ELTWeekly Vol. 5 Issue#38 | October 28, 2013 | ISSN 0975-3036
The Department of English, Assam University, Silchar, and Forum for English Studies, Assam University, Silchar, will jointly organize a two-day National Conference on “Navigating Diaspora” during 11-12 March, 2014. The conference will be organized around plenary sessions, panel discussions and presentations by participants. Proposals for presentation at the Conference are welcome from faculty members, research scholars and academicians engaged with research on various aspects of diaspora studies.
The multivalent term “diaspora”, which has its etymological origin in the Greek gardening tradition, referring to the dispersal of seeds, has come to be associated with exile and some sort of suffering because of the mass relocation of people from their originary homelands to new regions and a consequent sense of loss derived from an inability to return, with the Jewish experience of forced exile from Jerusalem in the sixth century BC seen as the prototype diasporic experience. The mass movement of Africans via slavery to the Americas can also be considered to be a diasporic experience of a similar kind. More recently, of course, we have started talking in terms of the diasporas of ‘casualization’, formed by groups of people who have moved from
marginalized regions to metropolitan centres in search of, say, a better life.
One of the most powerful ideas associated with the study of diaspora is the concept of a
remembered ‘original’ home, made all the more compelling by it being both temporally and spatially distant and also by the competition it faces from other possible home spaces in the diasporic subject’s perceptions. The Conference intends to look into, amongst various other issues, the multilayeredness of the notion of home in relation to the study of diaspora as well as how cultural (dis)orientations given rise to by the phenomenon of diaspora influence literary expression. In particular, the Conference would seek to explore the ways in which the experience of the traumas induced by diaspora are memorialized in the rich literary responses to diasporic experiences in the works of authors like V. S. Naipaul, Derek Walcott, Wilson Harris, Salman Rushdie, Hanif Kureishi, Michael Ondaatje, Amitav Ghosh, and Jhumpa Lahiri, et al., authors who speak from diasporic subject positions and explore the psychic terrain of diaspora, and who,
through their experience of multicultural mediation, challenge us in numerous ways to reconsider the commonly held assumptions about identity, nation, home, memory, etc., in cross-cultural and transnational contexts.
Diaspora studies today is a broad church characterized by much multi- and interdisciplinary work reflecting a tremendous cross-fertilization of ideas from disciplines like history, political science, geography, sociology, anthropology, creole studies, postcolonial studies, culture studies, etc.. Therefore, it is necessary to take a polyvocal approach in order to chart and navigate the varied course of diaspora studies, bringing it into more explicit engagement with key intersecting agendas and themes like politics, language and literary studies, various aspects of social relations like race, gender and sexuality, etc. It is with this purpose in mind that the Conference intends to
bring together scholars and researchers (with dispersed interests on diaspora!) from across the social sciences and the arts and humanities on one platform so that there is multidisciplinary participation, interdisciplinary engagement and a vocal debate on issues related to diaspora studies.
Possible themes on which submission of proposals is sought include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Diasporas, home and memory
- Diasporas, nation and ethnicity
- Diasporas, literature and literary studies
- Diasporas and gender issues
- Diasporas, race and difference
- Diasporas and hybridity
- Diasporas, social identities and creolization
- Diasporas, language and language studies.
For further information, contact
Convenor: Anindya Syam Choudhury (+91-9401550521) - anindyasyam
Joint Convenor: Saugata Kumar Nath (+91-9435179050).