Wednesday 23 October 18:00 - 20:00

Goldsmiths, University of London
8 Lewisham Way
SE14 6NW

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Why do I Write?


'Why do I Write? In a Climate Against Intellectual Dissidence' with Dr Alpa Shah

Wednesday 23 October 2019, 6-9pm

Professor Stuart Hall, LG01

Why do I write? If there was a time we could ignore this question, we certainly cannot anymore. The domination of knowledge production that creates hegemonic ideology is crucial to the marriage of state-craft and corporation-craft entrenching inequalities. In keeping the spirit of disinterested enquiry, promoting critical analysis, challenging conventional wisdoms, the spaces of intellectual dissidence once provided by universities are ever more controlled, if not squeezed out or shut down. In this climate of attack on the dissidence of our intellect, this lecture draws on the writing of “Nightmarch: Among India’s Revolutionary Guerrillas” to raise the following questions: Why do we write? What is at stake? Who is our audience? What is our intent? What makes us tear up our pages and rebuild? What is our political purpose? Our historical impulse? Are we aware of it? How do we navigate the tension between our activist commitments and the analytical demands of scholarly fidelity, write accessibly without jettisoning nuance and complexity? To what extent is writing an aesthetic experience? Would we be better served if we were journalists or writers of fiction? Why, if at all, does it matter that we are writing as anthropologists? What are the consequences?

A drinks reception will follow the talk. This event is free, all are welcome to attend

About the speaker

Alpa Shah was raised in Nairobi, read Geography at Cambridge and completed her PhD in Anthropology at the London School of Economics, where she now teaches as Associate Professor after eight years at Goldsmiths. Her most recent book Nightmarch was shortlisted for the 2019 Orwell Prize for Political Writing and the New India Foundation Book Prize and on several 2018 Best Book lists and her co-authored Ground Down by Growth was on the 2018 Best Books list of The Hindu newspaper. She has reported for BBC Radio 4 and the World Service and co-curated the photo exhibition, Behind the Indian Boom.


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