The Second K N Raj Memorial Lecture

8 February 2022


February 8, 2022 - 6:30 pm


February 8, 2022 - 8:00 pm

Title of the lecture: Butterfly Crossings: Environmental Ethics in a World of Multiplying Walls

Presenter: Professor Anand Pandian, Professor and Department Chair of Anthropology, Johns Hopkins University, USA

Moderator: Professor Sunil Mani

Anand Pandian is a professor and department chair of anthropology at Johns Hopkins University. He was awarded the Infosys Prize in the Social Sciences in 2019. His books include A Possible Anthropology: Methods for Uneasy Times (2019), Ayya’s Accounts: A Ledger of Hope in Modern India (2014), and Crooked Stalks: Cultivating Virtue in South India (2009). He serves as a curator of the newly-established Ecological Design Collective, based in the North American city of Baltimore.

Abstract: Migration is a bedrock reality of earthly life. What might our continents and countries begin to look and feel like if we acknowledged the necessity of these crossings, the kinship and wellbeing that movement sustains? This talk explores these questions through a series of meditations on the monarch butterfly, a creature that has become, in recent years, the symbol of a more expansive vision of North American belonging. I describe affinities for the butterfly articulated and expressed by artists, migrant rights activists, butterfly enthusiasts, and migrant workers. In the company of migrants, both human and lepidopteran, I explore an alternative vision of collective life beyond national walls and borders, grounded in the relationships that propel movement across borders. A society of walls may seek to repudiate the reality of these relationships. And yet they remain at work in our world of pervasive motion and migration, binding our fates together with living beings and distant places far beyond the span of the lines we draw.