Book Review: An(other) Quest for the Political: Ranjan Ghosh’s Detechnification of Pedagogy Through Tagore

Samrat Sengupta


While reading Ranjan Ghosh’s book Aesthetics, Politics, Pedagogy and Tagore: A Transcultural Philosophy of Education (2017) one may follow the (in)fusion approach and the philosophy of trans introduced by Prof. Ghosh himself (Ghosh 2016). One may break the epistemic securities of ideas within their safe contours of tradition and belonging to infuse and activate other ideas – other spaces. Thus, the philosophical potentialities, the potency of philosophy or philosophical thinking as potentialities (following Agamben) would be directed towards an undecidable future – the realm of a confrontation with non-knowledge.1The future resides in the openness of possibilities of meaning that is hidden and which surfaces in the literariness of our readings. Activating ideas with other ideas would make the (im)possible meanings move from depth to the surface. Ghosh’s work points towards such inadvertent hybridity of ideas. As Ghosh with his inimical style charges Tagorean ideas on pedagogy and philosophy (linked inseparably as both form together a realm of practice and also transforms the same to address the famous Marxian gap between interpretation and change in “The Thesis on Feuerbach”) with his readings of thinkers across the continents (resonating with the title of his other book, co-authored with J. Hillis Miller, Thinking Literature Across Continents) the spectre of debates and discussions on Tagore’s philosophy and its relevance in the present world surfaces, transcending the limits of his book. Ranjan Ghosh’s book invites such textual and ideational transcendence and inquiry. In a recent special supplement on Tagore in Economic and Political Weekly,Pradip Kumar Dutta, in his introduction, comments on the “new generation of work on Tagore” after his 150thbirth anniversary which focuses more on “the less familiar area of Sriniketan, the rural development wing of the global pedagogic institution that Tagore called Visva–Bharati” but which “does not leave out the more familiar world of Santiniketan, but views it from the perspective of materialist aesthetic practices” (Dutta 2017, 38) as he claims to have been done in the collection he was introducing. He also points out how in the eve of his 100thanniversary in 1961, the anniversary edition published from Sahitya Akademi “does not have a single essay on his institution-making.” Ranjan Ghosh’s book effectively addresses that lacuna. As he does so, writing in English for a wider global audience, his work pushes us to address a larger question of postcolonial scholarship and its politics. It becomes an addition to our postcolonial speculations on identity, marginality and thinking of the other.

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