Research Community News

Linnaeus University in Växjö jas published a book entitled ”Från Brittiska Indien till Huseby bruk: järnvägen som arena för modernitet och kolonialism under lycksökaren och järnvägsentreprenören Joseph Stephens tid i Indien 1860–69”. It is the result of a joint research project by Henrik Chetan Aspengren, Alexander Bubb, Gunnel Cederlöf, Ingemar Gunnarsson, Radhika Krishnan, Dhiraj Kumar Nite, and Margareta Petersson at the university’s Centre for Concurrences in Colonial and Postcolonial Studies. 
The Småland estate Huseby use was purchased in 1867 by young Joseph Stephens who made a fortune to build railways in British India. When Stephen discontinued his Indian business, he carefully compiled his letters, labor contracts and payrolls and sent them home to Huseby, where they were long forgotten in a coffin of the wind. In 2008, the coffin was discovered and the unique documentary collection came to attract historians from several countries. In this book, they present their results. The image of a historical person and his family appears in the midst of the colonial expansion, globalization and modernization that swept across the world during the 19th century. Starting from Joseph Stephens and his world of stubborn workers, frightened rivals and arrogant officials, far from the colonial power, the writers can give new perspectives on the British Empire and its effects in India and internationally.
Joseph Stephens, born in Sweden in 1841 by British parents, spent 10 years in India working on the construction of the main Bombay-Calcutta railway line. After that he returned to Sweden and bought the estate Huseby outside Växjö. More information about the book.

Lund University hosted a workshop on Nationalisms in South Asia on 14-15 April 2018. The core idea of the workshop, jointly organised by Professor Frank Korom (Boston University), Associate Professor Jan Magnusson (Lund University), and SASNET director Andreas Johansson, built on a thesis that a generation of scholarship is supposed to have argued that nationalism was a strictly Western affair, and that the researcher Peter van der Veer provided a corrective to this scholarship with his 1994 book ”Religious Nationalism”. Besides presentations by the organisers, the workshop was also attended by Peter Van Der Veer (Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Göttingen, Germany); Boris Wille (Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg, Germany); Susan A. Reed, (Bucknell University, USA); Mari Miyamoto (Keio University, Japan); Mara Malagodi, (City Law School, University of London, UK); and Jürgen Schaflechner (University of Heidelberg, Germany). Discussant was Ted Svensson from the Dept. of Political Science, Lund University. The programme included papers on issues such as Religious-Nationalist Rhetoric, Democratic Reforms, and a Controversial Change of Power in the Maldives; Performances of Masculinity, Militarism and Sinhala Buddhist Nationalism in Sri Lanka; Buddhist Revivalism and Democratization in Bhutan; and Broadband Virtual Nationalism in Baltistan. See the full workshop programme.

In November 2017, Dr. Liz Adams Lyngbäck and Dr. Khaleda Gani Dutt at the Department of Special Education, Stockholm University were conferred an Initiation Grant from the Swedish Foundation for International Cooperation in Research and Higher Education – STINT. The Initiation Grant aspired to develop a long term strategic partnerships between their Stockholm University department and the International Institute of Adult & Lifelong Education in New Delhi, India.
Now a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for three years i.e. 2018-2020 has been signed between the two departments. Photo to the right. A similar Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was also for three years i.e. 2018-2020  between the Department of Special Education, Stockholm University and a third partner in the project, namely the School of Education at Kathmandu University, Nepal. More information about the background to the collaboration project.

The Swedish Institute of International Affairs (UI) and the Swedish South Asian Studies Network (SASNET) at Lund University launched the South Asia Initiative in 2018. The South Asia Initiative produces both research and analysis. In doing so, it aims to build a strong research environment with an international impact. The South Asia Initiative website will feature a blog that disseminates knowledge and information about South Asia. Link to South Asia imitative blog.

A new Swedish-language volume on Indian Society, History, Economics, Religion and Culture, edited by Professor emeritus Staffan Lindberg and NSAN editor Lars Eklund, was successfully released at a book launch event in Lund on Tuesday 3 April 2018. The event was hosted by SASNET at Lund University and drew a large crowd of interested people, academics as well as non-academics. Read more and see more photos from the Lund event.
The book, entitled ”Miraklet Indien och dess baksida” has been published by Palmkrons förlag in Lund, and it is written in a popular scientific mode. Besides the two co-editors, articles are written by eminent Scandinavian South Asia scholars including Dr. Kenneth Nielsen and Dr. Anne Waldrop at University of Oslo, Prof. Knut Jacobsen at University of Bergen, Prof. Jørgen Dige Pedersen at Aarhus University, Dr. Henrik Chetan Aspengren, Linnaeus University, Växjö and also the Institute of Foreign Affairs (UI) in Stockholm. 
Another release event will be held at the University of Olso on Tuesday 25 April, at 15.15-17.00. Here, the event is organised by the Asia Network and IKOS. More information.
To buy a copy, go to http://palmkrons.com/pr…/miraklet-indien-och-dess-baksida-2/

During the period 8-30 April 2018, Associate Professor Ritwika Biswas from the Department of History, University of Calcutta, will be visiting Uppsala University, and its Dept. of History. Her visit is part of the successful Linneaus Palme exchange programme between the two history departments that has been running for the past 10 years. Dr. Biswas is a specialist on the leftist movements in Bengal, and also on the Partition of India. In 2011, she published a book entitled “Radical Face of Democratic Liberalism: A Study of Communist Politics in West Bengal 1947-77” based on her 2009 PhD thesis. Currently she is engaged in research work on a theme related to the idea of governance as reflected in the Bengali writings during the period of 1858-1950.
If any other Scandinavian university has an interest to invite Dr Biswas for a seminar, contact can be had through Prof. Margret Hunt, coordinator for the Uppsala/Kolkata Linnaeus Palme collaboration.

The Nordic Centre in India university consortium (NCI) has introduced a new Academic Activity/Collaboration Grant, with a purpose to build research ties between its member universities and Indian counterparts. Two projects or academic events, each one with a maximum grant of Euros 3.500, will be selected during 2018. A precondition is that an application involves more than one NCI member university along with Indian partners, and the applicaton should be made by researchers on PhD level and above. Deadline for a project during the fall semester 2018 is 15 April, and the corresponding date for the spring semester 2019 projects/events will be 15 October 2018.
Applications will be evaluated by an NCI Grants Committee based on the heft of the project description, academic credentials, potential for long-term Indo-Nordic cooperation and benefits for the Nordic Centre in India. Upon completion of the event, the main applicant will be required to submit a written report to the Nordic Centre of India. Full information.

On 10 March 2018, The Washington Post published an article by Indian writer and MP Shashi Tharoor on Winstin Churchill - in connection with the Oscar award to a new film. The article is entitled ”In Winston Churchill, Hollywood rewards a mass murderer”, Tharoor claiming that the British prime minister during the second world was one of the great mass murderers of the 20th century, yet he is the only one, unlike Hitler and Stalin, to have escaped historical odium in the West. Instead he has been crowned with a Nobel Prize (for literature!), and now, an actor portraying him (Gary Oldman) has been awarded an Oscar.
Shashi Tharoor reminds about Churchill’s constant racist policies throughout his career. In the fight for Irish independence, Churchill, in his capacity as secretary of state for war and air, was in favour of bombing Irish protesters, suggesting in 1920 that airplanes should use “machine-gun fire or bombs” to scatter them. Dealing with unrest in today’s Iraq in 1921, as secretary of state for the colonies, Churchill acted as a war criminal, ordering a large-scale bombing of Mesopotamia, with an entire village wiped out in 45 minutes.In Afghanistan, Churchill declared that all Pashtuns who resist will be killed without quarter. Every tribesman caught was speared or cut down at once.
​But the principal victims of Winston Churchill were the Indians — “a beastly people with a beastly religion,” as he charmingly called them. He wanted to use chemical weapons in India but was shot down by his cabinet colleagues, whom he criticized for their “squeamishness,” declaring that “the objections of the India Office to the use of gas against natives are unreasonable.”
Thanks to Churchill, some 4 million Bengalis starved to death in the 1943 famine. Churchill ordered the diversion of food from starving Indian civilians to well-supplied British soldiers and even to top up European stockpiles in Greece and elsewhere. When reminded of the suffering of his Indian victims, his response was that the famine was their own fault, he said, for “breeding like rabbits.” Read the full article.
Compare NSAN article on the new film about the 1944 Bengali Famine.

Gitanjali Reborn. William Radice’s Writings on Rabindranath Tagore. Edited by Martin Kämpchen. Routledge 2018. The well-known british scholar William Radice, himself a recognized poet and a Rabindranath Tagore specialist, delved into the deeper meaning of Tagore’s poems and songs, and discussed his ideas on education and the environment with an insight probably no other Westerner has. He also translated Tagore’s short stories and short poems, and finally in  2012 was able to make a complete breakthrough by translating Gitanjali afresh and restoring Tagore’s original English manuscript. Martin Kämpchen, residing in Santiniketan, West Bengal and Germany, and is a reputed Tagore scholar and writer, has edited the new volume.
It should be mentioned that Prof. Radice met with a severe traffic accident in 2014, but has since somewhat recovered. More information about the book.
William Radice is a friend of the NSAN editor Lars Eklund. He attended the 2004 ECMSAS conference in Lund as a commentator (read his report), and in 2011 and 2013 Radice was invited by Lars for lecture tours in Scandinavia in connection with the Tagore jubilee events. 

The non-commercial magazine SYDASIEN was published from 1977 till 2010, and carried an amazing amount of valuable material by Swedish and Scandinavian South Asia experts, academics, journalists and others. All issues have been indexed and are now available as pdf-files on the NSAN web site. Go for the index.
​For 34 years the Swedish-language print magazine SYDASIEN played an important role to disseminate news and information on South Asia. With popularly written articles on politics, history, literature and culture in the eight countries that consist South Asia (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka) SYDASIEN was a unique feature in Scandinavia till the magazine closed down in late 2010.
Lars Eklund, now NSAN editor was the editor in chief for 25 years, during the period 1982–2007. From 2008 till the closure in 2010, the magazine was edited by John Senewiratne in Norrköping. However, Since 2011 SYDASIEN has resurfaced in a brand new shape, as a high-quality Internet based web magazine. It was launched by the new editor of the magazine, Ms. Johanna Sommansson. Go for the sydasien.se.

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