Riccardo Jaede

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

London, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9735

Approve Date

October 23, 2018

Project Title

Jaede, Riccardo, U. of London, London, UK - To aid research on 'The Ethics and Effects of 'Declassing' among Non-parliamentary Leftists in Kolkata,' supervised by Dr. Charles Stafford

Preliminary abstract: I intend to study the ways in which urban middle class leftists in Kolkata, India, view and engage with poverty and social inequality. In particular, I will focus on how activists of middle class and (usually) high caste background reflect on the relationship between themselves and the poor as such; and the relationship between themselves and the wider political economy that often allows them to be activists in the first place. A central analytical lens is the notion and practice of ‘declassing’, which entails the renunciation of one’s class and caste privileges, and the worldviews they entail, in order to transform one’s subjectivity into a new, ‘revolutionary’ one that can lead oppressed populations from within. Indian communism often supposes that the self was formed through relations of domination, and is to be transformed through a protracted, symbiotic relationship with the dominated. Over the course of 18 months of ethnographic fieldwork, I plan to embed myself with one of the slum dwelling populations of Kolkata whom the activists are organising, in order to study ‘from the margins’ how a (claimed) combination of class- centric Marxism with intersectional politics plays out in practice; how the (internally stratified) urban poor react to attempts at intersectional solidarity; and what varieties of declassing emerge for different subject positions in response to these encounters.