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Interrogating Marginalities as a Crisis of the Liberal Script


· Amit Prakash Jawaharlal Nehru University (New Delhi, India)


07/28 | 16:30-16:50 UTC+2/CEST


Liberalism, as a philosophical frame as well as praxis, has justifiably been lionised for expansion of liberty, equality, individual rights and democratic processes. These principles have acted as an anchor to inspire struggles for rights and justice across the world. However, such spatial and temporal expanse of the appeal of the liberal principles has created a new kind of challenge for liberalism. Such challenge is often seen as the contest of the liberal scripts by a variety of politico-social formations and processes. However, the paper will argue that the challenge to liberalism is less from other social forces and more from its inherent weaknesses, which in turn has been exacerbated by its stupendous successes. This weakness of the liberal script covers two primary aspects: (a) the inability to provide a sound conceptual basis for providing for social, economic and political diversity; and, (b) the difficulty of reconciling highly mobilised democratic expressions with the principles of liberalism. The impact of these two issues has been that in its struggle for liberty, rights and equality, the liberal scripts also creates vast socio-cultural and politico-economic bases for new kinds of marginalities, in addition to exacerbating the older and existing ones. This question about the mechanisms and processes through which the pursuit of liberal principles creates grounds for greater (or newer) forms of marginalities will be the prime focus of the paper with the help of select empirical examples from India.