Contemporary Contexts for Yoruba and Ancient Indian Ideas on Space, Creativity and Self
This course is no longer available. The free school ran from 05 August to 07 October 2020.
A ten-week lecture series led by Ranjana Thapalyal
Not all is justified by the name of old, Nor is the new poem never extolled- (the wise) examine, then select the best from both, but fools merely parrot other’s quotes. From the Sanskrit play Malavika and Agnimitra: Kalidasa, c 500 CE.
Within an inter-cultural, inter-textual and inter-sectional framework, this course charts a postcolonial, feminist and holistic route to nurturing ideas from two of the world’s earliest civilisations. This is done through an introduction to the philosophical foundations of Yoruba culture (originating in Southwest Nigeria, present in the Americas through the African diaspora) and ancient India (originary site of Hindu, Buddhist and Jain thought).
The course will draw from many examples that demonstrate the centrality of creativity and criticality in ancient African and South Asian world views. It will also discuss ways of reading selected objects and texts more fully and contextually; and critique conventional art historical approaches that have historically obscured meaning. In this process, complex concepts of ‘self’, spirituality and social responsibility will emerge, embedded in the works or discourse around them.
While it is important to remember that Yoruba and ancient Indian cultures are distinct, and are generally studied separately, many interesting resonances between them exist. Also evident are startling echoes of modern and postmodern critical thought. These resonances hold radical and transformative potential for application to contemporary dilemmas and ways of being.
Ranjana Thapalyal is an Indian born inter-disciplinary artist and academic, based in Glasgow, Scotland. Her practice includes painting, ceramics and mixed media assemblages. Research has played a significant role in her work, focused on the nature of materials themselves in the early work, to broader philosophical concerns leading to publications and collaborations. Of particular interest are concepts of ‘self’ in South Asian and West African traditions, feminist readings of ancient philosophies of the South, cultural politics and the development of decolonising, anti-racist strategies for art pedagogy. From 2010-2018, Thapalyal was programme leader of the Master of Research in Creative Practices at Glasgow School of Art.