Newsletter 176 – 3 June 2015


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• Grand success for SASNET 2015 Conference on Structural Transformation of South Asia

More than 70 researchers from Europe and South Asia turned up for a successful SASNET three-day international conference on the structural transformation of South Asia being held in Lund 20–22 May 2015. The conference was entitled ”South Asia in Transformation: World of Slums, Global Power Houses or Utopias? Migration, labour, and family changes in a dynamic region”, and consisted of seven panels, each one led by eminent researchers. The theme of the panels varied from ”Urbanization and Social Sustainability”, to ”Ethnicity, Religion and Changing Caste Relations”, ”Changes in Family and Household”, ”Migration, Environment and Social Sustainability”, ”Governance in South Asia”; ”Changing Labour Markets”and ”Structural Transformation and Social Conflicts”.
The networking was intense with a large continent of young, promising researchers from South Asia – India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan – presenting their papers along with Scandinavian colleagues. SASNET had given travel grants to no less than 30 young South Asian researchers.
The purpose of the conference was to explore the social consequences of the transformation of South Asian societies (and by implication, the world). Structural transformations produce new opportunities and risks as job possibilities and wealth are created and redistributed unevenly. This may lead to the marginalization of some groups as well as social conflicts. The aim of this conference is also to map the social impact of South Asia’s structural transformation so far, with specific reference to changes in labour migration patterns and in the composition of the care economy of families and households. SASNET acting director Lars Eklund was the chief convener for the conference, but was assisted by Olle Frödin, Andreas Johansson, Lubna Hawwa, Jacco Visser and five student assistants. Read the full conference report with photos.

• SASNET hosted Ninth EASAS PhD workshop in Falsterbo

On behalf of the European Association of South Asian Studes (EASAS), SASNET successfully hosted the Ninth European PhD workshop in South Asia Studies in Höllviken, south of Malmö, Sweden, on 18–19 May 2015. This was a two-day annual workshop for a maximum of 20 PhD candidates and six faculty members from European universities with an aim to give PhD students an opportunity to receive feedback on their theses from senior scholars and fellow PhD candidates who are also working on South Asian topics. The workshop was divided into three parallell sessions. Dr. Jayakumari Devika from Centre for Development Studies (CDS) in Thiruvananthapuram, India, held a keynote speech on ”The 2014 Kiss of Love Protest”, and how this non-violent protest against moral policing which started in Kerala, later spread to other parts of India .
SASNET has organised these EASAS workshops twice before. Participants are PhD candidates in their second or later year at a European university, working on any topic that has a strong relevant to South Asia. SASNET/Lund University invited European universities to nominate a maximum of three students each for the workshop. Full information about the 2015 EASAS PhD workshop in Falsterbo.

• SASNET participated in student seminar on Indian film at Lund University
3 Idiots. Ek Dn Achanak.

In early May 2015, SASNET deputy director Lars Eklund and former director Staffan Lindberg have been involved in a seminar series on Indian film at the Lund University Film Studies department, part of the Centre for Languages and Literature. They were invited by Professor Lars Gustaf Andersson and Associate Professor Anders Marklund to engage with the students at the department and talk about their experiences of Indian film over a century, and explain cultural phenomena interwoven into both mainstream Bollywood film as well as the highly sophisticated parallell Indian cinema. A number of films had been selected as examples to study, including Rajkumar Hirani’s ”3 Idiots” from 2009, Deepa Mehta’s ”Fire” from 1996, and Mrinal Sen’s ”Ek Din Achanak” from 1979. The students raised intelligent questions and had a nice discussion with Lars and Staffan on issues as far aside as the status of women in India to the unexpected peace and tranquility in the Kolkata milieu shown in Sen’s film.

• SASA/SASNET field work travel grants to two Lund University students

Tullia Axel

The South Asian Students Association (SASA)  at Lund University, in collaboration with SASNET, have decided upon the announced student travel grants to do fieldwork in South Asia during the fall semester of 2015. The grants will cover travel expenses for airline tickets to the country of fieldwork for up to a maximum of SEK 8,000 per grant. The two successful candidates are Tullia Jack, PhD candidate at the Dept. of Sociology; and Axel Vikström, bachelors student of Journalism at the Dept. of Media and Communication. Tullia Jack is supposed to visit Mysore in India, to study Conventions, cleanliness and resource consumption in everyday life, whereas Axel Vikström is going to Maldives to do reporting on the Crisis for Democracy.
Students enrolled at Lund University planning to do fieldwork in South Asia were encouraged to apply. SASA and SASNET expect to announce a new round of fieldwork grants during the fall 2015. Like our Facebook page “South Asian Students Association at Lund University” and follow our page on the SASNET website at, to stay updated on new grant announcements.

• Full SASNET seminars available on Youtube

Talat Bhat is a film maker residing in Lund. He is regularly engaged by SASNET to do recordings of our SASNET seminars at Lund University. We now present links to all seminars being posted on Youtube. They include seminars by Thomas Blom Hansen, Stanford University; Susan Visvanathan, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU); Subrata Mitra, University of Heidelberg; Brent E Huffman, Northwestern University, USA; Doug Miller, University of Northumbria in Newcastle; and many others.
We also link up to the keynote presentations from SASNET’s  April 2013 high-profile one-day South Asia Symposium at Lund University, seminars focusing on five countries of the region: Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, by Dina Siddiqi, BRAC University, Dhaka; Surinder Jodhka, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi; Michael Hutt, SOAS, University of London; Ayesha Siddiqa, previously Visiting Scholar at Johns Hopkins University; and Jonathan Spencer, University of Edinburgh, plus a final panel discussion with South Asia ambassadors to Sweden (photo). Go for SASNET’s recorded seminars, with youtube links.

• SASNET seminar with Vandana Desai on Slum Speculation and Ageing

SASNET, in collaboration with Lund University's Human Geography Department organised a seminar with renown development scholar Dr.Vandana Desai on the topic of her recent paper entitled ”Slum Speculation and Ageing in India”. The lecture was held on Tuesday 19 May 2015, 16:00 – 18:00 at Geocentrum 1 (room: Värlen on the ground floor), Solvegatan 10. Dr. Desai is a Senior Lecturer in Human Geography at the Department of Geography, Royal Holloway, University of London.
Abstract: Indian metropolises are increasingly seen as post-liberalization engines of growth. Pursuit of a more market-driven agenda has paved the way for public infrastructure investment in urban mega-projects and formation of new towns.  Yet, numerous failures in fulfilling expectations raised have led to mounting frustrations and bitter discourse among urban middle-upper classes.  In response, business leaders, architects and financial institutions engaged in forging local alliances, seek advantage through influence over urban governance.  Real estate actors are crucial since they have direct interest in the transformation of India’s cities.  What is critical to understand is how this cascades down to poorer slum communities, how it changes landscapes and politics of India’s cities and how changes in investment circuits affect practices of poorer people in trying to maintain legitimate security of tenure in low-income housing.  As corporate developers become city developers how do they contribute to shaping contemporary spatial Indian urban patterns, and reproducing social and economic divides in slum communities?  At a more local level, how do local elite slumdwellers’ interests intersect with poorer neighbours? In thinking about the rising aspirations of slum citizens in cities of the global South, who are innovatively increasing demands for higher living standards, leading to dispersed power and difficulties in reaching consensus within slums, this paper highlights the ever-growing fragmentation in terms of power, influence and decision-making that can heighten indecision, impasse, and insecurity for the poorest. The paper is based on 64 ethnographic interviews with older women in a north-east Mumbai slum.
Dr. Desai's research involves an integrated strategy of cross disciplinary research collaboration combining her background in development with the work of academics from geography, sociology, social policy, gerontology and international NGOs such as Practical Action and WaterAid in seeking to influence international policy making. Her research is focussing on theoretical and implementation issues in development policy, urban governance, and North-South donor relations in areas of low-income housing and infrastructural development (water and sanitation), ageing and gender issues. She is the co-editor of "The Companion to Development Studies",  contains over a hundred chapters written by leading international experts within the field to provide a concise and authoritative overview of the key theoretical and practical issues dominating contemporary development studies.

• SASNET seminar on Adolescent Reading Centres run by BRAC in Afghanistan

Dr. Chona R. Echavez, Deputy Director for the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU) in Kabul gave a SASNET lecture at Lund University on Mondag 25 May 2015, 15.15–17.00. The seminar, entitled ”Life skills education and livelihoods trainings for girls in Afghanistan: What difference do they make in their lives?” wass organised in collaboration with the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan (SCA) in Lund. Venue: Conference room 4, Dept. of Sociology, Paradisgatan 5 G, Lund. See the poster.
The Adolescent Reading Centres (ARCs) is a programme initiated by the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC) that started in 2007. It is like a home-based rural library, which was aimed to cater to over-aged girls who, due to several constraints, could not continue with their education. It further aimed to enhance the economic opportunities for socially excluded individuals. The Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU) examined the effectiveness of ARCs among targeted adolescent females in Kabul and Parwan provinces using the social exclusion lens. 
A combination of qualitative and quantitative techniques was utilised in comparing outcomes for beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries in the ARC. It adopted a quasi-experimental impact evaluation design. Findings showed that ARC intervention improved household well-being, access to economic opportunities and education by other members in household empower women, state-society relations. Furthermore, it pointed out that the trainings had only small effects on some indicators of social inclusion related to knowledge and skills acquisition but almost no impact in terms of employment and business activity. A key factor contributing to the limited income-generating outcomes of the livelihoods training related to its design and delivery. More generally, the research revealed that education, access to financial capital and restrictions on female mobility were the key barriers to female employment. The outcome of this study provided feedback among policy-makers and program implementers to address the cultural/traditional blocks that inhibit women to work outside the home and tie up the program with the government for continuity and sustainability. More information about the BRAC educational programmes in Afghanistan.
Chona R. Echavez has a PhD in Demography from the Australian National University, Canberra, Australia. Before joining AREU in January 2010, she served as an Asia Fellow in Cambodia at the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, during which she looked into healing, dreams, aspirations and concepts of peace among Cambodian youth. She also works as Senior Research Associate at the Research Institute for Mindanao Culture (RIMCU), Philippines.  While at RIMCU she managed a research portfolio that included: population, health, peace and livelihood programs, considering gender as a cross-cutting issue.
Dr. Echavez came to Sweden primarily to attend the SASNET conference on South Asia in Transformation, where she chaired one of the seven panels. 

• China based researcher on EU-India relations visited SASNET

Dr. Madhusudan Chaubey from the School of International Studies at Renmin University of China in Beijing made a courtesy call to SASNET on Tuesday 26 May 2015. He was accompanied by Prof. Staffan Lindberg, former SASNET director, with whom he has a long-standing academic relation since the early 1990s. Photo of the two together.
After studying Political Science at Delhi University, Madhusudan Chaubey moved to China 20 years ago to complete his PhD at Renmin University, and he has remained there ever since. Currently Chaubey is doing research on EU-India relations, and the reason for his ongoing tour to Europe is to do some fieldwork. He has spent a month in Brussels, and after that staying in Berlin – from where he took a short northbound trip to Sweden and Lund University to meet researcher colleagues at the Dept. of Political Science.
At SASNET, Madhusudan Chaubey met with acting director Lars Eklund, and discussed the issue of doing India related research in China.

• SASNET/SASA Fika Sri Lanka on journalism and political parties

The South Asian Student Association (SASA) at Lund University organises its fourth and final for the spring semester 2015 Fika without borders seminar on Thursday 28 May 2015, 17–19, at the usual venue: the basement floor at Lund University External Relations (ER) building, Stora Algatan 4, Lund. See poster. The May 28th event was dedicated to Sri Lanka, and two interesting presentations will be given. The first speaker was Swedish journalist Johan Mikaelsson, who recently published a book entitled ”När de dödar journalister” (When they kill journalists), on the long civil war in Sri Lanka ending in 2009.
In the book, he gives a background to the war, the dangerous reporting about the conflict, and obstacles for the media in Sri Lanka from his professional and research experiences. Point to be mentioned, Sri Lanka is ranked 165 of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index, one of about ten black-marked countries in the world. On the other hand, Mikaelsson sees possibilities for improvement with the change of government in January 2015. More information about the book.
The second speaker was PhD candidate Andreas Johansson, affiliated to both Lund University and Linnaeus University in Växjö, doing research on Muslim and Buddhist polical organizations in Sri Lanka. In particular he has studied the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) and the Bodu Bala Sena. Andreas, who will soon defend his doctoral dissertation at the Dept. of History of Religion in Lund, is currently also working part-time for SASNET, being in charge of the recent EASAS May 2015 workshop in Höllviken.
Delicious Mullygatatwny Soup was also served. Fika Without Borders South Asia events is a project started by SASA, in collaboration with SASNET, in which SASA organises a fika once a month, each time focusing on one of the eight South Asian countries. The 2015 series started with a Nepal fika on 5th February, an India fika on March 19th, and a Pakistan fika on May 7th.

• Mashiur Rahman lectures on Democratization: Utopia for Bangladesh

Professor Mashiur Rahman from the Department of Sociology at Dhaka University, Bangladesh, will hold a guest lecture at Lund University on Thursday 11 June 2015, 13.15–14.30.  Prof. Rahman who defended his PhD at the  Dept. of Sociology, Lund University in 2011, is currently back at this department on a two-months postdoc fellowship funded by SASNET. At the seminar, entitled ”Risk-minimized Welfare Society through Democratization: Utopia for Bangladesh?”, he will present results from his current research hoping to receive useful feedback from the audience. Venue: Conference room 1, Dept.of Sociology, Paradisgatan 5 G, Lund.

• More information about SASNET and its activities
See SASNET’s page,

Research Community News

• Indian president on Sweden tour to sign several university collaboration agreements

The President of India, Pranab Mukherjee makes an official visit to Sweden during the first week of June 2015. During his stay, he signs a large number of MoUs between Swedish and Indian universities. A signing ceremony took place at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Stockholm on Monday 1 June. The agreements are the following:
Blekinge Institute of Technology, MoUs with Jawaharlal Nehru Technological Universities in Kakinada and Hyderabad; and with Andhra University in Visakhapatnam. 
Karlstad University, MoUs with Banaras Hindu University (BHU) in Varanasi; and Indira Gandhi National Tribal University in Amarkantak.
– KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, MoU with Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (IITK).
Linköping University, MoU with Indira Gandhi National Tribal University in Amarkantak; with the Centre for Energy and Encvironment at Malviya National Institute of Technology in Jaipur; and with Vel Tech Dr. RR and Dr. SR Technical University in Chennai.
Linnaeus University, Växjö/Kalmar, MoU with Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University in Srinagar, Uttarakhand.
Lund University, MoUs with Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (IITK); and with the Indian Institute of Science and Research (IISER) in Thiruvananthapuram.
– Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), MoU with United Service Institution of India.
Stockholm University, MoU with the Indian Institute of Science and Research (IISER) in Thiruvananthapuram.
– Swedish Research Council for Health Working Life and Welfare, MoU with Indian Council of Medical Research on Ageing and Health.
– Swedish Medical Products Agency, MoU with the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation, India.
Umeå University, MoUs with Vellore Institute of Technology in Chennai; with Sri Ramaswamy Memorial University, Tamil Nadu; and with Manipal University.

President Pranab Mukherjee will also visited Uppsala University where he gave a talk on the subject ”Tagore and Gandhi: Do they have Contemporary Relevance for Global Peace?” at the Magna Aula (Main University Hall), Biskopsgatan 3, Uppsala. The Crown Princess Victora and Prince Daniel were present at the talk, that was held on Tuesday 2 June, at 17.00. The event was open to the public and the embassy of India arranged for transportation between KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm and Upsala University. The seminar in Uppsala was organised by the Dept. of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University, and the Embassy of India. More information.

• Paula Kantor victim for bloody attack by Taleban in Kabul

The Taleban in Afghanistan have claimed an attack on Park Palace Hotel in central Kabul on the night of 13 May 2015. Fourteen people were killed, all civilians: five Afghan and nine foreigners. The Taleban say they targeted a high-level meeting of ‘occupiers.’ All other reporting indicates that one or more gunmen had managed to get into the Park Palace Hotel before a concert by the Afghan classical musician Eltaf Hussein. Among the dead was a former director of the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU), Paula Kantor, who happened to be visiting Kabul at the start of a new research project. The police believe the attack was pre-planned since the gunman/men did not need to force their entrance with explosives or by killing guards, but appear to have been inside the hotel beforehand.
Dr Paula Kantor, was a dedicated and meticulous researcher who spent five years working in Afghanistan, first as senior researcher and then director of AREU (2005-2010). She had been in Kabul for a few days, staying at the Park Palace, excited to be starting a new project looking at women and wheat-growing in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Ethiopia for the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre, based in Islamabad. Four months ago, she had been appointed as its senior scientist working on gender and development. Previously, Paula had worked at the World Fish Centre, the International Centre for Research on Women and at the Universities of East Anglia and Wisconsin-Madison. With a BA in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania, an MA in Gender and Development from the University of Sussex and a PhD in city and regional planning from the University of North Carolina, she brought a formidable skill-set to her work in Afghanistan. Read more in an article by Kate Clark, Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN).

• Doctoral dissertation on the use of Unique Biometric IDs in India

Elida Kristine Undrum Jacobsen defends her doctoral dissertation in Peace and Development Research entitled ”Unique Biometric IDs: Governmentality and Appropriation in a Digital India” at the School of Global Studies, University of Gothenburg, on Monday 25 May 2015, at 13.15. Venue: sal 302, Annedalsseminariet, Campus Linné, Seminariegatan 1A, Göteborg.
Biometric ID schemes recognize and analyse individuals on the basis of distinctive, measurable characteristics - most commonly physiological characteristics (i.e. fingerprints). Elida Jacobsen’s doctoral dissertation investigates the ambitious Biometric ID project, which seeks to register the entire Indian population into a central biometric database. The logic of the scheme is that biometric IDs will provide effective and fraud-free governance. At the same time, it is built on a private-public partnership, relying heavily on India’s advances in software solutions. Whereas similar national biometric identification schemes have been vetoed in Europe, for example in the UK, such projects are rapidly gaining salience in Asia and Africa. The Indian Aadhaar scheme will be a forerunner in bringing biometric IDs into financial inclusion and development schemes in the global “South”, and if it succeeds many countries will follow. National Biometric IDs bring about new potentials for change in governance structures, and also creative forms of appropriating governance. Yet, they are not unproblematic.
Jacobsen’s dissertation investigates the rationales behind the scheme and what such ID enable in the governing of individuals and large populations. She concludes that such large scale ID systems allow for deeper surveillance of individuals, the creation of individual profiling for both commercial and security purposes, and potentially also changes relationships between individuals and governing authorities. Full information about the thesis.
Elida Jacobsen is also connected to the Peace and Research Institute of Oslo (PRIO), Norway.

• Indian Science and Research Fellowship Programme in Bangladesh

The Bangladesh Academy of Sciences has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India to coordinate a Science and Research Fellowship (ISRF) Programme offered by the Government of India in Bangladesh. The Indian Science and Research Fellowship (ISRF) Programme in Bangladesh aims to promote excellence in science and technology in the region. Applications for the ISRF Programme has been evaluated on the basis of intellectual merit, creativity and innovation, feasibility of approach, applicant’s scientific credential, complementarity and scientific deliverables/expected outcomes keeping in view the national needs towards human capacity building in areas of science and technology. The applications were screened by a Peer-review Committee. The Bangladesh Academy of Sciences shortlisted 20 applications to Centre for International Cooperation in Science (CICS) in Chennai, India. DST finally approved 10 awardees. The selected researchers include Dr. Mohammad Nurul Islam, Department of Botany, University of Dhaka; Ms.Hasina Khatun, Scientific Officer at the Plant Breeding Division, Bangladesh Rice Research Institute in Gazipur; Mr.Tanvir Ahmed Biman, Senior Scientific Officer at the National Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences in Dhaka; and Dr. Mohammed Amir Hossain Bhuiyan, Associate Professor at the Department of Environmental Sciences, Jahangirnagar University in Savar. Full information about the new Indo-Bangladeshi research programme.

• More information about South Asia related research at Swedish and Nordic universities
See SASNET’s page,

Educational News

• Romila Thapar critical against proposed standardisation of university syllabus in India

The Indian Ministry of Human Resource Development recently announced that it was introducing changes in the structure and functioning of central universities, numbering around 40. The suggested changes were made public in a proposed Universities Act. Renowned historian Romila Thapar is very critical of these changes. In an article in The Hindu entitled ”Fom Universities to Coaching Shops”, she explaisns why. ”The proposed standardisation of university syllabus will only drag down the quality of education to the lowest common denominator”.
A large number of academics from various Indian colleges and universities based in the National Capital Region have, according to Thapar, examined the suggestions. They went through the proposed changes with a fine-tooth comb, since the proposed changes, if implemented, would affect the academic quality of tertiary education at the college and university level. After frequent meetings over six months, they have jointly produced a document titled ‘What is to be Done About Indian Universities? Reflections from Concerned Teachers’. The document explains at length why they have found unacceptable, for academic reasons, much of what has been suggested. It is available on Facebook and has already brought in many worthwhile posts. It is an extremely important statement from a large body of teachers, containing their responses to the proposals, as had been requested. Hopefully, it will be discussed widely by the HRD Ministry, the University Grants Commission, and other organisations related to undergraduate and graduate teaching. Read the full article.

• Ananta Centre offers summer fellowships to International students in Delhi

The Ananta Centre, established in December 2013, is an independent not-for-profit organisation based in Delhi, India. It seeks to foster positive change in society by way of facilitating discussions and engaging the Civil Society, Inclusive of Business, NGO’s, Government and other stake holders on issues of importance to India’s development and National security. Formerly part of the Aspen Institute India, the Centre provides a non-partisan platform for open dialogue and cross sector outreach for a comprehensive understanding of public policy through the means of leadership initiatives, conferences and strategic discussions. Continuing in its endeavor to add value to society through participatory leadership, the organisation now announces the Ananta Centre – Avantha International Fellowship 2015 for International students to engage with India. This unique fellowship will continue as an innovation lab for knowledge sharing and capacity building for international students during summer 2015.
The four selected fellows will be placed in Ananta Centre’s New Delhi office over a period of two months in the timeframe of 15 June – 15 October, 2015 (dates are flexible to accommodate international university schedule) and exposed to India’s policy landscape. The fundamental aim is to foster prospective leaders and increase their responsiveness to national and international issues facing India. For more information about the Fellowship opportunity, contact Ramit Grover, Director, at
More information about Ananta Centre.

• George Yeo new Chancellor for revived Nalanda University

Mr George Yeo, former Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Singapore government, has been appointed to be the next Chancellor of Nalanda Open University near Rajgir in the Indian state of Bihar. His tenure will begin mid-July, 2015, replacing Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen who was appointed the Chancellor in 2012. Sen will however remain a member of the university’s Governing Board.
The original ancient Nalanda University existed from the 6th century AD till it was destroyed in 1193 AD, attracting students from across the world. An idea to revive Nalanda University came with a proposal by then President of India A. P. J.Abdul Kalam in 2006, and in 2007, the Government of India constituted a Nalanda Mentor Group (NMG) under the Chairmanship of Professor Amartya Sen to examine the framework of international regional co-operation under the aegis of the East Asia Summit (EAS), in order to turn the university into an international centre of education. China contributed one million dollars, Singapore five million dollars, Thailand of one lakh dollars and Australia one million Australian dollars for the construction work. It was formally inaugurated in its modern 'avatar' in September 2014 (more information).
Vice Chancellor Gopa Sabharwal now expresses her happiness for the selection of George Yeo as new Chancellor: “I have worked very closely with him on many issues over the last few years. His appointment will give the university much needed continuity at this stage of the project. We are sure that under his leadership, it will continue to fulfil the vision of the EAS participating countries that resulted in the establishment of Nalanda University.” Read more.

• High time to apply for Heidelberg MA programme in Modern South Asian Languages

From the coming winter semester, the South Asia Institute (SAI) at Heidelberg University, Germany, introduces a new Master's Programme in Communication, Literature and Media in Modern South Asian Languages. As one of the top South Asia centres worldwide, SAI has always emphasised modern South Asian languages and offers an exceptional variety of language programmes. The new MA programme is run by the Department of Modern South Asian Languages and Literatures, presently headed by Prof. Hans Harder, and offers extensive language courses with its full tracks in Bengali, Hindi, Tamil, and Urdu. In addition to established textual studies, the MA furthermore addresses film and new media in its aspiration to reach out to contemporary developments and communicational dynamics.
Language training and classes on textual and media studies form the core of the programme, as well as a rather method-oriented module on ”discourse, communication and literature”. The students may also select additional classes from the wide range of topics offered by the altogether seven South Asia-related departments of the Institute. The languages of instruction are English and German. For English speakers, the necessary German skills can be acquired during the programme.
For queries, please contact Programme Coordinator Jürgen Schaflechner or Administrator Lars Stöwesand. Deadline for applications from international students is 15 June 2015. More information in the attached flyer.

• Other educational news connected to South Asian studies all over the World

See SASNET’s page,

Seminars and Conferences in Scandinavia

• Interesting Morgenstierne lectures at University of Oslo
Jyotirmaya Tripathi and Cornelia Mallebrein.

The South Asia section at the Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages (IKOS), University of Oslo, arranged a new series of Morgenstierne lectures 21–28 May 2015. The seminar series owes its name to Georg Morgenstierne, who was a renowned Professor of Indo-Iranian languages from 1937 till 1963 at the University of Oslo. (Before that he was actually Professor of Comparative Indo-European Linguistics at University of Gothenburg 1930–1937). Venue for all seminars: P.A.Munchs hus, room 11, Blindern, Oslo.
The first seminar was held on Thursday 21 May, 10.15–12.00, with Jyotirmaya Tripathy from the Indian Institute of Technology Madras in Chennai, India. He held a public guest lecture entitled ”Culture Making and Development Discourse in Contemporary India”, in which he proposes an idea of culture where multiple versions of development compete for space and legitimacy. More information.
The second and third seminars were connected, on Wednesday 27 May and Thursday 28 May, both days 14.15–16.00, when Dr. Cornelia Mallebrein, University of Tübingen, Germany, talked about the Lanjia Sora Adivasi tribe from Indian state Odisha, and their recent conversion to Christianity. More information.

• Uppsala workshop on Linguistic Fieldwork in South Asia

An International workshop on Linguistic Fieldwork in South Asia was held at Uppsala University on 1–2 June 2015. The aim of this workshop was to create a forum to discuss issues related to linguistic fieldwork in South Asia and language description, which highlight the challenges as well as contributions of fieldwork to descriptive linguistics. This includes strategies selected to illustrate complex descriptive problems, convey socio-culturally anchored concepts, and empirically test theories. The workshop was organized by Dr. Anju Saxena, Department of Linguistics and Philology.
Invited speakers included Professor Anvita Abbi, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, India; Professor Shobhana Chelliah, University of North Texas, USA; Professor Sabine Stoll, University of Zürich, Switzerland; and Dr. Bettina Zeisler, Tübingen University, Germany. See the full programme.

• Stockholm conference on migration and urban development

The Royal Institute of Art (KKH) in Stockholm held a conference on migration and urban development on 2 June 2015. The conference, entitled ”Sweden is Becoming” invited speakers from different fields, who research, practise, voice or actively take part in the nexus of migration and urban transformation. The conference addressed some of the conditions of migration and space, with a particular focus on Swedish society. The conference was based on the year-long research-based study programme ”Resources.14/ A State of Migration: Sweden”, conducted as part of the post-master course in architecture and urban planning at KKH. More information.

• CROP workshop on Poverty, Water and Development in the South

The Comparative Research Programme on Poverty (CROP), based at University of Bergen, Norway, organises a workshop on ”Poverty, Water and Development in the South” on 3 – 5 June 2015 in Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil. It is co-organised by the Universidade Federal da Integração Latino-Americana (UNILA, Brazil), and the Nile Basin Research Programme (NBRP)Over the last decades, multilateral institutions, development agencies and states have promoted and strengthened a conventional view of the relationship(s) between poverty, water and development. The fight against poverty is usually undertaken by the mere provision of water to the poor in order to meet their nutritional, cleaning and sanitation needs. Such a restricted approach has proved to be inadequate in preventing the production and reproduction of poverty through generations. Water allocation practices are becoming increasingly inequitable, inefficient and unsustainable. As water is perceived as a scarce natural asset, "More Value per Drop" has become the new credo for the commodification of a natural common good. As a result, water governance institutions are tacitly discriminating against poor households and communities that rely on values that go beyond market rules.
This workshop will focus on, but not be limited to, questions such as:
– How are water and development issues linked to anti-poverty policies and strategies? What are the conceptions of poverty underpinning pro-poor water policies? Are public investments promoting water justice?
– What are the processes and mechanisms that make water play a key role in the development of poor communities? How do water appropriation, management and use contribute to explaining and/or unveiling asymmetric power distribution, inequities and poverty?
– How are water-related conflicts and rights addressed at an institutional level, locally and/or nationally?
– Are energy-related infrastructure investments being designed and implemented without taking into account their impact on water resources and the needs-vulnerable sectors? Are current water policies actually promoting equitable and sustainable development?
– What is the achievement and relevance of local water policies with respect to the Millennium Development Goals and their successors (SDGs)?
Full information about the workshop.

• Oslo seminar on Indian Diplomacy beyond Europe's order

In connection with the publishing of his new book ”The Making of Indian Diplomacy”, Dr. Deep K Datta-Ray from the Jindal School of International Affairs in India will give a policy oriented talk in Oslo on why India seeks to challenge and underminde Western global orders. The seminar, entitled ”The Indian challenge: Diplomacy beyond Europe's order”, is organised by the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI) and is held on Tuesday 9 June 2015 at 10.00. Venue: NUPI, C.J. Hambros plass 2 D, Oslo.
Deep K Datta-Ray is an Assistant Professor at JSIA. He holds a BA in Chinese History from SOAS, an MA in War Studies from King’s College, London and a DPhil in International Relations from the University of Sussex. Prior to joining JSIA, Deep worked for nearly a decade as a business consultant with several international firms and in New York, London, Singapore and Mumbai. He also wrote extensively for newspapers, appearing most frequently in the South China Morning Post and the Times of India. The seminar will be posted on Youtube. More informaton incl. link to video.

• PhD dissertation workshop on Inequity and Urbanism in the Global South

The Centre of Global South Asian Studies, and the PhD School at Dept. of Cross Cultural and Regional Studies, both institutions at University of Copenhagen, are organising its 4th annual collaborative workshop for doctoral students at New York University, USA, 12–13 June 2015. This time Amsterdam University has joined the NYU-Copenhagen initiative as well. The theme for this multi-disciplinary Dissertation Workshop will be ”Inequity and Urbanism in the Global South”. 
The aim is to bring together PhD students from various theoretical and empirical perspectives, including but not limited to fields of history, sociology, anthropology, political science, political economy and development studies. They should have completed substantial dissertation research on any aspect of urbanized inequity in the world of globalization. Applicants should send a letter describing their research and reasons for joining the workshop along with a CV and a short writing sample (drawn from their dissertation), combined in one PDF email attachment, to David Ludden (New York University),  Ravinder Kaur (University of Copenhagen), and Barak Kalir (University of Amsterdam). Deadline for applications was 1 March 2015. Full information.

• Asian food culture in focus for 2015 Asian Dynamics Initiative conference

The Asian Dynamics Initiative (ADI) at University of Copenhagen announces its 7th annual international ADI conference to be held 24-26 June 2015. The theme for the 2015 ADI conference will be ”Food, Feeding and Eating In and Out of Asia”. It will take place over three days and feature distinguished keynote speakers as well as interdisciplinary panels. Confirmed keynote speakers include Professor Paul Freedman, Yale University; Professor Michael Herzfeld, Harvard University; and British writer, science journalist and former physicist Madhusree Mukerjee.
Food, feeding and eating activities are as old as life itself, but recently there has been a heightened interest in such issues within policy-making, international relations, and academic scholarship ranging from the bio-medical, philosophical, historical, and political to the social, cultural, economic, and religious. Food is both global and local: while foods, cuisines, recipes, people, and culinary cosmopolitanisms have been in global circuits of flows and circulations through various periods of history, the smells, sights, sounds, textures, and tastes of local foodscapes may evoke memories of ‘home’ and imaginations of travel alike. Moreover, with increasing numbers of people concentrated in large cities and urban agglomerations, the challenges of feeding people are becoming ever more complex. Against the backdrop of globalisation of Asia and Asian foods, this conference focuses on the wide-ranging aspects of production, consumption, distribution, disposal, and circulation of foods in and out of Asia. Manpreet K. Janeja and Ravinder Kaur from the Dept. of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies at University of Copenhagen are part of the organising committee. More information.

• Information about South Asia related lectures and seminars

Conferences and workshops outside Scandinavia

• SOAS South Asia Institute graduate workshop on South Asia Cityscapes

SOAS South Asia Institute arranges its Second Annual Graduate Workshop with the theme ”South Asia Cityscapes: Social, economic and cultural transformations” on 8 June 2015, 09.00–18.00. This one-day workshop intends to bring together research students working on South Asian cities and aspects of urban life in South Asia to address a broad range of questions about how everyday engagements, material conditions, new and evolving imaginaries, cultural production, and the social space of cities are being negotiated within urban and urbanizing South Asia. Venue: Meet 116, Russell Square Main Building, SOAS, University of London. A Call for Papers has been published, deadline for submissions is 27 February.
Urbanising processes are taking place across the South Asian region, the home of more than a fifth of humanity. South Asian cityscapes are consequently playing a significant role in shaping social, economic and cultural formations. Arjun Appadurai’s notion of ‘five scapes’ (or flows) conceptualises the rapid processes by which ideas, information, people, finances, and technologies are constantly shifting, evolving and emerging within the global context. South Asia’s ‘global cities’, such as Mumbai, Karachi, and Dhaka, as Sassen has highlighted, are showing new modes of operation no longer tightly bound to national and regulatory systems. However, as Hansen points out, cities in South Asia have simultaneously not produced the individualised modernities expected of industrial cities but rather urban spaces in which ethnicity, religion, and other aspects of ‘traditional’ life are shaping contemporary urban sociality and the uses of public space.
PhD students working in the humanities and social sciences whose work is at a sufficiently advanced stage for them to share it with their peers, andpostdocs who were awarded their doctorate no more than one year before the date of the workshop, are invited to send titles and 250-word abstracts. Contributions may be either a draft thesis chapter or a paper written specially for the workshop. Selected contributors will be invited to come to SOAS to present their work in an engaging and supportive forum.  A contribution towards costs of travel and accommodation will be provided for students selected to present papers who are registered at British and European universities and who are travelling from outside London.  Students from further afield are also welcome to submit abstracts but we cannot undertake to cover their costs. PhD students wishing to attend only and not to present to the workshop are also welcome to register. More information

• Peshawar conference on the Federally Administered Tribal Areas

The Cell for FATA Studies (CFS) at University of Peshawar in Pakistan announces the first national conference on ”Socio-Economic and Political Currents in FATA: A Way Forward”, to be held 10–11 June 2015. Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) is well known as the region that has consistently grown terrorism, extremism and political instability at a fast pace over the last decade and a half while being home to the largest concentration of Pakistan’s poor.  Interrogating the extent of and reasons for endemic poverty, coexisting with sustained economic growth, and disturbances in social engineering with the arrival of foreigners as terrorists and extremists is the basic raison d'être for the proposed two-day conference. Evaluating ‘what has worked’, ‘what has not’ and, therefore, ‘how precisely do we go forward’ will form the core scientific content of the proposed conference.
Being part of a unique university with a mandate of inculcating regional consciousness among the citizens of the region (India, Afghanistan and Pakistan), the Cell for FATA Studies considers it an obligation to contribute to the understanding of the challenges and opportunities for inclusive development in the FATA, especially in its social, economic and political dimensions. Through this conference, we hope to provide a platform for sharing both broad visions of the FATA’s collective future, as well as results of detailed research focusing on specific themes relevant for the region. Papers presented at the conference will be published in a book form bearing an ISBN number. Deadline for submitting abstracts is 12 May 2015. More information.

• Peshawar conference on Dynamics of Change in the Pakistan-Afghanistan Region

The Department of Political Science at University of Peshawar, Pakistan, and the Hanns Seidel Foundation (HSF), Islamabad, organise a Fourth Annual International Conference on 12–14 June 2015, The theme for the conference is ”The Dynamics of Change in the Pakistan-Afghanistan Region: Politics on Borderland”. Venue: Bara Gali Summer Campus, University of Peshawar, Deadline for submitting abstracts is 30 March 2015.
Over the past couple of centuries the Pakistan-Afghanistan borderland has gained increased level of international attention. Much of this attention, in both policy and scholarship, was drawn to the borderland’s geo-strategic significance and how it proved to be a defining part of the so-called Great Wars. This led to a unique albeit at times narrow understanding of the borderland often resulting in either diminutive or exaggerated narratives. Thus in the last three conferences, which we organized, we noticed how the dominant narratives, discourses, and theories of the Pakistan-Afghanistan borderland are quite wanting in critically addressing the challenge of making the borderland legible. Given the hitherto marginality of the local voices and traditions, the conference will put light on what are the ways and sources of knowledge that can help to make their lives more legible, meaningful, and inclusive? What makes Pakistan-Afghanistan borderland a borderland? In what ways do the recent scholarship on borderlands contribute to problematizing as well as understanding the various dynamics of Pakistan-Afghanistan borderland? What are the political and economic challenges to the state building in both Pakistan and Afghanistan, especially in the backdrop of recent developments in the region? More information.

• London conference on Violence, Colonialism and Empire in Contemporary World

A conference entitled “Violence, Colonialism and Empire in the Modern and Contemporary World“ will be held at British Academy in London from 29 June to 1 July 2015. The conference is sponsored by the Centre for the History of Violence (CHOV) at the University of Newcastle, Australia. This conference will bring together scholars from across the world to explore innovative ways of critically engaging with the question of violence, repression and atrocity in imperial and colonial empires, its representations and memories, from the late eighteenth through to the twentieth century. Invited guest speakers are Partha Chatterjee, Columbia University; and Elizabeth Kolsky, Villanova University. The conference organizers encourage scholars to interpret the conference themes broadly in crafting their proposals and are not limited to European colonial empires made up of settler societies, but also empires of occupation.. More information.

• Athens conference on Asian History and Asian Studies

The Athens Institute for Education and Research (ATINER), a world association of academics and researchers, organizes an International Forum on Asian History and Asian Studies, 29 June – 2 July 2015, as part of its 13th Annual International Conference on ”History & Archaeology: From Ancient to Modern”. The aim of the conference is to bring together scholars and students of all areas of Asian History and Asian Studies and other related disciplines. More information.

• Sri Lanka Training Programme on Terrestrial/Aquatic Wildlife

An International Training Programme on Terrestrial/Aquatic Wildlife & Primate Conservation is organised by the Faculty of Graduate Studies, University of Sri Jayewardenepura in Nugegoda, Sri Lanka, 2–23 August 2015. The purpose is to provide the opportunity to gain an understanding of the biodiversity and to experience the diverse habitats using field excursions. and to provide the participants hands – on experience of practicing ecological sampling technique methods in the field. Deadline for early bird registration has passed but it is still possible to register. The programme is mainly focused for foreign participants. More information.

• Second MUSA Graduate Conference to be held in London

The Muslim South Asia Research Forum (MUSA), based at SOAS, University of London, invites to its Second Graduate Conference to be held in London on 9–10 October 2015. The event will be co-organised in collaboration with the Royal Asiatic Society. The conference aims to connect early career scholars and academics researching Muslim societies in South Asia and their diasporic communities, across disciplines and time periods. Our goal is to provide a platform for scholarly exchange and to showcase new and innovative thinking in this field. PhD students and early career researchers from any discipline  are invited to apply. Panels on different themes relevant to the study of South Asian Muslim societies will be put together based on your submissions. Abstracts shold be submitted by Monday 15 June 2015. More information.

• New Zeeland conference on Asian Intersections

The 21st New Zealand Asian Studies Society (NZASIA) International Conference will be held in Christchurch 29 November – 1 December 2015. It is being hosted by the University of Canterbury in Christchurch. The theme for the conference will be ”Asian Intersections: Identities and Linkages”, focusing on the fact that Asia has long been a crossroads, where civilizations, large and small, and their arts, and cultures, have intersected, interacted and evolved. This has led to complex patterns of social, artistic, political and economic interactions, which have shaped and reshaped identities over the years, in some places peacefully and syncretically, in some places resulting in long lasting conflict or disorder. Panel and paper proposals on any topic related to Asia, broadly defined are invited, from all disciplines. Abstracts should be submitted before 31 August 2015. More information.

• Other conferences connected to South Asian studies all over the World
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Business and Politics

• Information about South Asia related business and politics in Sweden
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South Asia related culture in Scandinavia

• Rani Nair and Astad Deboo perform at Choreography Assembly in Lund

Rani Nair and Astad Deboo.

The first Lund International Choreography Assembly is held 1–12 June 2015. The theme for this first edition of what is supposed to become a yearly event in Lund, will be ”Contemporary Indian Dance within Europe and India”, featuring world famous Indian dance maestro Astad Deboo from Mumbai, and young promising Swedish dancer Rani Nair born in Lund. The intention is to let dance practice and academia meet, and highlight hybrid dance languages. An issue that will be raised is – why do some artists need to talk about identity politics? Why do questions about race and identity still matter? Besides the dancers, scholars have been invited, among them Priya Srinivasan, Professor of Performance Studies with a PhD from Northwestern University in USA. She is the author of the book ”Sweating Saris – Indian Dance as Transnational Labour”. Her research uses critical feminist performance ethnography to explore the inter-relations between labor, migration, and dance through theory and practice.
The public is invited to take part in a few events during the Assembly. On Thursday 4 June, 12.00 – 15.00, the artist Sandra Chatterjee and Priya Srinivasan will lecture and discuss the issue of  Why identity still matters”, at Skånes Dansteater, Östra Varvsgatan 13 A, Malmö. On Wednesday 10 June, at 19.00, artistic presentations will be given  by Astad Deboo and Rani Nair at Stenkrossen, Kastanjegatan 13, Lund. Both events are free of charge.
Finally, on Friday 12 June, at 19.00, Astad and Rani will present their new artistic collaboration, entitled Future Memory. Rani was introduced to Astad Deboo by the Indian ambassador in Stockholm. They have established a collaboration with the intention of creating a new solo for Astad. This is their first artistic meeting together and their first meeting with an audience. Venue: Plattform för ny dans, Dansstationen/Palladium, Södergatan 15, Malmö. Seats can be reserved from More information.

• Yoga festival and lectures in Kungsträdgården part of 2015 Sambandh festival

The 2015 Indian festival in Stockholm got its climax on Saturday 23 May. A gigantic yoga mat was organised  in the centrally located Kungsträdgården. The initiative came from Indian ambassador to Sweden Banashri Bose Harrison who wanted to carry forward prime minister Narendra Modi's plans to popularise the ancient Indian form globally. 23 May was entitled the Namaste India day.
All Indians living in Sweden were invited to join in either as volunteers through any of the different Indian associations that set up tents in Kungsträdgården, or as visitors who helped mark this day as the day when India came to Stockholm in full force.
In addition to yoga food from the different regions of India like Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Maharashtra, Punjab, Gujarat, Andhra/Telangana, UP/Nawabi, and Mughlai was served. Indian restaurateurs and commercial food caterers were welcome and offered professional tents at a subsidized rate.
In addition, travel and tourism operators were allowed to set up stalls and sell their India destination packages. They offered professional tents at a subsidized rate. As for arts, crafts, dance & culture, some of the local dance associations were given the possibility to come and perform during the day. The Swedish national dance academy and circus school will also come to perform.
Finally, popular lectures on India were given by journalists and researchers such as Per J Anderssom, Olavi Hemmilä, and David Ståhl. See the seminar programme.
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• Protest against planned extradition of Brokiga Bengalen shop keeper

In 2011, Dr. Christina Nygren from the Department of Musicology and Performance Studies, Stockholm University, established a shop in Stockholm, Brokiga Bengalen Butik at Södermannagatan 50. The shop focusing on Bengali goods, and is also a place for cultural events such as concerts and lectures. It has been successfully managed from the start by Mr. Sirajul Islam (photo). However, the Swedish Migration Board recently decided that Mr. Islam should be deported immediately from Sweden back to his native country Bangladesh. The reason stated is that his connection to Sweden is not strong enough, and he has not contributed to the development of Swedish society. An appeal has now been sent to protest against this decision, refuting the arguments presented by the Migration board. Anyone who likes to get more information, or directly support the appeal and thereby also save the Brokiga Bengalen Butik from closing down, may contact Christina Nygren via e-mail (

• Information about South Asia related culture in Sweden/ Scandinavia
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New and updated items on SASNET web site

• Swedish departments where research on South Asia is going on

Constantly added to the list of research environments at Swedish universities, presented by SASNET. The full list now includes more than 300 departments, with detailed descriptions of the South Asia related research and education taking place! See the full list of departments here:

• Useful travelling information

Look at our Travel Advice page. Updated travel advises from the The British Foreign & Commonwealth Office about safety aspects on travelling to the countries of South Asia.

Best regards

  Lars Eklund

Acting Director
SASNET/Swedish South Asian Studies Network

SASNET is a national network for research, education, and information about South Asia and is based at Lund University. Its aim is to promote a dynamic networking process in which Swedish researchers cooperate with their counterparts in South Asia and around the globe.
The SASNET network is open to all branches of the natural and social sciences. Priority is given to interdisciplinary cooperation across faculties, and more particularly to institutions in the Nordic countries and South Asia. SASNET believes that South Asian studies will be most fruitfully pursued as a cooperative endeavour among researchers in different institutions who have a solid base in their mother disciplines.
The network is financed by Lund University.

Postal address: SASNET – Swedish South Asian Studies Network, Box 114, SE-221 00 Lund, Sweden 
Visiting address: Paradisgatan 5 G (first floor, room no. 201), in the premises of the Department of Sociology, Lund University.
Phone: + 46 46 222 73 40 
Web site:

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