• Questioning South Asia

Habib University President’s Conference 2017
Questioning South Asia
22-24 November, 2017
Karachi, Pakistan


Habib University invites abstract submissions for the first President’s Conference on South Asia. The geopolitical significance of South Asia has been a well-known fact in policy and security studies for the last several decades. In academic circles too, the logic of South Asia has become a naturalized reality: its appearance in the area studies departments of many US/western institutions signals acquiescence if not participation in an agenda informed by pursuit of global hegemony. The naturalisation of South Asia as a discourse recalls European precedents of producing knowledge about the ‘other’ in order to foster a morally and epistemologically superior European identity – as witnessed in the historical invention of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.

How can the politically-charged and contested category of South Asia stay intact amid geological shifts and political restructuring underway globally? In the light of Brexit and the rise of populist right-wing movements across the world, signalling an end to a post-world-war-II global world order, it becomes urgently important to rethink some of the inherited epistemological and disciplinary categories with which, without reflecting on the ideological baggage they carry, we continue to operate. These crises are global and thus require answers that speak to conditions currently faced by millions of people not geographically or culturally bound together in the categories of knowledge we deploy to study them.

In these times of radical shifts in historical conditions, it becomes important to reconsider frameworks of knowledge determined by the ideologies of nation-states. This call for papers seeks contributions from scholars willing to think beyond the construct of South Asia as a territorially bound space with discrete nations. We invite papers from scholars who seek to identify the historical modalities of the emergence of South Asia as an analytical construct, and shed light on how it continues to operate as a geographical, cultural, and economic category. Questioning South Asia as a discourse that at present burdens the scholarly imagination, and overdetermines conference agendas and research funding, might reconfigure the strategies we employ to understand the region. Some of the questions we seek to investigate are: What are the obstacles to developing comparative research perspectives for scholars constrained by ‘South Asia’? How can we shift away from the dominant framework of South Asia as an already-determined category, and devise new research agendas? And what demands for change, transformation, or recalibration might this place on us as subjects undertaking research?

Papers may address but need not be limited to the following themes:

  • Pedagogical practices and frameworks, historical or contemporary
  • The relationship between research and funding opportunities
  • Comparative tools, methodologies, epistemologies and topics
  • The changing nature of development discourse
  • Transnational networks of mobility
  • Class as a cross-national analytic
  • Research on the more ephemeral arts—performance traditions (dance, theatre, storytelling, poetry recitation)
  • Film, broadcast media and print media

Conference Program

  • Conference schedule to be announced.
  • Conference will open on the evening of Wednesday, 22nd November
  • Full day sessions will take place on Thursday, the 23rd and Friday, 24th November
  • Conference will close on Friday, 24th November

Organizing Committee

Conference Chair:

  • Dr. Fahd Ali, Program Director, Social Development & Policy
  • Dr. Noman Baig, Assistant Professor, Social Development & Policy
  • Dr. Sarah Humayun, Co-Director, Arzu Program in Languages & Civilizations
  • Dr. Framji Minwala, Program Director, Communication & Design
  • Anushka Hosain, Manager, Office for Global Engagement

Submission Guidelines

The conference is addressed to academics, researchers and professionals from all parts of the world. Doctoral candidates and young researchers are welcome to submit abstracts. Material must be submitted in English. Please submit the following by 15th July 2017 using the form below:

  1. Abstracts of no more than 250-word for individual papers or 350 words for panels
  2. CV with contact information

  1. Authoring guidelines will be emailed with notification of acceptance.
  2. Presenters are encouraged to seek their own funding, though some travel support may be available. Please write to qsa@habib.edu.pk with a request for travel assistance. Accommodation will be provided to all presenters.
Dates & Deadlines
  • Abstract submission: 15th July, 2017
  • Notification of acceptance: 15th August, 2017
  • General registration opens: 15th September, 2017
  • Final paper submission: 15th October, 2017
  • Conference: 22nd-24th November, 2017

Abstract Submission is now Closed


The Committee looks forward to receiving proposals in response to the call, and is happy to respond to inquiries from interested parties. For all inquiries, please contact: qsa@habib.edu.pk