CFP: Social Justice in South Asian Cultural Practices (7/15/07; SALA, 12/26/07-12/27/07)

full name / name of organization: 
Nivedita Majumdar
contact email: 

Social Justice in South Asian Cultural Practices

8th Annual Conference of the South Asian Literary Association

December 26-27, 2007, Chicago, IL

For its 8th annual conference, the South Asian Literature Association
invites proposals (of no more than 200-300 words) on the subject: Social
Justice in South Asian Cultural Practices.

South Asian cultural production, especially in the Diaspora, tends to
privilege the paradigm of identity politics. While it has its uses, the
politics of identity, in its analysis of both colonialism and of
postcolonial realities, marginalizes issues of systemic social and
economic exploitation. In this context, we believe it is important to
redirect our attention to questions of social justice. How have the
literatures of South Asia dealt with various issues of social justice
that political activists and social reformers (both during and after the
period of colonial rule) have been known to engage with? How do South
Asian aesthetic practices engage with questions of the just, and the
morally justifiable, whether it be in terms of affirming or contesting
existing regimes of truth and reason? As a region of historically
altering hegemonies and various kinds of coexisting pluralities
(linguistic, religious, ethnic, etc.) how have South Asians sought to
bring the just and the beautiful in accord? What sorts of ideologies of
progress and change, or of anxious return to indigenous tradition, have
fostered what kinds of narratives of affect in literature primarily but
also in cinema, theatre and other popular forms?

Possible areas and issues for exploration:

* The rich corpus of literature engaging with struggles against both
colonialism and indigenous forms of injustices during the colonial
period: Apart from analysis of anti-colonial texts, this may also
include inquiries into the relationship of literary discourses with
various kinds of reform initiated by leaders of particular religious
communities (Arya Samaj, Brahmo Samaj, the Barelvi and the Deobandi
movements, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, and other modernizers in various
communities) and their combined effects on new articulations of social

* The Progressive Writers' movement and the Indian Peoples' Theatre
Association (IPTA)—their reading of the anti-colonial movement, its
blind spots and the socioeconomic challenges of the nascent nation. To
the extent that this powerful tradition highlights class conflict, in
what ways do contemporary cultural practices reflect its influence?

* One of the most exciting developments in the contemporary Indian
literary scene is the emergence of a vibrant body of Dalit literature. A
possible area of enquiry could be the "ideology vs. aestheticism" debate
regarding this literature.

* The politics of religious identity: artistic representations of
movements against communalism across South Asia.

* How do the several movements for gender justice play out in literature
and the arts?

* Ethnicity has been a vexing issue in postcolonial South Asia: it's a
crucial aspect of the various insurgencies in Sri Lanka and within
India, in the North-East, in Kashmir and Punjab. How has literature
emerging from and about these regions engaged with the issue?

* Sexuality: The possibilities and dead-ends within this emerging field;
are there certain ways in which both struggles against discrimination
based on sexuality and their representations are following different
trajectories compared to their western counterparts?

* How do we theorize social justice in regional, national and global
terms? What problems of translation (not just linguistic ones but those
of cultural translation in an uneven world) do we run into when literary
representations of social justice (or the search thereof) get carried
over from a local (or regional) domain to a national and transnational one?

* Social justice in post-liberalization literature and cinema: have
questions of social justice been occluded in recent literature and cinema?

* South Asian cosmopolitanisms and questions of social justice: are
recent cosmopolitical writers more sensitive to questions of social
justice than some writers of the preceding generations (whether writing
in English or in South Asian languages)? How are questions of social
justice being articulated in the present age of almost instant awareness
of global wrongs? Are there new dilemmas of local and global justice
being articulated?

Abstracts of 200-300 words with the subject line, SALA Abstract, must be
sent to both conference co-chairs by July 15, 2007.

E-mail Addresses:

Nivedita Majumdar: <>

Karni Pal Bhati: <>

Postal addresses:

Nivedita Majumdar, Assistant Professor, Department of English, John Jay
College/CUNY, 1258 North Hall, 445 West 59th. Street, New York, NY
10019, U.S.A.

Karni Pal Bhati, English Department, Furman University, Greenville, SC
29613, U.S.A.

Please include your full name, institutional affiliation, title, phone

number and email address with your proposal. A panel proposal will be

considered ONLY IF it includes a detailed abstract for each paper, a

designated chair, and a short statement as to why the submissions should

be considered as a panel rather than as individual presentations.

The SALA conference will be held on December 26 and 27 in Chicago, IL,

in conjunction with the MLA convention.

SALA also publishes the refereed journal, South Asian Review (SAR). All

abstracts accepted for the conference will be published in the special

conference number of the SAR. Inquiries about SAR should be directed to

Kamal Verma at

--Nivedita MajumdarAssistant ProfessorDepartment of EnglishJohn Jay College/City University of New York1258 North Hall445 West 59th StreetNew York, NY 10019Ph. 212-237-8589 ========================================================== From the Literary Calls for Papers Mailing List Full Information at or write Jennifer Higginbotham: ==========================================================Received on Tue Mar 13 2007 - 20:46:57 EST