Radical Vulnerability: Development, Translation, Justice

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Rambeti, a Dalit farmer and a leader of the Sangtin Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan (SKMS), a people’s movement in Sitapur, Uttar Pradesh, was disappointed. She had left her standing crop in her village and travelled all the way to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, to share her experiences in a workshop on climate change, food security and gender, but her final assessment was: “They say they want to learn from us, but ... we can never be partners as long as they keep talking in the same sentence about my cow’s carbon emissions and the carbon emissions of global corporations. ... if they remain blind to our lives and truths, there can be no dialogue on this unjust terrain.” How might scholars ethically participate in producing knowledge in ways that connect across different meanings of struggle, hunger, hope, and the good life? Informed by over two decades of learning moments from a co-authored journey with the SKMS and Parakh Theatre, Radical Vulnerability bridges these divides with a fresh approach to academic theorising. Reflecting on her collaborations with activists, theatre artistes, writers and students, Richa Nagar discusses building embodied alliances among those who occupy different locations in predominant hierarchies. Such alliances can sensitively engage difference through a kind of full-bodied immersion and ethical translation, and make knowledges more humble, more tentative, and more alive to the creativity of struggle.

Richa Nagar

is an academic and author. Her scholarship, writing and cultural work, in English and Hindustani, refuse the borders of academia, arts and activism. Her books include Muddying the Waters: Coauthoring Feminisms across Scholarship and Activism, and she has co-authored Sangtin Yatra and Playing with Fire: Feminist Thought and Activism through Seven Lives in India, with Sangtin Writers. Her work has been translated into German, Italian, Korean, Mandarin, Marathi, Turkish and Urdu.