How law perceives the world is often grounded in systems of values and beliefs adopted by the legal practitioners: their interpretive frameworks, prejudices and dispositions, which shape the very ‘paradigms’ upon which they choose to see the ‘facts’ and frame their methods of inquiries. In other words, ‘truth’ in the eyes of the law is but ex post facto (re)construction of ‘reality’ achieved through narratorial articulation of relevant events and chosen facts. Taking off from here, this talk sets out to understand: how do we unpack the social ‘constructivism’ of the apriori assumptions that cloak the idea of the ‘vagabond’ in the legal imagination? How does law ‘frame’ the vagabond as a sub-set within the ‘human’? What conflates this idea with the notion of the ‘abject’? Why at all is vagrancy perceived as punishable in the eyes of the law? Invoking a few case studies, both from India and beyond, this paper points to the arbitrariness in the juridico-political imagination and the ambiguity in the legal articulation of the ‘vagabond’.
Dr Avishek Ray teaches at the National Institute of Technology Silchar, Assam after having earned his PhD (2014) in Cultural Studies from Trent University, Canada. He has also completed a PhD Coursework (2009-10) in Cultural Studies from the Centre for the Study of Culture & Society (CSCS), Bangalore.
He has worked on what may loosely be called archaeology of vagabondage: the political and philosophical implications of the social construct 'vagabond' and cultural representations thereof in the context of South Asia. He has edited a Bangla anthology on Religion & Popular Culture, and published in reputed journals like Inter-Asia Cultural Studies (Routledge), Canadian Journal of Comparative Literature, Journal of Human Values (SAGE) among others. He has held research fellowships at IIM Calcutta, University of Edinburgh (UK), Purdue University Library (USA) and Pavia University (Italy).
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