A view on public intellectuals

March 13, 2014 § Leave a comment

This blogpost is just a note of a pithy little quote from an article by K Sivaramakrishnan:

Political activism requires the public intellectual—not necessarily a cosmopolitan metropolitan figure, but a social theorist capable of clear, independent articulation of issues in public venues. This may be a person who speaks in a vernacular or local idiom but who manages to provoke debates in popular and scholarly media that intersect and enrich each other. Activism is impoverished when the social production of the public intellectual becomes threatened. Rajen Harshe and Sujata Patel have recently argued that this has indeed happened in India. They note, ‘social science scholarship has degenerated into utilising simplistic forms of theorising, based on binary opposites, such as male versus female, brahminical versus dalit, modern versus indigenous, caste versus class, state versus civil society, together with such opposites based on language and region’ (Harshe and Patel 2003: 527).

– in K. Sivaramakrishnan (2011) “Thin nationalism: Nature and public intellectualism in India” Contributions to Indian Sociology, 45: 85, p105.


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