A Labour of Love: The Theology of Work and Rabindranath Tagore’s Sriniketan experiment

23.06.2016, Vortrag, DHI London

Start: 5.30pm
Speaker: Pradip K Datta (Delhi)

TRG Event
Venue: German Historical Institute London

This presentation will situate Rabindranath Tagore’s commitment to work, especially physical labour, in some of the discourses of work in nineteenth century Indian thinkers. Proceeding from here, it will explore Tagore’s conception of work in terms of his theology of love which is really a conception of human existence as relational. This is a theology that begins from metaphysical premises and ends with theologizing the human. The theology frames his practical experiments in rural self-dependence or atmashakti. Tagore began some startling experiments in reorganizing labour techniques and the institutional conditions of work in his zamindari estates. While referring to these, the main focus will be on an exploration of the experiments that were conducted in the rural wing of Viswabharati, his global university. Beginning with an evaluation of the way in which Sriniketan was conceived as an attempt to reformulate the relationship between the mainly bhadralok dominated Santiniketan and its surrounding villages, the speaker will look at the interpenetration of the practices of work, leisure and intersubjective relationships and will then go on to examine the ethics and modalities of redistribution of value produced by labour especially through co-operatives and finally look at the problematic ambition of situation Sriniketan in a relationship of both autonomy and interdependence in relationship to the market and the state.

Pradip K Datta is a Professor at the Centre for Comparative Politics and Political Theory of the School of International Studies, JNU Delhi. His research interests include communal Identity formations in modern India; internationalism/cosmopolitanism; history and time. He has authored and edited a number of books and articles. These include the volumes Khaki Shorts Saffron Flags: A Study of the Hindu Right, Delhi, Orient Longman, 1993 (co-authored with T.Basu, S.Sarkar, T.Sarkar, S.Sen), Carving Blocs: Communal Ideology in Early Twentieth-century Bengal, Oxford University Press, 1999, and Volume III: Indian Political Thought, ICSSR Research Survey and Explorations, Volumes in Political, co-authored with Achin Vanaik and Sanjay Palshikar, Oxford University Press, 2013. Among the many articles he has written is “Sriniketan’s Co-operatives: The possibilities and dilemmas of Viswabharati’s Globality”, NMML Occasional Paper: Perspectives in Indian Development, New Series 21 (2013). He has also edited Rabindranath Tagore’s The Home and the World: A Critical Companion, Permanent Black, Delhi, 2002 and Anthem Press, London, 2005.

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