BrownCast Podcast episode 19: Conversation with Saloni – a globalist centrist edgelord

Another BP Podcast is up. You can listen on LibsyniTunes and Stitcher. Probably the easiest way to keep up the podcast since we don’t have a regular schedule is to subscribe at one of the links above.

You can also support the podcast as a patron (the primary benefit now is that you get the podcasts considerably earlier than everyone else…). Would appreciate more positive reviews.

Nearly 20 episodes in, I thought it would be useful to gain some perspective. Here are the traffic trends:

In the next month or so I will be recording a podcast with Thomas Chatterton Williams and Shadi Hamid. The podcast explores what we’re interested in, but I have to be honest that I doubt this would have ever happened without reader feedback.

On this episode, I have a wide-ranging discussion about globalization, globalism, and being Steven Pinker’s bulldog with my friend Saloni. A graduate student in behavior genetics at KCL, Saloni grew up in Hong Kong, carries an Indian passport, and is a hanger-on in the neoliberal shill conspiracy. Somehow she became an “internet person.”

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Religious change, genocide, and culture in the Indian subcontinent and Eurasia

Since many readers of this website refer to “genocides,” and all of them were born in the 20th or 21st centuries, I want to put a note here which I think will illustrate why it is important to be careful of the use of particular words and what their connotations are as a function of time. In the modern period, the term “genocide” has a particular valence. The Nazi killing of Jews, the Ottoman genocides of the early 20th century, and the killing of Tutsis in Rwanda. These were, I believe, expressions of the mass politics and mobilization. As such, they are not entirely analogous to ethnic and religious turnover in the premodern era, where death was often secondary or a side-effect.

Continue reading “Religious change, genocide, and culture in the Indian subcontinent and Eurasia”

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Against being an intellectual subaltern

Over at my other weblog, The blood on brown hands is a legacy of all of history. Basically, a long essay where I fire broadsides at reductive postcolonialism in the context of Indian history and communal divisions. The motivation was straightforward: twitter is not really good to outline more subtle or detailed perspectives. But, it is a good platform for people to pepper you with many, many, questions.

Below is the first paragraph of the post:

Yesterday I put up a tweet which went a bit viral (I won’t embed since it has a vulgarity). It was the result of my frustration with a very liberal Indian American who was using unfortunate tensions in the Indian subcontinent to attack “white supremacy.” My frustration was due to the reality that a major conflict between India and Pakistan would not just impact India and Pakistan, though that is dire enough. In a globalized world, a war involving the world’s fifth largest economy, situated athwart the southern flank of Asia, would impact many people outside of the subcontinent. In the midst of this, the fact that someone was using this to promote their own ideological hobbyhorse was offensive to me.

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A toxic cocktail of American narcissism and Indian American self-righteousness

Like many of you, I’m monitoring what’s going on in the Indian subcontinent. I’m not saying much because I don’t know much. No value to add.

But then this showed up in my timeline, and I honestly could not believe that the confluence of characteristics we’ve been talking about recently might lead to such bizarre self-obsessed comments:

I see this person’s comments in my timeline way too often. Best case scenario is that she’s some sort of ideological grifter who knows how to push buttons. But this indecent.

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BrownCast Podcast episode 17: India-Pakistan conflict, Hindu nationalism, Cosmopolitanism

Another BP Podcast is up. You can listen on LibsyniTunes and Stitcher. Probably the easiest way to keep up the podcast since we don’t have a regular schedule is to subscribe at one of the links above. You can also support the podcast as a patron (the primary benefit now is that you get the podcasts considerably earlier than everyone else…). Would appreciate more positive reviews.

My next planned podcasts were going to be next week…but then world-events intervened. We recorded this before the latest developments in the border clashes between India and Pakistan. We spend probably 35% of the conversation on that topic. But…in a wide-ranging discussion we discuss knitting & racism, Hindu nationalism, Maratha(i)(?) nationalism, and the future of India, with a cosmopolitan <<<Third Culture>>> Indo-British-American professional.

The conversation between our guest, Amey, myself, and Omar, was spirited. I actually had to edit out sections where we kept interrupting each other to get in a word in edgewise! That being said, there is one section where I drop into an American colloquialism which is atypical for me, and I state I’ll “edit it out.” But I left it in since to some extent I did play the role of the befuddled and fearful American from the heartland who just wants the world safe for freedom and consumerism!

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I now support quotas on (South) Asian Americans at elite universities

A Harvard Law Professor Is Representing Harvey Weinstein. Students Say This Makes Them Unsafe, Demand His Resignation:

Harvard’s administration is taking students’ concerns seriously, and has agreed to conduct a review of Sullivan.

“In this situation, we would like to have a more complete understanding of the current environment at Winthrop House,” wrote Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana in an email, according to The Harvard Crimson.

One of The Crimson’s own staff members*, Danukshi Mudannayake, is spearheading the effort to remove Sullivan. She started a change.org petition that claims his representation of Weinstein as “not only upsetting, but deeply trauma-inducing.” According to Mudannayake, Sullivan has made clear that he does not “value the safety of students he lives with in Winthrop House.”

The American system is upsetting. To be frank, it’s a feature, not a bug. Presumption of innocence exists not in cases where it is easy to support the innocent, but in cases where it is hard. In the United States of America there are people who commit horrible crimes, and lawyers who defend them and lawyers who prosecute them. This is all part of the system.

It is tough on the heart. But it works. Unlike some societies, the will of the majority does not dictate the outcome (in theory).

Seeing those names was like a punch in the stomach. This is not the sort of “model minority” that I’d like to encourage.

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The airstrikes

Indian Jets Strike on Pakistani Side of Kashmir Line:

Indian warplanes conducted airstrikes in the Pakistan-controlled side of Kashmir on Tuesday, Pakistani officials said, in an escalation of tensions between the nuclear-armed nations after a suicide bombing against Indian troops in the disputed region this month.

If confirmed, it would be the first time that Indian aircraft had crossed the Kashmir Line of Control to strike in years. But it was unclear what, if anything, the attack jets hit on the Pakistani side, raising the possibility that India was making a calculated bet to assuage public anger but minimize the risk of a major Pakistani military response.

Curious about value-add thoughts….

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Do people in India care about ‘racist’ knitters?


There is a weird controversy about a white knitter who was perceived to be racist against Indians because they were worried about going to India because it was so alien from her experience? At least that’s what I get from the conversation. See the above exchange for some more context.

The mainstream website Vox, published something relating to this, The knitting community is reckoning with racism. The post shows that this is really about Americans more than about Indians. For example:

As someone who is mixed-race Indian, to me, her post (though seemingly well-meaning) was like bingo for every conversation a white person has ever had with me about their “fascination” with my dad’s home country; it was just so colorful and complex and inspiring. It’s not that they were wrong, per se, just that the tone felt like they thought India only existed to be all those things for them.

The author of the piece is a mixed-race American. Her mother is Irish American, and her father an immigrant from India.

My question is simple: what do people in India think about this?

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