Interrogating Vulnerable Subjectivities, Biopolitics, and the Ethics of Care in South Asia

deadline for submissions: 
August 30, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Nidhi Shrivastava
contact email: 

In the last decade, we have witnessed the harrowing images of migrants including that of Alan Kurdi whose death sparked world-wide outrage at the way in which the migrant crisis has been dealt with on a global level. While Kurdi’s untimely death drew attention to the Syrian refugees and their plight, the political crisis that has taken place in the South Asian subcontinent begs us to further think about the subjectivities of migrants and refugees and the ethics of care within this region.

Judith Butler’s conceptualization of biopolitics is a useful theoretical framework to question the State’s responsibility, its laws and policies that target the migrants and minorities often rendering them in a position of statelessness and precarity. We problematize the concept of what it means to be a migrant by thinking of Patricia Engel’s powerful words - we are all migrants on Earth - in her recent novel, Infinite Country. In our panel, we argue that a migrant faces multiple vulnerabilities both within the country in which they seek refuge or outside of it. Through religious discrimination, lack of documentation, class and caste politics, a migrant can be rendered invisible and displaced even if they were born within the country, such is the case of Dalit and Muslim bodies in India as well as Rohingya refugees who seek acceptance and stability in the South Asian sub-contient. Thus, we can see that these human beings have complex subjectivity that often cannot be reduced to identity categories but beg to be thought of so much mor