18th European Conference on Modern South Asian Studies

18th European Conference on Modern South Asian Studies, 
held at Lund, Sweden, 6–9 July 2004

Conference impressions and expressions!

Wednesday 7 July – 12 Panels, Unique Ideas

The 18th European Conference on Modern South Asian Studies was continued on Wednesday 7th July with 12 panels.

The panels were held on issues of democracy, languages, literature, cinema, politics in Gujarat, villages of India, ecology, education, health and demographic changes, empires nationalisms and the containment of labour, economic liberalization, Tamil speaking areas in India and Sri Lanka, spirit and power of sacred places and preservation of cultural heritage, and gender and the local state.

The panel on education, health and demographic changes in South Asia having 22 presentations was the host of scholars from Sweden, India, United Kingdom, Finland and the United States.

Sixteen papers were presented on India which discussed the issues of health care utilization, familial power relations, private health sector, female infanticide, reproductive and child health, public hospital reforms, declining child sex ratios, gender differences, immunization, barriers to medical education, rural communities, female autonomy, mental health, education, joint families and son preference as well as child marriage.
There were also papers presented on “Degree and Determinants of Men’s Contraceptive Knowledge in Bangladesh”, “The Effectiveness of Private and Public Schools in Bangladesh and Pakistan”, and “Changing Profile of Education, Health and Demographic Sectors in South Asia” in this panel.

There were six papers presented in the panel 18 entitled Empires, Nationalisms and the Containment of Labour in South Asia. The participants in this panel were representing universities from United Kingdom, India, Germany and Canada. The scholars discussed the issues of railway labourers and the politics of strikes in colonial Bihar, mobility and containment, politics of Indian labour immigrants in British Colombia, labour rights, wages and welfare, economic liberalization, as well as movements and workers in the World Social Forum.

The discussions in panel 18 were mostly focused on India. One of the discussions that were being followed in this panel was politics of immigrant farm labour and problems of workers.

The panel 38, the Tamil Panel, was one of the most interesting panels. There were nine papers presented in the panel. The issues of female political leaders in Asia, life styles of the Madrasis, and different aspects of caste system were being discussed.

Torsten Tschacher

presented his paper entitled ”How to die before dying? Sharia and Sufism in a 19th century Arabic Tamil Poem”. He discusses the Islamic literature in Tamil in this paper. Tschacher described the contents of a 19th century poem in Arabic-Tamil (Tamil written in Arabic script), the Hadya Malai by Imam al-Arus. Nuances of Islam and Islamic texts were discussed and followed in the panel.

Many of the participants joined a guided tour to old Lund that was arranged by Lund University for the guests as a final programme on the second day of the 18th Conference.

         Behnoosh Payvar, (text and photo)
Masters student of South Asian Studies, Lund University