TOUGH TALK

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TOUGH TALK argues the questions that are all too real in South Asia but refuse to be discussed, and asks the answers.

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TOUGH TALK # 4

SHOULD WE APOLOGISE FOR THE PAST?

Date/Time: Thursday, 20 January 2022/3.30pm GMT

Across the world, our past has left disturbing, inhumane and cruel histories. Several nations have called for past perpetrators to acknowledge their atrocities and apologise. This 'Tough Talk' asks: should we apologise/ask for apologies for the past, or should we let the past be, and work towards a better future? Do apologies matter? Are they symbolic or are they genuinely meaningful? 

Speakers: Tom Bentley (@TomJBentley) is Lecturer in the Department of Politics & International Relations, University of Aberdeen, and is the author of Empires of Remorse: Narratives, Postcolonialism and Apologies for Colonial Atrocity (2016); Vanessa Holburn (@vanessaSH) is a journalist, and author of The Amritsar Massacre: The British Empire's Worst Atrocity (2019); Claus Leggewie is Ludwig Börne Professor at Justus-Liebig-Universität Giessen, and has written on cultures of remembrance, conflicts & historical memoryRasul Bakhsh Rais (@RasulRais) is Professor of Political Science at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), and author most recently of Islam, Ethnicity & Power Politics: Constructing Pakistan's National Identity (2017); Ali Raza (@tareekhdaan) specialises in the history of modern South Asia, is Associate Professor at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), and is currently developing a digital archive of the 1971 war between Pakistan & Bangladesh; Ali Riaz is Distinguished Professor in Politics & Government at Illinois State University, and has spoken publicly about an apology from Pakistan to Bangladesh for 1971 (Bangladesh's War of Liberation); Shalini Sharma is Senior Lecturer in South Asian History at Keele University, and has been closely involved with the demand from the British government to apologise for 1919 (Jallianwala Bagh) in India. 

Chair: Nilanjan Sarkar (@SAsiaLSE) is Deputy Director, LSE South Asia Centre

Please click here to watch a recording of the event.

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TOUGH TALK # 3

DECOLONISING HISTORY: METHOD OR FACT?

Date/Time: Thursday, 7 October 2021/4.30pm BST

This 'Tough Talk' asks: is 'Decolonisation' a 'method'/'school' of historical interpretation, or is it what trained scholars have been doing all along -- examining, analysing & interpreting archives for newer and nuanced narratives that correct current wisdom?

SpeakersCaroline Elkins is Professor of History, Harvard University (@Harvard_History), and author of the acclaimed Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain's Gulag in Kenya (2005); Priya Satia (@PriyaSatia) is Raymond A Spruance Professor of International History, Stanford University, and author of Time's Monster: How History Makes History (2020); Kim Wagner (@KimAtiWagner) is Professor of Global and Imperial History, Queen Mary University of London, and author of Amritsar 1919: An Empire of Fear and the Making of a Massacre (2020).  

DiscussantDavid Arnold is Emeritus Professor of History, University of Warwick (@WarwickHistory), and author of Burning the Dead: Hindu Nationhood & the Global Construction of an Indian Tradition (2021).  

ChairNilanjan Sarkar is Deputy Director, LSE South Asia Centre (@SAsiaLSE).

Please click here to watch a recording of the event.

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TOUGH TALK # 2

DOES LIBERALISM ALLOW POPULISM?

Date/Time: Wednesday, 20 January 2021/3.30pm GMT

As new types of political mobilisation and electoral success enable different forms of government across the world, TOUGH TALK asks: Does Liberalism allow Populism? Here, ‘allow’ is used in the strict sense of ‘giving permission for (someone or groups) to do something, or to not prevent something from happening’; and ‘Populism’ is used as a shorthand for various governments — in Brazil, Hungary, India, Philippines, Russia, Turkey, the US under Trump, to name a few —  that have been referred to as ‘populist’, ‘majoritarian’, ‘strongman’, ‘identitarian’, ‘ultra-nationalist’, and so on.

Two recent books, both about India, set this tension in relief: A New Idea of India: Individual Rights in a Civilisational State argues for a ‘civilisational republic’, with a chapter titled ‘Saving Secularism from the Secularists’; and The Battle of Belonging: On Nationalism, Patriotism, and What it Means to be Indian has sections on ‘The Idea of India’ and the ‘The Hindutva Idea of India’, ending with arguing for ‘Reclaiming India’s Soul’.

This discussion will examine the ideas implicit in these two books, and debate some crucial points relevant to India and the world: inasmuch as the true ethos of ‘Liberalism’ and its political culture is to support all views, has it inadvertently allowed ‘illiberal’ and ‘non-liberal’ groups to prosper in liberal political space, only for them to stifle that space once they come to power? Does Liberalism need to reconsider the space for dissent, the place of the individual, and the urges of majoritarian ultra-nationalism in a globalised world? And what about the charges brought against Liberalism — of excessive political correctness, minority exceptionalism, majoritarian discrimination, Cancel Culture, and most recently, the tyranny of merit, amongst others? Does Liberalism need to reclaim, or to redefine, itself? Or is the world living through a civilisational turn, and Liberalism as we have known it has had its time?

PanelistsMichael Freeden (formerly Director, Centre for Political Ideologies & Emeritus Professor, University of Oxford); Harsh Gupta 'Madhusudan' (@harshmadhusudan) and Rajeev Mantri (@RMantri) are co-authors of A New Idea of India: Individual Rights in a Civilisational StateAakash Rathore (@aakashrathore) is Permanent Visiting Professor, LUISS University, Rome; Helena Rosenblatt (@HelenaRosenblat) is Professor, Graduate Center, City University of New York; and Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor), is author of The Battle of Belonging: On Nationalism, Patriotism, and What it Means to be Indian (2020; reprinted in the Uk as The Struggle for India's Soul: Nationalism & the Fate of Democracy (2021)).

ChairNilanjan Sarkar is Deputy Director, LSE South Asia Centre.

Please click here to watch a recording of the event. 

TOUGH TALK # 1

ARE SOUTH ASIANS RACIST? 

Date/Time: Wednesday, 30 September/3:00pm BST

SpeakersGurpreet Kaur (Jasmine Morris) (@turbandexplorer) is a writer and young activist who advocates for multicultural inclusion within the Sikh community; Hsu Yadanar Htun is one of the organisers of the 'Don’t Call Me K Word' campaign, and a feminist advocate in Rangoon, Myanmar; Nirosha Kulasekara is a Student Counselor at the University of Colombo, and has worked closely with Sri Lankan Africans for several years, including being a translator for the community at academic events; Malini Ranganathan (@maliniranga) is Associate Professor, School of International Service, and is Interim Faculty Director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center, American University, Washington D.C.; Ngurang Reena (@NgurangReena) is a first-generation researcher, writer and activist from Arunachal Pradesh in North-East India, and is currently a PhD scholar at the Centre for European Studies, JNU, New Delhi; Hurmat Ali Shah (@iconcoclastary) is a Pashtun from Pakistan, until recently Post-doctoral Research Fellow at Ryerson University, Toronto. His profile on LinkedIn says that Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan guided him to have a sense of identity, and Walter Benjamin mentors him from his grave; Beheroze F Shroff (@beheroze) is Lecturer in Asian American Studies, University of California, Irvine, and her research focuses on the Sidi community in India.

Chair: Nilanjan Sarkar is Deputy Director, LSE South Asia Centre.

Please click here to watch a recording of the event.

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 Banner image: 'Fists in the Air', PikPng.