Rakesh Kumar Pankaj is a Senior Research Fellow of English Literature at the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Ropar, Punjab, India. He is working on his doctoral thesis titled “Religious Environmentalism and Magahi Folk Songs: An Ecocritical Study” under the supervision of Dr. Dibyakusum Ray. His research interests include folk literature, cultural studies, environmental studies, indigenous studies, and ecocriticism. He has published his articles in Scopus-indexed journals. He is also the Co-PI of a project entitled “Magahi Culture and the Endangered Indigene of India: A Project of Archiving, Dissemination and Pedagogy.” E-mail: 2018hsz0008@iitrpr.ac.in


Exploring Traditional Ecological Knowledge in India and Southeast Asia: A Posthumanist Study of Folk Culturalism

Abstract: This paper proposes a detailed and comprehensive analysis of folk culturalism in India and Southeast Asia to argue how an ecocentric ethics can contribute to the canon of traditional ecological wisdom. India and Southeast Asia are not only geographically close, but they also have many historical, cultural, and anthropological similarities. Against this backdrop, the paper aims to draw tentative conclusions about the role of their folk practices, especially those that are mainly influenced by Hinduism and Buddhism, in raising social and environmental awareness. In the last few decades, traditional ecological knowledge has attracted considerable academic interest. However, many of these ecological traditions have remained unnoticed in both India and Southeast Asia, which are home to many indigenous societies. Arguing that ritualistic practices attach divinity to various life forms, this paper aims to identify the inherent ecocentric and posthumanist philosophy in the discourse of indigenous ecological traditions. First, the paper provides an account of Indian indigenous communities that share a harmonious communion with nature. Then, it puts forward samples of Southeast Asian folk traditions and tries to understand them from a posthumanistic perspective. Hence, this paper aims to provide a comparative study of these historically similar yet geographically distant cultures.
Keywords: posthumanism, India, Southeast Asia, folk culturalism, ecocriticism, ecocentrism