Welcome back to this next lecture on contemporary India, and this time you're going to be hearing from me. I'm Sam Parker, I teach at the University of Washington in the United States. And I'm going to be talking about the traditional art forms in India, and the way in which they've been adapted to, or have responded to the modern world. And the way in which the modern world, art is going to be used as a lens through which we are looking at some of the general transformations in India. One of the basic misunderstandings about traditions is that we imagine traditions to be the opposite of modernity. We imagine that traditions are static and they continue to exist because they don't change. But actually, ancient traditions in India continue to be important in contemporary life because they're always changing. They're not static. They're always adapting to contemporary purposes, and they could continue to co-exist in India along with all sorts of modern institutions. And sometimes in problematic way or complex ways, and this is a very interesting thing to consider. So this lecture is briefly going to introduce and illustrate a series of useful tools, intellectual concepts, that can be used as ways of thinking about how traditional art, traditional India has been changing. The arts of India have been changing in the modern world, and specifically I'm going to be using the visual arts as a way of looking at the utility of these tools. So these ten tools really provide us a way of seeing things. They're all interrelated with each other. They mutually depend on each other. They add up to a kind of way of seeing things, and the first idea is that of the dominant sites of symbolic production. I'll be talking about that one first and then I'll go onto the others later. One of the things about symbol production is that early in the 20th century, people thought that symbols were something totally separate from material production. And material production was one thing and symbolism was something else. In recent decades, hardly anybody really buys that anymore, especially Marshall Sahlins in the 1970's, demonstrated that material production and symbolic production are one and the same thing. That material production is symbolic and symbolic production has to take material forms in order for it to be shared, in order for it to be social. We would have to take the form of some sound, some image, some material form in order to transmit from one person to another. So Marshall Sahlins came up with this idea of a dominant site of symbol production. This is a useful way of thinking about cultural diversity, that not all societies produce versions of reality or represent reality in the same way or using the same symbol system. So a dominant site of symbol production is the domain of life where the real world of a society is represented and experienced. Not as something that's historically and culturally constructed, but as something that's just normal or natural. Or if it's at the most extreme ethnocentrism, you think of your own way of life and your own symbol production as being universal. So, in small-scale society, that's usually kinship. The kind of elaborate kinship systems that are studied traditionally by anthropology in small-scale tribal societies. The real world is that of blood, of kinship ties. The real world of many later civilizations tends to be religion or something spiritual in nature. So in ancient and much of modern India, it's the sacred domain, the spiritual domain, which is centered on the question of the Self, which in ancient Indian discourses is called the Atman. It is the question of who am I? What am I? What is this world? What is real reality? We know all about relative reality. Relative reality is all around us. Relative to a particular language, a particular culture, a particular time, and a particular place, all of these things change. What is the real self that is beyond this relative? Because otherwise, who I am is really simple to my role. I'm a professor, I'm a male, I live in this society, I speak this language, but is that really who I am? This has traditionally been the dominant site of symbol production in India. The ultimate questions of how do we represent reality? What is reality? And as you may or may not know, in ancient India, the world of relative reality they were all accustomed to dealing with is considered to be Maya, it's considered to be illusion, its not the really real. Modernity, which has been going on in India since the British Raj. I mean it's gradually started 250 years or so ago, this idea of modern progress. Modernity has brought a new globalizing economic culture, which has really been gaining steam in the 20th century and has really taken off. Since the neo-liberal structural reforms of the 1990's, where the Indian government opened up its economy to a kind of globalizing capitalist world market. And modernity has really brought a new culture, another culture. Actually it's not a new culture, it's just the exaggeration of a cultural trend that's been going on throughout the colonial period. And that culture is fundamentally economic, and its symbols are fundamentally economic symbols, quantitative symbols. So associated with the idea of a dominant site of symbolic production is that of mythopraxis, this is another term that Marshall Sahlins coined. That they're kind of practices that are simply taken for granted. They're just routines. They're things that you're socialized in childhood to simply take for granted. How the world works, and operate in a particular way that's consistent with what the adults expect and what other members of your society expect. And so before we are ever even able to reason things, or think about things, or critically analyze things, we have learned a whole set of practices. And the thing is that those ordinary routine practices embed mythological assumptions. They're taken for granted assumptions that are embedded in the ordinary practices that we take, that we engage in everyday. And the participants of these practices tend to experience these things not as cultural or conventional, but as simply natural. This is just the natural way for a human being to live and to operate and the kind of natural practices. But they're not really natural, they are socially constructed. So our local versions of common sense, and common sense, as the term suggests, is communal sense. These are sets of communal agreements about what it is to be rational, what it is to act according to the conventions of the society you belong to. So our local versions of explicit common sense follow after the existing patterns of practice. Practice always comes first and then rationalization follows after it. Trailing even further behind those are abstract ideologies like socialism or neo-liberal economics or some ideological system, religion. These things follow along behind the explicit theories. And we're always at risk of losing sight of the grounding of these ideologies in some sort of a local mode of mythopraxis. And therefore human beings commonly confuse what is culturally normal with what is natural and is what is ultimately real. So a good example of mythopraxis is shopping. Shopping expresses a kind of globalizing, is an aspect of a globalizing mythopraxis that presumes that the ultimate reality, the ultimate nature of reality, is economic. And organized around monetary symbols that are considered to be just natural, just aspects of, this is the natural way of assessing value. And notice that this value, monetary value is always quantitative value. It's empty of content, it's just a number, it's just an amount. In fact, it's easily transferable to amounts of credit, to digital form. It doesn't necessarily have to have the form, the tangible form of money. It´s simply a purely symbolic representation of something that is real, and this is what we consider to be the real world. So for example, activities of production and consumption. These embody a range of mythological assumptions that include ideas about personhood, who I am. This is the spiritual or sacred question in traditional India, and now, this has become primarily an economic issue. Who I am, also questions about what society is, what time is, what space is, what nature is. All of these things are embedded as a set of tacit assumptions in practice itself. So next time we're going to look at how this idea of dominant sites of symbol production is connected to the idea that local realities are socially constructed through communal agreements. And how various perspectives, diverse perspectives, have been able to historically flourish in India through a mythopraxis of what you might call compartmentalization or a context sensitivity.