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The Center for South Asian Studies(RINDAS)



“The Haunting of the Database: On the Remaking of Life and Death in Digital India”

Date and time
Dec. 13(Fri.), 2019, 16:00-18:00
Conference Room, West Hall (Sei-koh), Omiya Campus, Ryukoku University

【Speaker】:Prof. Lawrence Cohen (University of California, Berkeley, USA) “The Haunting of the Database: On the Remaking of Life and Death in D igital India” 【Abstract】: Digital forms of control society have recently emerged in India to reorganize the distribution of state benefits and private capital to persons on the socia l and economic margin, including the creation of a national biometric identity increasingly essential for survival. From their inception, these digital forms have been deployed to remove “dead” data–so-called “ghost” identities”–from the various databases that increasingly organize persons’ and communities’ relation to life and to value. And yet, far from databases becoming deathless, they seem to be sites for the emergence of new forms of death–mobile, active, perhaps vital death. This talk will examine several ways that the control society is haunted by the dead: through the experience of religious minorities with the resurgence of Hindu nationalism, and through the particular politics of the living body that have emerged in digital India. In order to think with these new emergent forms of life and death, the talk will then return to earlier cosmologies of distribution and sovereignty, working through questions of religious kingship, the sovereign gift, and the importance of the lively dead to moral and cosmic order.