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Frontiers in Communication

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Postcolonialism -- Research, COVID-19 Pandemic (2020- ), South Asians in literature, South Asians -- Ethnic identity


Theory(ies) of culture and compassion: Indian writers call out local and global politics under the pall of Covid-19 This paper is a reading of essays by Indian writers who are writing in the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic beginning with the first phase of the Lockdown initiated by Indian Prime Minister Modi in March 2020. Globally read writers, Arundhati Roy, Pankaj Mishra, Arjun Appadurai, Amitav Ghosh, and Nobel laureate Amartya Sen assess the state of affairs both domestically and globally in their respective essays. Empire, disease, neo-liberalism, democracy, poverty, climate change and migrant workers are the hot button issues on which each of the writers present their treatises. This might be a disheartening backdrop for the ultimately hopeful note that all writings end in. Picking on those threads that urge the reader to hold on to compassion as a valuable commodity in these Covid times, I go on to propose how we as global citizens need to nurture syncretic traditions that are under fire in South Asia. The Sufi and Bhakti hybrid traditions that fuel the powerful musical customs of qawwali and baul are a case in point. By preserving and conserving what was wrought despite politicized institutions of religion and government is a very powerful statement for citizens movements.

This research of widely and popularly circulated articles by academics and writers from the global South during the Covid pandemic is the beginning of a trend within Communication of greater acceptance of Postcolonial research within the field. Readers and scholars of Communication are keen to include work done by underrepresented scholars so that the criteria and principles of fieldwork and discourse analysis shift and change. This particular piece is one of the first essays so far that analyze the work of a stellar cohort of South Asianists who are employing their expertise in Anthropology, Economics and the Humanities to understand the world in its current crisis state and give a critique of our understanding of Covid-19.


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