Nordic Newsletter 18 – 20 April 2018


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Research Community News

• Stockholm-Delhi-Kathmandu research collaboration on Lifelong Learning

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.

• India book by Lindberg and Eklund release event also in Oslo

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…/miraklet-indien-och-dess-baksida-2/

• Kolkata historian guest researcher at Uppsala University

During the period 8-30 April 2018, Associate Professor Ritwika Biswas from the Department of History, University of Calcutta, visits 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.

• Lund University workshop on Nationalisms in South Asia

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 MaldivesPerformances of Masculinity, Militarism and Sinhala Buddhist Nationalism in Sri LankaBuddhist Revivalism and Democratization in Bhutan; and Broadband Virtual Nationalism in BaltistanSee the full workshop programme.

• Växjö researchers publish book on Joseph Stephens and Huseby

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.

• SASNET launches blog about the South Asia Initiative

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.

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

Educational News

• Apply for Heidelberg’s master's programme on Health and Society in South Asia

Masters programme

Since 2008, the South Asia Institute at University of Heidelberg, Germany, runs an interdisciplinary Master's programme entitled ”Health and Society in South Asia” (MAHASSA). The programme is a taught, two-year interdisciplinary degree with a focus on Medical Anthropology and South Asian Studies. 
 It is integrated with the curriculum of Heidelberg University’s South Asia Institute, allowing students to integrate South Asian languages, geography, politics, etc. into their plan of study. Most students base their Masters Thesis on field research conducted in South Asia. The language of instruction is English. The programme is intended for students who plan to work (or already work) in health-related fields but also for those who wish to pursue an academic career. The programme is administered by the Dept. of Anthropology at the South Asia Institute, specializing in Medical Anthropology, with various staff members conducting research on ritual healing, folk medicine, South Indian medicine, health and environment, Ayurveda, Tibetan Medicine, gender and health, women's reproductive health and Islam, and other topics.
The programme combines Medical Anthropology with South Asian Studies. Medical Anthropology is the study of healing systems, not primarily in terms of scientific theories or health policies, but also focusing on and analyzing how they are practiced in concrete, socio-cultural contexts. Admissions for the next program starting in October 2018 is now open and applications should have reached the University before 15 June 2018. More information about MAHASSA.

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


Seminars and Conferences in Scandinavia

• Oslo Centre invites to seminar on a Solution for Kashmir

The Oslo Center organises an evening seminar entitled ”A Solution for Kashmir?” on Monday 23 April 2018, at 17.30. The seminar features a conversation on the situation in Kashmir beetween the prominent Pakistani-Kashmiri activist Mushaal Hussein Mullick, wife of the jailed Indian-Kashmiri activist Yasin Malik, and Professor Sten Widmalm from the Dept. of Political Science at Uppsala University. Venue: Litteraturhuset Amalie Skram, Wergelandsveien 29, Oslo.
The conflict in Kashmir has been ongoing since the end of the British colonial empire and the creation of the Indian and Pakistani states. Yet, the 70-year old conflict falls outside of the spotlight of the international community. The seminar is free but pre-registration is needed. More information.

• Afghanistan State building workshop at Lund University

On Monday 23 April 2018, the Dept. of Political Science at Lund University organises a public panel discussion on State Building in Afghanistan in a Global Context.  Venue: Edens hörsal, Universitetsplatsen. With its strategic location Afghanistan has been a focus of global politics for many centuries. Despite its fragile nation-state and conflicting ethnic parties, Afghanistan has managed not to formally cede its sovereignty to a colonial power or break up along ethnic lines. How can we explain this historical development? How does the Afghan state function? What role do international organizations and NGOs play in Afghan state-building? What role do the Taliban play? What role does migration play? What role do global Islamist networks play? Can we speak of Afghanistan as a “failed state”? What can the case of Afghanistan teach us about contemporary global politics? Join us for a panel discussion on Afghan state building and the global significance of Afghanistan featuring both scholars and experienced practitioners who have worked in Afghanistan for NGOs and international organizations.
Invited panelists include Professor Robert D. Crews, a historian from Stanford University, USA; and Sari Kouvo - co-Director of the Afghanistan Analysts Network and Associate Professor at the Department of Law, Gothenburg University. Associate Professor Ted Svensson will be the moderator. Full information about the event

• Spring 2018 series of Morgenstierne seminars at University of Oslo


The South Asia section at the Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages (IKOS), University of Oslo, arranges a new series of Morgenstierne lectures during the spring 2018. 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, Blindern, Oslo.

On Thusday 3 May, 14.15-16.00, Mukulika Banerjee - Associate Professor of Social Anthropology and Director of the India Studies Centre at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) will hold a seminar entitled ”Cultivating Democracy: 15 years of Election Ethnography from Eastern India”. Currently completing a book manuscript based on 15 years of ethnographic data of rural voters and their multivalent engagement with elections and voting activities in West Bengal, India, she examines the reasons why despite varying odds, India’s voter graph continues to rise, making India the largest electoral democracy in the world. Read more...

On Thursday 31 May 2018, 14.15-17.00, Assistant Professors Lisa Björkman, University of Louisville, and Nicholas Martin, Universität Zürich, will hold a Morgenstierne Seminar Double Lecture entitled ”The Anthropology of South Asian Politics Today”. Lisa has written on the encounter in the Indian city of Mumbai between liberalising market reforms and the materially-dense politics of the city’s water infrastructures, exploring the everyday political, social, and material dynamics that produce and inhabit flows of water through the growing and globalising city, whereas Nicholas has done fieldwork mostly been on Punjab, both in Pakistan and in India. His main field has been agrarian change, the evolving nature of patron-client ties, and on debt bondage, and a book entitled Politics, Landlords and Islam in Pakistan that was published by Routledge in 2015. Read more...

• Nordic South Asia scholars meet in Oslo in June 2018

The second South Asia across the Nordic Region (SANR) annual meeting will be held in Oslo on 5 - 6 June 2018. In late June 2017, the recently established network held its first annual meeting in Copenhagen. SANR was established to present cutting edge research undertaken by Nordic scholars, and to facilitate greater collaboration across Nordic research institutions and universities. The need for such a meeting forum has been acutely felt by scholars, especially young scholars in need of mentorship and support in the early career stage. The annual meetings are therefore seen as an important step towards building up future frameworks of cooperation.
The two-day programme in Oslo will consist of keynote talks, panel sessions, roundtables, a special session for younger scholars, and ample time for mingling and informal discussions. If you wish to actively contribute to the programme, please email Associate Professor Kenneth Bo Nielsen for further information. The event is funded by the Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages at the University of Oslo, and supported by Asianettverket/The Norwegian Network for Asian Studies. Travel and accommodation costs are borne by participants while the host provides local hospitality. There is no conference fee. Full information.

• Växjö conference on critical theory, postcoloniality, migration and populism

On 14-16 June 2018, the Linnaeus University Centre for Concurrences in Colonial and Postcolonial Studies at Linnaeus University in Växjö organises an international conference on critical theory, postcoloniality, migration and populism. The conference is entitled ”Global Challenges: Borders, Populism and the Postcolonial Condition”, and addresses current global challenges with a focus on the present resurrection of geographical and intellectual borders, the rise of populism in the West and beyond, and the realisation that current geopolitical relations are still deeply informed by the long history of colonialism. Confirmed keynote speakers include Gurminder K Bhambra, Professor of Postcolonial and Decolonial Studies at University of Sussex, UK. To facilitate a productive and interdisciplinary meeting, the conference will include scholars from a wide interdisciplinary spectrum, including postcolonial studies, migration studies, animal studies, trauma studies, and ecocriticism.
The conference will be comprised of a number of thematic sessions that include issues such as Contemporary cultural discourses on torture, dignity, and victimization; Sovereignty, violence, and citizenship; Migration, mobility, and borders; and  Postcoloniality, nationalism and human rights. Venue for the conference: Teleborg Castle situated on the Växjö campus of Linnaeus University. More information.

• India and China in focus for 10th ADI conference in Copenhagen 

On 18-20 June 2018, the 10th Annual Asian Dynamics Initiative (ADI) Conference is being held by the Universtity of Copenhagen. The theme for the 2018 conference is ”Transition and Disruption in Asia”, focusing on the spectacular rise of China and India. Therefore the organisers claim that it is only natural that these populous new superpowers dominate scholarly and media attention, while other regions in Asia are foregrounded only in exceptional moments of  environmental, political or economic crisis. Yet the latter, too, confirm the need to conceive of Asia as a site of accelerated change. This principle also applies to the pre-modern period, in spite of the fact that Eurocentric observers preferred to conceptualize this vast space as a permanently stagnant region. Among the organisers appear Prof. Jørgen Delman and Ravider Kaur, both from the Dept. of of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies. Read more...

• Information about South Asia related lectures and seminars

Conferences and workshops outside Scandinavia

• Time to register 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). It is now time to register. 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.
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.

• London 2018 conference on Muslim Cultures in the Indian Ocean

The Aga Khan University’s Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations, based in London, organises an international confertence entitled ”Muslim Cultures in the Indian Ocean. Diversity and Pluralism, Past and Present” on 12-14 September 2018. This conference aims to explore the diversity of Muslim cultures prevalent in the Indian Ocean region - including the Maldives - where, historically, Muslims have interacted for centuries with each other and with other peoples and cultures. Islam not only provided the scaffolding that facilitated cultural exchanges but was also the pivot for transforming local societies. The conference seeks to bring together experts from different disciplines and backgrounds including archaeologists, historians, sociologists, anthropologists, geographers, and scholars of related disciplines to explore various facets of this diversity. This conference marks a reconnaissance of the Indian Ocean not as a periphery but as a centre for the study of Muslim cultures.
Indeed, over the past couple of decades, significant new research has been undertaken across East Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and the Indian subcontinent leading to fresh insights on a number of facets of Indian Ocean cultures. Some of these studies were written about the Indian Ocean on the longue durée and other studies were focused on local and regional histories. Cultural encounters across the Indian Ocean down the centuries have given rise to cities, towns, ports and other constructions and artefacts which, while remaining distinctive in themselves, also exhibit layers of shared features. They manifest the craftsmanship and values of their creators, peoples whose diversity is almost proverbial. Similar endeavours are present in almost all aspects of human creativity through contact, including religious beliefs and practices, literature, architecture, trade, cuisine, textiles and fashion, etc. Cultural contacts, exchanges and networks were facilitated by the sea as a link between these diverse worlds. Full information.

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

Business and Politics

• Warm welcome to Indian Prime Minister on his visit to Stockholm

En route to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a two-day stop-over visit in Sweden 16-17 April 2018. He was warmly welcomed by Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfvén already at the airport, and he also met the Prime Ministers from the other Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Norway) who participated in the first India-Nordic summit, naturally with an eye on attracting investment for the Indian government’s ambitious “Make in India” campaign. 
For Sweden, the manufacture of the Swedish SAAB Gripen is a major issue, and an agreement on defence collaboration was agreed upon, besides an agreement on Innovation Partnership in areas of cooperation such as clean technology, waste management, renewable energy, women’s development, and skill development. More information.
Before the visit, WION TV News made an interview with Robin Sukhia, Secretary General & President Sweden-India Business Council, on the importance of Modi’s Sweden visit. Go for the interview.
While in Stockholm, Narendra Modi also gave a speech to the Indian diaspora at the end of his visit. A meeting, organized by the Indian Embassy in Sweden, was held at Stockholm University to which around 1,600 enthusiastic Indians residing in Sweden attended (more information). They had come to Stockholm from many places in Sweden. As of December 2017 there are just short of 30,000 people born in India living in Sweden, with industries like tech in particular attracting skilled labour. See the youtube video from Modi’s Stockholm University meeting.
Unlike in London, to which place Modi travelled from Stockholm, Modi did not meet any demonstrations against his visit to Sweden. However, critical articles were published in a few newspapers. Read Professor Ashok Swain’s 18 April Outlook article entitled ”Moral Superpower’ Sweden Should Not Forget Nehru And Gandhis In Its Eager To Sign Deals”.

• Information about South Asia related business and politics in Sweden

South Asia related culture in Scandinavia

• Kathak workshop at Aarhus University

On Tuesday 24 April 2018, 13.00-15.00, the India and South Asia at Aarhus University programme (CISCA) organises a Kathak Workshop with Kristina Dolinina, assistant lecturer of Hindi Language and Literature at the Center of Oriental Studies, Vilnius University, Lithuania. She is also professional Classical Indian dancer and founder of Natya Devi Dance Theatre, recently doing her PhD on Kathak Dance from Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre. Venue: Building 1467- 316, Jens Chr. Skous Vej 7, Nobelparken, Aarhus. Registration required to Vivek Kumar Shukla
Kathak is one of the classical dance styles currently recognized and practiced in India and beyond. The dance style has developed from performing traditions of northern central India. Mathematically complex and fast rhythmic compositions, virtuosic footwork and swirling pirruets, graceful movements and subtle elements of emotional transmission - all these are the characteristics of Kathak dance.

• Information about South Asia related culture in Sweden/ Scandinavia
See SASNET’s page,

Best regards

  Lars Eklund

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Nordic South Asia Network (NSAN) newsletters are produced by Lars Eklund.
Till 31 December 2016 he worked as deputy director for the Swedish South Asian Studies Network (SASNET), based at Lund University.
After retiring from SASNET, Lars runs the NSAN web site and produces monthly newsletters as a follow-up venture to the old SASNET Newsletter service that was closed down in April 2016.