Humanities Underground ()

Arijeet Mandal
Jadavpur University
The first reaction after getting hurt or bruised among children and (often) adults is to put it in the mouth, and apply spit on it. There is a mention of the ‘spitting cure’ in Pliny’s account of history, as well as narrativised accounts of Jesus curing people with spit. It is as if we apply spit to what hurts us, or needs curing. And yet, spitting is related to age-old tradition of being treated as excreta, as an excess of the body, and connected deeply with scorn and malice. The following paper tries to explore how spitting has its own history. While most of documented history notes it as an administrative (London’s tuberculosis problem) or civic problem (city, street, monument maintenance etc), it has nonetheless a philosophical problem within it. The paper thus tries to decode how a spitting body has its own political and historical perspective, and that they are largely social in nature. The paper then discusses an ontic problem, and an ontological problem of spitting (in general). Lastly, the paper tries to formulate how spitting and its political-ontology in case of India is deeply ridden with problems of a class-caste society. The main texts that have inspired this work are Carlo Ginzburg’s idea of Microhistory in The Cheese and the Worms, but also from Dipankar Gupta’s idea of ‘mistaken modernity’ from his book of the same name. Lastly, in relating to the ontic and ontological problem I have taken inspirations from Heidegger’s notion of an existentialist history. These chief works, along with several others have lead me to study history of spitting and its philosophical premises.
Keywords Emotions  Spitting  Class  Caste  Political Ontology
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