Indian Statistical Institute
FOLKLORE AND FOLKLANGUAGE: MYTH OR REALITY?, West Bengal, Kalyani University, 1995
The author maintained that the construction of the category “folk” was born out of super-ordinate’s essentialist gaze that de-sign-ates otherness in the form of a discipline, “Folklore”. The dichotomous divisions between folk — non-folk, tribe — non-tribe, civil-savage, sastriya–loukika typically reflect the colonial pedagogy that constitute otherness by deploying different exonyms to peripheral other ignoring the ethno/endonyms as used by a community from their subject-position. These divisions between dominant centre and dominated periphery gave birth to some surrogated subjects like “Folklore” or “Anthropology” in contrast to the white men’s epistemological fields like History, Sociology or Physiology. These subjects subjectify as well as objectify dominated and peripheral “other” in the way of surrogating the “scientific” construction of “human beings”.
The problem is with the imaginative boundary between these two. One must keep in mind, from the standpoint of enlightened science, that the limit or boundary of different epistemological fields needs to be enumerated or well defined, i.e., in this case, the binaries like Folk language/language, folk-art/non-folk-art, Folksong/Classical song, Folk drama/theatre must be distinguished according to the existing enlightened “scientific” logic. However the construction of such boundary, diachronically, is not always transparent, but rather fuzzy; and on the other hand it reflects a tension of maintaining the boundary.
The author showed the nature of linguistic imperialism as evident in the terms like “dialect”, “folk-language” or “standard language”. The author also showed the constitution of Folklore and Anthropology as colonially derived disciplines that surrogate white men’s History and Sociology. The author illustrated the fuzziness of such boundaries that reveal the nature of subsumption through subjectification (birth of a discipline), objectification (a group of people are treated/categorized and analyzed as a stable object) as well as subjection (others’ bodies are under the control of the centre).