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Photos of Historical Materialism Conference–JNU, Delhi, 3-5 April 2013

Posted in JNU by Vik on April 6, 2013

Some photos of the Historical Materialism conference from 3-5 April 2013 at the Convention Centre: 9.30 am to 8.15 pm, parallel sessions in four rooms (with a film every night from 9.30 pm). These are random photos from some of the sessions ; poor photos shot from my phone. Some random notes about the conference follow. Officially called ‘Final Delhi HM Conference Programme (‘New Cultures of the Left’). See the full schedule of the conference here. ICSSR, Centre for Comparative Politics and Political Theory, Historical Materialism and JNU were officially the co-sponsors.

Some of the sessions I attended on the three days related to Javed Anand, Javed Iqbal, Harsh Mander, Jan Breman, Kamal M Chenoy, Vrinda Grover, Dilip Simeon, Shivam Vij, Nirmala Rajasingam and others. Overall a very useful and stimulating conference: It was like a festival of ideas; the place was abuzz with people, activity, books and discussion. The photos do not have the corridor areas where there were book sale counters or the lunch zone.

Some (Sangathan) have criticized it too; read that here. The concluding remarks by Gautam Mody (‘Yes, I am a coffee-table Marxist…)  positively acknowledged it too.

A few things that I recall: Prof. Kamal Mitra Chenoy said some very interesting things – JNU never had a convocation since 1971 because the JNUSU then wanted the right to speak at the function just as the external dignitary; this he said while suggesting that JNU is where you can say anything to the speaker, almost. He also reflected on how he got to arrange this gargantuan conference and the hardships it took etc. (a small talk peppered with humour at the closing ceremony). Lawyer Vrinda Grover said she changed her mind from against to favour (of Women’s Reservation Bill) after sitting for five hours in the Lok Sabha and observing the MPs debate (read ‘make light of’) the women’s safety issues. I also witnessed a silly walkout by one elder participant over a remark by Jan Breman (who rightly and pointedly regretted the lack of humanity among Indians who exploited the tribal people). In a discussion on sociology of Malls (can’t recall the exact topic), one participant remarked that even JNU Professors were told that ‘aapka Mall vaha hai’ when they went to the designer (elitist) DLF Emporio mall at Vasant Kunj.

I wish the conference was all recorded and put on YouTube. The participants will have to send their papers to ICSSR anyway and it will be complied (and hopefully published) . About 600 people attended it on first day and about 350 people on the third day. There were about 150 speakers. Arundhati Roy couldn’t come for the concluding plenary session.

Overall, a very rich event spread over three days. It took the effort of about sixty volunteers, many faculty members and so many others.

Disclosure: I was just a participant on all the three days;  Not a volunteer or organiser. Just an observer and participant. I personally know many of the Professors and people associated with this conference.

Ignore typos and grammatical errors, if any. Feel free to use photos for non-commercial purposes.

2013-04-03 09.35.01

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