Naisargi N. Davé's "Indifference: On the Praxis of Interspecies Being" Book Talk
March 15, 2024 | 11:00AM - 1:00PM
Room 208N, North House, 1 Devonshire Place, Toronto, ON, M5S 3K7
ABOUT THE BOOK
Courtesy of the Duke University Press
In Indifference, Naisargi N. Davé examines the complex worlds of animalists and animalism in India. Through ethnographic fieldwork with animal healers, animal activists, farmers, laborers, transporters, and animals themselves, and moving across animal shelters and dairy farms to city streets and abattoirs, Davé shows how human-animal relations often manifest through care and violence. More surprisingly, what Davé also finds animating interspecies relationality in India is an ethic of indifference---that is, an orientation of mutual regard rather than curiosity, love, desire, or animus. For Davé, indifference is a respect for others in their otherness that allows human and nonhuman animals to flourish in immanent encounters. Indifference, then, becomes the basis for an interspecies ethics and a method of care and practice in everyday life.
With indifference, Davé describes both a mode of relationality in the world and a scholarly approach: seeking what is possible when we approach ethico-political concepts with indifference rather than commitment or antagonism. Moments of indifference, Davé contends, offer the promise of otherwise worlds.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Naisargi N. Davé is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Toronto. Davé's research concerns emergent form of intra- and interspecies ethics, politics, and rationality in contemporary India. Davé's latest book Indifference: On the Praxis of Interspecies Being (Duke 2023), examines the complex worlds of animalists and animalism in India. Moving across animal shelters and dairy farms to city streets and abattoirs, I show how human-animal relations manifest through care and violence, but also, crucially, an ethic of indifference— that is, an orientation of mutual regard rather than curiosity, love, desire, or animus. Indifference, the book demonstrates, is a respect for others in their otherness that allows human and nonhuman animals to flourish in immanent encounters. Davé is a 2023-2024 Martha LA McCain Faculty Fellow at the Queer and Trans Research Lab at the University of Toronto’s Bonham Centre, embarking on a book project titled Murder: The Social Life of Violent Death in Queer India.
(Discussant) Parama Roy is a Professor Emerita of English at the University of California, Davis. She is the author of Indian Traffic (UC Press, 1998), Alimentary Tracts (Duke UP, 2010), and co-editor of States of Trauma (Zubaan, 2009). Her current book project is titled "Species, Sacrafice, and the Question of Empire."
(Discussant) Kajri Jian is a Professor of Art History and a Professor of Visual Studies at the University of Toronto. Professor Jian is interested in how the efficacies, affects, and values associated with images arise not only from what goes on within the picture-frame but also from the production, circulation, and deployments of images as material objects. She therefore finds it useful to bring ethnographic sensibilities and methods to the study of images. Her work on popular images in modern and contemporary India encompasses the bazaar icons known as “calendar art;” monumental statues; theme parks; and representations of “nature” in temples, gardens, zoos, and popular cinema. It has largely focused on a vernacular business ethos where religion has been the primary site for adopting new media and expressive techniques.
Sponsor: Centre for South Asian Studies, Asian Institute