While typing up the transcript and then listening to Episode 1, these are some of the stray thoughts that came to mind.
1) All three of us took turns introducing ourselves. While introducing myself, I mentioned my academic background but not my fannish one. It was a subconscious decision rather than a deliberate one which makes me wonder – is the nature of my project and my own imposter syndrome making me seek to establish my academic credentials and legitimacy? To make some amends for that, I used to write and read Harry Potter fanfiction as a teenager. I don’t really read any fanfiction anymore but I engage with fandom in many different ways (including through my PhD research)
2) Based on something S said, why can’t you change Houses once you’ve been Sorted? Does Pottermore have more legitimacy than not only random BuzzFeed quizzes but even what you yourself identify as? Alternatively, do the quizzes introduce you to an aspect of your identity you didn’t previously recognise?
3) There are different interpretations of Sorting when done in a less arbitrary fashion (and its parallels to caste, race, religion, gender etc.). It brings you a sense of community, something to support – but quite arbitrary based on only some and not all aspects of your identity. There is the danger of exceptionalism and/or othering.
4) The British Empire has a continuing influence on Indian, British, and global education, literature, and culture.
5) There are different contexts of racism, prejudice, and oppression in India as opposed to the UK, leading to different readings of Enid Blyton, Harry Potter, and Doctor Who based on which context you’re most familiar with.
6) The politics of food where British and even American food has colonised our imagination thanks to the media we’re exposed to. This is also related to the politics of language in terms of which language you speak and how you speak it (for example, in many of my personal contexts, English is dominant and a certain kind of English and a certain kind of accent is dominant within that).
7) I’ve learned to critique what I may not have initially found problematic as I’ve grown up and encountered new perspectives. Early attitudes are largely a result of social conditioning and it is an active, ongoing process to unlearn and question assumptions.
8) S’s brief commentary on the mainstream Indian education system where draconian Umbridge measures would probably be the norm in many schools today.
9) I feel terrible about using the term Mudblood. I felt guilty about it for days as soon as we finished recording. I really debated editing it out, but decided to keep it to acknowledge it and learn from it.
10) On Panju and Cinnamon: it’s interesting what names people choose to represent unfamiliar cultures and what this choice reveals about their thoughts (or lack thereof) about, for example, India and its culture and food and history.
11) On Japanese internment camps in the US – a similar demonisation of a certain group of people is currently prevalent in India too. If any Muslim person critiques anything in India, they’re often met with the response. “Oh just go to Pakistan!” or “Just send them to Pakistan!” The way people are othering Muslims in both insidious and explicit ways, we’re not far off from building camps for all Indian Muslims (the project to detain some of them has, of course, already begun).
12) The Sorting camaraderie/divisiveness dichotomy has historical and contemporary Indian parallels with British divide and rule and current politics. Belongingness to a certain group could be about working towards something together with other groups where you’re going beyond the groups you were born into to build a community with people like and unlike you. However, it could also very easily be taken advantage of, as witnessed in Indian (and world history and current events).
13) We mentioned that neither the 1990s and 2020 are very safe. However, this is a statement from a position of privilege coming from all three of us since for millions of people, India has never been safe. Coming from the dominant groups, we’re just more aware of this now (though not completely aware of the dire reality so many Indians face).
14) When McGonagall decided to lock the Slytherins in the basement, it implied that if the parents are Death Eaters, the children would be too. However, the children may not follow in the Pure Blood supremacy footsteps. This can be seen in many real-world examples where the racist, homophobic, xenophobic attitudes of parents aren’t always accepted unquestioningly by the children.