Perspectives on Bakhtinian Thought in Relation to Intellectual Traditions of India

Dr. Lakshmi Bandlamudi

Professor, City University of New York

Mikhail Mikhailovich Bakhtin (1895-1975) has been emerging as one of the most influential thinkers of the 20th century, crossing cultural and disciplinary boundaries. Given the capaciousness of his theory of dialogism – every school of thought – from humanism to structuralism to post-structuralism has found something of value in his works. This trend is not surprising because very few thinkers have taken so much fascination for the plenitude of differences in the world and even more rare is a thinker who has managed to provide sharp analytical tools to make sense of the amazing diversity in the world.Interestingly, if Mikhail Bakhtin’s works stand under the banner of plurality, open-endedness and diversity of languages and social speech types, the cultural, philosophical and literary histories of India also under the same banner.It may very well be the case that long before the principles of dialogism took shape in the western world, these ideas, although not labeled as such, were an integral part of intellectual traditions in India.

The lecture will explore all the main ideas from Bakhtin’s early and late works from Architectonics, Aesthetics, Answerability, Philosophy of Act, Ethical Responsibility to Dialogism in literary texts, cultural life and media (television, film, internet etc.) and in ancient and recent histories and more importantly the iconoclastic wisdom of carnival as they relate specifically to Indian ethos.

The lecture will emphasize that the plenitude of differences give us the will to power, the freedom to choose, the hope for reconstruction and the capacity to love the other, not because the other is like the self, but because the other is different from the self. Operating in a world of infinitely differentiated particulars we come across innumerable possibilities even as we recognize the trappings of language, time and space and it is in this dynamic field we may be able to find new ways of relating to each other in this globalized world.

Biographical Note

Dr. Lakshmi Bandlamudi is a Professor of Psychology at LaGuardia Community College, City University of New York. She earned her MA from Columbia University and Ph.D. from The Graduate Center, City University of New York in Developmental Psychology. She has been engaged with Mikhail Bakhtin Studies for more than two decades and has published in several well-known journals and presented papers at various international conferences connecting Myths, Culture, History and Consciousness.


  1. Bandlamudi, L (2015) Difference, Dialogue & Development: A Bakhtinian World.Routledge. New York. (Forthcoming)
  2. Bandlamudi, L. (2012) Carnivalesque Laughter: Developing Iconoclastic Wisdom. In Dialogues with Bakhtinian Theory: Proceedings of The Thirteenth International Mikhail Bakhtin Conference. MykolaPolyuha, Clive Thomson and Anthony Wall (Eds.) Mestengo Press. London, Canada.
  3. Bandlamudi, L. (2010) Dialogics of Self, The Mahabharata and Culture: The History of Understanding and Understanding of History. Anthem Press, UK.
  4. Bandlamudi, L. (2011) Voices and Vibrations of Consciousness in Genres: A Dialogue between Bakhtin and Bhartrhari on Interpretations.Dialogue, Carnival and Chronotope. Moscow. Vol. 1-2 (2011) nos. 43-44: 107-119
  5. Bandlamudi, L. (2006) Movements With the Cosmic Dancer:On Pilgrimage to Kailash - Manasarovar. Foreword by H.H.The Dalai Lama and In Praise of the book by Dr. Karan Singh.New Age Books. New Delhi
  6. Bandlamudi, L. (1998) Crossing Time and Space: Bakhtin's Dialogic Encounter with Sanskrit Philosopher-Grammarian Bhartrhari. RecherchésSemiotiques: Semiotic Inquiry. Canadian Semiotic Association Special Edition: Mikhail Bakhtin and the Future of Signs. Vol. 18 (1998) nos. 1-2: 231-247

Awards & Honors

  1. 2013-2014 DISTINGUISHED CUNY FELLOW – Advanced Research Collaborative (ARC), Graduate Center, CUNY.
  2. 2010-2011 FULBRIGHT-NEHRU SENIOR RESEARCH FELLOW INDIA Cultural Memory: The Evolution of The Mahabharata.
  3. 2004 FULBRIGHT-HAYS SCHOLAR.Seminars Abroad Program. CHINA: Tradition and Transformation.
  4. 1996 FULBRIGHT-HAYS SCHOLAR.Seminars Abroad Program. Bulgaria: Realities and Myths in Transformation andRomania: The Role Played by Education in the Social, Cultural and Political Changes in Romania.



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