The Newsletter 60 Summer 2012

Mukul Dey: an autobiographically modern Indian artist

Adrienne Fast

One of the most persistent tropes in the study of South Asia has been the emphasis on collectivity and the formation of collective identities. In much of the older scholarship especially (but still persisting in a great deal of “common sense” contemporary understanding), the forces of religion, caste and the extended family are conceived of as somehow playing a much greater role in the framing of human subjectivity in the subcontinent than they do in other parts of the world. There has even been the suggestion, from one anthropologist, that South Asians could be best understood as “dividuals,” with a sense of personhood and agency derived largely from sources external to the self.

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