South Asian Studies at Leiden University are pleased to announce a conference on the theme of “South Asia and the Long 1930s: Appropriations and Afterlives”, to be held 6 and 7 December 2013. Placing a particular focus on the political, social, cultural and ideological currents of 1930s, we wish to bring together South Asianists across disciplines, to both contextualise the international flow of ideas, commodities and affinities that marked this interwar period, and rethink the afterlives of the 1930s in the unfolding dialectics of decolonisation in South Asia. We welcome abstracts that will comment on the layers, dimensions and fluidities of the period, focussing on (either/all of) the following three key themes: A. The Market and the Ordinary; B. International Affinities and C. Aesthetics and Politics
A. The Market and the Ordinary:
A decade torn by turmoil, depression and mounting social tensions, the 1930s in South Asia carried the brunt of the economic depression that had engulfed the world. From Burma to Ceylon, Indian immigrant labour witnessed racial violence and was often sent back home as a result of restrictive labour policies. Yet we know little about the way common people experienced these times in their everyday lives, in particular the effects of state and market in shaping the ordinary. We welcome papers that explore the market driven modernity sponsored by modern imperialism and the effects of market induced practices of exclusion and inclusion upon a variety of social formations from workers, peasants and traders to women, “lower castes” and peoples in border areas.
B. International Affinities
Many long-distance networks emerged in the aftermath of the First World War, the establishment of the League of Nations and the Bolshevik Revolution. Whether working towards world federation, religious revival, or national independence, and whether based on ties of friendship, solidarity or ideology, these individuals and groups sought new blueprints for a world of greater justice and equality. Throughout the 1920s, these networks were marked by considerable ideological flexibility, but towards the 1930s a sharper drawing of ideological boundaries became visible. This was exacerbated by events such as the Meerut trials, the repercussions of which reverberated through South Asia but also impacted anti-imperialist groups around the world. Earlier histories that have noted these engagements have subordinated them to national narratives. We welcome here, papers which will view these networks and affinities in their international dimensions.
C. Aesthetics and Politics
Like the wider global arena, the 1930s in South Asia released new patterns and vocabularies of cultural radicalism and ‘front-making’ with artists, writers, performers, academics and journalists, with its own social lives of formal ties and inter-personal affinities. With a specifically left-wing accent, new imperatives of cultural production were circulated, bolstered with ideals and ideologies of anti-fascism, socialist romanticism, anti-imperialism, nationalist populism. Under the catchword ‘progressive’ art, realism was intertwined with modernism, activating notions of the social, the formal, the everyday and the national-popular. We want to explore here these new cultural imaginaries in art, literature and performance – their dispersed sites, dissonant meanings, diverse appropriations and uneasy afterlives. While decolonisation refracted the radical ‘consensus’ of the 1930s, South Asian scholarship is still in the process of researching and rethinking the artistic and ideological lives of the ideal of ‘progressive’ culture.’
The conference wishes to gather South Asianists across disciplinary locations and is especially interested in papers that contextualise the international flow of ideas, commodities and affinities that marked the interwar period, and that rethink the afterlives of the 1930s in the unfolding dialectics of decolonisation in South Asia.
Application & Timeline
We welcome abstracts for papers (approximately 300 words) and a short biographical note before 15th April 2013. Successful applicants will be informed by 15th May 2013. We aim to provide accommodation and meals for all selected speakers. A limited budget for travel will also be available, for which graduate students will receive priority. Please submit your abstracts to Sanjukta Sunderason (email@example.com) and Carolien Stolte (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Sanjukta Sunderason (email@example.com) and Carolien Stolte (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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