As a linguistic anthropologist, Adi Hastings focuses on the role of language in social life. This involves the investigation and analysis of the interrelationship of language use, linguistic structure, and ideologies of communicative practice within different sociohistorical frames. Hastings’ dissertation research concerned recent efforts to revive Sanskrit as a spoken language of everyday interaction in contemporary India. He examined the logic underlying the movement and the way this logic was reflected in the structure of the language itself. In addition, he looked at the way this movement fit into broader debates in contemporary Indian society about Sanskrit, the Hindu tradition, and the Indian nation. Although he focused on an organization located in Bangalore, his research has carried him all over the southern Indian states of Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu. In the immediate future, Hastings’ research will take two primary directions. First, continuing along the lines set by his dissertation research, he will undertake a more general and historically sensitive exploration of the ideological construction of Sanskrit and its disciplines over the last two hundred years. More broadly, he is interested in examining the multiple means of figuring “traditional” Indian knowledge as “science,” over the same period. This dovetails with a long-standing interest in colonial cultures and the sociology of colonial knowledge, particularly in British India. Second, Hastings hopes to inaugurate a new ethnographic project in Fiji, looking at the politics of language and ethnicity, particularly with respect to communities of Indo-Fijians – descendants of Indian indentured laborers who make up roughly half the population of Fiji.
Licked by the Mother Tongue: Imagining Everyday Sanskrit at Home and in the World, Journal of Linguistic Anthropology (2008)
This paper examines the ways in which Sanskrit revivalists in contemporary India imagine social contexts...