time : 25 March 2021, 6pm IST.

About I-SHORE: The Institute is an attempt to promote advanced studies and research in the Humanities and Social Sciences in Kerala, and to create an independent academic space for local, national and international scholars and researchers who are interested in the socio-cultural and economic traditions and conditions of the region with a wider focus in the Indian Ocean world.

To participate in the event, register by sending an e-mail with your full name, college/university and mobile number to ishorekerala@gmail.com

More info : https://www.facebook.com/ishorekerala/

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Shared to KSM by Ashok R. Chandran, Publications Officer, Madras Institute of Development Studies, Chennai.
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