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Nuanced Writing, Conversation and Hospitality

This letter is taken from another list (Sarai Reader list), out of context. However, its content relates to my ideas on hospitality and therefore I am re-posting it here. Hopefully, during our cyberfeminist panel in Berlin we can practise what Vivek Narayanan, through "nuanced response", calls "a certain warmth and hospitality, willingness to listen carefully, and to be considered in one's responses."

Vivek Narayanan
to S.Fatima, reader-list
More options 4:45 am (3 hours ago)

Dear Fatima,

Thank you for your nuanced and considered note. Please note again that
I am not speaking for anyone else but myself, certainly not as a "voice
of Sarai". I don't think nuance is the privilege or preserve of any
group, nor does it depend on education or decorum. Instead, it's a
certain warmth and hospitality, and a willingness to listen carefully,
and to be considered in one's responses. Essentially, it is about
coming to the conversation in good faith, with love and with
thoughtfulness-- not with the intention to sabotage dialogue or shout
down others. Most of all, if it becomes obvious that a reply has been
dashed off in a couple of seconds and, moreover, five or seven of those
replies are sent in the course of a single day, then I feel that this
wastes my time and makes it difficult to find the mails on the list that
are more carefully thought out.

So I disagree with you *completely* that such qualities would be found
only among "elites at Sarai". These are protocols that one finds with
many people on the street, regardless of their background and access to
privilege. In fact, as you well know, on the Indian street, it is often
the rich and privileged who tend to shout louder, for they fear no
reprisal. Right wing nationalists can feel secure in the knowledge that
they have the support of the state behind them. I would not be
surprised if, in monitoring this list, there would be members who would
not hesitate to report anyone they considered to be "anti-national" to
the authorities. This is the kind of insecurity that shadows our
conversations here--the question of what kinds of statements might
involve violent reprisals or legal censure, and so on; this is the
fragility of the discussions that have been built up on this list over
the course of five or so short years.

Yes indeed, one is dedicated here to the vibrancy, variousness and
quirkiness of the street--with the caveat that all our members are at
least privileged enough to have access to the internet. (Some write so
often that they must almost certainly have their own full-time dedicated
broadband.) Yet, it only takes a few goondas to suppress and drown out
all the many conversations, trying to fill the space with only their own
voices. In such instances, to renew our conversations, our whispering
faith in each other, it may be necessary to shut out the bullies for a
while. This would not be to pretend that those bullies don't exist;
merely it would be to acknowledge that they don't have anything new to
say. We have heard that shtick before.

But again: my mail was addressed only to those who already felt the same
way as me, and who wanted a practical and efficient solution. We have
very different positions on this question even at Sarai; some agree with
me, some most certainly don't. Those who have the time and energy to
stay tuned to the bullying and the threatening and the chanting of
shlokas and spells must please do so. I can even say I admire your
Gandhian equanimity. I, on the other hand, have other things to do, and
I can't afford to spend my time fighting an endless war of attrition, in
the trenches, with little or no gain from day to day, on the Line of
Discursive Control (LODC), here on the reader list.

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