Call for Book Chapters - The Planetary Subaltern: On South Asian History, Theory, and Texts in the Anthropocene
Editors: Somasree Sarkar (Assistant Professor, Ghoshpukur College, University of North Bengal) and Agnibha Maity (Senior Research Fellow, University of North Bengal)
The Anthropocene, alluding to a geological epoch in which human presence accounts for the most consequential geophysical force, is subjected to criticism for representing homo sapiens as a homogeneous species within a geological stratum. The critics of the Anthropocene hypothesis charge it with the flaw of considering the human as a singular carbon-emitting subject, ignoring such “anthropological differences” that recognise humans in diverse sociological strata with varied ethnic, gendered, cultural, and geopolitical identities (Chakrabarty 2012, 14). While ignoring the human-induced geophysical changes is impossible, it is equally essential to recognise the uneven distribution of those changes and their impacts based on a region’s demography and geo-political situation. Such a disparity intensifies the discussion on human agency, justice, and human subjectivity, which are inextricably linked to human history. Therefore, it seems crucial to critically assess the human subjects with their plurality vis-à-vis the concurrent human-driven planetary crises in the Anthropocene.
The term ‘Anthropocene’, emphasising the human agency as the dominant geophysical factor, has been doing rounds in the field of science since the 1980s. During the decade, a group of South Asian historians known as the Subaltern Studies Collective also emerged to reclaim the agency of humans on the sociopolitical fringes, and their endeavours resulted in an analogous writing of marginal groups’ history. While the Anthropocene notion implies a persistent impact of human agency on planetary conditions, Subaltern Studies aims to isolate something resembling an agency for the Subaltern – no matter how incoherent and inconsistent. In Subaltern Studies 2.0 (2022), Milinda Banerjee and Jelle J.P. Wouters, echoing the ethos of the earlier collective, widen the scope by stressing the interdependence of ‘multibeing communities,’ a necessary intervention amid the planetary crises. The planetary crisis “calls on us to extend ideas of politics and justice to the nonhuman […]” (Chakrabarty 2021, 13) and to humans on the margins. Any political interpretation contextualised in the anthropocenic planetary crises also requires the ‘plural epistemologies’ as an interpretative strategy. The ‘plural epistemologies’ represent multiple beings beyond the dominant history to recognise the subaltern subjects as historical beings. The subaltern subjects as historical beings cannot escape their socio-geographical situatedness in the present planetary crises. Humanists have criticised the Anthropocene discourse for overlooking subaltern subjects’ situatedness in its attempt to reify the human as a monolithic force. Acknowledging the (largely ignored) subalterns’ historicity in the epoch characterised by human-caused planetary crises, it appears feasible to call into question the relevance of the Anthropocene discourse and investigate the sense it makes in South Asia, particularly when viewed through the critical lenses of the Subaltern Studies.
In this regard, the proposed volume aims to facilitate an eventful dialogue between the two discursive fields of study of the Anthropocene and the Subaltern Studies to (re)define human agency and subjecthood in the human-dominated epoch, primarily through analysing subaltern narratives in South Asia. The volume intends to further questions: Does the human-dominated epoch only refer to humans with power? Does the Anthropocene grossly disregard the subaltern communities’ presence? What role does the subaltern play in the Anthropocene? How do we speculate the future of subalterns amidst the planetary crisis? By doing so, the volume aims to open an avenue of study, archiving the South Asian subaltern communities’ micro-narratives concerning the current crises, which include global warming, resource deficit, shortage of water, deforestation, the production of climate refugees, gendered violence and disease, pandemic, and terrorism, among others. Furthermore, the suggested new field of study, supported by the Anthropocene discourses and the Subaltern Studies together, seeks to cater to the new modes of interpretation required for defining the human subject amid the anthropocenic planetary crises, which we would refer to as the ‘planetary subaltern’ in the volume. The volume, thus, considers ‘planetary subaltern’ as a theoretical strategy to trace the South Asian subaltern history and anticipate its future in the Anthropocene.
The volume aims to engage the discourses on the Anthropocene and the Subaltern from three broad perspectives: theorising the ‘Planetary Subaltern’; textual politics of the ‘Planetary Subaltern’; and planetary crisis and the subaltern subject. Thus, we invite chapter proposals that address the following (but not limited to) issues contextualised in South Asia:
- A theoretical approach to the ‘Planetary Subaltern.’
- Textual and media representations of the ‘Planetary Subaltern.’
- Historiography of the ‘Planetary Subaltern’
- Indigenous communities and the planetary crisis
- Human-nonhuman interaction on the fringes
- Refugee crisis, migration and statelessness
- Gendered subaltern and the Anthropocene
- Peasant History and the Anthropocene
- Agrarian condition in the Anthropocene
- Postpoliticised environment and the Subaltern
- Planetary crisis and the class conflict
- Casteism and speciesism
- Planetary crisis and disease
- Pandemic and the Subaltern
Chakrabarty, Dipesh. 2012. “Postcolonial Studies and the Challenge of Climate Change.” New Literary History 43 (1):1-18. https://www.jstor.org/stable/23259358.
Chakrabarty, Dipesh. 2021. The Climate of History in a Planetary Age. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Banerjee, Milinda, and Jelle J.P. Wouters. 2022. Subaltern Studies 2.0: Being Against the Capitalocene. Chicago: Prickly Paradigm Press.
*We are currently in discussions with a renowned publishing house.
Chapter proposals within 400 words and a short bio-note (50 words) are to be submitted by 30 November 2023.
The invited chapters within 6000-7000 words (excluding end notes and citations) will be due on 15 March 2024 (tentatively).
The chapter abstracts and the full-length chapters are to be submitted to the email ID email@example.com