Cracking Impossible Silences: Women's Narratives of Political Conflicts in South Asia (Panel)

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Northeast Modern Language Association

Update: Panel for NeMLA 2024. Abstract submission deadline 30th September 2023

Please submit your abstracts for the panel Cracking Impossible Silences: Women's Narratives of Political Conflicts in South Asia, which will feature at the 55th Annual Convention of the Northeast Modern Language Association, March 7-10, 2024 in Boston.

All abstracts need to be uploaded through the portal:


‘Surplus’ is something that is in excess and also something that is seen as unwanted. Between these two ideas of ‘surplus’, there have been several attempts at representing Partition violence and its long-term effects in narrative form, generating literature that is seen as a corpus of writing centered around various political conflicts in South Asia. As Tarun Saint writes, ‘writing about the Partition generated a descriptive language to depict not only physical violence, but also the breakdown of communication between communities’ (Saint 2020). However, despite the creation of a ‘descriptive language’, multiple fictional and testimonial works bring out the insufficiency and failure of language, and its limitations in expressing gravitas of the trauma that is experienced especially by the marginalized communities whose bodies are the primary receptacle of brutality and violence– emotionally, mentally, and physically. Then, there are several gaps in terms of literary criticism that are brought to the forefront when engaging with South Asian literature. It is pivotal to discuss the voices that are often left unheard when there is a surplus of dominating patriarchal narratives which are monolithic, exclusionary, and polarized.

This panel seeks to complicate women's narratorial expressions, voices, and silences that allow for the creation of alternate feminist historiography which contends the existing nationalist discourse around political conflicts in South Asia. We invite abstracts that take an interdisciplinary approach at examining South Asian fiction as a parallel mode of articulation that examines representations of women's bodies, memories, and identities in literature that persist and persevere in and through the text. Abstracts intersecting with race, disability, class, gender, sexuality, amongst other social concerns that are often written into and upon the body itself and have the potential to challenge hegemonic narratives of political conflicts, are welcome.

Prospective topics:

Articulation of the Inarticulable
Post-memory and Precarity
Nationalist Historiography vs Alternate Feminist Historiography
Caste and Political Conflicts
Queerness and Political Conflicts
Trauma and Memory
Crises of Witnessing



All abstracts need to be uploaded through the portal:

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