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?
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: