Kajri Jain Believes Democracy Unfolds through the Aesthetic
Play • 57 min

"We don’t pay enough attention to the sensory aspects of what it means to be equal. That’s what it fundamentally is. That’s the presupposition of democracy. Not the goal. The presupposition is that we are equal, but does our comportment reinforce that or does it re-institute hierarchies."

Kajri Jain

A full transcript is available at www.democracyparadox.com.

This week’s guest is Kajri Jain. She is an art historian from the University of Toronto and the author of Gods in the Time of Democracy. Her work is well known among scholars of contemporary Indian art. But I doubt many political scientists have come across her work.

Our conversation explores politics in India through the construction of massive statues that are sometimes the size of the Statue of Liberty or taller. It’s a completely novel way to examine Hindu Nationalism, Dalit identity, and religion in India.

But the conversation also explores the ways we communicate political ideas and create an inclusive democracy. Art is ultimately a form of communication, but it is largely neglected by scholars of democracy. We might discuss what people say about art, but rarely how the art interacts with us. This is a conversation I could only have with an art historian. But not just any art historian, but one who is also a philosopher and a religious scholar. An art historian who examines people affected by art more than the art itself. This is my conversation with Kajri Jain…

Key Links

Gods in the Time of Democracy

Statue of Unity

Kajri Jain at University of Toronto

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