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Margins and the Core

Biswaroop Das

Edited by Frederique Apffel-Marglin , Sanjay Kumar and Arvind Mishra

Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2010, pp. 308, 895.00

VOLUME XXXV NUMBER 12 December 2011

Divided into three parts, the twelve essays in this volume collectively emerge as a critique to the linear and often instrumentalist 'developmental' as well as 'methodological' perspective(s) of western modernity and its overwhelming hegemony across the Third World countries. They also deal with agencies and institutional structures working towards sustaining the accompanying features of their encroachments within the embedded cultures of sites and spaces that are plural, complex and heavily multidimensional in character. Captioned as the 'Margin-Centre Dynamics',part one deals with forms of marginalization while differentiating between its 'modern' and 'non-modern' processes. Rahul Ghai and Sanjay Kumar raise the issue of viewing 'culture' within specific contexts and the need for having an inclusive understanding of its attributes rather than invoking it through traps of imperialist and elitist discourses. Emphasizing that development models must integrate cultural pluralities in order to make them meaningful and effective, they highlight the limits of Eurocentric developmental paradigm and its Cartesian rationality in the process of planning for the marginal groups. Ashis Nandy's paper is an elaboration of the contrast between 'humiliation' and 'objectification' in which the marginal groups lose all agencies, voice and consciousness when 'objectified', and humiliation becomes an instrument of sustaining and re-asserting the old order signifying superiority of the powerful. Objectification therefore makes relations between the weak and the strong merely a mechanical one whereas humiliation carries the potential of being articulated differently over time and space for both-the 'humiliator' and the 'humiliated'. Betsy Taylor's essay on 'Appalachia' in the USA traces the trajectory of an aggressive mining activity which for decades continued to destroy and marginalize the human geography and the non-human landscape in that region. In the process, she traces the modalities of how state and the market in conjunction with each other made the region not only an internal colony but also the manner in which it was portrayed as an image, constructed systematically as a form that justified the 'sacrifice' of such marginal people and regions on the altars of progress and development. In Maren Bellwinkel-Schempp's paper, we get a narrative of how Khatiks-a pig rearing dalit group in U.P. could take advantage of the colonial situation and gain a higher eco-nomic status by responding to newer market demands for pig bristles and pork meat through a newly acquired economic rationality. Subsequently, a section among them was able to appropriate a political space by subtly ...

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