The Tacit constitution: Science, democracy and citizenship

Visvanathan, Shiv and Parmar, Chandrika (2023) The Tacit constitution: Science, democracy and citizenship. Science, Technology and Society. ISSN 0973-0796 (In Press)

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The Peruvian novelist, Mario Vargas Llosa, was not only an extraordinary narrator but also an acute witness to suffering and vulnerability. In his classic book, ‘The Storyteller’ (Llosa, 2001), he tells the legend of a tribe, which believes that its future, its very survival depends on the continuous telling of its myths. The trustees of the tribe must keep narrating its story while walking continuously or the tribe ceases to be, when the narrative stops. The logic of the storyteller can be interpreted in many ways. It is a way of saying that speech as storytelling or orality keeps a society alive, when it lacks the fixity of print. One can also contend that a society is alive when its myths and categories are kept alive. In these days, when formal constitutions impoverish the categories of a society, reducing them to a rudimentary social contract and a thesaurus of official concepts that march in uniform, terms like security, nation-state, official citizenship, one needs a tacit constitution that keeps the unstated, the backstage, the implicit, and the taken-for-granted alive. Categories and the dynamics of categories keep a society afloat and sustain its weltanschauung. Worldviews are the webs that sustain a world. As a colleague once said, ‘We need a philosophical spider to sustain, to weave and reweave the networks of thought, belief and ritual that a society survives on.’ This essay emerged from conversations with Indian scientist C. V. Seshadri who argued that his laboratory in the slum would one day rewrite the Indian constitution (Seshadri, 1993)

Item Type: Article
Keywords: The Storyteller | Mario Vargas Llosa
Subjects: Social Sciences and humanities > Arts and Humanities > Literature and Literary Theory
Social Sciences and humanities > Social Sciences > Social Sciences (General)
JGU School/Centre: Jindal Global Law School
Depositing User: Subhajit Bhattacharjee
Date Deposited: 12 Dec 2023 06:56
Last Modified: 12 Dec 2023 06:56
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