English and Theatre Studies seminar: Professor Rustom Bharucha - Jhadu Katha: Enactments of the Broom in Oral History, Political Spectacle and Bare Life

Wednesday, March 2, 2016 16:30 - 17:30

English and Theatre Studies seminars 2016

Seminars will be held throughout the semester on Wednesdays at 4.30pm in the John Medley (Building 191) fourth floor linkway. All are welcome.

Focusing on the most marginalized of objects - the broom - this lecture will map its performative uses and appropriations within a spectrum of allusions to oral history, political spectacle and bare life. Beginning with insights provided by the oral history of Komal Kothari on the intimate relationship of the broom to the larger realities of waste and detritus, mediated by caste, the lecture will then proceed to contrast how these realities are either swept away by the nationalist propaganda of civil initiatives or else incorporated into the political equation of the broom with the voice of the people. These differences will be contextualized through short excerpts from the documentary Jhadu Katha (directed by Navroze Contractor) in which the survival of broom-makers, scavengers and manhole cleaners exemplifies the ways in which Giorgio Agamben's concept of 'bare life' is enacted in the Indian context. At once excluded from basic human rights, yet incorporated into the 'democratic' mechanisms of the state, the representatives of 'bare life' call attention to the compelling lessons of the broom, embedded in the most extreme forms of violence and humiliation, yet open to the possibilities of resistance.


Event type



4th floor Linkway, John Medley (Building 191)