BrownCast Podcast episode 21: A conversation with Thomas Chatterton Williams, a cosmopolitan in Paris

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.

This week we have a conversation with Thomas Chatterton Williams, a writer based in Paris. He is the author of Losing My Cool: Love, Literature, and a Black Man’s Escape from the Crowd and a contributor to The New York Times Magazine.

The discussion was wide-ranging, as we discussed being a writer, cosmopolitanism, race and identity, the nation-state, and finally the prospects for France in the 21st century. Really hard to summarize, so I have to just recommend for you to listen.

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BrownCast Podcast episode 20: Conversation with a middle-class Dalit

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.

In this episode, I had a conversation with a middle-class Dalit who lives in Gujarat. For me, Dalits are people who are reported on, written on, people who I hear about spoken of (usually sympathetically). But I wanted to talk to a Dalit who was a university educated middle-class person, to zero in on the essential aspect of being SC in India today. At least urban India.

One interesting observation is that his own experience in India is filled with slights, but not day to day oppression. It doesn’t seem the lot of Dalits in urban India is anything like that of black Americans during Jim Crow. He seemed to assume that America had solved much of its race problem and that that’s what Dalits should aspire to. Curiously, Americans at this point, at least on the Left, perceive our racial problems as dire.

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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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BrownCast Podcast episode 18: India and Pakistan; Confrontation in the Subcontinent

Image result for kashmir crisisAnother 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.

In this episode Razib and Omar talk to Major Amin and Dr Hamid Hussain. Major Amin and Dr Hamid are familiar to our readers for their regular contributions on military history. In this episode we discuss the current India-Pakistan confrontation and what comes next. Events may have moved on even as this gets posted, but I am sure listeners will find it an interesting review of the military and political aspects of the crisis.

Postscript: I may have been too hasty in concluding that only one plane was lost that day. It seems that witness accounts and initial Pakistani claims all mention two aircraft. Pakistan says that was another Indian plane, Indians say it was a PAF F-16. Right now, all we can say is that Abhinandan’s MiG 21 crashed without a doubt.. what happened to the second plane and who was it? We don’t know yet for sure.

Note from Razib: I tried my best, but there were a few issues with the sound on this podcast. But since the substance is timely and hard to find elsewhere I think it’s worth it!

Image result for kashmir crisis

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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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BrownCast Podcast episode 14: conversation with a Hindu nationalist

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…this podcast has been up for nearly a week on the patron page).

I asked our interlocuter for some reading material. Here’s what he suggested:

Essentials of Hindutva

Hindu Society Under Siege

Who is a Hindu?

– The Sarva-Darsana-Samgraha Review of the Different Systems of Hindu Philosophy

Obviously, there wasn’t going to be any resolution after an hour and a half long conversation. Instead, questions and confusions were clarified. Disagreements were aired. That being said, I did leave the discussion crystal clear about what Pinaka opposed, rather than what he supported. At least in the specifics. I would hold that one reason that this is so is that it is easier to say what Hindu culture and religion is not more than what it is.

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BrownCast Episode 12: The global China, with Carl Zha

Another BP Podcast is up. You can listen on Libsyn, iTunes 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).

If you aren’t in a position to be a patron, please give us 5-star ratings and a positive review!

After this podcast was recorded and edited Carl Zha Informed informed me that he is no longer doing CLASH! and rather is starting a new podcast: Silk and Steel. This is actually the first post on Silk and Steel as well. A “cross-over.”

Continue reading “BrownCast Episode 12: The global China, with Carl Zha”

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BrownCast Episode 11: Indian Numismatics with Mohit Kapoor

The latest BP Podcast is up. You can listen on Libsyn, iTunes 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). Show-notes after the jump!

Image result for gandhara coin
Gandharan Coin

Continue reading “BrownCast Episode 11: Indian Numismatics with Mohit Kapoor”

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Notes on Brown Pundits “BrownCast”

I’ll be interviewing my friend Josiah Neeley tomorrow about politics and policy in Trump’s America. Since this is Brown Pundits my outline has a lot of brown-themed questions, but we’ll range. If you are reading this before ~2 PM PDT feel free to drop-in questions. Josiah’s podcast, Urbane Cowboys, has had several brown people on. Of these, three are Bengali American. Myself, Reihan Salam, and Avik Roy.

On Sunday I’ll be talking to Carl Zha, who produces the popular CLASH! podcast. Feel free to suggest questions for Carl.

To paid-up patrons: I am posting the podcasts ahead of time on the patron page. These two podcasts won’t drop until February, so if you want to hear them earlier, you know how. I’ve already posted Zach’s podcast on Indian numismatics. That will probably drop tomorrow or Sunday, when Zach writes up some show-notes and pushes it live.

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Browncast – Episode 9: Conversation on Indo-Aryan linguistics

The latest BP Podcast is up. You can listen on Libsyn, iTunes 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.

The conversation was between Brown Pundits’ contributors Razib, Zach and Slapstik on the evolution of Sanskrit and Indo-Aryan more generally within the Indian subcontinent. The conversation started off from thoughts on the origin of Sanskrit from Proto-Indo-Aryan, the language of the feudal elite of the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex (or BMAC).

We spoke of the broad swathe of time from (roughly) 1500-500 BCE wherein this elite planted themselves across the breadth of the Indo-Gangetic plains south of the Himalayas (cf. hima-vanta > himavata). The peculiarities of the obstinately oral culture led to phenomenal developments in grammar (vyAkaraNa) to preserve the fidelity of speech. We also briefly covered some peculiarities of development of prkRta-s which show influence of Dravidian speech, the Indo-Aryan nature of Dardic languages and some comments on Iranic languages.

One of the important questions raised by Zach was on the parallel development of Mitanni-Aryan. Specifically why doesn’t its existence prove an outward diffusion of Indo-Aryan dialects? While I did not want to de-rail the conversation in the podcast with a technical argument (based on the RUKI rule), I think this point does deserve some supplementary explanation here. The basic argument can be set out as follows:

  • Retroflexes in earliest Vedic were almost always phonemic (pUrNa), and it is well established within IA linguistics that retroflexion existed before the loss of voiced sibilants /z/, /ź/ and /Z/ in proto-Vedic. So, we have PIE *misdhom (salary, reward) > *mizdhom (IIr, voiced sibilant) > *miźdhom  (IIr, via satem RUKI sound law) > *miZDham (Proto-Vedic, using sibilant-dental consonant saMdhi)
  • We also know that Proto-Dravidian lacked sibilants and replaced the phonemic voiced-sibilants by their approximants /y/ or /w/, which later merged with the preceding vowel. So, the effect of Dravidian substratum on proto-Vedic *miZDham is given by: *miZDham > *mi(y)Dham > mIDham, and mIDham is attested in Rg Veda as meaning reward or prize of a contest.
  • The same word (meaning payment) is also attested in Mitanni-Aryan as miśta, which seems to be easily derivable from IIr *miźdhom via simple de-voicing of /ź/ and de-aspiration of /dh/. There’s no known rule or precedent of deriving miśta from IA mIDham. Even using the latter-day example of Romany languages, the aspirated retroflex /Dh/ should be approximated by /r/, which is clearly not the case here.

Therefore, the simplest explanation of miśta in Mitanni-Aryan and its cognate mIDha in Vedic is that both terms are derivable using known sound laws from the older Indo-Iranian version of the word, as opposed to one from the other. The same argument also shows how retroflexion existed in oldest Vedic and that the simplest explanation of lack of voiced sibilants in Vedic is the substrate effect of Proto-Dravidian.

For readers more interested in this topic, I would suggest The Horse, The Wheel and Language by David Anthony on the archaeological evidence of steppe Indo-European culture. The book is very strong on archaeology, but it gets some of the linguistics’ arguments wrong. On linguistics itself, Cardona and Jain’s Indo-Aryan Linguistics remains the go-to text. Note that this book is more technical, but very rewarding.

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