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Title: Personhood, agency and suicide in a neo-liberalising South India.
Authors: Staples, J
Keywords: Suicide;India;Leprosy;Neoliberalism
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: Ashgate
Citation: In Suicide and Agency: Anthropological perspectives on self-destruction, personhood and power. Editors: Broz L, Muenster D . pp. 27-46. Ashgate, Farnham, (2015)
Abstract: Explanations for increased rates of youth suicide in the South Indian leprosy colony where I conducted research were reduced, in popular discourse about causality, to the categories of debt, unfulfilled aspiration and desires, and romantic failures. Convincing though these explanations are, they do not help to explain why young people everywhere, faced with the same kind of existential crises, do not take their lives in comparable numbers or, indeed, why they utilise particular – and very gendered – methods of harming and/or killing themselves. Ethnographic research, however, illuminates the local specificities against which such existential crises are played out in ways that might aid our search for explanations. In this article, I explore how South Indian notions of personhood – which, in turn, lead to particular understandings and experiences of agency – might impact on how and whether people kill themselves. I also attempt to situate these local explanations of personhood and agency in the wider context of a contemporary, industrialising and, increasingly, neo-liberal India, and, in some measure, to analyse the interplay between the two.
ISBN: 978-1-4724-5791-2
Appears in Collections:Dept of Social Sciences Media and Communications Research Papers

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