UPDATE: [Postcolonial] India and the Indian Diasporic Imagination

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India and the Indian Diasporic Imagination
Paul Valery University, Montpellier 3, France
1-4 April, 2009

A partnership between the Cerpac (Research Centre for the Commonwealth, EA 741,
Montpellier3), the Caribbean Studies Centre (London Metropolitan University, UK), Desi
(Diasporas : Research Centre on Indian Specificities / EA 4196 Climas, Bordeaux3), the
Department of History of Purdue University (USA).

Keynote speakers : Pr Clem Seecharan (London Metropolitan University, UK)
and Pr Vijay Mishra (Murdoch University, Perth, Australia)

Invited Writers : Cyril Dabydeen, David Dabydeen, Romesh Gunesekera, Lakshmi Persaud, Khal

The 19th century witnessed large-scale migration from India to various parts of the world.
Indentured labourers were recruited to work in the Caribbean between 1838 and 1917
(particularly Guyana, Surinam and Trinidad as well as Jamaica, Guadeloupe, Martinique), Fiji,
Mauritius (as early as 1834), South Africa and a few other plantation colonies. Over one million
Indians sold themselves into bondage before the system was made illegal in 1917. Other
migrants from the Indian sub-continent later worked in East Africa, to work on the railways and
in other industries, going to Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania. The descendents of these peoples, who
have gone to Europe, North America and Australia since the Second World War, now constitute a
substantial and fascinatingly diverse diaspora.
Representations of their notions of “Mother India” have been crucial to the shaping of identity
among many of these diasporic peoples. As the stature of India as a potential world power has
grown in the last ten years, there seems to be a resurgence of interest in India, which has
contributed to enhanced self-esteem in these communities. Far from emphasizing the question
of origin, the papers will focus on the interaction between Indians in India and those in the
diaspora. If diasporic Indians have been transforming the countries they have been living in, it is
legitimate to ask how India itself is being transformed by its peoples in the diaspora. The
privileging of categories such as ‘non-resident Indians’ or ‘persons of Indian Origin’ by India
enhances this line of enquiry.
In recent years outstanding works of the creative imagination, based on these diverse
communities have emerged, in conjunction with an impressive body of scholarship. Yet, no major
international, multidisciplinary and bilingual conference has sought to tap into this rich reservoir
of learning. This conference seeks to redress this shortcoming.
This is a call for papers which explore all aspects of the Indian diasporic experience and its
representations. Contributors are invited to participate in a conference that addresses the
following areas: Cinema, Culture, Economics, History, Music and Dance, Photography, Religion,
Sports, Women’s Studies. Literature and Comparative Literature will, of course, be prominent,
and particular attention will be devoted to writers of Indian origin writing in English (one can
think among others of Meena Alexander, Cyril Dabydeen, David Dabydeen, Mahadai Das, Anita
Desai, Amitav Ghosh, Romesh Gunesekera, Ismith Kahn, Peter Kempadoo, Oonya Kempadoo, HS
Ladoo, Jumpha Lahiri, Leelawatee Manoo-Rahming, Rohinton Mistry, Rooplall Monar, Shani
Mootoo, Bharati Mukherjee, Lakshmi Persaud, Sasenarine Persaud, Vikram Seth, Ryhaan Shah,
Rajkumari Singh, MG Vassanji…), or in French (Khal Torabully, Ananda Devi…). For the cinema,
one can think of Mira Nair, Deepa Mehta, Sandhya Suri, among others. English will be the
language of the conference (except for the papers about works in French).
Those interested in participating should send their abstracts (between 250 and 300 words) as
well as a short bio-bibliographical notice (200 words) to the two convenors: Dr Judith Misrahi-
Barak <judith.misrahi-barak_at_univ-montp3.fr> and Dr Rita Christian
The deadline for sending the proposals is June 30, 2008. Acceptance will be notified by
September 15.

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Received on Sun Jun 01 2008 - 05:00:03 EDT