Borders, Boundaries, and Margins, Jan.6-7, 2015
This year marks the centenary of Komagata Maru incident when 376 Indian passengers were denied
entry into Canada. The exclusionary policies of the British Columbian and Canadian governments
forced the ship to remain anchored for two months in the Burrard Inlet—off the city of Vancouver.
Threatened by the HCMS Rainbow, a Canadian gunship, Komagata Maru was coerced into returning
to India with most of its passengers never having set foot on Canadian soil. The containment of
passengers on the watery edges of Vancouver has come to signify, among others, the historical and
contemporary narratives of migration and diaspora, nation building and national subjects, racism and
discriminatory practices, and mobility and restrictions on crossing into the boundaries of Canada.
The 15th Annual SALA Conference at Vancouver in a year that is commemorating the hundred years
of the journey of Komagata Maru, then, warrants a focused exploration of Borders, Boundaries, and
Margins. It is particularly relevant as South Asians are confronted with tensions emerging from
demarcations and delineations within the geographical region and in diaspora that place them on the
margins, restrict them at the borders, or establish boundaries to regulate or modify their culture and
SALA 2015 invites you to submit abstracts to (re)examine borders, boundaries, and margins—
geographical, territorial, moral, religious, sexual, gender, racial, psychological, sociological, cultural,
temporal, or spatial—that are, or can be, definitive, infinite, real, imaginary, fluid, shifting, fixed,
blurred, ambiguous, virtual, or digital. Some of the questions that the conference seeks to interrogate
will draw attention to the conceptual framework of these notions, and more importantly, their
reconceptualization in a dynamic and constantly changing global environment where human and
capital movements have different positions. We invite papers on literature, film, culture, criticism, and
activism that explore different meanings of borders, boundaries, and margins in the context of South
Asia and its diaspora. Contributors may explore, but are not restricted to, the following questions and
As borders, boundaries, and margins have been, and are, created, maintained, pushed,
ruptured, reconfigured, or obliterated, how have South Asian literature and culture posited
these complexities, conflicts, and/or struggles with regard to the center—social, political,
economic, cultural, or mythical?
With changing immigration policies, borders and boundaries have become sites of evaluating
the worthy and deporting the unwanted. How does the intersectionality of religious and
national boundaries include and/or exclude people? How have literary and other cultural
productions grappled with these issues to articulate engagement or apathy, resistance or
subjugation with innovative means or archaic methods?
By pushing and/or modifying boundaries, as with the recent recognition of transgender and
eunuchs by the Supreme Court of India, how have alienated groups/people challenged and/or
defeated their marginality?
How have borders, boundaries, and margins been explored, located, situated, displaced in
relationship to what Russell Ferguson calls, the "elusive center"?
What, where, and who is/are the center that determine/s these edges, frontiers, and
In what way is the center itself a margin?
How does the proximity to, or distance from, borders, boundaries, and margins influence
individual and society?
How can the experiences of South Asians with borders, boundaries, and margins be
compared to those of others in different national and migratory contexts? Examples include
experiences relating to the southern and northern borders of the US, Mexican and Central
American immigration, WWII Japanese internment, Chinese Exclusionary Act, etc.
How are borders, boundaries, and margins instrumental in shaping identities that are fraught
with tensions, colored by preconceived notions, and endorsed or rejected by national,
religious, or communal norms?
Possible topics related to the theme may include
Alien, Expatriate, Migrant
Borders/Boundaries/Margins and Collective Memory
Borderlessness; Multiple Borders/Boundaries/Margins
Challenging Marginality; Activists (Malala, Anna Hazare, AAP, Gulab Gang and so on)
Colonial/Postcolonial, Imperial/Postimperial, National/Postnational
Crossing the Borders, Boundaries, or Margins; Comparative Perspectives
Daughter and Son, Sister and Brother, Mother and Father
Desi/Videshi; Diasporic Writers
Displacement, Forced Migration—Dalits, Indigenous Peoples, Ethnic Minorities
Erasures; Demarcation; Alienation
Feminine/Masculine/Transgender; Gendered/Queer Borders and Boundaries
Genres: Literature, Cinema, Performance, Internet, Hypertext, Digital
In-between and Liminal Spaces/Locations
Internal and External / Interior and Exterior
Intersections and Ruptures; Interfaces/Conduits/Buffers
Journeys and Commemorations—Komagata Maru, Panama Maru, Indenture, WWI & II
Language; Oral and Written; Literacy and Illiteracy
Local/Regional/National; Rural/Urban; Village/City; Inner City/ West End/East End;
Marginal, Peripheral, or Central Characters/People/Experiences
Race/Color; Caste/Tribes; Class
Racial Boundaries and Sport
Refugees, Migrant Workers—farmers, business/work visa, students
Religion/Secular/Atheist; Self and Other; Human/Animal
Resistance to Borders/Boundaries/Margins; Periphery and Dissent
Vancouver's Vernacular Margins (Sadhu Binning, Ajmer Rode, Surjeet Kalsey, & so on).
Within Domestic Space; Domestic and Public; Private and Public
Please submit your abstract, bio with institutional affiliation, and a/v needs online at
by Friday, 15 August 2014. If necessary, you may instead send your 200 word abstract of your
paper and a 50-word bio-note listing your institutional affiliation, a/v request, and current email
address by the deadline to the conference co-chairs at the email address given below. The subject
line of your email should contain the words "SALA 2015." Notification of acceptance/rejection of
abstracts will be sent via email by 15 September 2014.
Please note that all accepted participants will be expected to become members of
SALA by 15 October 2014. For membership and other details, please visit the SALA
website at http://www.southasianliteraryassociation.org/
If you have any questions, please feel free to email the co-chairs Dr. Sharanpal Ruprai (Mount
Royal University) and Dr. Prabhjot Parmar (University of the Fraser Valley) at