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Sunday, December 9th – 2-3 pm
Ananta Kumar Giri, scholar and writer
from Chennai, India

Traveling scholar, philosopher, sociologist and humanist Ananta Kumar Giri, born and raised in the Indian state of Odisha, and based in Chennai in the state of Tamil Nadu at the Madras Institute of Development Studies, a true son of Erasmus, will read recent poems and share some of his insights and writings, touching on thoughts expressed in recent addresses, given in November 4th in London and December 5th in Raymondville, Texas, entitled “Social Theory and Asian Dialogues: Cultivating New Pathways of Global Social Thought and Planetary Conversations” and “The Aesthetics of Development: Art, Culture and Social Transformation,” respectively.

According to the Indic tradition of Lokasamagraha (people’s collective thought/work), the world is cosmopolitan and we are like a family in that world. Ananta’s collection of poems, Weaving New Hats, is an enterprise in that tradition.

He writes:

“Poetry weaves new words and worlds in the midst of threats and destructions of many kinds. Our world today is in the grip of threats of many kinds—external as well as inner. The immediate triumph of a politics of hatred in many countries around the world is adding new threats to our lives and love for humanity.

“In this critical juncture, poetry as part of a broader politics and spirituality of transformation can help us weave new threads—threads which can connect us with each other with a non-imprisoning solidarity and with care, compassion, and karuna. The volume of poems, Weaving New Hats: Our Half-Birth Days, takes part in our contemporary challenge of thread works and thread meditations in the midst of threat works of many kinds.

Weaving New Hats presents poems as an invitation to travel inwards and across, and to take part in multi-dimensional transformations of our times. As part of this book offering, our workshops explore related issues of links among philosophy, anthropology, and literature and investigating how cultivating a creative relationship among them can help us to realize Lokasamgraha.

“Lokasamgraha is a very important thought from the Indic tradition, challenging us to realize the significance of gathering together—soul as well as social—for the well-being of all. In our workshops on this topic, we explore the challenge of well-being at the individual, social, and planetary level, dependent upon creative works and meditations in our lives.

“Lokasamgraha can be linked to contemporary discourses of cosmopolitanism, but it also strives to interrogate its Eurocentric binding. In Euro-American conceptions of cosmopolitanism, which trace its roots to the Stoic conception of the cosmopolitan as citizen of the world, cosmopolitanism is mainly limited to the axis of citizenship. This is linked to the primacy of the polis and the political. But in other traditions, to be cosmopolitan is not only to be a citizen of the world but to be a member of the human family as suggested in the Indic idea of Vasudhaiba Kutumbakam—This Vasudha—This World is our Family. These different paths of cosmopolitan realization are also explored in the recent collection, Beyond Cosmopolitanism: Towards Planetary Transformations (Giri, ed.; Palgrave, 2018).”

Ananta Kumar Giri has edited two recent anthologies that bear contributions from San Francisco-based scholars. Rabbi Pam Frydan, a scholar and activist based in San Francisco, has contributed essays on the theme of practical spirituality and Judaism in Practical Spirituality and Human Development: Transformations in Religions and Societies (Palgrave Macmillan 2018); and Dr. Abhijeet Paul who teaches at UC Berkeley, has contributed an essay, “The Gift of Grains” to Social Theory and Asian Dialogues: Cultivating Planetary Conversations (Palgrave 2018).

With a focus on Weaving New Hats and “Beyond Cosmopolitanism,” Ananta Kumar Giri, engages with his poems, these two books, and his recent lectures to cultivate new ways of thinking and co-being in our current fragile world.

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