Monday, January 17, 2011

2011 CALL FOR PAPERS: Engendering and Degendering South Asian Studies

In response to the positive feedback to the workshop held at the Zentrum Moderner Orient (Berlin) in July last year, the Young South Asia Scholars Meet (Y-SASM) has been established as an annual workshop. The Y-SASM is to be held on a rotational basis at host universities, which this year will be the South Asian Studies Seminar of the Humboldt University, Berlin. The workshop will be held from the 19th -21st of May, 2011.

Last year, the workshop had the declared aim of providing young South Asianists with a platform for exchange and interaction that could further the integration and proliferation of research networks across the German-speaking region and beyond. The workshop reflected the vibrancy of South Asian Studies in the region and we hope that its institutionalization in the form of Y-SASM will contribute to and facilitate this trend.

In contrast to last year’s workshop, Y-SASM 2011 will have a thematic focus in order to encourage fruitful discussion. The topic of the Y-SASM 2011 is gender.

For quite some time now South Asian gender studies has been successfully highlighting the role of women in South Asian History. With recent developments in the field, however, we hold that gender studies can no longer be equated to women studies. Instead gender has increasingly evolved as a critical perspective with an inherently interdisciplinary character which can thus throw light on a far wider range of settings, constellations and problems in the South Asian region.

Historically, gender as an academic perspective has its roots in feminist theory and women studies, which emerged as an exclusively interventionist paradigm in the late 1960s and early 1970s and manifested itself in diverse feminist movements across the world, including South Asia. Since then, gender studies has come into its own as an academic field that questions existing forms of knowledge production. Significantly, it has come a long way in finding a balance between its role as a critical and theoretical perspective and its normative interventionist ideals. Indeed, the need for deconstructing binary categories such as 'women' and 'men' and the importance of questioning derivative binaries of sexuality is now highlighted. For example, since the 1990s, queer theory has been at the forefront in contesting the categorization of gender and sexuality essentialist lines. In the same way, there is need to continue emphasizing the gender perspective in South Asian Studies while simultaneously questioning its binary premises; thereby both engendering and degendering South Asian studies.

Thus, this workshop is interested in papers from various disciplinary backgrounds that can highlight how the gender perspective is enriching South Asian studies. We are looking for contributions pertaining to:

  1. Sexualities and Gender
  2. Gender and Technology
  3. Historiography of Gender in South Asian Studies
  4. Gender and Violence
  5. Gender and Work
  6. Gender: Development, Education and Health
  7. Gender, Caste and Tribe
  8. Gender: Communalism, Religion and Law
  9. Gender in Literature and Media
  10. Gender: the National and the Transnational

Y-SASM wishes to combine its aim of facilitating lively thematically focused debate with its goal of promoting exchange between new and young scholars. Thus, in addition to the thematic panels, one section of the workshop will be devoted to providing space to scholars to presenting their new projects. These presentations may be held on topics that fall outside the theme of the workshop.
Please send your abstracts (400-500 words) to the organizers no later than 15th February 2011. Other than those who will be directly participating in the workshop (through presentation), we invite all interested scholars working on South Asia to take part in the workshop. We hope, in this way, to begin the work of building up a new network of younger scholars working on South Asia. Currently, our funding situation is unclear and we therefore we strongly request our participants and guests to arrange for their own travel and accommodation. 
Sadia Bajwa (Humboldt University, Berlin), Maria Framke (Jacobs University Bremen), Mette Gabler (Humboldt University, Berlin), Maria Moritz (Jacobs University, Bremen), Nitin Sinha (Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin)

Sadia Bajwa:

Friday, January 14, 2011

Report on the 2010 Y-SASM workshop by Maria Framke & Maria Moritz

The objective of the workshop at the Zentrum Moderner Orient (ZMO) in Berlin was twofold: firstly strategic, to encourage productive exchange between young South Asianists and secondly thematic, to address new fields and research areas in the social history of South Asia. This initiative both reflects and aspires to contribute to the recent rise of Modern South Asian Studies in German speaking countries for which the organizers felt to develop a  closer collaboration, especially of the researchers at their doctoral and post-doctoral stages. Though the disciplinary focus was on history and on the researchers based in Germany, Switzerland and Austria, applicants from the UK and the Netherlands as well as researchers from related disciplines like political science, arts, anthropology, media and literature studies also participated in the workshop. By doing so they supported the transnational and interdisciplinary approach to the field.

Interested in identifying current trends and future research potential within South Asian studies Michael Mann, the recently appointed chair of South Asian Studies at the Humboldt University, analyzed the scope of the presentation topics in his opening key note address. He found that the “cultural turn” is well represented in the field, noting that many of the projects were concerned with cultural issues or more specifically with the phenomena of print media. Furthermore, innovative approaches to “classic” topics were pursued by the projects on labour history informed by subaltern studies or by those on education which reflected the recent debates on the civilizing mission. Mann highlighted global history as another influential new approach that was represented by a number of projects on diverse topics such as psychoanalysis, slavery or online matrimonials. Though the workshop certainly reflected a wide range of highly debated issues and allegedly also the practical side of the ‘politics’ of funding, Mann pointed out the absence of a number of topics such as environmental or urban history, or the study of minorities. He stressed that these subjects score very highly on the South Asian research agenda in South Asia and suggested that their absence on European or more precisely German research agendas might reflect a particular European interest which diverges from the main and current research interests within the region itself.

A selective overview will illustrate the diversity of papers:

PRABHAT KUMAR (University of Heidelberg) dealt with the history of cartoons in late 19th and early 20th century Hindi periodicals of North India. He addressed the question of intertextuality between literary and visual texts through his analysis of the genre of satire. Additionally, he suggested looking behind the scenes by investigating the process of production and the actors involved, i.e. analyzing the cartoonists and their self-perception.

MONIKA FREIER (Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin) drew attention to the question how in late colonial India Hindi advisory literature became a widespread means firstly of education commissions of the colonial state and later of social reformers to launch  moral education. By analyzing this popular genre Freier found that it did not only propagate rules of manners and conduct, but also postulated certain norms of feelings and the expression of emotions, for instance certain emotions such as female bashfulness, male pride and marital love.

In his presentation on stereotypes of the Indian diaspora in American mainstream TV serials, PIERRE GOTTSCHLICH (University of Rostock) pointed out that ethnic minorities are particularly prone to become subject to stereotyping. Ethnic markers such as the color of the skin, foreign accent, or certain modes of clothing set them apart from the American mainstream. By focusing on the Indian American Apu of the famous TV serial The Simpsons whose character traits defined “Indianness” for a mainstream American audience for twenty years, Gottschlich vividly demonstrated how the initially broad stereotype developed into a more differentiated key figure, a process reflecting the economic, social, and cultural coming of age of the Indian diaspora in the United States.

MARIA MORITZ (Jacobs University, Bremen) analyzed the increasing awareness of the global dimension in late colonial India by presenting the case study of the Indian intellectual Bhagavan Das. By using the concept of “rooted cosmopolitanism” Moritz argued that though Das never left India his membership in the transnational theosophical network and the indigenous globally oriented elite as well as his background in regional forms of global awareness led to his multifaceted transnational identity. Rather than focusing on mechanical processes of globalization Moritz emphasized the need to reflect the cultural implications and meaning of globalizing processes for social actors within an increasingly integrated world.

LISA STURM (Humboldt University, Berlin) was one of the presenters who were at the outset of their research and received suggestions and encouragement for their Ph.D.-projects and research agendas at the workshop. In a transnational project on the America-India trade in late 18th and early 19th century, Sturm intends to investigate its socio-cultural dimension as she wants to analyze not only the functioning of this trade but also how the influx of Indian luxury products contributed to a consumer revolution and contributed substantially to a commercialization of the US-American society.

JAMILA ADELI’s (Humboldt University, Berlin) presentation on Indian art in the international market was aptly supported by a slide show of contemporary Indian art by artists such as Shilpa Gupta. Adeli bases her research on the fact that since the Indian liberalization in 1990, Indian art and thus its media coverage is booming internationally. Together with other qualitative research methods Adeli intends to interview art world players such as artists, gallery owners, collectors, auction houses and museum directors as well as art critics in order to find out how they reflect this boom and the extensive media coverage.

In the concluding session Prof. Dietmar Rothermund, Prof. Harald Fischer-Tiné, PD Dr. Dietrich Reetz and PD Dr. Margrit Pernau made an attempt to evaluate the outcome of the workshop and discuss future perspectives. Though not all important subjects such as middle class studies or studies of the informal sector could be addressed, all discussants were impressed by the quality of the presentations and a general productive atmosphere that prevailed during the three-day workshop. Another observation made was the lack of studies on early modern and medieval history that reflects the closing down of chairs in different universities in Germany. A major concern of the concluding round was the question how South Asian studies could more effectively interact with European history and similarly reach out to the general public, thus enhancing its influence. All participants were called to express their experiences of the workshop, make suggestions for future initiatives and criticize. Although so far no critical appraisal has come directly from the participants, but some of them have in fact found it to be an ‘inspiring workshop’, particularly those who presented their Ph.D. projects (and not individual papers). Furthermore, it was suggested to establish the workshop as an annual meeting on a rotating basis and thus encourage further collaboration. This idea has already been taken up successfully as the workshop has been given a name: YSASM (Young South Asia Scholars Meet). This has already been invited by various participating universities to host its annual workshop. 

A preliminary schedule is as following:

2011: HU, Berlin
2012: SAI, Heidelberg (coinciding with its Jubilee year foundation).
2013: ETH, Zurich
2014: University of Göttingen.

Pics from the workshop 2010


Workshop Programme 2010

15 July:
09.15-09.45     Registration with Coffee

09.45-10.00     Introduction

10.00-11.00     Keynote (Speaker: Michael Mann, Chair: Sonja Hegasy)

11.00-11.15     Break

11.15-12.45    Panel 1:  Print, Satire and Colonialism
Swarali Paranjape (University of Heidelberg): Marathi satire in the era of colonialism
Chaiti Basu (University of Heidelberg): Panchu Thakur: Indranath Bandyopadhyay’s (1849-1911) Response to the Colonial Cultural Encounter in Late 19th Century Bengal
Prabhat Kumar (University of Heidelberg): Situating Cartoon in the Hindi Literary Sphere
                        Chair: Heike Liebau (ZMO, Berlin)

12.45-13.45     Lunch

13.45-15.45    Panel 2: Print, Identity and Nationalism
Dhrupadi Chattopadhyay (University of Heidelberg): ‘Transcreating’ spaces? A review of nineteenth century Indian Writing in English, with a special focus on Toru Dutt
Simin Patel (Oxford University): A Cosmopolitan Crisis: The Bombay Riots of 1874
Pragya Dhital (SOAS, London): Paper chains: an investigation of cross-border commerce in north Indian print-media
Luzia Savary (ETH, Zürich): Muslim Reformist Discourse on Women in Late 19th-Century India: Discussions on Pardah in the Hyderabadi Urdu Magazine for Women Mu‘allim-i nisvān
Chair: Michael Mann (Humboldt University, Berlin)

15.45-16.00     Break

16.00-17.00    Panel 3: Islam and identity in South Asia
Shazia Ahmad (SOAS, London)): Proselytizing through Print: The Ahmadiyya from 1880-1908
Sadia Bajwa (Humboldt University, Berlin): The Genealogy of the Nationalist Historiography of Pakistan: An Analysis of Historiography in the Context of the Emergent ‘Muslim Nationalist’ Discourse, 1857-1947.
                        Chair: Dietrich Reetz (ZMO, Berlin)

16 July
09.15-09.30     Coffee & Tea
09.30-11.30     Panel 4: Transnational history, knowledge and communication
Uffa Jensen (MPI, Berlin): Universal Knowledge of the Self? The Transnational History of Psychoanalysis in Calcutta (and Berlin and London), 1910-1940
Maria Moritz (Jacobs University, Bremen): A South Asian Cosmopolitan: Bhagavan Das and the critique of the Theosophical Society, (1913-1914)
Amelia Bonea (University of Heidelberg): Telegraphy and news: Changing perceptions of time and place in nineteenth-century Indian newspapers
Tobias Delfs (Zürich University): Between individual freedom and external necessities: Misbehaviour of Protestant missionaries in 18th and early 19th century India
                        Chair: Harald Fischer-Tiné (ETH, Zürich)

11.30-11.45     Break

11.45-12.45     Panel 5: Politics of imperialism and (post)-colonialism
Manuela Ciotti (Leiden University): Fairs and counter-fairs’: Colonial and postcolonial India through the exhibition ‘The Empire strikes back: Indian art today’, London Saatchi Gallery, 2010’
Alexis Wearmouth (University of Dundee): The Origins and Growth of Foreign Direct Investment in the Calcutta Jute Industry by a Scottish Multinational Enterprise – a Case Study of Thomas Duff & Co, 1872-1896.
Chair: Aditya Sarkar (University of Göttingen)

12.45-13.45     Lunch

13.45-15.15     Panel 6: Labour: Technology, identity, policies
Anna Sailer (University of Göttingen): The Many Names of Jute. Concepts of Labour in Late Colonial Dictionaries and Manuals
Nitin Varma (University of Heidelberg): Making tea: technology, labour process and coolie labour on Assam tea plantation
Sara Elmer & Christine Whyte (ETH, Zürich): Why was slavery bad? The global anti-slavery movement in Nepal and Sierra Leone, 1920-1930
Chair: Rana Behal (International Research Centre, Humboldt University, Berlin)

15.15-15.30     Break
15.30-17.00    Panel 7: New Media and social identities
Mette Gabler (Humboldt University, Berlin): The Good Life – Buy 1 Get 1 Free. Messages of Outdoor Advertising for Social Change in Urban India
Fritzi Titzmann (Humboldt University, Berlin): Translocal and local dynamics of a global media phenomenon: Changing female subjectivity and agency in the Indian online matrimonial market
Pierre Gottschlich (University of Rostock): Apu, Neela, and Amita: Stereotypes of the Indian Diaspora in Mainstream American TV Shows
                        Chair: Anna Sailer (University of Göttingen)

From 7             Conference Diner

17 July
09.15-09.30     Coffee & Tea

09.30-11:00    Panel 8: Individual project presentation
Patrick Hesse (Humboldt University, Berlin): Dialectics of freedom and tradition: Religion and the communist movement
Lisa Sturm (Humboldt University, Berlin): The American-India Trade in the Context of Global Transformations 1784-1830
Jamilia Adeli (Humboldt University, Berlin): Art, market and the media: Contemporary art (worlds) in India since economic liberalization
                        Chair:  Maria Framke (Jacobs University Bremen)

11.00-11.15     Break

11.15-12.15    Panel 9: Education in South Asia: Experiments and controls
Monika Freier (MPI, Berlin): Teaching Ideals and Feelings: Moral Education in Colonial Northern India
Jana Tschurenev (ETH, Zürich): Imperial Experiments in Education. Monitorial Schooling in India and Britain (1789-1835)
Chair: Nitin Sinha (ZMO, Berlin)

12.15 – 13.00   Lunch

13.00-15.00     Round Table
Harald Fischer-Tiné (ETH, Zürich)
Margrit Pernau (MPI, Berlin)
Dietrich Reetz (ZMO, Berlin)
Dietmar Rothermund

Call for Papers 2010 - ZMO, Berlin

Workshop, 15.07.-17.07.2010

Identifying new themes in South Asian History

We organise this workshop with two objectives, one, strategic and another thematic. One of our aims is to bring the scholars working at the doctoral and post-doctoral stages on South Asia together. Often we, the co-organisers, have felt that the dialogue between  people working on South Asia in different universities and research centres in Germany has greater potential to be integrated into a stronger research network or networks than has been realised. The idea is to facilitate this dialogue across places, disciplines, and themes.

Keeping this objective in mind, we have tried to keep the thematic base of our workshop quite broad, although with a strong objective of addressing new fields and research areas in the social history of South Asia. To this end, we have chosen three themes that, we believe, open up a wide range of historical and contemporary questions and debates. The disciplinary focus of the workshop is on History but we strongly encourage participants from other disciplines to apply.

Space, technology and transnationality have emerged as key fields in understanding the social histories of both modern and early modern periods. While on the one hand concepts like circulation have been applied to explore the diverse regimes of mobility of goods, people, ideas, and artefacts both at the micro and macro levels, the global turn and the paradigm of ‘connected histories’ on the other has reinvigorated the historical research on the nature and forms of international ties in different aspects, say political, state formation, religion and, not least, the economy. Our aim is to further this development by looking at overlapping historiographical trends and historical practices by addressing one or more than one of these key issues.
The intersection between technology and space, for instance, has a great potential to chart out not only independent histories of those technologies (for example, print; infrastructural technologies like metalled roads, telegraph, post, railways and motor cars; technologies of ‘entertainment’ like cinema, gramophone and so on), but also to unravel the processes that constituted, influenced and altered the nature of social and physical space and sociabilities. Some of the questions that can be addressed through this are:
What was the role of new infrastructural technologies in producing/changing the nature of existing urban spaces?
How did these technologies, or did they at all, affect the spatial linkages, say between urban and rural parts?
These changes can be mapped through a number of vectors – commodity exchange, mercantile networks, mobility and migration of people, money remittances and reimbursements (through post and telegraph), and so on.

We are very specific on getting contributions that deal with gender. Although in recent years the study of technology has come a long way from its earlier avatar (which mostly revolved around policy studies) the role of gender is still inadequately addressed. For instance, railway historiography has given us the fact that subsequent to the introduction of railways the number of third class passengers and the practice of pilgrimage increased. And from the historiography on nationalist discourse we know that women had become the site that reflected the ‘pure’ and ‘uncontaminated’ of the traditional culture that helped reconfigure the nationalist/elitist response to colonialism. Did this reconfiguration deny women the right to step outside? Did the new technology fail to break the binary of inside (home) and outside (world)? These two seemingly disparate historiographies can be brought together by looking at the gendered form of mobility. In each of these aspects, we intend to weld the discursive and the material, and avoid a narrowly limited focus on either.
Print and other forms of media provide another crucial mediation to approach the varied aspects of social history. How did printed texts and visuals, musical and cinematic productions, shape cultural, moral, emotional, didactic and political views, say along the lines of community, caste, class, region, gender and race? How, more broadly, did new forms of representation and new aesthetic forms insert themselves into the lives of people? With the use of rich (and new) empirical sources how could we address the issues of print and performance, textuality and orality, and ‘high’ and ‘low’ productions. How these productions were consumed at different spaces (bookshops, reading rooms, railway platforms, and book fairs) and how they simultaneously created new spaces and habits (for example, by the 1930s, at least amongst the European population in India, it had become a standard practice to read a novel while travelling) are questions that need to be unravelled by further historical research.
For a long time research on South Asia focussed on local, regional or national levels, while neglecting more trans-territorial and 'global' questions. New insights could be gained by exploring, for instance, questions about how transnational mobility and migration influenced worldviews and ideologies. What kinds of international networks were built up with South Asian participation and to what degree did these networks affect the political, social, economic and ideological constellations within India?
Please send the abstracts (400-500 words) to the organisers no later than 15 April. Other than those who will be directly participating in the workshop (through paper presentation), we invite all interested scholars working on South Asia to take part in the workshop. We hope, in this way, to begin the work of building up a new network of younger scholars working on South Asia. Currently, we are in the middle of making application for funding and therefore we strongly request our participants to arrange for their travel and accommodation. 
Nitin Sinha (Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin), Anna Sailer (Centre of Modern Indian Studies, Georg August University Göttingen), Aditya Sarkar, (Centre of Modern Indian Studies, Georg August University Göttingen), Maria Framke (Jacobs University Bremen)
Nitin Sinha,