Northwestern Events Calendar


"The Wind Has Gotten to Him:" A Dalit Pneumatics of Caste in Rural Rajasthan

When: Monday, April 17, 2023
3:30 PM - 5:00 PM CT

Where: Harris Hall, 108, 1881 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Cindy Pingry   (847) 467-1933

Group: South Asia Research Forum

Category: Academic


Please join the South Asia Research Forum for this talk by Andrew McDowell (Tulane University)

This presentation engages how Dalit (members of a marginalized caste) farmers in rural Southeast Rajasthan connect aeolian atmospheres to caste. Anthropology and South Asian Studies have long addressed questions of caste and its biomoral contagions through hierarchical logics of touch and tactility, but attention to Dalit farmers in rural Rajasthan reveal powerful discourses of casted air. Dalit attunements to the effect of caste on air and air on self provides a new way to consider the lived impact of caste on human bodies, subjectivities, and spaces without touch. What emerges is a Dalit pneumatics of caste that contests hierarchy while acknowledging difference and searching for its cause. The talk will argue that considering how people connect caste logics and atmospheres expands the understanding of caste as an affective practice, and shows how these affects are framed or mediated by biomedicine, environmental studies, and situated sociologies.   

Andrew McDowell is an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology at Tulane University. He is a cultural and medical anthropologist of South Asia and focuses on breath and breathing as the intersection of bodies, environments, microbes, and social inequality.  

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