Whose South Asia?

deadline for submissions: 
March 13, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Aparajita De/ University of the District of Columbia
contact email: 

Concept note:

This MLA panel invites critical and ethical interrogations that underpin the urgency to look beyond the single-issue strategies of reading and creating South Asia in critical discourse. Incidentally, the scholarly trajectory of issues on South Asia has flattened the diversity of the geopolitically, culturally rich discursive space and its experiences to increasingly refer to India-centric discussions. Given our objective of reexamining the definitive restrictions of the trajectory of South Asian Literature and Studies, we seek papers that recover and reinterrogate Literature from North East India (traditionally absent in mainstream conversations about Indian Literature), texts from Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Pakistan, among others, are also participatory spaces to begin discussions from. 


Moreover, in essentializing India-centric discourses, systemic naturalization and universalism also meant erasure of representation, homogenization of culture and discourse, and limited production of a discourse on spatiality and the politics therein. This makes studying South Asia within Literary fields at once ethically dysfunctional and incomplete. At the same time, in restricting understanding of the long complex diverse socio-cultural historical context of that region, South Asian Literary Studies have normalized discursive blindspots in Indian and South Asian contexts. In studying India, just as caste has been erased, regional literature and literature in translation too has found only limited mention. Thus, alluding to a certain kind of knowledge production controlled by a specific group of the academic elite. While it propels and accentuates the uneven relations of power through representation and critique, such discursive blindspots make South Asian Literature not only ethnocentric but also predominantly Islamophobic through critical erasure, casteist through the discursive space preoccupied with upper caste brahminical/savarna scholars only reading Indian (Hindu) Literature rather than either Indian and/or South Asian Literature. Calcified versions of what is South Asian Literary Studies have, instead of situating multiverses of enunciatory and decentering tropes, have been limited by an amnesiac critical vacuum. While this is unbridled and in general lacks reflective critical inquiries, it is deeply entrenched in a colonialist insular tradition associated with a Eurocentric mindset instead of advancing any radical critique or displacement of that kind of rationality and interrogation proliferating only one kind of epistemic-discursive framework, perception, and critical analyses. 250 abstracts and a brief 100 words bio are due to de.aparajita@gmail.com and ummeal-wazedi@augustana.edu by Mar. 13, 2023.