The Thirteenth Annual South Asia Graduate Student Conference

Dying in South Asia

University of Chicago

3-4 March, 2016



The organizing committee of the South Asia Graduate Student Conference at the University of Chicago is pleased to announce the thirteenth annual conference, Dying in South Asia.  The conference will take place on March 3-4, 2016. We invite papers from graduate students from all over the world, across disciplines and stages of graduate study.


We invite papers on issues related to the idea of death, which we define in its very broadest sense. Taking death literally, we can speak of the processes and events attendant to the gradual extinction of living creatures but also of languages, texts, memories, species or even traditions. Metaphorically, death can help us to think through distinct South Asian histories of violence, impasse and loss. Yet this can also enable accompanying conversations on the possibility of recovery, resurrection and redemption. We seek to explore phenomena that resist death and the sense of an ending, including practices of ritual, memory, nostalgia and revivalism.


We would like to initiate conversations that cut across disciplinary boundaries and time periods to understand processes of literal and metaphorical death in South Asia. Not only the destruction of that which is deemed old (such as the classical languages of India, for example), death persists in the slow dissolution of fairly modern entities such as secularism. Thinking through the lens of the duality of loss and regeneration, we hope that this conference will stimulate discussions relating to — but certainly not limited to — as wide-ranging themes as the nature and forms of violence, aesthetic encounters with the metaphor of death, the loss and regeneration of textual and disciplinary traditions, ecological crises, and the politics of revivalism.


The keynote speakers for this year’s conference will be Veena Das, Krieger-Eisenhower Professor of Anthropology at Johns Hopkins University, and Badri Narayan, Professor of Social History and Cultural Anthropology at G.B. Pant Social Science Institute, Allahabad. The conference faculty adviser is Wendy Doniger, Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religions at the University of Chicago.


The South Asia Graduate Student Conference at the University of Chicago brings together graduate students at all stages of research and dissertation-writing from across the world to present research relating to South Asia. In the past, we have drawn students from departments including Anthropology, South Asian Studies, Archaeology, Art History, Comparative Literature, Film Studies, Gender and Sexuality Studies, History, Law, Linguistics, Philosophy, Political Science, and Religion. Participants can expect to give 15-20 minute presentations to an audience drawn from across the University of Chicago and from a wide scope of scholars working on South Asia.


Food and lodging will be provided by the University of Chicago. We will be able to provide partial reimbursements for travel to and from Chicago, but we encourage students also to seek support from their home institutions.


We invite students to submit papers individually. Panel proposals are not required. Abstracts of not more than 500 words should be sent to by December 31, 2015. Applicants will be notified of a decision by January 20, 2016.


Jetsun Deleplanque (Divinity School), Ahona Panda (South Asian Languages and Civilizations), Margherita Trento (South Asian Languages and Civilizations), Nazmul Sultan (Political Sciences).



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