Forum on Contemporary Theory
Seventh International Conference
Andhra University, Visakhapatnam (India)
13-16 December 2004
Topic: “Dialogics of Cultural Encounters”
The theme of the conference, “Dialogics of Cultural Encounters,” is part of the ongoing debate of the Forum on the question of identity, which has acquired greater urgency and meaning today in the context of the recent events in Afghanistan and Iraq and the threat of international terrorism to the civilized world. The theme of the 2004 conference extends the scope of the debate on modernity, initiated at the Jaipur conference in 2003, to encompass the larger dimension of the question involving dialogue between cultures, between civilizations, between religious and political ideologies, and between the present and the past. The idea of modernity, which was disseminated throughout the world under colonial dispensation, was both a spatial mode of intervention across cultures and a reflection on the nature of residual temporality of the past through the present. Through migration and displacement of people, through translations of works, through study of comparative literary perspectives and influences, and through expansion of regimes of control under colonialism and forms of globalization the world continues to be shaken and invigorated by spatial dynamics of cultural exchange. Temporal markers of disjunction and conjunction of cultural forces would include modernity’s invocation of the past and its continued reworking of tradition through both conflicting and collaborative dialogues. The influx of modernity into the life-world of the countries influenced by the West could be seen as both a disturbing phenomenon for traditional cultures as well as a facilitation for a fruitful exchange of ideas for a healthy cross-fertilization of shared perspectives. Although some cynics have predicted a clash of civilizations and battles over ideological differences, there seems to have continued a subtle dialogue between systems of thought apparently opposed by their epistemic differences. The emergence of poststructuralist thinking and its profound impact on contemporary thought have made us aware that the old-fashioned dichotomies and polarities are no longer helpful in re-conceptualizing the nature of the human world; there is a need for a fresh look from the vantage point of the new century and new millennium, which is expected to offer us a vision of a new future. By using the term “dialogics” from Mikhail Bakhtin and implying its opposition to the Marxist term “dialectics” we have tried to understand the more complex but valuable interplay of ideas across cultures and time as a way of making sense of the intricate process of encounters between cultures, despite the more obvious signs of many forms of conflicts resulting in violent political and ideological clashes. The conference will try to examine through close studies of cultural forms as well as the nature of philosophical debates through history how there has been a persistence of dialogical impulses, even when conflicts among cultures have been more open and bloody.
Papers, mostly on conceptual nature, supported by textual examples, are welcome. Mere textual analysis without any broad philosophical framework will not be entertained.
Special Session: In keeping with the earlier convention, a special panel on a regional text will be one of the highlights of the conference. This year’s choice for the panel is the nineteenth century Telugu play Kanyasulkam (1897) by Gurajada Venkata Appa Rao, translated into English by C. Vijayasree and T. Vijaya Kumar, and published in 2002 by The Book Review Literary Trust (239 Vasant Enclave, New Delhi 110057). The play gives a clear picture of Telugu society in the late nineteenth century, between the collapse of an old order and the uncertain emergence of a new one. Hailed as the first “modern” text in Telugu, it interestingly is one of the earliest to have critiqued the colonial models of modernity. It also anticipates many postmodernist techniques through its inter-textual links with past authors and texts, both Indian and Western, and negotiates playfully between the past and the present through a meaningful dialogue with historical periods as a way of understanding how temporal dislocations and changes have also vestiges of continuity.
Submission deadline: 500-word abstracts or proposals are due by August 1, 2004.
Complete papers should be limited to 12 pages (approximately 20 minutes reading time). A longer version may be submitted for possible publication in the Journal of Contemporary Thought, brought out by the Forum, or in the conference volume. The completed paper should reach the Convener of the Forum by October 30.
Registration deadline: September 5, 2004. All participants need to be pre-registered.
Participant from India (non-member) …………………..Rs2,500/
Participant from India (member of the Forum) ………Rs.2,000/
Local Participant (non-member) ………………………. Rs.800.00
Local Participant (member of the Forum) ………………Rs.700.00
The registration fee covers room and board for 4 days. The fee from the local participants will cover lunch, conference tea, and other conference material. A cashier check made payable to THE FORUM ON CONTEMPORARY THEORY should be sent to: Prafulla Kar, Convener of the Forum, 14 Pitambar, Old Padra Road, Baroda 390 020, India.
Sightseeing Tours: Those who go on a local tour on December 13 will be charged a small extra fee to be determined by the local hosts. Those who want to go on a day-long sightseeing trip to the historic Aruku valley, famous for its Buddhist sites on the 17th may contact the local hosts to arrange the tour through Andhra Pradesh Tourism Corporation.
Visakhapatnam, the second largest city of Andhra Pradesh, next to Hyderabad, is a naval base on the Bay of Bengal. It is famous for its beach, hills and ancient temples; Simhachalam temple, dedicated to Lord Narasimha, is the most famous, situated on the top of a picturesque hill. The city has also has lovely hills like Kailash Giri and Dolphin Point overlooking the Bay of Bengal. The city is connected by air to Mumbai, Delhi, Calcutta, Chennai, Hyderabad and Bhubaneswar, and by train to major cities. One can make a trip from here to Hyderabad, the capital of Andhra Pradesh, called Cyberabad these days, the city of the Nizams as well to the famous Chilika Lake and the temples of Puri, Bhubaneswar and Konark in the neighboring state of Orissa.
Andhra University, one of the oldest universities in the country (established in 1926), has played an important role in the development of higher education in India, particularly in the discipline of English Studies, with such luminaries on its faculty and administration as C. R. Reddy, a friend of Sri Aurobindo, Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan, the philosopher, and K. Srinivasa Iyengar, the first historiographer of Indian Writing in English.
For further information, please visit the Forum web site or contact any of the following:
Sura P. Rath, Director
The William O. Douglas Honors College
Central Washington University
Ellensburg, WA 98926
Prafulla C. Kar and Parul Dave Mukherji
Forum on Contemporary Theory
Old Padra Road
Baroda 390 020, India
Tel: (0265) 2338067; 2351323
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