The politics of embrace


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Tazhuvu is a beautiful Tamil word. Literally meaning ‘embrace’, by extension it refers to varied acts of conversion and translation in addition to intimacy. The term has a remarkable history. As part of its critical genealogy, tazhuvu features in the powerful political and theoretical innovations among Non-Brahmin elements associated with EVR’s (E.V. Ramasami Naicker, a.k.a. ‘Periyar’) Self-Respect Movement in Tamil-speaking South India from the 1920s to the 1940s. I suggest we could productively frame Non-Brahmin political theory itself as a ‘politics of embrace’ – as an internationalist project pulling the allegedly ‘foreign’ in, rather than a nationalist project pushing the ‘foreign’ out.

This emphasis on Non-Brahmin tazhuvu – building on, among others, the persistence of the Dravidar Kazhakam under K. Veeramani, the interventions of the 1990s journal Nirappirikai, the scholarship of V. Anaimuthu and later historians like M.S.S. Pandian, S. Anandhi, and A.R. Venkatachalpathy, the vision of presses like New Century Book House and Vidiyal Pathippagam, and the boldness of V. Geetha and S.V. Rajadurai’s call for a ‘Non-Brahmin Millennium’ – encourages a break from the nursery rhyme of South Indian historiography, which collapses the Self-Respect Movement into some consistent evolution of Dravidian separatism’s later more nativist project emphasizing Tamil language and land. But tazhuvu also may echo demands for ‘comparative political theory’ in recent decades and related visions for 21st century political theory.1

The following short essay offers some schematic reflections on what this framing might mean, allied with studies elsewhere of the complex ‘elements of connectedness and transmission’ across the wider world.2


To anticipate, Non-Brahmin tazhuvu as a mode of theoretical production and political action differs sharply from the 20th century political theory establishment project. This project emphasized sophisticated Eurolingual literacy (i.e. engaging available library materials) over creatively devoted exposures (i.e. going elsewhere, doing otherwise). But the creatively devoted gestures articulated by Non-Brahmin tazhuvu – as intimate iterations of conversion and translation – are not steeped in complex textual efforts wrestling with familiar preoccupations over, say, identity formation through antagonisms between Self and Other. Rather, they are earnest courtships with what is distant in order to better demand justice at home.

On the one hand, the earlier 1920s Non-Brahmin rallying cry of the Self-Respect Movement – ‘before getting Self-Rule, we need Self- Respect’ – was a powerful inversion of a nationalist project whose freedom framed Self-Respect as following from, rather than preceding, Self-Rule’s achievement. The later 1940s Non-Brahmin rallying cry ‘Dravida Nadu for the Dravidians!’ largely adopted the logic of Self-Rule and thus was a complete reversal of the earlier political theory of Self-Respect.

But, on the other hand, this 1920s rallying cry insisted on a particular subjectivity of freedom, a self, I suggest, consciously bound to and produced by tazhuvu. As widely acknowledged in but insufficiently explored by the literature, the particular Non-Brahmin term for ‘respect’ was mariyatai,3 whose Sanskrit etymology meaning ‘border’ could suggestively be read alongside Arendt – mariyatai, ‘like every in-between, relates and separates men at the same time’ – and invites us to imagine a more involved liminal self constituted through attentive, incorporating relations of ‘respect’ rather than a distinct, essentialized self constituted through insistent, expelling assertions of ‘rule’.4

This essay’s wager: tazhuvu provided the theoretical and political practices required to cultivate what Non-Brahmins called ‘Self-Respect’ (cuya-mariyatai), drawing attention to the productive political power of intimacy evident in acts of conversion and translation.


During the interwar period in the Madras Presidency, Non-Brahmin tazhuvu furthered a project of ‘embrace’ whereby the translation of and conversion to ‘outside’ or ‘foreign’ elements demonstrated the freedom of Self-Respect and the unfreedom of Self-Rule, which in contrast emphasized the interior and native.


For example, with respect to translation, Udumalai Kanakarajan’s 1934 prefatory discussion and selected Tamil rendering of Giovanni Boccaccio’s 14th century satirical Decameron, a collection of love novellas often targeting Europe’s clerical norms, refers to the ‘tazhuvu’ that it was inspired by (involving South Asia, Persia, and Europe) and subsequently which it inspired.5 Closer to home, Pi. Jetin in 1938 ‘wrote and embraced [tazhuvu]’ Rabindranth Tagore’s Bengali story Ek Ratri, whose Tamil title Makonnata Iravu suggests this version was mediated by the English translation The Supreme Night.6 Such examples briefly demonstrate how the Non-Brahmin project was riddled with globetrotting translational tazhuvu. We will shortly return to one of such translational tazhuvu’s most remarkable instances: the Non-Brahmin embrace of Marxism.

Alongside textual translation, and perhaps more politically charged, Non-Brahmins imagined tazhuvu’s force through religious conversion. Earlier Non-Brahmin imaginings were shackled by a Self-Rule refusing tazhuvu’s productive political power. For instance, in 1925, Virappapillai insists that ‘the just way’ of ‘embracing [tazhuvu] another religion’ requires diligent research and elder consultations absent ‘in the present time,’ denouncing the contemporary ‘aggressive’ proselytizing by Muslims and Christians who ‘pull’ or ‘lure’ vulnerable Indian communities ‘en masse to foreign religions.’7 Even as late as January 1928, S. Arunacalam Pillai could refer to how the embrace ‘en masse’ to ‘an outside religion’ threatens native ‘Hindu religion’.8

But in the following years, EVR would ask ‘Why shouldn’t all embrace [tazhuvu] the principle of fraternity and equality? So what if the name for it is the Hindu religion? So what if called the Islam religion? So what if called something else?’9 By the late 1930s, there was a relative Non-Brahmin consensus that ‘many Tamil people have removed… deficiencies, atrocities, and degradations to a certain extent and live with correct equal rights by abandoning the Arya (Hindu) [sic] religion and embracing [tazhuvu] another religion…’10 In short, Non-Brahmins came to imagine Self-Respect’s location as ‘foreign’ not ‘native’, as the possibility of outside’s becoming and not the preservation of internal being, through tazhuvu.


Of course, the most salient such 20th century conversion in India was Ambedkar’s to Buddhism in October 1956.11 Tazhuvu was accordingly used by Non-Brahmins in its headline: ‘Doctor Ambedkar Leaves Hinduism Once and For All; He Embraces [tazhuvu] Buddhist Principles with One Lakh People; Desire to Make India a Country of Buddhist Principles.’12

But tazhuvu locates not only similarities but also differences between the ‘embrace’ projects of EVR and Ambedkar. For example, a November 1935 editorial following Ambedkar’s declaration that he would not die a Hindu stated, ‘We do not know whether [Ambedkar] is going to embrace [tazhuvu] the materialist [ulakayatam] religion, the atheist [nastikam] religion, or the Muslim religion.’13 Varied imaginings of tazhuvu’s objects and subjects seem to be in circulation. And in 1947, on the eve of independence, EVR even cheekily states that Ambedkar’s claim ‘"I am not a Hindu" has become a mantra. Five years before Doctor Ambedkar, I said it…But he who said it five years after me remains unresponsive…’14 The larger point, though, is that tazhuvu locates acts of translation and conversion, both involved in how Non-Brahmins theorized politics.


This joint emphasis on translation and conversion has significant company. For example, Vincente Rafael’s Contracting Colonialism begins with the claim, ‘The Spanish words conquista (conquest), conversión (conversion), and traducción (translation) are semantically related’, involving ‘a process of crossing over into the domain …of someone else.’15 Decades earlier, Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions claims that ‘political recourse fails’ in conflicts between incommensurable paradigms since ‘they differ about the institutional matrix within which political change is to be achieved and evaluated’ and, without any ‘supra-institutional framework for… adjudication’, those involved ‘must finally resort to the techniques of mass persuasion, often including force’; with respect to such incommensurable paradigms, ‘[t]ranslation may… provide points of entry for the neural reprogramming that…must underlie conversion.’16

Relatedly, Mary Louise Pratt, theorist of ‘contact zones’, can reflect on various aspects of transculturation by provocatively asking ‘is translation the best metaphor for this – or would we be better talking about conversion?’17 while Rita Kothari insightfully refers to ‘religious conversion, as yet another form of translation.’18


However, while figures like Rafael and Kuhn organize conversion and translation under the category of warring conflict, and Pratt and Kothari invite us to wonder just how distinct translation and conversion really are, Non-Brahmin tazhuvu organized both through a Tamil tradition of collaborative love, or, rather, through a tradition that poetically mobilized coinciding narrative elements lying at the heart of both romance and violence.19

Scholars like A.K. Ramanujan, Kamil Zvelebil and George Hart have explored the thematic parallels between the ancient sangam poetic genres of akam, the ‘interior landscape’ discussing love’s progression, and puram, the ‘exterior landscape’ discussing war’s. Both begin, for example, with the act of theft: either stolen glances in akam caught up in intimacy’s beginning or stolen cattle in puram bound to battle’s start. And theft or seizure is central in the equally well explored thematic continuities between this secular ancient sangam literature and later sacred medieval bhakti literature; such theft, particularly in its intimate if not erotic articulations, is mobilized by bhakti poetry to frame articulations of devotion, with God as male and the devotee as female.20


Relatively unexplored, however, are the ways in which ‘embrace’ – as tazhuvu or its earlier form tazhi-i – grounded such instances of parallel continuities and thematic mobilizations. For the sake of brief illustration with respect to ancient sangam poems, note the translations by P. Jotimuttu from the Ainkurunuru. Tazhi-i operates amidst sensual fidelity: ‘The chieftain of the region of soft arable land/embraces [tazhi-i] his dearly beloved/and understanding the meaning/of the sweet love-song composed by minstrels/enjoys a happy union.’21 But tazhi-i also operates amidst sensual infidelity: ‘It is public talk that you bathed yesterday embracing [tazhi-i] your fond love –/a scheming woman with deceitful flexibility wearing slender bracelets/Is it possible, chieftain, to cover up that scandal?/Is it possible to hide the light of the sun?’22

And to illustrate how medieval bhakti poetry redeploys such sensual engagement, T.N. Ramachandran’s rendering from Tirunavukkaracar’s Tevaram verses discusses the Lord as follows: ‘Oh friend, listen to my discovery of everlasting beatitude!/Yesterday, during broad daylight, the great One/came here, and so penetratingly eyed me, that my/exquisite clothing and flower-eyes began to flutter;/I desired to feed Him with victuals of goodly concoction;/Alas, He was not to be seen anywhere; this is sheer deception;/If I ever happen on Him, I’ll so embrace [tazhuvu] Him with my breasts/pressing Him hard, that my body’ll be oned with His;/I will not suffer Him…that roams about here, to part from me at all.’23

In short, whether secular or sacred, romantic or devotional, ‘embrace’ names a centrally operative event of intimacy that locates changes and continuities within and between ancient and medieval Tamil literature.


We might benefit, I suggest, from reading modern Non-Brahmin articulations of tazhuvu centuries later, and its intimacy achieved through translation and conversion, as an important moment in this term’s critical genealogy. If Non-Brahmin political theory indeed turns on a ‘politics of embrace’ – engagements with conversion and translation, a pursuit of freedom that pulls in what is distant rather than pushes out what is foreign, which in turn builds on a tradition of romance whose narrative unfolding is interwoven with aggression’s progress, such as how a theme like ‘theft’ charges both acts of love and war, animating not simply secular but sacred devotion and related challenges of fidelity – what might this ‘politics of embrace’ look like on the ground?

One answer, of course, is to engage the concerns and practices following from another Self-Respect mantra – ‘only through mixed marriage will caste be eradicated’ – and consider the modes through which tazhuvu’s literal practices of physical, intimate contact and commitment challenged the ‘atrocity’ [kodumai] of untouchability. Related investments saturated Non-Brahmin writings and speeches.


A parallel approach to this question – to be tightly fastened to the above practices and concerns – might consider allied terms elsewhere. Perhaps a salient parallel term in ‘canonical’ Eurolingual political thought is the German ‘Aneignung’ or ‘appropriation’, which was particularly generative for ‘western Marxist’ thinkers across the 1960s and 1970s. Both tazhuvu and Aneignung involve the delicate complexities of a certain type of intimate involvement, if not incoporation, with what might otherwise be considered separate and distinct. From Althusser and Balibar’s Reading Capital to Lefebvre’s The Production of Space, western Marxist thinkers found Aneignung puzzling for its ambivalent but heavy conceptual lifting, naming both the unfreedom of capital’s relationship to labouring bodies as well as the freedom of labour’s relationship to production’s means.24

To illustrate, consider how Michael Hardt – in the recent multi-volume set The Idea of Communism – reflects on Marx’s claim about ‘the true appropriation of the human essence through and for man’ involving ‘all his human relations to the world – seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, feeling, thinking, contemplating, sensing, wanting, acting, loving.’25 Hardt suggests that Marx ‘is working… appropriation against the grain, applying it… where it now seems strange: no longer the appropriation of the object in the form of private property but appropriation of our own subjectivity, our human, social relations …[T]he term ‘appropriation’ here is misleading because Marx is not talking about capturing a thing that already exists, but rather creating something new… the production of subjectivity, the production of a new sensorium – not really appropriation, then, but production… far from any recourse to pre-existing or eternal human essence. Instead… the human production of humanity – a new seeing, a new hearing, a new thinking, a new loving.’


Perhaps Marxist Aneignung’s ‘appropriation’ and Non-Brahmin tazhuvu’s ‘embrace’ have future paths to travel together. Further intimate imaginaries on this front are invited by Marx himself: ‘The appropriation [Aneignung] of labour by capital confronts the worker in a coarsely sensuous form; capital absorbs labour into itself "as though its body were by love possessed".’26


Though tazhuvu and Aneignung may locate productively coupled problematics – the mysterious alchemy, named by both ‘embrace’ and ‘appropriation’, involving capture of and production through what otherwise would be considered separate and distinct – the mention above of a multi-volume project like The Idea of Communism is not without some hesitation.

This is not because communism’s origins are historically distinct from Tamil-speaking South India. After all, Engels’s The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State emphasizes the importance of Lewis Henry Morgan’s anthropological study of ‘terms of kinship current among the Tamils of South India and the Seneca Iroquois in the State of New York’ in producing the idea of communism.27

Rather, hesitation arises because such instances of historical connection are generally absent from western Marxism’s discussions of the ‘idea of communism’, thus limiting Marxism’s theoretical legacy to what-in-the-word-is-the-idea-of-communism questions that parse rather than what-in-the-world-is-the-idea-of-communism questions that couple. In contrast, a Non-Brahmin remark in June 1934 that ‘in ancient times, when people conducted life as savages, they largely embraced [tazhuvu] potuvutamai [i.e. ‘socialism’ or ‘communism’] principles’28 should be read as a part of, not apart from, the global manufacture of ‘primitive communism’ that itself turned on tazhuvu between continent and subcontinent. Ignoring such tazhuvu illustrates the siren song of West European critique and its textual temptations.


Elsewhere, I have tried to address the what-in-the-world-is-‘the-idea-of-communism’ question with respect to South India by attending to the first Tamil translation of The Communist Manifesto, published in 1931 by Non-Brahmin elements associated with EVR’s Self-Respect Movement.29 Sharing in an interwar Zeitgeist that included Gramsci and the Frankurt School, Non-Brahmins refused to translate Marxism in terms of a reductive economism, turning to samadharma [equal-dharma] and away from potuvutamai [common-property] when translating ‘communism.’

Furthermore, I argued that the Non-Brahmin embrace or appropriation of Marx’s temporal ‘spectre’ with a spatial bhutam, now rendered to haunt ‘the world’ rather than simply ‘Europe’, charged samadharma with a series of productive valences: a headless physical hunger associated with an incorporative justice and a relational liminality that not only could queer pronouns like ‘I’, ‘he’, ‘she’, and ‘it’ but also trouble the distinction between individual and collective action.30 These valences, as an expression of ‘the idea of communism’ that made Marx a theorist of dharma, may provide a powerful entry point to contemporary social justice movements dealing with jati not simply as ‘caste’ but more broadly concerned with how power operates upon us ‘of-birth’, expanding struggles involving ‘jati’ to explicitly include gender, sexuality, race, species, nationality, class, and citizenship.

But such insights into ‘the idea of communism’ are available not by wondering what in the word terms mean but what in the world terms locate, not studying Aneignung’s appropriation in Marxism but tazhuvu’s embrace of Marxism. As Marx claims in reference to ‘the German literati… annexing… French ideas’: ‘This annexation [Aneignung] took place in the same way in which a foreign language is appropriated, namely by translation.’31


By extension, a ‘politics of embrace’ could invite 21st century political theory to depart from 20th century political theory’s fetishization of sophisticated literacy achieved under Eurolingual conditions, turning instead to distinct appreciations of devotion under conditions markedly different – and thereby hopefully ‘seeing connections or disconnections that cannot… be deduced rationally from the givens, seeing something new, generating new relations and openings.’32 Such devotion – and the intimacy it demands, whether as secular sangam or religious bhakti – might exceed political theory’s 20th century preoccupied opposition between empirical breadth and theoretical depth – stats vs texts! – by attending to how appropriations across worldly widths forge the ‘interdependence of political and social changes across the world.’33 The shift marked here is from rarefied investments in how theoretical production comprehends the wide world to sensibilities available to how the wide world comprehends, and thereby produces, theory.


On this account, the study of ideas like freedom, justice, power, etc., must join critical reflection with empirical commitments, not ‘provincializing Europe’34 by binding peoples, cultures, and places together but through dispersals and entanglements offering, say, a snapshot of how an idea was incorporated around the world at a particular moment – like ‘the idea of communism’ during the interwar years in Europe and India. The similarities and differences of such incoporation made available through empirical commitments (languages, archives, fields, etc.) are just as, if not more, likely to yield political and theoretical insights as those based solely on Euroliterate reflection.35

This break between 21st and 20th century political theory – for which tazhuvu, I believe, may provide one related practice – would also involve radically different timelines for disciplinary training, paced for building up one’s languages and materials rather than presuming their local availability. Such a politics of embrace might also be more available to a broader range of non-elite ‘vernacular’ figures in theory’s manufacture through surveys, interviews, pamphlets, etc. We might even modify Emily Apter’s ‘Twenty Theses on Translation’ to claim that ‘global translation is another name for political theory’ – equally a ‘loss of native language’ as well as ‘the language of planets and monsters.’36


In sum, the Non-Brahmin participation in and furthering of tazhuvu’s critical genealogy marked a moment in which a Tamil tradition – fusing rather than contrasting the amorously secular and devotionally sacred, appreciating the complex thematic parallels between the progression of love and that of war – was remobilized to imagine the political importance of a relational self defined by ‘respect’ rather than an essentialized self defined by ‘rule.’ The practice of this remobilization – defying nationalist conventions by gesturing to internationalism – involved intimate acts of translation and conversion that provided involved opportunities for appropriation or courtship rather than disavowal or opposition.37

More broadly, tazhuvuperhaps like Marxist Aneignung – could further projects of ‘comparative political theory’ defined more by creative devotion than sophisticated literacy while providing avenues for redistributing theoretical capital from established cores to dispersed peripheries, not by focusing on top-down articulations but bottom-up practices. It may even be that remedies to the nursery rhyme of South Indian historiography and the siren song of West European critique can be found together.

By the late 1930s, as a part of rather than apart from a world worried about democracy’s ability to prevail against fascism, one Non-Brahmin article reads, ‘One should value the opinion of the common people. It is that which is independence. It is that which is the rule of democracy. It is that which is a state that embraces [tazhuvu] the opinion of the common people.’38 Though the immediate concern was to value the people over ‘command[s] by the Gods’ in governance, displaying certain secular commitments, the article’s this-worldly vs other-worldly context more generally implies a people constituted through Self-Respect rather than Self-Rule, through a politics of embrace rather than essence.

And, like so many articles in Non-Brahmin publications, this demand to embrace the opinion of the common people too was an embrace – a translated ‘Open Letter’ from The Sunday Observer, whose rendering appropriated claims from elsewhere within Non-Brahmin pages and lifted foreign words with a Tamil tongue. Especially given recent unrest at home and abroad, perhaps there is no more powerfully political nor richly theoretical way to imagine the people, independence, and democracy. Tazhuvu is a beautiful Tamil word.



1. For one of the earliest such calls, see Fred Dallmayr, ‘Introduction: Toward a Comparative Political Theory’, The Review of Politics 59(3), 1997, pp. 421-428. It remains to be seen whether repeated discussions of ‘global critical theory’ (see Martin Morris, Rethinking the Communicative Turn: Adorno, Habermas, and the Problem of Communicative Freedom. SUNY Press, Albany, 2001, pp. 17-65) will encourage the bottom-up methodological practices required to transform, rather than merely re-inscribe from the top-down, Euroliterate ‘critique’. For important methodological reflections regarding projects of comparative political theory, see Leigh Kathryn Jenco, ‘What Does Heaven Ever Say?’ A Methods-Centered Approach to Cross-Cultural Engagement’, The American Political Science Review 101(4), 2007, pp. 741-55, and Andrew F. March, ‘What Is Comparative Political Theory?’, The Review of Politics 71(4), 2009, pp. 531-65. For related concerns framing political theory in terms of comparison focused on Tamil-speaking South India see Matthew H. Baxter, ‘The Silence of the South and the Absence of Political Philosophy’, International Journal of Hindu Studies 9(1-3), 2005, pp. 21-44. The content of the present essay benefitted from comments across many years, including an APSA panel in 2007 organized by Farah Godrej, Wendy Brown’s March 2011 dissertation workshop, and conversations with Mark Bevir, Kausalya Hart, and Pradeep Chhibber. The current iteration here received helpful remarks from Rita Kothari.

2. Sanjay Subrahmanyam, ‘Connected Histories: Notes Towards a Reconfiguration of Early Modern Eurasia’, Modern Asian Studies 31(3), 1997, pp. 735-62. For earlier related geographical concerns, see Doreen Massey, ‘A Global Sense of Place’, Marxism Today, June 1991, pp. 24-29. For later related historiographic concerns, see Samuel Moyn and Andrew Sartori (eds.), Global Intellectual History. Columbia University Press, New York, 2013.

3. For a helpful but limited exploration of mariyatai’s etymology, see Nicholas B. Dirks, The Hollow Crown: Ethnohistory of an Indian Kingdom. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1987. For recent interest in North Indian maryada see Aishwary Kumar, Radical Equality: Ambedkar, Gandhi, and the Risk of Democracy. Stanford University Press, Palo Alto, 2015, and Ajay Skaria, Unconditional Equality: Gandhi’s Religion of Resistance. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 2016.

4. Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1958, p. 52. For a thematically related engagement – one that takes up the relationship between Gandhi and Martin Buber, an important interlocutor of Arendt’s teacher Heidegger – see Matthew H. Baxter, ‘The Jewish Gandhi Question, or, Ich and Swa: Martin Buber and the Five Minute Mahatma’, in Daniel J. Kapust and Helen M. Kinsella (eds.), Comparative Political Theory in Time and Place. Palgrave Macmillan, New York, 2017, pp. 155-86.

5. Udumalai Kanakarajan, ‘Decamaron of Boccaccio. ‘Tekkamaran’ allatu Vikadakkataikal [Decamaron or Comedy]’, Pakuttarivu, 16 August 1934, p 15.

6. Pi. Jetin, ‘Makonnata Iravu’, Pakuttarivu, May 1938, p 43.

7. Pa. Virappapillai, ‘Piramatam Pukutalum Tindamaiyum [Entering an Other Religion and Untouchability]’, Kudi Aracu, 20 September 1925, p 9.

8. S. Arunacalam Pillai, ‘Intiyar Puramatam Pukuvaten? [Why Would an Indian Enter an Outside Religion?]’ (republished from the journal Lakshmi), Kudi Aracu, 22 January 1928, p 13.

9. EVR, ‘Kovaiyil Napika? Nayakam Piranta Nal Vaipavam [The Prophet Messenger-of-Allah’s Birthday Celebration in Coimbatore]’, Kudi Aracu, 23 August 1931, p 14.

10. N.A., ‘Tamilar Ceyya Ventiya Velai [The Work Tamils Need to Do]’, Pakuttarivu, November 1938, p 56.

11. For a related exploration of differences between Ambedkar and EVR on conversion, see Matthew H. Baxter, ‘Two Concepts of Conversion at Meenakshipuram’, Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 39(2), 2019, pp. 264-81.

12. Vidutalai, 14 October 1956.

13. Editorial, ‘Matam Marutal [Religious Conversion]’, Kudi Aracu, 17 November 1935, pp. 10-11.

14. EVR, ‘Ina Izhivu Ozhiya Islame Nan Maruntu [Islam is the Best Medicine for Eradicating Further Degradation]’, Kudi Aracu, 22 March 1947, p 7.

15. Vicente L. Rafael, Contracting Colonialism: Translation and Christian Conversion in Tagalog Society under Early Spanish Rule. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, 1988, p ix.

16. Thomas S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. (3rd ed.) University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1996 (1962), pp. 93, 204.

17. Mary Louise Pratt et al., ‘Translation Studies Forum: Cultural Translation’, Translation Studies 3(1), 1 January 2010, p 95.

18. Rita Kothari, ‘Translation, Language, Anthropology: Notes from the Field’, Interventions 18(1), 2 January 2016, p 11.

19. For an instance of marriage and conversion’s conflation through idioms of abduction and force in 20th century India, see Ritu Menon and Kamla Bhasin, Borders and Boundaries: Women in India’s Partition. Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, 1998, esp. pp. 67-73.

20. This essay leaves terms like ‘ancient,’ ‘medieval’, ‘modern’, ‘secular’, and ‘sacred’ uninterrogated.

21. P. Jotimuttu (trans.), Ainkurunuru, the Short Five Hundred Poems on the Theme of Love in Tamil Literature: An Anthology. Christian Literature Society, Madras, 1984, p 109 (verse 407).

22. Jotimuttu, Ainkurunuru, 193 (verse 71).

23. Appar, Tirumurai the Sixth: St. Appar’s Thandaka Hymns, trans. T. N. Ramachandran. Dharmapuram Aadheenam, Mayiladuthurai, Tamil Nadu, 1995, pp. 305-306 (verse 455).

24. Louis Althusser and Étienne Balibar, Reading ‘Capital’. NLB, London, 1970 (1965); Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space. Blackwell, Oxford, 1991 (1974). Here we might further inquire into Marx’s understanding of how ‘Aneignung [appropriation] becomes Entfremdung [estrangement].’ Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, A Critique of Postcolonial Reason: Toward a History of the Vanishing Present. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1999, p 60.

25. Michael Hardt, ‘The Common in Communism’, in Costas Douzinas and Slavoj Zizek (eds.), The Idea of Communism (vol. 1). Verso, London, 2010, pp. 140-41.

26. Karl Marx, ‘The Grundrisse’, in Robert C. Tucker (ed.), The Marx-Engels Reader. Norton, New York, 1978, p 283. See also Thomas M. Kemple, Reading Marx Writing: Melodrama, the Market, and the "Grundrisse", Stanford University Press, Palo Alto, 1995, p 222.

27. Friedrich Engels, ‘The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and State: In the Light of the Researches by Lewis H. Morgan’, in Frederick Engels: 1882-89, Collected Works 26. Lawrence & Wishart, London, 2010, p 140. The exclusion of such passages from the abridged reproduction in Tucker’s The Marx-Engels Reader may not be insignificant in the development of ‘western Marxism’.

28. Coshiyalist [A Socialist], ‘Coshiyalicam [Socialism]: Essay 5’, Puratci, 17 June 1934, p 9.

29. Matthew H. Baxter, ‘Bhutams of Marx and the Movement of Self-Respecters’, History of Political Thought 37(2), 2016, pp. 336-59.

30. The bhutam’s resonant figures might include Mikhail Bakhtin’s ‘potbellied demons’ where the ‘potbelly…discloses…a principle of growth which exceeds its own limits’ ‘open to the outside world’ (Rabelais and His World. University of Indiana Press, Bloomington, 1984, pp. 22-26) and the ‘cyborg’ of Donna Haraway marked by a political optimism regarding technological innovation, corporeal modifications, global coalitions, and liminal identities (‘Manifesto for Cyborgs: Science, Technology, and Socialist Feminism in the 1980s’, Socialist Review 80, 1985, pp. 65-108).

31 Tucker, The Marx-Engels Reader, p 494; see also Thomas M. Kemple, Reading Marx Writing, p 222.

32. Mustafa Dikeç, ‘Space as a Mode of Political Thinking’, Geoforum 43(4), June 2012, p. 674.

33. Chris Bayly, The Birth of the Modern World 1780-1914: Global Connections and Comparisons. Blackwell, Malden, 2004, pp. 1-2.

34. Dipesh Chakrabarty, Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 2000.

35. See work related to Edward Said, ‘Traveling Theory’, in The World, the Text, and the Critic. Harvard University Press, Cambridge,1983, pp. 226-47.

36. Emily S. Apter, The Translation Zone: A New Comparative Literature. Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2006, pp. xi-xii.

37. Andrew Sartori, Bengal in Global Concept History. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2008, esp. p 19. See also Robert C. Holub, Reception Theory: A Critical Introduction. Methuen, New York, 1984.

38. Sola, ‘Cennai Kavarnarukku Pakirankak Kaditam [Open Letter to the Chennai Governor]’, in Kudi Aracu, 22 January 1939, p 5 (from The Sunday Observer, 11 December 1938).