Inside/Outside: Between Text and the World
Fourth Annual South Asia Graduate Student Conference
South Asian Languages and Civilizations
Committee on Southern Asian Studies
University of Chicago
April 6th & 7th, 2007
Locations: Swift Hall Room 208 and Ida Noyes LIbrary Lounge
The fourth annual South Asia Graduate Student Conference will be held on April 6th & 7th, 2007. It will be in two sessions, one on each day. Session One will be open to any scholarly work on South and Southeast Asia, and will include traditional panels on subjects such as Literature, History, Philology, Anthropology, History of Religions, Film Studies and so on.
Session Two, on this year’s conference theme, is entitled, “Inside Outside: Between Texts and the World” and will explore the oscillating dance of the world, the text and its critic—as Edward Said put it. The goal of this session is to analyze the myriad ways in which a scholar of South Asia conceives of her place betwixt text, the academy and the world at large. What forms does this action and engagement take? Does one put on a mask, or shed one? Does one speak a different language? Or switch media altogether? What are the metaphors one can use for such a dialectical hermeneutics? Does an engagement with a larger world and context compromise or taint a scholar’s work? Does engagement merely mean political activism, social work or journalism? Or can artistic works also be considered engagement? Is this dialectical awareness of the embodied presence of the scholar a help or hindrance to scholarship?
The relationship between inside and outside, self and knowledge, knowledge, state power and knowledge systems is neither new nor particularly subtle in South Asia, which boasts of various such historical manifestations. Whether one considers the binding of caste and knowledge, or empire and knowledge, it is clear that knowledge production and ownership in South Asia was never either neutral or egalitarian. How do we analyze these particular formations without losing sight of agency and intention? How do we as scholars relate to and study the worldliness of texts—a text’s status as an event which has sensuous particularity as well as historical contingency. How does the binary of inside/ outside manifest itself in South Asian texts and scholarly work? What, in particular, do South Asian texts teach us about a text’s dialectic of engagement in time and the senses?
With these questions in mind, the goal of this conference is to initiate a dialogue across disciplines, historical periods, language specialization and even media, in order to extend our understanding of the relationship between a text, the world and its critic in South Asia. This conference will feature both a video panel and a poster session.
The Committee on Southern Asian Studies (COSAS)
The Division of the Humanities
The Division of the Social Sciences
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