“The Sacred and the Secular in South Asian Literature and Culture” [update]

full name / name of organization: 
South Asian Literary Association
contact email: 
jsingh@nmu.edu, quazi@tarleton.edu

10th Annual South Asian Literary Association (SALA) Conference, Philadelphia, December 26-27, 2009
Conference Theme: “The Sacred and the Secular in South Asian Literature and Culture”
With the onset of modernity in the sixteenth century, secularism began to grow into a prevalent idea, particularly with the formation of the nation-states. These ideas became particularly useful for colonizing nations and their colonial enterprises in confronting the “Orient” or the “Dark Continent” with its “savage” or “primitive religions.” European Enlightenment and its hegemonic religious values were spread around the globe in imperialistic waves. Colonialism used religious conversions as a tool for dominating and modernizing the colonized. Colonialism constructed the spaces of the colonized and regulated colonial discourse with either ideas of the infidel or with rhetoric of Orientalist mysticism. This evolved, in some instances, into militant fanaticism within postcolonial/neocolonial spaces during the era of globalization. We are now contending with ideas of fundamentalism, communalism, and the recovery of the sacred as a form of resistance in many parts of the world. We invite papers on literature, criticism, film, performance art, pedagogy, and cultural and social activism that explore any aspect of the negotiation of religion, secularism, and nationalism within the context of Postcolonialism, especially as it pertains to the South Asian experience in national and diasporic contexts.
How have postcolonial liberation struggles re-read dominant religious texts for their own purposes? How has postcoloniality with its ideas of alienation, fragmentation, hybridity, and dislocation confronted religious texts and identities? How are ideas of race and gender played out in the arena of religious nationalism?
Papers focused on appropriate literary and/or film texts may explore, but are not restricted to, the following ideas or questions:
• Pre-modern/Traditional vs. Modern/ Good vs. Evil/ Sacred vs. Secular/ Church vs. State/ Rational vs. Scientific/ Savage vs. Civilization/ Colony vs. Nation-States
• Religious Hegemony and Majoritarianism
• The rise of religious fundamentalisms/fundamentalists in South Asia
• Terrorism or Freedom Struggles
• Subnationalisms (Linguistic and/or Religious)
• Diasporic and Transnational Contexts
• Alternative spaces/discourses of the sacred and secular
• Sacred/Sexual celebrations
• Religious and Caste Minorities; Indigenous Peoples (Adivasis)
• Dalit discourses on religion and secularism
• Rituals/ rath yatras/ Melas/Swamis/ Pirs and Fakirs/ Female saints
• Liberation and/or utopian projects
• Islam/Christianity in South Asia—global links and consequences
• Marxism and Faith; Atheism; Agnosticism
• Can Hinduism be a fundamentalist phenomenon?
• Religion and the Rise of Right-wing Politics
• Partition and Trauma: the demonization of Muslims in India and the growing disappearance of religious minorities in Pakistan and Bangladesh
• Kabir, Guru Nanak, and Universalism
• Devotional Writing in the Sub-Continent—Bhakti literature, Sufi literature
• Mysticism and Indian Poetry—Tagore/ Aurobindo
• Gods in the Calendar Art
• Bollywood and Religious Icons
Please send, in an email, a 250-word abstract of your paper and a 5-6 line bio-note listing your institutional affiliation and current email address to the conference co-chairs at the email addresses given below. The subject line of your email should contain the words “SALA 2009.”
Deadline for submission of abstracts: 15 July 2009
Co-chairs and Email addresses:
Dr. Jaspal Singh, Northern Michigan University, jsingh@nmu.edu
Dr. Moumin Quazi, Tarleton State University, quazi@tarleton.edu
Please visit www.southasialit.org for more information on SALA.

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