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National Seminar on The Imaginary Homelands of Salman Rushdie
full name / name of organization:
Department of English, Gauhati University
“It may be that writers in my position, exiles or emigrants or expatriates are haunted by some sense of loss, some urge to reclaim, to look back, even at the risk of being mutated into pillars of salt. But if we do look back, we must also do so in the knowledge – which gives rise to profound uncertainties – that our physical alienation from India almost inevitably means that we will not be capable of reclaiming precisely the thing that was lost; that we will, in short, create fictions, not actual cities or villages, but invisible ones, imaginary homelands, Indias of the mind.”(“Imaginary Homelands”)
The imagination of homelands, their loss and recovery, and consequent historical distortions, have been fashionable expatriate / diasporic conditions and disturbing and disruptive political positions within the postcolonial nation state. While the first has become a cultural phenomenon and the subject of sophisticated inquiry, the second, seen as potentially destructive of national unity has been left in the netherworld of disciplines and over time pushed into eruptions of violence.
The porosity of borders in a globalized world is a source of material advancement and intellectual adventure. And yet there is a corresponding phenomenon worldwide of homeland aspirations - visible political and socio-cultural expressions of identity and cultural threat perceptions, fears of ethno-cultural erasure and therefore an increasingly assertive discourse about national boundaries, ways of belonging in designated spaces and a complex majority/minority tussle. In our part of the country (India’s north eastern region), separatist and autonomy movements, and the spectre of breached borders, makes it imperative that we address from this location, the fashionable issues of homelands as imagined, constructed by a wishful memory, and the weight given to a term like “excess of belongings”. This questioning is as much a political necessity as it is a cultural issue, and Rushdie’s exploration of the ideas of homeland, belonging and unbelonging is an entry point into this area in contemporary thought that we believe will allow us to interrogate both the works of Rushdie and the complexities of our own situations. Against ideas of transnationalism, globalization, and the porosity of borders, the idea of homeland offers a curious and intellectually challenging situation of crisis.
Some of the possible and predictable areas for papers of course would be the following:
However papers that address any one (or more) of these issues are expected to use the prism of the ‘homeland’ in developing and exploring the idea(s) in Rushdie’s writing. Papers should take into account actual locations and autonomy/homeland movements to enter the Rushdie oeuvre.
Paper presenters are requested to write their papers keeping in mind that they will be allocated a maximum reading time of 15 minutes each to be followed by 5 minutes interaction time. However, they should carry the longer version of the paper, if ready, and submit to the organizers for consideration for publication. The paper presenters must follow the MLA handbook format and are to submit a soft copy of the paper at the time of registration.
For further details contact:
Dr. Manasi Bora (9864034773)