Call for papers: The Poetic Imagining(s) of Southasia: Borders and Nations

Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS), South Asian University

22-23 April 2019, Delhi ______________________________________________________________________________

The proposed international conference will bring together poets, fiction writers and literary scholars working on topics related to border and nation to converse with sociologists, anthropologists and social historians.

Despite today’s familiar national emblems dating only as far as half a century, as has rightly been pointed out regularly, the kitsch of nationalism now glosses over centuries old sensibilities of pan-national and trans-national affinities in many parts of the postcolonial world. Exclusion built in to the narrow notion of nationalism is what we intend to problematize in our search for alternative imaginings of what is a nation and how best to theorize its cultural, emotional and aesthetic borders separating from a Tagorean “home” from the “world”. Our hope is to bring this discourse to the centre from where they currently lay scattered, that is, in folk myths and minstrel songs, published poetry and fiction, ballads and legendary epics, and so on.

Can poetry and fiction offer a corpus necessary for examining the popular notions of nation and region? Postmodern discourse on nationalism sees nationalist consciousness grounded in specific types of shared experience including media and historiography but also fiction-writing and poetry (Anderson, 1983; Brennan, 1989; Spivak, 1990; Chatterjee, 1993; Nandy, 1994; Visvanathan, 2003). Mythologies, folk songs and folk-lore have been retold and reinterpreted over and over to capture voices of the silenced and perspectives withdrawn (Richman, 1991). And there is a rich corpus – both anthropological and literary – that presents alternative imaginations about borderlands (van Schendel, 2007; Aggarwal, 1993; Gellner, 2013). Engaging with this genre(s) of scholarly work and creative writing, this conference seeks to push forth the frontiers on theorizing nation, border and pan-nation in sociology and social sciences. In this, we may consider revisiting Raymond Williams’ (1978) work that insisted art (of words among others) to be an active process in mediating social reality and imaginative creativity. Sociologist Joan Rockwell (1974) built on Lukac’s insight regarding the novel to point out that aesthetic experiences like reading literature allows for questioning accepted norms and capturing scattered imaginings of new identities into a formal domain. The anthropological classic ‘Writing Culture: The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography’ has generated a vibrant discourse on the role of fiction in anthropological production of knowledge (Clifford and Marcus, 1986; Geertz, 1989; Behar, 2011; Narayan, 1999) culminating possibly in a meaningful debate about feminist and non-Euro-American interventions in the mainstream anthropological traditions of writing culture (Harrison, 1995).

This conference seeks to contest the mainstream premise of everyday nation and border in proposing our central argument that rationalistic may clash with public and intellectual emotionality. When framed within this creative-contested field, and carrying an appetite to converse and engage meaningfully across a wide range of disciplines including but not limited to

sociology, social history and literary studies, this conference seeks to discuss question such as: What alternative popular imaginings have been around both in the centres and peripheries of Southasia beyond the Westphalian discourse “piggybacking” on its search for postcolonial nationalism? Can this engagement point us to theoretical and methodological departures that constructively but emphatically challenge the methodological nationalism hegemonising imagination of Southasia?

We list

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a broad area of focus including but not limited to the following:

Fictionalizing nations, nationalizing fictions Periodicising discourses on nation and border Romance of the capital, romance of the hinterlands (Symbolic) violence and peace

The poetics of borders, borderlands and border people Voice(s) of the stateless – refugees, exile and nomads Governmentality and rebellion: power and fallibility of words The poetics of caste, religion, ethnicity, gender

Reclaiming mythology and folk, diverse aesthetics of story-telling Southasia in conversation with the Global South

The deadline for submission of abstracts is February 28, 2019. Please mail your abstracts, approximately 1500 words, to and Contributors of selected abstracts will be contacted by early March, and full papers no longer than 5000 words excluding reference and footnotes are due by 14 April 2019.

Contributors are encouraged to seek independent funding for travel. Some support may be provided for scholars travelling from within South Asia. Local costs of all participants will be borne by the organizers.

Principal Investigator: Mallika Shakya, Department of Sociology, SAU

Advisory body

Bhakti Shringarpure, Department of English, University of Connecticut and Warscapes Dhananjay Tripathi, Department of International Relations, SAU
Ira Raja, Department of English, University of Delhi
Sangita Rayamajhi, Director, Centre for Advanced Studies in South Asia (CASSA) Sanjay Chaturvedi, Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, SAU

Call for Applications: 2019 South Asian Studies Fellowships

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Cornell University’s South Asia Program (SAP) welcomes applications from scholars, writers, curators, and artists based in South Asia (only Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, or Sri Lanka) to visit Cornell University for a fellowship period of between two and four months to undertake research, artistic productions, and/or collaborations related to South Asian Studies. Fellows will have the opportunity to collaborate with Cornell faculty, post-doctoral fellows, and graduate students, and to involve themselves in South Asia Program activities. SAP has hosted two cohorts of fellows, in 2017 and 2018.

The South Asia Program will award two fellowships for residence at Cornell University between August and December 2019. Each Fellow will receive $6,000 and the necessary documents for J-1 visa application purposes. SAP cannot guarantee success in obtaining a visa, as this is issued by the US government. All travel, housing, health insurance, and visa fees are the responsibility of the Fellow. SAP can assist with securing housing on campus, subject to availability.

Cornell University’s South Asia Program is an interdisciplinary hub for Cornell students, faculty, staff, community members, and academic visitors. It has over 40 affiliated faculty from across Cornell’s colleges and professional schools, ranging from the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences to law, business, and public policy. The U. S. Department of Education has designated SAP as one of eight Title VI National Resource Centers for South Asia.


  • Applicants must be resident in South Asia at the time of the fellowship to be eligible.
  • These fellowships cannot to be used for dissertation or master’s degree research.
  • Applicants who have undertaken studies, fellowships or employment in North America in recent years (since 2014) are not eligible.
  • Citizens of South Asian countries living outside of South Asia are not eligible.


Applications must be submitted online by the 14 January 2019 deadline via The application link is at the bottom of the menu on the right, under “External Grants.”

Applications will be reviewed by an interdisciplinary faculty committee. Decisions will be made based on the quality of the proposed project, the demonstrated capability of the applicant to complete the project, and the project’s fit with Cornell faculty specializations and other university resources (such as the library, curatorial and performance opportunities, etc.).

Applications must include:

  1. All information in the online form, including highest degree received.
  2. A two-page CV including institutional affiliation, educational qualifications, and key publications/works produced.
  3. A two-page narrative explaining the work to be undertaken during the fellowship period, proposed dates for the fellowship, its relevance to your scholarly/artistic development, and which Cornell faculty and resources you would like to engage with.
  4. Email addresses of two recommenders. They will automatically receive an email with instructions for their letters of reference, which are due by 21 January 2019.

Please direct any questions to

CFP: The South Asia Graduate Student Conference XVI, U. Chicago, March 8-9, 2019


The South Asia Graduate Student Conference XVI
The University of Chicago, March 8–9, 2019

The organizing committee of the South Asia Graduate Student Conference at the University of Chicago is delighted to announce its sixteenth annual conference, South Asia: The Political, the Public, the Popular, to be held on March 8–9, 2019. We invite papers from graduate students at all levels to explore these categories in contemporary and historical South Asia.

In tracing the development of the political, the public, and the popular, we wish to interrogate both their mutually constitutive character and the limitations of their intersection. As these concepts have become increasingly widespread in scholarship on South Asia, we ask whether they require a distinct theorization that accounts for their application in the region. This year’s conference will take place a month before the general election in India and in the wake of major elections in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan, posing the timely question of how democratic processes engage in and shape political life, the public sphere, and popular culture. At the same time, we welcome an understanding of the political that extends beyond governance and institutions to include its construction in and through the arts, mass culture, media, and entertainment.

We invite papers that interrogate topics such as:

  • Institutions, elections, and political representation
  • Politics of public space in everyday life
  • Censorship and regulation of popular culture
  • Mass communication and political mobilization
  • Religion and the politics of populism
  • Mass culture and art forms in the public sphere
  • Cinema, politics, and movie-going publics
  • Gender, caste, minorities, and subaltern counterpublics
  • Environmentalism in popular culture
  • South Asia and the global public sphere
  • Theorizations of “the political” in South Asia

Keynote speakers for the conference are Ayesha Jalal, Mary Richardson Professor of History at Tufts University, and Pamela Philipose, the public editor of the Indian news website The Wire.

Graduate students at any level and any stage of research are encouraged to apply. Past conferences have accepted papers from such diverse fields as cinema and media studies, history, political science, literature, environmental studies, religious studies, art history, science studies, philosophy, anthropology, and sound and visual studies, but we welcome all disciplinary approaches and methodologies. Interested applicants should send a 250-word abstract to by January 4, 2019, and should apply as individuals, not as panels. Presentations should be 15–20 minutes long. Conference organizers will assist with travel and lodging for selected participants. Please write to us at the above address with any questions.

Download the CFP Flyer here

Organizing Committee:
Andrew Halladay, Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations
Titas De Sarkar, Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations
Zoya Sameen, Department of History

Faculty Advisor:
Laura Letinsky, Professor, Department of Visual Arts

See webpage