Crisis and/in South Asian Literature in English

deadline for submissions: 
August 10, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Department of English, Tezpur University, Assam, India



Crisis and/in South Asian Literature in English


14th- 16th December 2023


We live in an age of crisis. The pandemic, the impact of wars, the growing climate change and ecological disasters are events of crisis that permeate our daily lives. The term “crisis” means a time of intense difficulty or danger that could affect an “individual, group, or all of society.” However, there is no singular definition of the word and as Sofia Ahlberg says, “different attitudes and approaches to crisis point towards the complex meaning of crisis itself.” Crisis demands different interpretations through aesthetic innovation to question cliched, simplistic, and generic views to explore the historicity of apparently disconnected and sometimes local events and provide alternative temporalities.


South Asia struggled with crises brought about by colonization, like the Partition of the Indian subcontinent and the subsequent nation-states’ struggle with nationalism, ethnonationalism, fundamentalism, and national identity. In more recent times, South Asia has witnessed a series of critical natural, political and economic events: COVID-19 and its haunting impacts, skyrocketing inflation, the disastrous floods in Pakistan, the appalling economic crisis in Sri Lanka, the crisis for clean air in Delhi and Dhaka, the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, and the impacts of war in Ukraine, internal displacement, and refugee crises. This point of crisis is further deepened by the sense of precarity of everyday life in South Asia, brought about by, as Om Prakash Dwivedi says, “the role of government-corporate nexus has shifted from care­ mentality to generating harm, insecurity, and vulnerability in the neolib­eral age.” Arundhati Roy’s essay “The End of Imagination” deals with the crisis of nuclear weapons and the threat of nuclear war in India. She argues that the development and deployment of nuclear weapons pose a grave threat to humanity. Amitav Ghosh’s The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable (2016) highlights how climate change is a global crisis that individuals, governments, and societies have largely ignored or downplayed. He argues that the current way of thinking about climate is inadequate and that we must develop new ways of understanding the problem. Another important book, The Plastic Turn by Ranjan Ghosh, also examines the environmental impact of plastic and how it has become a major source of pollution and waste in our oceans and landscapes. He suggests that our reliance on plastic reflects a larger crisis of sustainability and ecological consciousness and calls for a radical rethinking of our relationship with the natural world. In light of these arguments, it is imperative to examine how South Asian literature responds to such crises and “attempt to register its complexity.”


In addition to the multitude of crises faced by South Asia is the erosion of regional languages and cultural identities. South Asia is known for its linguistic and cultural diversity; however, there is a crisis in language preservation and cultural identity. It will be pertinent to add that the New Education Policy (NEP) 2020 has been introduced in India to transform its education system. The NEP 2020 has sparked debates regarding its potential implications, which can be connected to the broader theme of crises the conference aims to address.


In recent times literature from South Asian countries – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, and Myanmar – have produced powerful literature in English that captures the nuances of various types of the crisis faced by South Asia. For instance, writers like Bapsi Sidhwa, Khuswant Singh, Salman Rushdie, Arundhati Roy, Tariq Rehman, Sorayya Khan, Romesh Gunesekera, Michael Ondaatje, Tahmima Anam, Kaiser Haq, Aawer Hussein, Aquila Ismail, Sara Suleri, Kamila Shamsie, Mohammed Hanif, H M Naqvi, Siddharth Deb, Manjushree Thapa, to name a few, have dealt with the crisis of the nations’ due to regional politics, civil wars, terrorism, religious extremism, military dictatorship, corruption etc. These writers also highlight crises due to class differences, migratory tensions, or personal crises due to love, hate, loss, sexualities, and belonging. Writers like Carl Muller, Mohsin Hamid, Indra Sinha, Prayyag Akbar, Rajat Chaudhuri and others highlight the crisis and the precarious environment in city spaces. Writers such as Amitav Ghosh, Uzma Aslam Khan, Shubhangi Swarup, and Romesh Gunesekera highlight the ecological crisis in South Asia.


This conference, therefore, aims to bring together scholars, researchers, practitioners, to examine the intricate relationship between crisis and South Asian literature in English. Some questions the conference aims to examine are – What are the crises South Asia is facing, and how does its literature respond to them? How does South Asian literature contribute to the global understanding of a changing world and motivate the examination of actual events? What lessons does South Asian literature teach about coping with crisis? What narrative strategies do South Asian writers employ when representing the crisis? How do crises in South Asia intersect with questions of class, caste, gender, ethnicity, and sexuality? Finally, how does South Asian literature on crisis bring forth new forms of critique and resistance?


The objective of this interdisciplinary conference is to foster dialogue and scholarly exchanges that explore the intersections of crisis and South Asian literature in English. By analyzing literary texts within their social, political, and historical contexts, we aim to deepen our understanding of the ways in which literature reflects, responds to and even anticipates moments of crisis. This conference also seeks to uncover the transformative power of literature in shaping individual and collective responses to crisis and to highlight the resilience, agency, and creativity of South Asian literary traditions.


We welcome papers on, but are not limited to, the following categories:




--- Colonial legacy of Partition and the Two-Nation theory

--- India-Pakistan Partition in the West and East

--- Women and Partition

--- Children/ Childhood in Partition fiction

--- Memory of/in Crisis of Partition

--- Crisis of Partition in contemporary South Asian Fiction




--- Militarization and crisis in SA fiction

--- Civil Wars in Sri Lanka and their portrayal in SA fiction

--- Rise of ethnonationalism

--- Spatial crisis and Rural-Urban divide

--- Crisis and the Second World War

--- Migration and Displacement

--- Gender and Nation




--- Anthropocene in SA fiction

--- Crisis of climate change and climate consciousness

--- Speculative fiction, dystopias, cli-fi and science fiction responding to climate crisis

--- Island, Oceanic ecologies and endangered ecosystems

--- Critical Plant and Animal Studies

--- Imagining Petrofiction

--- Animal-human crisis



--- Lived and affective experience of Crises

--- Sexuality and/in Crisis

--- Personal and Collective Trauma

--- Portrayal of crises in/and childhood

--- COVID-19 and Pandemic literature

--- Traditional vs Modern understanding of Crisis

--- Posthumanism



--- Religion in/and Crises

--- Islamophobia

--- Crisis of identity post 9/11

--- Fundamentalism in diasporic SA fiction

--- Precarity and Identity






Potential participants should submit an Abstract a 500-word abstract (MS Word), with five Keywords and a biographical note of 50 words Contact Number) and send it to by August 10, 2023.


All submitted abstracts will undergo a screening process, and the selected abstracts will be notified by August 20 2023.


Important Dates:


  • Deadline of Abstract Submission: 10 August 2023
  • Acceptance of abstracts:  20 August 2023
  • Date of Registration after the acceptance of the abstract: 20 September 2023
  • Deadline for Submission of Full Paper: 15 November 2023


The International Conference will be held in Offline Mode at Tezpur University, Assam, India. There will be no Online Presentations


Selected papers will be published as an edited volume from a reputed academic publisher. Upon acceptance of a paper, authors will be required to sign an agreement consenting to the inclusion of their work in an edited volume.




Faculty Members: Rs 5000/-

Research Scholars/ Students: Rs 3500/-

(The Registration Fee will cover Breakfast, Lunch, Conference Dinner and Conference Kits)


*** Registration Fee does not include Accommodation***


The organizers maybe requested to arrange for accommodation at the University Guest House or Hotels nearby. Details will be shared later.

For queries write to