University of Chicago Sixth South Asia Graduate Student Conference:
Foundations for the Study of South Asia
Chicago, April 17-18, 2009
What are the foundational categories that shape research on South Asia? How do such seemingly basic categories such as Space, Time, Person, Thing, Knowledge, Action and Representation, concepts more often assumed than interrogated, inflect and inform our scholarship? Our aim in focusing on such basic categories is to bring into view the analytical axes that orient us to our materials. We also hope to encourage a broad cross-section of scholars, working on ancient, medieval, early modern and modern topics, from a variety of disciplinary perspectives.
1) Space- what is the nature of boundaries, imaginative or political, in South Asia?
2) Time- what constitutes the divide between the modern and pre-modern in the study of South Asian history?
3) Thing- in a rapidly changing economy, how does the student of South Asian material culture approach the study of things? What is the status of an archeological artifact in the study
of South Asia?
4) Person- what models of personhood does the study of South Asia offer us? How have markers of identity, like caste or gender, evolved conceptually in the field?
5) Knowledge- is there a basis for a specifically South Asian epistemology? What constitutes knowledge in different times and areas of South Asia?
6) Action- what is the relationship of theory and practice in South Asian scholarship today? What does it mean “to act” within specific South Asian traditions of thought or culture?
7) Representation- as scholars working on South Asia, do we have “constituencies”? What does it mean to represent “South Asia” in the context of scholarly work?
By bringing together young scholars who employ similar categories under different cultural formations and time periods, we hope to provide the occasion and means for researchers to address issues in comparative light. In an increasingly fragmented research environment, we hope to promote more broad-based discussions of the study of South Asia under the long shadow of Modernity.
Noted scholars of South Asia, among them our keynote speaker Sanjay Subrahmanyam, make this an especially exciting opportunity for graduate students.
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