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Brunei Gallery, School of Oriental and African Studies
10, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, WC1H 0XG London, United Kingdom
Veena Das captures the texture of everyday life in the slums in Delhi that are steeped in a kind of quotidian violence and try to discern how moral insights are generated within this scene of corrosion. Recent critiques of the genre of realism in ethnographic writing make a rather rapid shift to such genres as that of mood or the subjunctive. She argues instead that the issue is not that of the suspension of the real but that of the contextual embedding of the real which includes within itself such registers as that of the modalities of the possible. Moral insights are not divorced from the appeal to regions of the real but we are led to ask what kind of real is at stake? Instead of the troubles of the eighties… as in the crisis of representation, or in the unsayability of violence, the question for her becomes that of overwhelming, or inordinate knowledge and the imperative to absorb it in everyday forms of care.
Veena Das is Krieger-Eisenhower Professor of Anthropology at the Johns Hopkins University. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the Academy of Scientists from Developing Countries. Her most recent books include Life and Words: Violence and the Descent into the Ordinary (2007) and Affliction: Health, Disease, Poverty (2015).