Conflicting Mythologies: Culture, Tradition and Modernity in Indian Writing in English.

full name / name of organization: 
Anindya Bhattacharya, Assistant Professor of English, University BT & Evening College, North Bengal University

The Western narrative of Modernity, an ideological growth of capitalism, has disciplined and shaped India's dream of development from the colonial era to the globalised present. An integral part of the colonising/civilising project, the myth of modernity stood for a market-driven industrial economy, bureaucratic government, liberal-democratic politics, and Western education. These would supposedly help backward nations achieve the status of developed nations once they prepare themselves for it. Modernity was a myth that validated imperialism by plotting India's position on the lower segment of the graph of development in a vision of history that advanced towards the perfection of civilization. The accompanying social change was a "modern" form of life that prioritised secular worldviews, the enlightened, free-thinking individual, nuclear families and a cult of self-seeking. These changes challenged the age-old traditional narratives of India based on hospitality. Postcolonial subjectivities are therefore deeply marked by the conflict between modernity and tradition, compelling the Indian communities to redefine their positions in many ways.

Consequently, the nationalist cultural project has critiqued the Eurocentric concept of modernity and commenced a search for "alternative modernities." A critical tradition from Tagore and Gandhi to Partha Chatterjee and Dipesh Chakrabarty has contributed to the present-day status of modernity as an extremely complex site-specific concept.

This collection of papers proposes to focus on Indian Writing in English(IWE)and interrogate the authorial representations/conceptualisations of modernity/modernities. Contributors can take up virtually any work(s), including non-fiction and political writing by any author(s) from the nineteenth century to the present, from Raja Rammohan Roy to Arundhati Roy, and examine how modernity becomes a site of conflicting mythologies from the colonial times to the era of globalisation.

Some of the possible thrust areas are:
• Images of the "primitive" and the "traditional" in IWE
• Deprovincialising the notion of the modern
• The impact of Western education
• The status of women in the community/family
• the individual's position within his community
• Depiction of vernacular renaissance and major cultural figures in IWE
• Modernity, religion and nationalism
• Modernity and the body
• Novel-reading and "traditional" morality
• Gandhian nationalism and IWE
• modernity and dalits in writing
• modernity and historiography

You can choose from a broad range of texts:

• The Work of Raja Rammohan Roy, Derozio and Michael Madhusudan Dutt
• First Indian novels in English, by Bankim Chandra Chatterjee and others
• Tagore's English writings
• Nirad C. Chaudhuri
• Major Indian Novelists from the 30s to the 70s
• Postcolonial Hybridity in IWE
• Writing of the Diaspora
• Rushdie and the turn of the century IWE
• Critical writings on modernity by Indian theorists from Tagore and Gandhi to Partha Chatterjee, Dipesh Chakraborty and others.

Please send an abstract of about 150-200 words to anindya_north@ as soon as possible, and not later than 30 April, 2012. If selected through a quick peer review, the contributor will be informed within a week. Final papers of about 6000-7000 words will be due 30 June, 2012. I'll be happy to respond to your queries before the abstract submission. The volume will be published in hardback with an ISBN, from Imprint Publications, New Delhi, India by the end of 2012.