#TMAA (The Mediators And Actors, March 17, 2019):

Are ‘things’ (truly) suppressed? What does it mean to act? (How?) is the fan in your computer doing something to you? Are there many kinds of intentionalities in the world? Do animals and machines also act? Are language, metaphysics, politics, agency – all – reserved only for us? Could politicization of the material world be thought of as depoliticization of the human society? What cannot interact? Is mediation a sub-species of action? Are definitions also actions? Is a detailed description identical to an explanation? Is there a depth dimension to Reality? Are things contained in space, or does space exist ‘because’ things exist? Does the form of ‘spacing out’, then, lead to the possibilities of voluntary or involuntary actions? Does the subject always contain the predicate? Is your worldview dualistic? What is hidden within ourselves? Might action be caused by disembodied intention? What makes crowds mobs? Does the material non-human world permeate our social lives via (say) language and behaviour? Is social change, therefore, not so easy? Is capital the real actor? &, are the possibilities of the future a given, or can the world be acted upon (endlessly)? SynTalk thinks about these & more questions using concepts from anthropology (Prof. Arjun Appadurai, NYU, New York), philosophy (Dr. Enakshi Ray Mitra, University of Delhi, New Delhi), & East Asian studies (Dr. Christian Uhl, Ghent University, Ghent).

Listen in…

SynTalk is pleased and privileged to have hosted the following SynTalkrs (in alphabetical order) on its #TMAA show.

Prof. Arjun Appadurai (anthropology) is the Goddard Professor at the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication, New York University (NYU), New York. His research interests are historical anthropology, anthropology of globalization – ethnic violence, consumption, space and housing, international civil society, & urban South Asia. During his academic career, he has also held professorial chairs at Yale University, the University of Chicago and the University of Pennsylvania, and has held visiting appointments at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (Paris), the University of Delhi, the University of Michigan, the University of Amsterdam, the University of Iowa, Columbia University and New York University. Prof. Appadurai did his B.A. from Brandeis University (USA) in 1967, and then completed his M.A. (1973) and Ph.D. (1976) from The Committee on Social Thought (University of Chicago, USA). He has authored numerous books and scholarly articles, including ’Fear of Small Numbers: An Essay on the Geography of Anger’ (Duke 2006), ‘Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization’ (Minnesota 1996, Oxford India 1997), & ‘The Future as a Cultural Fact: Essays on the Global Condition’ (Verso, 2013). Prof. Appadurai has received multiple fellowships, scholarships and scholarly honors, including residential fellowships at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences in Palo Alto (California), & the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1997. He serves on the Advisory Board for the Asian Art Initiative at the Solomon Guggenheim Museum.

Dr. Enakshi Ray Mitra (philosophy) is an Assistant Professor in Department of Philosophy, University of Delhi, New Delhi. Earlier, she has held academic positions at West Bengal State University and undergraduate colleges in Kolkata. Her research interests are analytic philosophy (specifically philosophy of later Wittgenstein), logic, philosophy of language, and philosophy of actions. Her current research is focused on synthesising later Wittgenstein’s anti-foundational approach to philosophy with some current trends of continental tradition. Dr. Mitra also served as a research fellow in Jadavpur University and was awarded a fellowship in Indian Institute of Advanced Studies (IIAS, Shimla). She has published two books, titled, ‘Later Wittgenstein on Language and Mathematics: A Non-Foundational Narration’ (IIAS, Shimla, 2017), & ‘Reference As Action: Space and Time in Later Wittgenstein’ (IIAS, Shimla, 2019). Dr. Mitra is also the member of Austrian Ludwig Wittgenstein Society (Austria), since 2010. Her research is also published in multiple Bangla journals, and some of her articles are, ‘Chayachabir Chayachabi: Sondhane Mrinal Sen’ (Chitravas, A Journal of North Calcutta Film Society, 2017 ), ‘Pratisvikata O Wittgenstein: Ekti Punormulyayan’ (Charcha, January, 2013), & ‘Paribar Sadrishya’ (Wittgenstein: Jagat, Bhasha O Chinton, 1998). Dr. Mitra has also presented in multiple conferences, including, International Conference on Wittgenstein: Beyond the Inner-Outer Picture at University of Seville (Spain, 2018), & National Conference on Reading Russell on the Centenary of Principia Mathematica (1910-1913) at Rabindra Bharati University (Calcutta, 2012).

Dr. Christian Uhl (East Asian studies) is currently Associate Professor for Japanese studies at Department for South and East Asian Languages and Cultures, Ghent University, Ghent. Earlier he has worked as a researcher and lecturer at the University of Leiden (The Netherlands). His research interests are themes in modern intellectual history, political thought, and philosophy in Japan and China (from a Marxian perspective). He studied Japanese and modern Chinese Studies and received his Masters (2000) & Ph.D. (2003) from Ruprecht-Karls-University, Heidelberg, Germany. Among his publications are the monograph ‘Who was Takeuchi Yoshimi’s Lu Xun?’ (in German, 2003), circling around Takeuchi Yoshimi’s influential interpretation of the life and work of the modern Chinese writer, Lu Xun, and analyzing it in light of the intellectual critique of ‘Western modernity’ in war-time Japan, as well as a couple of essays on the Japanese philosopher, Nishida Kitarō, and the so-called Kyoto School of philosophy that gathered around him. In his writings, Prof. Uhl grapples with Lu Xun’s efforts to amalgamate Nietzsche and evolutionary theory, and has also made an attempt at exploring the nexus between capitalism, the modern notion of time, and the autobiographical conception of the self. His writings focus on the historically specific enabling conditions of the modern condition humaine, and of its conceptualizations and mis-conceptualizations. Prof. Uhl is member of the editorial board of the Chicago University Press Journal (Critical Historical Theory) & member of the International Society for Lu Xun Studies and serves on the editorial board of the society’s journal (ISLS).

Note: Any & all errors in the brief profiles above are SynTalk’s own.

#TMAA mentionsGottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Baruch Spinoza, Immanuel Kant, Karl Marx, Edwin Abbott Abbott, Émile Durkheim, Hannah Arendt, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Gabriel Tarde, Michel Foucault, Louis Althusser, Bruno Latour, Isabelle Stengers, Philippe Descola, Karen Barad, Thomas C. Schelling, & Bill McKibben, among others.