Swedish journalist brings to light Feroze - the forgotten Gandhi

Feroze - The Forgotten Gandhi by Swedish journalist Bertil Falk. Roli Books, New Delhi 2016. Feroze Gandhi is often remembered as Indira Gandhi’s husband and Jawaharlal Nehru’s son-in-law. But who was Feroze Gandhi? A Congress worker, a young freedom fighter, a parliamentarian, or just another Gandhi? Diving into the history of the Nehru–Gandhi family, the Swedish journalist Bertil Falk brings together his 40-year-old research in this biography of Feroze Gandhi. Including first-hand interviews of people close to Feroze and personal experiences of the author with some rare photographs, this volume brings to light his significant, yet unrecognized, role as a parliamentarian, in cases such as the Mundhra case, Life Insurance and Freedom of Press Bill. It also busts some myths about Feroze’s controversial birth, his personal life, his importance as a politician, and his relationship with the Nehrus. With interesting details about Feroze as a young boy in Allahabad, to his years as a freedom fighter, journalist, Congressman and a politician, this volume examines the chronology of events that shaped the life of Feroze. More information.

5th International Congress of Bengal Studies to be held at Jahangirnagar

500 papers have been accepted for the 5th International Congress of Bengal Studies scheduled to be held 25 – 28 January 2018. It will be hosted by Jahangirnagar University, Savar, Dhaka, Bangladesh.  Papers on all the areas of Bengal Studies, including, but not limited to, Literature and Criticism, Comparative Literature, Linguistics, Folklore, Cultural Studies, Media Studies, History, Economics, Sociology, Fine Arts, Philosophy, Anthropology, Archaeology, Museulogy will be presented, either in Bengali or in English. Deadline for submitting final papers is 6 November 2017. More information including full list of accepted papers.

BASAS 2018 conference at Exeter University

On 18-20 April 2018, the British Association of South Asian Studies (BASAS) holds its annual conference at Exeter University. Those who have proposed panels or individual papers will learn if they have been accepted by 15th November 2017. Registration will open in January 2018 and close in March 2018. More information.
Papers will be delivered from scholars and practitioners involved with the cultures, countries, economies, environments, histories, languages, literatures and peoples of South Asia. This year there will be an emphasis on debating and discussing South Asia's global engagement, but as usual the conference will also have much academic analysis on all topics relating to South Asia.
BASAS is one of the world’s leading learned societies for the study of South Asia. It is committed to supporting advanced research in the humanities and social sciences of South Asia through international collaborations, conferences and workshops, lectures, research groups, publications and online discussions.

Time to propose papers for the 2018 ECSAS conference in Paris

The 25th European Conference on South Asian Studies (ECSAS) is scheduled for 24-27 July 2018 in Paris, France. It will be held at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, (54 and 105, Blvd. Raspail). It is organized by the Centre d’Etudes de l’Inde et de l’Asie du Sud (CNRS-EHESS). The call for papers is now open and will close on 30 November 2017. Paper presenters at the 24th ECSAS must be members of EASAS through 2017 & 2018 or 2018 & 2019. Non-members cannot attend the conference. More information at the conference web page.
ECSAS requires all accepted panels to be open to paper proposals through the website: proposed panels should not be ‘closed’ to further papers ab initio. Young researchers are advised to contact panel convenors to be considered for inclusion in their panel; young researchers are also encouraged to propose panels themselves. No panel may run for more than 4 sessions of 90 minutes.
The ECSAS has met regularly since 1968, and has provided an important opportunity to discuss current research and scholarship on topics relating to South Asia within the humanities and social sciences. The 2004 conference was organised by SASNET in Lund, see the 2004 conference page.
The most recent ECSAS conference was held in Warsaw, Poland, in July 2016. Lars Eklund attended the conference, at that time representing SASNET, Lund University (but also as a member of the EASAS board - re-elected for the position as treasurer). Go for his Warsaw report.

18th South Asian Literary Association Conference to be held in New York

The 18th Annual South Asian Literary Association (SALA) Conference will be held in New York City, US, 0n 8-9 January 2018. The theme for the conferece will be ”Precarity, Resistance, and Care Communities in South Asia”. The conference is co-chaired by Dr. Sukanya Gupta and Dr. Afrin Zeenat. The organisers are interested in insecurities and care communities that may exist within states and within bodies. Papers could answer the following questions, among others: What forms do these insecurities and care communities take in literature and culture? How do authors depict states of insecurity or care communities? What literary devices do they use? How do bodies and states clash? What insecurities do diasporas pose to the host nation-state? What precarities do foreign nationals face in South Asia?  Full information about the conference.

Leif Stenberg Director of the Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations

Since 1 April 2017, Professor Leif Stenberg is working as Director of the London-based Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations in the Aga Khan University, an institute established in 2002 with an aim to strengthen research and teaching about the heritage of Muslim societies including those of South Asia, with specific attention to the challenges these societies face in contemporary settings.
Leif Stenberg received his PhD in Islamic Studies from Lund University in 1996 with the publication of a thesis entitled ”The Islamization of Science: Four Muslim Positions Developing an Islamic Modernity". He was supervised by Professor Jan Hjärpe. In his thesis, he analysed the contemporary debate on the Islamization of science by focusing on a number of individuals belonging to a Muslim intellectual elite - including the British-Pakistani author Ziauddin Sardar. The thesis presents his and others perspectives on the Islamization of science and points at central elements and patterns in their respective positions. Download the PhD thesis.
After spending a year as an Assistant Professor at Uppsala University, and being a visiting scholar at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University, USA, and the Institut Français d'Études Arabes de Damas (IFEAD) in Damascus, Syria, he returned to Lund University to teach Islamology. In 2007, he was appointed as the Director of the new and soon to become lively and expanding Centre for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES) at Lund University, a position he held till he joined Aga Khan University in early 2017.
His research interests, besides Islam and modern science, include contemporary interpretations of Islam in Sufism, interpretations of Islam among Muslims in Europe, and developments within political Islam. He has frequently visited Pakistan and Bangladesh, and while working as Professor in Islamology at Lund University he launched in 2004 a collaboration with the University of Dhaka, and as part of that he visited Dhaka and gave lectures about ”Islam and knowledge”, ”Muslims in Scandinavia”, and ”Sufism in Damascus”, at several University of Dhaka research centres and departments, including the Center for Advanced Study in Social Sciences; the Center for the Advanced Study in Humanities; and the Department of World Religions. 

2017 Right Livelihood Award to Colin Gonsalves

The Laureates of the 2017 Right Livelihood Award, widely referred to as the ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’, were announced on 26 September 2017 in Stockholm, Sweden. The award is shared by four laureates, all known for doing courageous work for human rights, public health and good governance, and tackling some of the world’s most pressing challenges at their very core. South Asia is represented by one of the laureates, Colin Gonsalves, Senior Advocate at the Supreme Court of India and the founder of the Human Rights Law Network (HRLN), an Indian national network of public interest lawyers.
Hos most significant victories in the courtroom include the 2001 “Right to Food” case, which saw India’s Supreme Court issue far reaching orders enforcing a free midday meal for all schoolchildren and subsidised grain for over 400 million Indians living below the poverty line. In 2016 and 2017, Gonsalves obtained landmark judgements from the Supreme Court that ended the longstanding immunity of the Indian Armed Forces from criminal prosecution. This is already having a significant impact in reducing the number of extrajudicial executions occurring in India’s Northeast. Full information about Colin Gonsalves and the Right LIvelihood Award 2017.

Seventh Annual Kathmandu Conference on Nepal and the Himalaya

The Social Science Baha in Kathmandu, Nepal organises the Seventh Annual Kathmandu Conference on Nepal and the Himalaya on 25-27 July 2018. It is held in collaboration with the Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies; the Britain-Nepal Academic Council; the Centre for Himalayan Studies (CNRS) at Tribhuvan University; and the Japanese Nepal Academic Network. Proposals are invited for stand-alone papers or three-paper panels. The papers can deal with any aspect of life in Nepal and the Himalaya from the social sciences perspective and from this year onwards, the arts and humanities. Papers can also be comparative so long as Nepal or the Himalaya, broadly defined, is also included. Deadline for submitting abstracts and panels is 15 January 2018. Full information.
The Social Science Baha is a meeting place for social scientists in Kathmandu and Nepal, located in the residential area of Patan Dhoka, Lalitpur. It builds on voluntary efforts. The word 'Baha' comes from the Newari term for 'Bihar', the traditional monastic centre of learning of Kathmandu Valley. 

Triple conferences on Comparative Peacebuilding in Asia

Three conferences with the theme ”Comparative Peacebuilding in Asia - Liberal and Illiberal Transitions from Ethnic Conflict and Authoritarianism” will be held in Sri Lanka, Indonesia and the United Kingdom in 2017 and 2018, supported by the British Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Independent Social Research Foundation (ISRF). This series of three conferences seeks to promote research and facilitate interdisciplinary discussions on the illiberal, nationally driven peacebuilding processes in conflict-affected South and Southeast Asia. There has been an extraordinary expansion of academic interest in this field, and a new generation of scholars is producing exciting research drawing on theoretical innovations and empirical advances, including interesting comparative work. More information about the project.
The aim is to bridge academic nodes and peacebuilding knowledge and practice in the UK, Europe, Australia, North America and Africa, with Asia, and also to connect scholars and policy-makers within South and Southeast Asia. In particular, the organisers - including Dr Rajesh Venugopal, London School of Economics and Political Science - are looking for contributions that deal with liberal and illiberal peacebuilding conditions in Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Indonesia, Cambodia, Nepal, India, Timor-Leste, Philippines, and Thailand. The conference dates are:
Colombo, Sri Lanka: 30 June - 2 July 2017
Yogyakarta, Indonesia: December 2017 (precise dates to be confirmed)
London, UK: June 2018 (precise dates to be confirmed)
Full information.

Alternative South Asia Film Festival in Paris

The 2017 South Asia Film Festival (FFAST) will be held 3-10 October at the Etoile Lilas theatre in Paris, France. This is a unique occasion to get a glimpse of current alternative and popular cinema made in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh. ​At its first edition in February 2013, the FFAST set out to present the parallel, independent and innovative cinema produced in South Asia, a region of the world that is still too often confined to clichés kitchs and sweetened Bollywood productions. More than four years later, for its fifth edition, the Festival returns with an extended team, year-round events, and always the same mission. Four selections will be presented during the 2017 festival week, including a selection devoted to Tamil cinema, a cinemasala bracket that will focus on the different representations of food in the South Asian cinema (with a selection of contemporary and patrimonial films), and a selection of short films made by young filmmakers. Throughout the week, more than twenty films from Nepal, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka will be presented. Full information (in French only) at the FFAST webpage.
(Photo from Lipstick under my burkha by director Alankrita Shrivastava.)

Lund seminar on Jewish identity and literature in contemporary India


Heinz Werner Wessler, Professor of Indology at the Department of Linguistics and Philology, Uppsala University, holds a guest lecture at Lund University on Monday 30 October 2017, 13.15-15.00. He is hosted by the Centre for Theology and Religious Studies (CTR) and will speak about ”Jewish identity and literature in contemporary India”. Venue: LUX building, room B417, Helgonavägen 3, Lund.
Abstract: State and secular society in India proudly refer to the Jewish mosaic stone in India’s religious texture as a integral part of its "unity in diversity" approach to the religious and cultural traditions of India. However, emigration to Israel and assimilation has decimated the traditional Jewish communities considerably and even threatens the very existence of Indian Jewry at the core, efforts to revive and transform Jewish identity notwithstanding, as for example the documentary film “Next year in Bombay” illustrates. The majority of India’s political leaders before and after independence were critical of Zionism, which they say as a product of communalism as well as of European colonialism. In recent decades however, the Indo-Israeli as well as the Indo-Jewish relationships are blossoming on several levels. While Judaism and Hinduism are trying to trying to come to terms with each other, deepen interreligious dialogue and reassure Hindu-Jewish and India-Israeli alliance in the fight against terrorism, Narendra Modi visited Israel recently as the first Indian Prime Minister, about 25 years after the establishment of diplomatic ties.
The focus of the lecture will be three Indo-Jewish authors, two in English and one in Hindi: Nissim Ezechiel, Esther David and Sheila Rohekar. While Ezechiel and Rohekar have more or less always stayed in India, David is a returnee after many years in Israel and France, christening her return to her mother country as her personal Aliya – the Jewish return to the land of origin, mostly used for the emigration to Israel.

Oslo symposium on 70 years of Indian Democracy

An international research symposium entitled ‘India at 70’ will be held in Oslo on 5-6 October 2017. The event is an integral part of the ongoing research project on ‘Democratizing Indian Democracy’ at the University of Bergen’s Department of Sociology, and it marks seventy years of democracy in India. The remarkable stability and longevity of India’s democracy compares favourably with other countries and regions in the global South, where democratic rule has tended to rest on feeble foundations. And yet, there also remain critical questions to be asked about Indian democracy. Impressive growth rates in a democratic set-up have, for example, not translated into substantial improvements in the standard of living for the majority of India’s citizens, more than half of whom still live in poverty.
The symposium brings together scholars and public intellectuals to explore the trajectories and contradictions of India’s democracy – past, present, and future. How did class and caste power shape the making of India’s postcolonial democracy? In what ways were the particularities of the Indian freedom struggle inscribed in its Constitution? What role has the public sphere played in sustaining Indian democracy and what challenges confronts it today? Does the revival of Hindu majoritarianism as a project of governance pose a significant threat to secularism and pluralism as democratic values? 
Participants include Sandipto Dasgupta, Anupama Rao, Ajay Skaria, Siddharth Varadaranaj, Srila Roy, Kavita Krishnan and Nandini Sundar. Full information.

Interesting PhD projects presented at 11th EASAS workshop in Naples

Phu Doma Lama and Pär Fredborn Larsson

L’Orientale University of Naples will host the 11th European PhD workshop in South Asian Studies, to be held in Procida, Naples, Italy, from 22 to 24 September 2017. The EASAS doctoral workshops take place annually and aim at giving PhD students the opportunity to discuss their thesis with fellow PhD students and senior scholars who work on South Asia. The doctoral students who wish to attend the workshop must be in their 2nd or 3rd year.
Swedish participants to the 2017 workshop include Phu Doma Lama from the Division of Risk Management and Societal Safety, Lund University, who will present her project entitled ”Adaptation among communities: Case studies from Nepal and Maldives”; and Pär Fredborn Larsson, previously at Lund University, but now PhD candidate at Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, Spain. He will present his project on ”Accidental foreigners - Iranian migration to India and Malaysia”.
Another Scandinavian participant, Simon Rastén from Aarhus University, and the National Museum of Denmark, will present his project on ”Serampore. Social interaction and power relations in a colonial town in Bengal 1755-1845”.
The Scuola di Procida, Centro di Alta Formazione dell'Università degli studi di Napoli and EASAS will provide accommodation and board at Procida, the smallest island in the Bay of Naples measuring 4 km2 and thus walkable in its entirety. Hydrofoils take about 40 minutes from Naples (Molo Beverollo), ferries take one hour from Naples (Porta di Massa). At the workshop, the PhD researchers are to share rooms with another participant, as is usually the case at EASAS PhD workshops. Applicants must be members of EASAS at the time of submission of the application for funding. Full information.

Swati Shukla revisited Lund after two years

Dr. Swati Shukla, working as a senior researcher at the prestigeous National Center for Biological Sciences (NCBS) in Bangalore, India and its Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms, visited the NSAN editor Lars Eklund and his wife Bubu on Tuesday 19 September 2017 while spending a short time in Lund. Swati spent four years at Lund University 2010-2014, working as a postdoc at the Division of Infection Medicine (BMC), but then returned to India and settled in Bangalore. Since a year back, she is a member of a research team working on stem cells technology focused on treatment of liver diseases. The work is carried out within the framework of a private company, Pandorum Technologies Pvt. Ltd. that is connected to NCBS. 
The reason for her coming to Europe was actually to visit Germany, and a reunion meeting at the Helmholz Centre for Infectious Diseases in Braunschweig, where Swati spent four years as a PhD candidate before defending her thesis and joining Lund University.

Excellent South Asia Monitor independent web journal

South Asia Monitor is an independent web journal and online resource dealing with strategic, political, security, cultural and economic issues related to South Asia and the whole Indo-Pacific region. It offers in-depth knowledge, reliable resource and documentation on the entire region, the eight SAARC nations - Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Maldives, Bhutan and Afghanistan - plus Burma/Myanmar, and the site features exclusive commentaries, insightful analyses, interviews and reviews contributed by strategic experts, diplomats, journalists, analysts, researchers and students from not only this region but all over the world.
The South Asian Monitor was initiated by the Society for Policy Studies (SPS), a New Delhi-based think tank dedicated to creating awareness of national and international issues of relevance to India and finding solutions to them through dialogue and discussion. Its web portal is published in English as a common language and in Bengali, native language for a major group of people in this region (Bangladesh-West Bengal, Tripura and Assam). South Asian monitor plays a role where opinions regarding various events can be freely expressed. Conflicting opinions and views will co-exist together so that viewers know the truth from every angle. Go for this exellent news service.

International Mental Health Conference in Kathmandu

The International Mental Health Conference Nepal (IMHCN 2017) will be held in Kathmandu 16-17 November 2017. With severe lack of awareness about mental health among the citizens, government bodies and other professionals, the mega earthquake in 2015 came as a shock that made everyone’s attention diverted towards the importance of mental health in Nepal. Still less than 1% of total health budget has been allocated for mental health when it has been estimated that 37.5% of the general population in Nepal is suffering from mental health issues. On top of that suicide has been regarded as the most common cause of death of woman of reproductive age by WHO. Considering all this and with an aim to give a holistic approach to the issues of mental health, Health Ministry of Nepal along with the several partners have planned to organize the International Mental Health Conference Nepal (IMHCN 2017) by bringing together several keynote speakers from different parts of the world along with government of Nepal, multilateral and bilateral organizations, health professionals, social workers, the private sector, innnovators, academic and research institutions, and civil society in the same platform. Read more...

Stockholm University seminar on Language Documentation in northern Pakistan

On Thursday 21 September 2017, at 15.00, the Department of Linguistics at Stockholm University organises a higher seminar in Linguistics entitled  "Language Documentation and Revitalization in Northern Pakistan". The speakers are Fakhruddin Akhunzada, Naseem Haider and Muhammad Zaman Sagar from the Forum for Language Initiatives (FLI) in Peshawar, an institute involved in collaboration with Stockholm University. The seminar is chaired by Dr. Henrik Liljegren. Venue: C307, Södra huset, Frescati, Stockholm.
FLI was founded in Peshawar in 2003 to provide the 25-30 local language communities in the mountainous north of Pakistan with support in their own efforts to maintain and promote the use of their mother tongues. In this presentation the three speakers will give plenty of examples of activities carried in the language communities (such as research, orthography development, literature production, the setting up pilot literacy projects, the establishment of community schools, awareness-raising efforts, media campaigns, etc.), and show how these have contributed to maintaining and increasing the level of vitality in some of these Pakistani language communities. More information about the seminar.
Henrik Liljegren, who defended a doctoral dissertation focusing on Palula, an Indo-Aryan language spoken in northern Pakistan in 2008, has himself been connected to the Frontier Language Institute for many years, and actually took part in the establishment of the institute in 2003.  He is currently involved in a collaborative research project entitled  Language Contact and Relatedness in the Hindukush region, funded by the Swedish Research Counci). The goal of the project is to produce a linguistic profile of the languages spoken in the Hindukush region, an area comprising the mountainous north-eastern Afghanistan, northern Pakistan and the northern-most part of the disputed Kashmir territory. Among 69 languages in Pakistan, 26 are spoken in NWFP and 12 are being used in district Chitral alone.
Apart from this project, Henrik Liljegren cooperates closely with Anjuman-e-taraqqi-e-Palula (the Society for the Promotion of Palula) to help produce a small body of Palula literature and work on a Palula dictionary.

46th Madison conference focuses on improving the quality of work performance


The 46th Annual Madison Conference on South Asia will be held 26 – 29 October 2017. The conference, that is sponsored by the Center for South Asia at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, attracts over 800 scholars and specialists on South Asia, who travel from countries all over the world and much of the United States. It is a great venue for intellectual, professional, and social exchange. In 2016, the NSAN editor Lars Eklund attended the Madison conference.
The 2017 conference will specially focus on the advances made in the field of ways to improve the quality of the work performance. Some of the major highlights of this conference will be panel interaction, speaker session, papers and abstracts.
The 2017 Joseph W. Elder Keynote Lecture wlll be delivered by Professor Ayesha Jalal, Mary Richardson Professor of History at Tufts University; and a plenary session address will be given by Urvashi Butalia and Nandini Sundar. The conference features nearly 100 academic panels and roundtables, as well as association meetings and special events ranging from performances to film screenings. Venue: Madison Concourse Hotel, 1 West Dayton St., Madison, Wisconsin, USA. More information.

Oslo seminar on Financial Risk and Capitalising on Poverty in India

Forms of Ethics, Shapes of Finance (FESA) is a research project funded by the Norwegian Research Council since 2015, connected to the Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo, but also involving State University of New York Binghamton, USA, and Stockholm University, Sweden, besides cooperating with researchers based at the University of Oslo, the University College of Oslo and Akershus, and the University of Toronto, Canada. The FESA project aims to explore how ethical forms shape finance to create new iterations of the economy, and how financial forms entail ethical concerns. South Asia is to some extent in focus for FESA.
On Tuesday 19 September 2017, 14.15-16.00, Assistant Professor Sohini Kar from the Department of International Development at the London School of Economics (LSE) will hold a FESA seminar entitled ”Systemic Enfolding: Financial Risk and Capitalising on Poverty in India”. Venue: Historical Museum, Frederiksgate 2, Oslo. In her presentation, Dr. Kar will examine how financial risk comes to shape not just lending practices, but also how the poor are drawn into new circulations of capital. She draws upon ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Kolkata, India. More information

Oslo seminar on The Biopolitics of Hindu Nationalism

Professor Banu Subramaniam from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA, holds an open seminar at University of Oslo’s Forum for Science Studies (Vitenskapsteori) on Wednesday 20 September 2017, 14.15-15.30. She will speak about ”Making Postcolonial Bodies: The Biopolitics of Hindu Nationalism”. The seminar is part of the Fall 2017 Science Studies Colloquium Series. Venue: Georg Sverdrups hus - Undervisningsrom 1, Blindern, Oslo.
​Subramaniam is a professor of women, gender and sexuality studies currently exploring how science and religion come together in in contemporary Hindu nationalism to create a very particular and powerful biopolitical imaginary. Religious nationalists have selectively, and strategically, used rhetoric from both science and Hinduism, modernity and orthodoxy, western and eastern thought to build a powerful but potentially dangerous vision of a Hindu nation. With aspirations for a global and modern Hinduism, scientific and religious practices in contemporary India are inextricably interconnected and result in fluid processes and practices of both institutions. The case of India reminds us about both the transnational stakes of science as well as the local instantiations that challenge enlightenment narratives of reason and unreason. Ultimately to understand contemporary technoscience in India, we need new epistemological and methodological tools, and story making practices to make visible the many phantasmogoric natural and cultural worlds within. More information.