Mazaa: Theorizing Fun, Pleasure and Play in India
On March 23, 2018 Ulka Anjaria and Jonathan Anjaria hosted an interdisciplinary conference at Brandeis on the topic of fun, pleasure and play in India. "Mazaa," which is the word for fun in Hindi/Urdu, was meant to move away from the view that sports, games or popular literature is only an escape from reality or a distraction from real world issues. In search of preconceived ideas of what is politically or socially significant, we often ignore the books people enjoy, the films they watch, the sports they play and the music they listen to. But what are fun and pleasure, what do they do and how do they produce the world around us? How can we approach these topics without taking the fun and pleasure away from them? What is the role of the critic in understanding fun and pleasure? With 14 participants from Brandeis and other universities, the conference included three panels and exciting discussions throughout. The organizers are currently editing a special issue of the journal South Asia: A Journal of South Asian Studies, on the topic of mazaa. These will include several papers from the conference as well as additional invited submissions.