Locating the Transcultural Humanities in Pakistan/South Asia

deadline for submissions: 
December 5, 2016
full name / name of organization: 
Forman Christian College (A Chartered University), Lahore

Faculty of Humanities - First International Conference

Forman Christian College (A Chartered University)

April 21-23, 2017 – Lahore, Pakistan


Locating the Transcultural Humanities in Pakistan / South Asia





What is common and integral to the diverse range of disciplines taught on almost every university campus worldwide is a realization about the value of the human; in fact, it is the humanities which unites these disciplines and addresses life’s most important questions, pertaining to nature, ecosystems, death, loss, the essence of humanity, achievement and destruction. As such, the central aim of this conference is to highlight and locate the importance of the humanities in a transnational world with an eye to current developments in postcolonial and transcultural studies, as well as pedagogical practices in the humanities. 


By organizing this conference in Lahore, we aim to have a special focus on locating the humanities and its significance in Pakistan and South Asia as a whole.  South Asia is home to one-fourth of the total human population.  However, despite this enormous human potential, the cultural contribution of the region is marginalized within the humanities and social sciences, while within academic settings in particular, the humanities and its relationship with the native has not yet been revised or reversed: for example, more often than not, local South Asian knowledge has to be validated by referring to knowledge produced in the West, through the gaze or lens of the globally dominant knowledge producer. Why must postcolonial and transcultural scholars continue to validate our own thinkers with constant reference to Western thought and theoretical frames? In South Asia, such a trajectory problematically implies that the region does not itself locally possess the material dominance that may ensure the supremacy of its civilization’s cultural products. Yet this is not to be taken as a final verdict, as many scholars have already suggested different strategies that can help the global South to regain its dignity: for Samir Amin, the solution is delinking; for Spivak, strategic essentialism is the answer; Dipesh Chakrabarty argues for provincializing Europe; and Ashis Nandy proposes a radical nativism in which no civilization has the right to alter the lebenewelt of any other civilization. Yet all these concerns appear too identitarian and parochial if we consider the fact that globalization now links almost every human being to implacable historical forces: the global South is no longer separate from the global North, the Fourth World exists in the First World, and environmental concerns are about the fate of the entire planet rather than any specific region.


This conference is, in one way, an attempt to look at the possibilities of reorienting the production of knowledge by interrogating the relevance of such a project for Pakistan, South Asia, and other postcolonial regions of the world which have moved beyond binaries to become globalized and transcultural. We invite broad-based paper and panel proposals from scholars working in the humanities and its various disciplines (ie. English/Urdu literature and language studies, transcultural and translation studies, visual and performance arts, media studies and film, communication, religion, philosophy, history and cultural studies) with a particular focus on looking at as well as locating the transculturation of the humanities. Abstracts should reflect textual, contextual and theoretical work being done in your areas of interest, and your topics may fit under the following broad-based themes suggested for discussion: 



The episteme and/or crisis of humanities in the 21st century

Humanities and its skeptics

The importance and relevance of the humanities in the 21st century: why do the humanities matter? 

Pedagogy of the humanities (in South Asia / Pakistan)

Humanities and cross-disciplinary pedagogy

Humanities and cross-cultural pedagogy

Digital humanities or the breakdown of/ for technologies 

The dependence on Western scholarship for local/postcolonial/transnational studies in the humanities

Humanities as a global lingua franca

Transcultural topographies and hybrid humanities

The mystical and the religious in the humanities

Religion as a primary response to the human condition

The secularization of the humanities

Philosophy and religion as means to understand the purpose of human life

Humanities in/and English language and literary study 

Humanities in/and Urdu language and literary study in South Asia/Pakistan

The literary dialogic(s) of the humanities

Languages and discursive practice(s) in the humanities

The politics of translation and/or bilingualism 

The relation between philosophical thought in the humanities and language of expression

Philosophical reflections on art: the search for new ways to come to terms with life / 

    humanity in a constantly expanding reality

The role of music in documenting the human experience

The role of theatre in documenting the human experience

New media and the role of cinema in documenting the human experience

Humanities and the aesthetics of free speech

Justice in/and the humanities

The role of science and/or technology in the humanities

Gender, sexuality, race, and/or class divides in the humanities

Research in/and the humanities

The humanities: urban, rural, remote


Please email abstracts of 250-300 words maximum, along with a 50-75-word bio – in ONE Word file – to the email humanitiesconf17@fccollege.edu.pk by December 5, 2016. 


We will also consider panel proposals of three papers each, around a common theme, as well as topics and themes for roundtable discussions. 


Conference Convener          Waseem Anwar, Professor of English & former Dean of Humanities

Conference Co-Convener     Nukhbah Taj Langah, Assoc. Professor of English & Dean of Humanities

Co-ChairCo-Chair                     Summer Pervez, Associate Professor, Department of English   

Co-Chair      Saeed Ur Rehman, Associate Professor, Department of English





Bill Ashcroft

Australian Professorial Fellow, School of the Arts & Media, University of New South Wales, Sydney 


Bill Ashcroft is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. A founding exponent of post-colonial theory, co-author of The Empire Writes Back, the first text to examine systematically the field of post-colonial studies. He is author and co-author of sixteen books, over 150 chapters and papers, and he is on the editorial boards of ten international journals. 


Henry Schwarz

Professor of English, Georgetown University, Director of the Program on Justice & Peace from 1999- 2007


Henry Schwarz is the author of Writing Cultural History in Colonial and Postcolonial India (1997), and Constructing the Criminal Tribe in Colonial India: Acting Like a Thief (2010), and co-edited volumes Reading the Shape of the World: Toward an International Cultural Studies (1996) and A Companion to Postcolonial Studies (2000).  Along with Sangeeta Ray, Professor Schwarz is also one of the General Editors of the Wiley Encyclopedia of Postcolonial Studies (2016).


Amritjit Singh

Langston Hughes Professor of English and African American Studies, Ohio University

An internationally known scholar of American, South Asian, Postcolonial, and Migration Studies, Amritjit Singh has lectured or taught widely in Europe, Africa, and Asia. Singh’s books include The Novels of the Harlem Renaissance (1976, 1994); Memory, Narrative and Identity (1994); Conversations with Ralph Ellison (1995); Memory and Cultural Politics (1996); Postcolonial Theory and the United States (2000); The Collected Writings of Wallace Thurman (2003); Interviews with Edward Said (2004); and The Circle of Illusion (2011, Second Edition, 2015). His most recent collection, Revisiting India’s Partition: New Essays on Memory, Culture, and Politics (2016), brings together scholars from across the globe to provide diverse perspectives on the continuing impact of the 1947 division of India. Past President of MELUS and SALA, he received the MELUS Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007 and the SALA Distinguished Achievement Award in Scholarship in January 2014. Singh has held visiting positions at Wesleyan University (1984-85), New York University (1985-86), College of the Holy Cross (Fall 1993), University of California at Berkeley (Spring 1994), and University of Calgary (Summer 1995). 

Gauri Viswanathan

Professor of Humanities, Department of English & Comparative Literature, Columbia University, New York 


Gauri Viswanathan is Class of 1933 Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University.  She is the author of Masks of Conquest: Literary Study and British Rule in India (Columbia, 1989; Oxford, 1998) and Outside the Fold: Conversion, Modernity, and Belief (Princeton, 1998). She also edited Power, Politics, and Culture: Interviews with Edward W. Said (Vintage, 2001). She has received Guggenheim, NEH, and Mellon fellowships, and was a fellow at various international research institutes. Prof. Viswanathan’s current work is on genealogies of secularism and the writing of alternative religious histories.


The proposed outcome of this conference is an edited volume of proceedings, to be published in English. The deadline for final papers will be at least six months following the conference. 


The Faculty of Humanities at FCCU presently offers courses in English, Urdu, Mass Communication, Religious Studies, Philosophy and Arts, but the interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary nature of courses always extends to address other humanities, social sciences and pure sciences cross-sections. FCCU is a liberal arts educational institute in the South Asian subcontinent since 1864 that tries to cross all the possible demarcations/ segregations based on color, class, creed or other any such ethnic and/or cultural divides.  That is one reason for our motto at FC, “By Love Serve One Another,” and our mission is to produce informed and responsible learners.


Conference Website: http://www.fccollege.edu.pk/event/humanitiesconference2017/


Conference Contact Email: humanitiesconf17@fccollege.edu.pk