Nation and Its Discontents

full name / name of organization: 
South Asian Review Special Issue
contact email: 

SAR Special Issue: Nation and Its Discontents

How do cultural texts address, in our times, the limits and achievements of South Asian nationalisms? The essays invited for South Asian Review's 2014 Special Issue, "Nation and Its Discontents," will examine this central question from various perspectives. Despite a long history of the critique of nationalism in and through South Asian culture, historiography, and literary theory, and in seeming defiance of contemporary rhetoric that insists that our social and political lives are fundamentally plural and transnational, South Asian nation-states continue to wield tremendous power over their citizens. This is especially clear in their ability to marginalize groups of people according to their sexuality, class, gender, ethnicity, and religious standing, even as they demand fealty and allegiance from these very groups. Recent legislation such as the reassertion of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which criminalizes homosexuality prove that true citizenship and its attendant rights and privileges are still only afforded to a select few.

We invite papers on literature that investigates exactly what new forms of nationalism are furthered and supported by 21st century nation-states. Which performances of allegiance and belonging are privileged? How do new conversations regarding gender roles get excluded or promoted in contemporary South Asian culture? How does the category of "South Asia" itself function in exclusionary ways– emphasizing, for instance, the political experiences of certain nationalities over others'? Have nationalist agendas been truly challenged by globalization, by transnationalism, by diaspora? Or has nationalism adopted a new guise that allows for its continued success? What stakes do contemporary South Asian literature and culture have in these sociopolitical processes? Suggested paper topics include, but are not limited to:

New ways of thinking about gender and gender roles vis-a-vis the nation
New and continuing forms of class- and ethnicity-based discrimination
Communities that continue to be excluded from true citizenship and the attached access to political, economic, and social power
Religion and nation-building
Diaspora and transnationalism
Postnationalist interventions
Human rights vs. nationalist discourse

Please send 500-word abstracts by May 15th, 2014 to Dr. Madhurima Chakraborty ( and Dr. Umme Al-wazedi ( under the subject line "Nation and Its Discontents." Complete drafts of 5000-7000 words, formatted according to MLA style, as well as a 50-word biographic note due on July 15th, 2014.