Speakers at Frames of Reference 2009: A brief introduction

6 12 2009

Ashis Nandy: Inaugural Lecture on the 18th Morning at 10.30 am

Ashis Nandy (born 1937) is an Indian political psychologist, a critical theory based social theorist, and a leading social, cultural and political critics in contemporary times. A trained sociologist and clinical psychologist, his field covers a vast area of thinking such as public conscience, political psychology, mass violence, nationalism and culture.

He has worked on cultures of knowledge, visions, and dialogues of civilizations. He was Senior Fellow and Director of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) for several years before his retirement in 2004; today he is a Senior Honorary Fellow at the institute, apart from being the Chairperson of the Committee for Cultural Choices and Global Futures, also in New Delhi.

Part of the 2008 list of the Top 100 Public Intellectuals Poll, Nandy had received the Fukuoka Asian Culture Prize in 2007. In 2008 he was listed as one of the top 100 public intellectuals of the world by the magazine, Foreign Policy, published by The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Nandy joined the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), Delhi, as a young faculty member. While working there, he developed his own methodology by integrating clinical psychology and sociology. He served as the Director of CSDS between 1992 and 1997. He also serves on the Editorial Collective of Public Culture, a reviewed journal published by Duke University Press.

Nandy has coauthored a number of human rights reports and is active in movements for peace, alternative sciences and technologies, and cultural survival. He is a member of the Executive Councils of the World Futures Studies Federation, the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, The International Network for Cultural Alternatives to Development, and the People’s Union for Civil Liberties. Nandy has been a Woodrow Wilson Fellow at the Wilson Center, Washington, D.C., a Charles Wallace Fellow at the University of Hull, and a Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Humanities, University of Edinburgh. He held the first UNESCO Chair at the Center for European Studies, University of Trier, in 1994. In 2006 he became the National Fellow of the Indian Council of Social Science Research.

Professor Nandy is an intellectual who identifies and explores numerous and diverse problems. He has written extensively in last two decades. His much discussed book titled ‘The Intimate Enemy: Loss and Recovery of Self Under Colonialism’, which was published in 1983 by the Oxford University Press, India talked about the psychological problems posed at a personal level by colonialism, for both colonizer and colonized. Nandy argues that the understanding of self is intertwined with those of race, class, and religion under colonialism, and that the Gandhian movement can be understood in part as an attempt to transcend a strong tendency of educated Indians to articulate political striving for independence in European terms. Through his prolific writing and other activities supported by his belief in non-violence, Professor Nandy has offered penetrating analysis from different angles of a wide range of problems such as political disputes and racial conflicts, and has made suggestions about how human beings can exist together and together globally, irrespective of national boundaries.

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