International Symposium: “Performing the Bengal Borderlands”


Thursday, February 14th  •  9:00am-3:00pm

Franke Institute for the Humanities, 1100 E 57th St Chicago, IL 60637

Scholars of a variety of disciplinary backgrounds have long challenged approaches to studying expressive cultural practices along politically derived boundaries. Yet, research on flows of people, goods and ideas has often served to reinforce narratives of domination and marginality. We invoke the Bengal Borderlands to complicate conventional binaries by emphasizing situated alliances, encounters, and mobility affordances within the region spanning Bangladesh, the states of Northeast India, and West Bengal. Tropes of mobility help to focus our understanding of border areas as sites of creative agency, social energy, and struggle. From the esoteric song-poems of the caryāpada anthology that serve as the proto-language to many modern East Indian dialects, to today’s bāul practitioners who continue to shape regional cultural imaginaries, this symposium draws on diverse performance repertories to problematize boundedness and the divisive power of borders.

 Link to Symposium Schedule


Map derived from A Historical Atlas of South Asia, University of Chicago Press, 1978 [or Oxford University Press, New York, 1992], with permission of the editor, Joseph E. Schwartzberg.

Courtesy of the Digital South Asia Library,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *