How does one do scholarship in dialogue with the dead? After reading Chris Moffat’s essay, “Politics and the Work of the Dead in Modern India,” we thought he might have good answers to that question. So we asked him. Read on for his intriguing response.
Theories have histories and spatial locations. Certain foci of anthropological or historical reflection are, unsurprisingly, beholden to specific regions: spirit possession and postcolonialism gathered in relation to Africa, and India; revolution, to France, the U.S., Haiti, and Russia; territoriality and spatial semiotics to indigenous groups of the Americas or Australia; “ethnic nationalism,” to Germany and Eastern Europe; creolization and transculturation, to the Caribbean. These geo-theoretical productions inflect and act recursively on and in the lives of social actors who inherit them in those sites, and who live in their sediment.