Abstract

In 2006, a small group of Japanese sanitation workers traveled from Tokyo to Chennai, India to meet with a group they saw as potential comrades—the Dalit. Over the course of several days, these groups shared stories of pain and discrimination—the rigors of marginalization told alongside triumphs of resistance. This article focuses on the politics and aesthetics of this solidarity project between the Japanese Buraku people and the Dalit of South Asia. I develop solidarity as a project of rendering groups—here, the Buraku and the Dalit—commensurate through the operation of extending sympathy. I argue that the viability of political solidarity hangs on the cultivation of a “fellow feeling,” a formative process of learning to feel oneself through the imagined mediating gaze of another: i.e., the development of a disciplined internal judge of experience. I examine the rules that permit and constrain that sympathetic traffic, as well as the moments that lead to its blockage. This talk complicates notions of circulation and commensuration from linguistic and economic anthropology, and it critically engages work on recognition and vulnerability. The conclusion advances an argument for socio-historical connectedness beyond liberal sympathy.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-1518
Print ISSN
0003-5491
Pages
pp. 123-150
Launched on MUSE
2016-04-02
Open Access
No
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