The ‘Here’ and ‘Elsewhere’ in World Literature: Interview with Bodhisattva Kar

On 11-20 July 2019, the Transregional Academy “Minor/Small Literature(s). Perspectives on World Literature from Elsewhere” took place in Berlin. It aimed to question common assumptions of world literature through the prism of minor/small literature(s). Even though Eurocentric foundations have been criticized and questioned for more than two decades, especially from a post-colonial perspective, there has yet to be an alternate literary historiography through which to imagine world literature otherwise. The Academy was organised by the Forum Transregionale Studien and the Max Weber Stiftung in cooperation with the Leibniz Center for Literary and Cultural Research (ZfL).

Bodhisattva Kar was part of the Academy’s Steering Committee and led the thematic discussion “The Elsewheres of Nativism”. During the Academy, Botakoz Kassymbekova (Forum Transregionale Studien) interviewed Bodhisattva on the notion of ‘elsewhere’ that he inspired in the Academy’s title. They discuss the dialectic between the concepts ‘here’ and ‘elsewhere’, questions of nativism, identity, and positionality, and their overall relation to the literary genre.



Bodhisattva Kar is Senior Lecturer and Head (Academic) of the Department of Historical Studies, University of Cape Town, South Africa. An alumnus of Jawaharlal Nehru University, India, he has previously taught and held fellowships at Amsterdam, Berlin, Calcutta, Mexico City, Oxford, and Paris. His research interests include histories of development and disciplines; primitivism; nineteenth and early twentieth-century history of South and South East Asia; connected and comparative histories of frontiers; joint–stock companies; and global governmentality. He has recently co-edited, with Partha Chatterjee and Tapati Guha-Thakurta, New Cultural Histories of India: Materiality and Practices (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2014).


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