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Speaker / Lectures

Global Salon Series

Thursday, December 2, 2021 at 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm

The Specter of Colonial Violence: The Strangler Vine and ‘Thugs’ in America

December 2, 2021 | 2 P.M.
Zoom ID: 990 1194 7122

The Specter of Colonial Violence: The Strangler Vine and ‘Thugs’ in America

Taking a look at Miranda Carter's novel The Strangler Vine (2015) set in 19C India as a colonial adventure narrative. In the first part, it focuses on the novel's critique and rethinking of colonial violence using the metaphor of the 'strangler vines.' Carter revises the idea of violence and criminality of the thugs in 19th C India, but interestingly her novel also intersects with contemporary American political discourse. The novel was published in the year 2015, when the term 'thug' emerged in then President Obama’s speech on the Baltimore riots (April 2015) and then eventually in President Donald Trump’s speech in 2020 to represent race riots in America. In the second part of the paper, I trace the etymology of the "thug" in American lingo and its shifting narrative. This section intersects with Carter's novel to show the limitations and 'problematique' the text poses, and to show how power and discourse are updated in asymmetrical planetary intersections and contexts that have dangerous reverberations in the American political imaginary in our present time. The intersection of these two seemingly unrelated historicity is important to reveal the structures of embedded (neo)colonial violence that turns “thugs” in a larger continuum, symbolizing Black men and ultimately emerging a fear of black bodies. 

Amrita Ghosh is a research fellow at the South Asia Research Center, SASNET at Lund University, Sweden. She has finished a postdoc at Linnaeus University in Sweden and was previously a full time lecturer at Seton Hall University, New Jersey. Ghosh's co-edited volume  Tagore and Yeats: A Postcolonial Re-envisioning is coming out soon with Brill and she is also working on a monograph on emerging literature from and on Kashmir's conflict zone. Ghosh has published extensively on postcolonial studies and is also the co-founder editor of online journal Cerebration. She is also an occasional podcaster on myriad topics like decolonization, feminism, arts and culture at SpaceInk, a joint collaboration from Calcutta and New York.

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