Writing the Region: Knowledge, Practice and Power in South Asia

Friday and Saturday April 17-18, 2020
A 71, Julis Romo Rabinowitz Building

Recent scholarship on borderlands, frontiers, and wider networks of the Indian Ocean has displaced the long-standing centrality of states, and offered us new ways to imagine South Asia. Networks and processes that transcend state borders coexist with popular imaginations and practices that are shaped in resistance to them. Thus, while some regionalities transcend boundaries, others are constituted by their sense of difference, separation, and autonomy. The 2020 Princeton South Asia Conference engages the question of region by foregrounding the overlapping, contradictory, and contested processes shaping regional identities in South Asia. Using this theme as a starting point, the conference explores questions such as: How have the political, social, and ethical been imagined across South Asian regions and languages? And, how does the translation and movement of ideas and practices across regions lead, in turn, to the creation of new regional identities and attachments? 

The trajectories of state and popular politics in South Asia have been shaped historically by diverse forms of regional assertions. Today, as majoritarian nationalisms become increasingly hegemonic, the conference encourages participants to consider new genealogies of South Asia’s plural and contesting regionalities. We seek to understand the region through its intersections with the state, but also to go beyond the rationalities of states and their archives. We especially invite research that examines regions through textual and visual sources in South Asian languages in both historical and contemporary contexts.

The ninth annual Princeton South Asia Conference will bring together early career scholars (advanced graduate students and postdoctoral researchers) across disciplines that engage with South Asia. In keeping with the theme of the conference, we invite papers that engage with South Asia in a broad sense, including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Tibet, Nepal, the Maldives, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Myanmar or Burma, India, and transnational and diasporic spaces. Papers may engage, but need not limit themselves to, any of the following topics related to the conference theme: 

  • Autonomy and Self-Determination 
  • Cosmopolitanism and Vernacularism 
  • Social Hierarchies and Resistance 
  • The Urban, the Provincial and the Local
  • Cold War and Area Studies 
  • Movement and Migration 
  • Language and Linguistic Identity
  • Tradition and Experimentation
  • Regionalism and Transregionalism  
  • Majorities, Minorities and Sectarian Identities 
  • Borders and Citizenship

The event will be held on April 17-18, 2020 in Princeton, NJ. Questions can be directed to: princeton.sas2020@gmail.com.

Princeton University will provide participants with shared accommodations for two nights and will contribute toward transportation expenses. Participants are encouraged to seek funding from their home institutions as well.

Proposals should include a title, a 300-word abstract, institutional affiliation, and contact information. Please submit proposals at http://tiny.cc/kpdkfz by January 5, 2020

The organizing committee of the 2020 South Asia Conference would like to acknowledge the generous support of Shilpa Gupta for the image used above for this year’s workshop. To see more work, please visit: http://shilpagupta.com

Unnoticed, 2017, Digital photograph, clouds and fragmented spare motor parts across the border.

All images © Shilpa Gupta