Kannan, Muthukrisnan

  • Muthukrisnan Kannan
  • French Institute of Pondicherry, India
  • Abstract Title: Africa/Āppirikkā*: being black in Tamil

Short Bio: Muthukrishnan Kannan heads the research program on contemporary Tamil culture, French Institute of Pondicherry. This research program functions as a bridge linking the isolated fields of classical Tamil and contemporary Tamil.  Kannan has guided more than 30 doctoral students from India and abroad in the framework of this program. He has been on regular lecture-research visits to Belgium, France, and the USA in several universities, such as University of Namur, Paris III, Sorbonne, INALCO, UC Berkeley, Rutgers University, Princeton, and Harvard. He is an active and founding member of the Historical Atlas of South India program at the IFP. He has published translations of literary works from Tamil into both English and French, and from English into Tamil.

Abstract: “Here is my life caught in the noose of existence. Here is my freedom, which sends back to me my own reflection. No, I have not the right to be black” -Frantz Fanon (Black Skin, White Masks). India is a society that has a Caste system and Hindu majoritarianism. The country has practiced slavery and still practices untouchability and discrimination against its own people. Against this background, this paper presents the scenario in which a South Indian classical and contemporary Dravidian language, Tamil, translates African literature (for example, Gabriel Okara, Frantz Fanon, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o and Ta-Nehisi Coates) and navigates the terms decolonization and postcolonialism, and holds a mirror to its own blackness.

*Āppirikkā: the form in which Africa is written and pronounced in Tamil.