Borders, Boundaries, and Margins: SALA 2015

full name / name of organization: 
Nalini Iyer, for South Asian Literary Association (MLA-Allied Organization)
contact email: 

15th Annual South Asian Literary Association (SALA) Conference
6-7 January 2015, Vancouver, Canada

Submit paper abstracts, short biographic notes (with institutional affiliations) and A/V requests at:

This year marks the centenary of Komagata Maru incident when 376 Indian passengers were denied entry into Canada. The exclusionary policies of the British Columbian and Canadian governments forced the ship to remain anchored for two months in the Burrard Inlet—off the city of Vancouver. Threatened by the HCMS Rainbow, a Canadian gunship, Komagata Maru was coerced into returning to India with most of its passengers never having set foot on Canadian soil. The containment of passengers on the watery edges of Vancouver has come to signify, among others, the historical and contemporary narratives of migration and diaspora, nation building and national subjects, racism and discriminatory practices, and mobility and restrictions on crossing into the boundaries of Canada. The 15th Annual SALA Conference at Vancouver in a year that is commemorating the hundred years of the journey of Komagata Maru, then, warrants a focused exploration of Borders, Boundaries, and Margins. It is particularly relevant as South Asians are confronted with tensions emerging from demarcations and delineations within the geographical region and in diaspora that place them on the margins, restrict them at the borders, or establish boundaries to regulate or modify their culture and behavior.

SALA 2015 invites you to submit abstracts to (re)examine borders, boundaries, and margins—geographical, territorial, moral, religious, sexual, gender, racial, psychological, sociological, cultural, temporal, or spatial—that are, or can be, definitive, infinite, real, imaginary, fluid, shifting, fixed, blurred, ambiguous, virtual, or digital. Some of the questions that the conference seeks to interrogate will draw attention to the conceptual framework of these notions, and more importantly, their reconceptualization in a dynamic and constantly changing global environment where human and capital movements have different positions. We invite papers on literature, film, culture, criticism, and activism that explore different meanings of borders, boundaries, and margins in the context of South Asia and its diaspora. Contributors may explore, but are not restricted to, the following questions and topics:

• As borders, boundaries, and margins have been, and are, created, maintained, pushed, ruptured, reconfigured, or obliterated, how have South Asian literature and culture posited these complexities, conflicts, and/or struggles with regard to the center—social, political, economic, cultural, or mythical?
• With changing immigration policies, borders and boundaries have become sites of evaluating the worthy and deporting the unwanted. How does the intersectionality of religious and national boundaries include and/or exclude people? How have literary and other cultural productions grappled with these issues to articulate engagement or apathy, resistance or subjugation with innovative means or archaic methods?
• By pushing and/or modifying boundaries, as with the recent recognition of transgender and eunuchs by the Supreme Court of India, how have alienated groups/people challenged and/or defeated their marginality?
• How have borders, boundaries, and margins been explored, located, situated, displaced in relationship to what Russell Ferguson calls, the "elusive center"?
• What, where, and who is/are the center that determine/s these edges, frontiers, and demarcations?
• In what way is the center itself a margin?
• How does the proximity to, or distance from, borders, boundaries, and margins influence individual and society?
• How can the experiences of South Asians with borders, boundaries, and margins be compared to those of others in different national and migratory contexts? Examples include experiences relating to the southern and northern borders of the US, Mexican and Central American immigration, WWII Japanese internment, Chinese Exclusionary Act, etc.
• How are borders, boundaries, and margins instrumental in shaping identities that are fraught with tensions, colored by preconceived notions, and endorsed or rejected by national, religious, or communal norms?

Possible topics related to the theme may include
• Aesthetic Borders/Boundaries/Margins
• Alien, Expatriate, Migrant
• Borders/Boundaries/Margins and Collective Memory
• Borderlessness; Multiple Borders/Boundaries/Margins
• Challenging Marginality; Activists (Malala, Anna Hazare, AAP, Gulab Gang and so on)
• Colonial/Postcolonial, Imperial/Postimperial, National/Postnational
• Crossing the Borders, Boundaries, or Margins; Comparative Perspectives
• Daughter and Son, Sister and Brother, Mother and Father
• Desi/Videshi; Diasporic Writers
• Displacement, Forced Migration—Dalits, Indigenous Peoples, Ethnic Minorities
• Erasures; Demarcation; Alienation
• Feminine/Masculine/Transgender; Gendered/Queer Borders and Boundaries
• Genres: Literature, Cinema, Performance, Internet, Hypertext, Digital
• In-between and Liminal Spaces/Locations
• Internal and External / Interior and Exterior
• Intersections and Ruptures; Interfaces/Conduits/Buffers
• Journeys and Commemorations—Komagata Maru, Panama Maru, Indenture, WWI & II
• Language; Oral and Written; Literacy and Illiteracy
• Local/Regional/National; Rural/Urban; Village/City; Inner City/ West End/East End; Mohalla/Neighborhood; Military/Civil
• Marginal, Peripheral, or Central Characters/People/Experiences
• Partitions/Divisions/Containment
• Race/Color; Caste/Tribes; Class
• Racial Boundaries and Sport
• Refugees, Migrant Workers—farmers, business/work visa, students
• Religion/Secular/Atheist; Self and Other; Human/Animal
• Resistance to Borders/Boundaries/Margins; Periphery and Dissent
• Sensory Borders/Boundaries/Margins
• Vancouver's Vernacular Margins (Sadhu Binning, Ajmer Rode, Surjeet Kalsey, & so on).
• Within Domestic Space; Domestic and Public; Private and Public

Please submit your abstract, bio with institutional affiliation, and a/v needs online at by Friday, 15 August 2014. If necessary, you may instead send your 200 word abstract of your paper and a 50-word bio-note listing your institutional affiliation, a/v request, and current email address by the deadline to the conference co-chairs at the email address given below. The subject line of your email should contain the words "SALA 2015." Notification of acceptance/rejection of abstracts will be sent via email by 15 September 2014.

Please note that all accepted participants will be expected to become members of SALA by 15 October 2014. For membership and other details, please visit the SALA website at