CFP: [Postcolonial] India and the Indian Diasporic Imagination

full name / name of organization: 
Judith Misrahi-Barak

India and the Indian Diasporic Imagination

Cerpac, Paul Valery University, Montpellier 3, France

1-4 April, 2009

The 19th century witnessed large-scale migration from India to various parts of the world.
Indentured labourers were recruited to work in the Caribbean between 1838 and 1917
(particularly Guyana, Surinam and Trinidad as well as Jamaica, Guadeloupe, Martinique), Fiji,
Mauritius (as early as 1834), South Africa and a few other plantation colonies. Over one million
Indians sold themselves into bondage before the system was made illegal in 1917. South Asians
later worked in East Africa, to work on the railways and in other industries, going to Kenya,
Uganda, Tanzania. The descendents of these peoples, along with those of other South Asian
migrants, who have gone to Europe, North America and Australia since the Second World War,
now constitute a substantial and fascinatingly diverse diaspora.
Representations of their notions of “Mother India” have been crucial to the shaping of identity
among many of these diasporic peoples. As the stature of India as a potential world power has
grown in the last ten years, there seems to be a resurgence of interest in India, which has
contributed to enhanced self-esteem in these communities. Far from emphasizing the question
of origin, the papers will focus on the interaction between Indians in India and those in the
diaspora. If diasporic Indians have been transforming the countries they have been living in, it is
legitimate to ask how India itself is being transformed by its peoples in the diaspora. The
privileging of categories such as ‘non-resident Indians’ or ‘persons of Indian Origin’ by India
enhances this line of enquiry.
In recent years outstanding works of the creative imagination, based on these diverse
communities have emerged, in conjunction with an impressive body of scholarship. Yet, no major
international, multidisciplinary and bilingual conference has sought to tap into this rich reservoir
of learning. This conference seeks to redress this shortcoming.
This is a call for papers which explore all aspects of the Indian diasporic experience and its
representations. Contributors are invited to participate in a conference that addresses the
following areas: Cinema, Culture, Economics, History, Music and Dance, Photography, Religion,
Sports, Women’s Studies. Literature and Comparative Literature will, of course, be prominent,
and particular attention will be devoted to writers of Indian origin writing in English (one can
think among others of Meena Alexander, Cyril Dabydeen, David Dabydeen, Mahadai Das, Amitav
Ghosh, Ismith Kahn, Peter Kempadoo, Oonya Kempadoo, HS Ladoo, Jumpha Lahiri, Leelawatee
Manoo-Rahming, Rohinton Mistry, Rooplall Monar, Shani Mootoo, Bharati Mukherjee, Lakshmi
Persaud, Sasenarine Persaud, Vikram Seth, Ryhaan Shah, Rajkumari Singh, MG Vassanji…), or in
French (Khal Torabully, Ananda Devi…). For the cinema, one can think of Mira Nair, Deepa
Mehta, Sandhya Suri, among others. English will be the language of the conference (except for
works in French).
The conference will be held at Paul Valery University (Montpellier, France). It will be the result of
collaboration between the Cerpac (Research Centre for the Commonwealth, EA 741, Montpellier
3), Desi (Diasporas : Research Centre on Indian Specificities / EA 4196 Climas, Bordeaux 3) and
the Caribbean Studies Centre (London Metropolitan University, UK).
Those interested in participating should send their abstracts (between 250 and 300 words) as
well as a short bio-bibliographical notice (200 words) to the two convenors: Dr Judith Misrahi-
Barak and Dr Rita Christian
The deadline for sending the proposals is June 30, 2008. Acceptance will be notified by
September 15.

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Received on Fri Apr 04 2008 - 17:21:45 EST