This issue of the journal extends concerns with the shifting boundaries between human and nonhuman to consider the interplay of animals, environment, and enchantment as these might allow us to rethink modes of belonging, being with others, and ethical comportment. Contributors to “Animals and Enchantment in South Asia” explore diverse issues, from medieval texts from Iraq and the Indian subcontinent that address animal morality, to the ethics and politics of killing animals for meat, to contemporary concerns about monkeys and their movements in the Central Himalayas. As with our earlier focus on the nonhuman, this issue expands the question of the anthropocene beyond the more familiar associations with climate change and planetary catastrophe to take up questions of sacrality, ethics, and the deep time of cultural environment.
Other essays, grouped under the rubric “Poetics and Publics,” approach the tactics and technologies that enable projects of alternative world making. The essays toggle between India and Turkey to address medieval poetics, colonial law, the private museum, and the vernacular repurposing of canonical textuality as material practices and sites of imaginative exploration.
We close the issue with a Kitabkhana on Isabel Hofmeyr’s book Gandhi’s Printing Press: Experiments in Slow Reading. The engagements of our contributors with Hofmeyr’s work contextualize her presentation of South African–based Gandhi as moralizing editor and social activist within the larger field of Gandhi studies. They also pick up on Hofmeyr’s emphasis on Gandhi’s attention to “slow reading” as a particularly productive way of thinking for our contemporary moment, marked by constant technological saturation and stimulation. Fittingly, these contributions also bring us back to questions raised elsewhere in this issue and in prior issues. Empire is figured here as containing both vertical and horizontal dimensions, shaping as well as facilitating flows of people and ideas, a framework not unlike that of Cold War geopolitics or contemporary liberal multiculturalism.