When I began my fieldwork on sanitation work in Bangalore, India, the city had already suffered two decades of class polarization and environmental degradation, after being marked as a site for low-cost solutions, back-end support, and offshore expansion. So, I should have suspected that the paradoxes of progress would leave me tongue-tied: lost in my mother tongue (Kannada), along with everyone else’s.
Words take center stage in the verbal sparring of the Twitter age. But, amidst the endless talk and noise of today’s political landscape, we often overlook the powerful communicative potential of silence.
We live our lives through language, and it’s often assumed to be a direct index of who we are. But identity is more complicated than that. As we move and adapt to new contexts, which languages we speak, and with whom, changes.