Southbound Visions: Welcoming South Asian Culture Studies to Asia

deadline for submissions: 
April 16, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
National Ilan University Dept. of Foreign Languages & Literatures

For many decades the predominant academic envisioning of South Asian literary and cultural forms has been undertaken through the theoretical glasses of postcolonial, diaspora, and “ethnic” studies. South Asian literary studies as undertaken by the majority of scholars in the West continues to emphasize the works of Commonwealth artists and authors of South Asian heritage writing from within the West, such as Salman Rushdie, V.S. Naipaul, and Jhumpa Lahiri. This remains true as well for scholars and critics in Southeast and East Asia whose proximity to the South Asian subcontinent might naturally encourage their interest, such as those writing from universities in urban centers of learning such as Singapore, Tokyo, Seoul, and Taipei.  


Certainly ongoing sociopolitical and economic changes are taking place throughout Asia, part of which includes a regional refocusing upon the rising influence of India and the importance of “soft power” in international relations. Thus far, however, the emphasis of most state-level and academic exchanges has been upon trade and scientific research, with less attention afforded to cultural exchange. And so the time has come for an East Asian university to host a major international academic conference focused upon the contemporary reality of South Asian literary and cultural production. It is assumed that centering the conference within an Asian setting will encourage region-wide submissions that bring fresh insights into the dynamism underpinning literary, cinematic, and other cultural productions in India and its neighbors across the subcontinent. 

“Dynamic” is certainly an easily applied adjective to describe the contemporary state of literary production and professional publishing within India, where recent surveys suggest some 90,000 titles in various languages and categories are released annually. India remains the third largest publisher of English-language texts (fiction and non-fiction) in the world, falling behind only the United States and the United Kingdom respectively. With over 428 universities nationwide, a population with over 550 million below the age of 30, and a rising middle class riding on the heels of an economy that is steadily opening up to the influences of globalization, both the publishing industry and academic programs in the humanities have been robust in bringing to the intellectual forefront issues affecting social justice such as feminism, gender studies, and class-based inequalities. 


Organized by National Ilan University’s College of Humanities in Taiwan, this “Southbound Visions” conference encourages a fresh look at contemporary literary and culture productions arising from India and its South Asian neighbors. Papers of an introductory nature for a global reader are welcome, as are submissions that build upon a deeper engagement with emerging writers, artists, and intellectuals working within or under the cultural influence of South Asian origins.


To that end, we invite submissions that address—but need not be limited to—the following topics in the fields of literary and film studies, cultural and comparative studies, and even translation and pedagogy:  

  • interrogations and introductions of any aspect of South Asian cultural products, including critiques that offer a uniquely “Asian” perspective of Western “readings” of Indian and other South Asian literary and cinematic works
  • discussions of transnational practices, global exchanges, and the commodification of culture, including studies that examine the regional and/or global acceptance, adoption, and adaptation of South Asian cultural productions
  • depictions and critiques of gender, sexuality, race, class and caste in South Asian texts, as well as works that highlight the influence of hybridity, change, and transnationalism
  • studies of cross-border collaborations and exchanges within South Asia, especially between nations with historical antagonisms
  • discourses on human rights, terror, religion, and warfare as cinematic or literary subjects, including portrayals of radicalism, fundamentalism, and separatism
  • the specters of colonization, partition, and nationalism that affect the arts in India
  • migration flows, border crossing, and South Asian diaspora writing
  • the challenges of translation facing South Asian fiction and film across Asia

Presentations in English are strongly encouraged, although we will also welcome submissions for a Mandarin Chinese panel.

Please submit your abstract (200-300 words) and a brief contributor bio sketch including university affiliation and all relevant contact data in MSWord formats via email attachments to

Submissions will undergo internal review. Notification of acceptance and rejection will be offered as swiftly as possible.

Conference Location: National Ilan University, Yilan City, Taiwan.

Conference Dates: November 10, 2017

Submission Deadline: April 16, 2017.