Body on the Barricades: Life, Arts and Resistance in Contemporary India
Book: Body on the Barricades: Life, Arts and Resistance in Contemporary India
Written by:Brahma Prakash
Published by:Leftword, 2023
With a searing, poetic, and powerful writing style, Brahma Prakash in his book, ‘Body on the Barricades’ addresses the political struggles as a performative act, bringing visibility to protests, and laboring bodies as embodied and dramatized experiences. The author explores everyday life, freedom, curtailment and authoritarianism during COVID-19, by closely reading into the impacts of complete lockdown, the production of hate, and the caging of artists inside walls. The book bravely confronts the coercive power of the state and dominant groups, addressing the layered structures of caste, gender, religious identities, and class Despite the prevailing atmosphere of authoritarianism, hatred, and hopelessness, the author advocates the potential for solidarity and hope.
The book is devised into eight chapters, spontaneously arranged as a response to the present socio-political situation in India, driven by heartfelt emotions rather than a specific methodology. The first chapter, ‘When We Can’t Breathe’ explores the act of breathing in relation to freedom and barricades, while the second chapter, ‘Words and Demagogues’ highlights the production of a language of genocide and the distortion of meanings of words itself. In the third chapter, the focus is on the hatred directed towards Muslims in India through the author’s family stories and anecdotes. The fourth chapter sheds light on the plight of migrant laborers and the curtailment placed on their bodies and movements during the lockdown, revealing the turn of Indian cities towards casteist and localized attitudes. The fifth chapter ‘The Trial of Art’ discusses the relationship between art and state and the sixth chapter focuses on the farmer’s protest in Delhi in 2020-21 and how“the farmers marched to cut their harvest in Delhi” (p.143).
“The curtailment of life and freedom expects to find its culmination in closure, in death, in mourning and mayhem… But this is what doesn’t happen. Hope refuses to die. Everytime a body encounters a barricade, it ends up in a new possibility” (p.202)Body on the Barricades