Thursday, January 8, 2009

Upcoming Seminar on "Emerging Literature from North East India", Aizawl, Mizoram

Source: Indian Institute of advance study,


Culture is a dynamic process that goes through mutations and underwrites changes in time while some historic turning points in the life of a community becomes the defining moment for that community in terms of identity and articulation. Culture as a hold all word also operates within an epistemological horizon in that cultural reproduction is intimately connected to its transmission and transformation. In an era when we go on debating the merits and demerits of globalization from an economic stand point we often ignore what happens to fragile marginal identities and the way a society articulates its inner conflicts, ambivalences, passions, through the written word. Creative literature has always expressed not only the discursive struggle of an individual but also struggles of many kinds of the community as a whole. Creative literature is an indicator of a society’s understanding of itself, human ecology, various ‘life forms’ and the larger world around it. It engenders itself through constant engagement with the changes while accepting what is universal, defining and redefining what is specific and particular.

Northeast India has always been in mainstream consciousness mostly for the wrong reasons, its understanding mostly created through, and derived from the media. There is a Northeast outside of the newspaper pages; it is something different to people who live here. The land mass that is designated as India’s Northeast is not the same to the people who inhabit this geographical area that has existed for centuries through its ecology, myths, legends, stories, poetry, dances, arts and crafts, its conflicting history and moribund politics. This territory has many facets and many faces; it is not just a map; it is a cultural and linguistic geography—diverse, vibrant and variegated. The people who call this territory their home define the uniqueness and diversity of their cultures, customs and social practices through their oral and written literatures. Some of the communities in the Northeast are still embattled being caught up in a never ending conflict between the Indian State and ethnocentric autonomy movements. The fluid political situation is a carry over of the colonial past. The colonial past has shaped and reshaped the cultural identities of most communities (mostly tribal communities) in Northeast while Christianity has added another dimension to cultural loss and recovery. The historical is always the political in that different articulations have captured the complexity of life in Northeast. What is edifying in the face of the fragile and fluid political situation is the emerging literatures that seek and articulate the wholeness of life in the face of disintegration and fragmentation. The act of creativity in its self-knowledge and dynamics seeks to affiliate and connect the individual to the society holding together the home and the world.

The emerging literatures from Northeast, particularly from communities which were mostly oral cultures till recently and have undergone historical and political trauma, have registered their unique voices that needs to be heard and understood in the context of India’s pluri- cultural mosaic. These emerging voices bring in a freshness to the literary repertoire of the country not because these literatures are historically young but because the way they depict the experience of their communities, the unique linguistic registers they use and the vision they project for the future in an endeavour to preserve their cultural and ethnic identities. For all these reasons and many more these literatures mark a difference that is not borne out of a blind nostalgia for a lost world but resonate through the voices of the individual authors from societies fraught with many a personal tragedy, trauma and cultural ambivalence in developing a literary consciousness that needs to be recognized and interrogated.

As literature occupies a third space beyond politics and history, it needs to be discussed and interrogated for having a clear understanding of the aspirations of the people of Northeast India. The proposed seminar therefore would broadly focus on (a) Northeast as cultural geography and its diversities; (b) the problematics of ethnicity and identity placing them in the terrains of politics of culture and identity; (c) the emerging literatures which have come to existence after the textualisation of tribal societies mostly in the wake of Christianity while mapping the transition from oral to the written and (d) finally, the interpretation of emerging literatures from NE for an understanding of their cultural nuances. (e)other writings / literatures emerging across India over caste-tribe paradigm to provide a wider spectrum to the seminar’s main theme.

Sub Themes

1. Colonialism, Ethnography and Societies in NE India
2. Christianity and Textualisation of cultures
3. The transition: From Oral to Written
4. The Emerging Voices:
(a) Northeast poetry
(b) Short Story from NE
(c) Fiction and NE societies
5. Interpreting Emerging Literatures:
(a) Ambivalence
(b) Cultural loss and recovery
(c) Trauma
(d) Linguistic Register and literary articulation
(e) Sameness and Difference
(f) Institutional legitimacy and politics of linguistic identity
(g) Politics of culture, Identity and globalization
(h) Ethnic politics and regionalism
6. Translation: Translating cultures
7. Emerging writings / literatures across India over caste-tribe paradigm

As the Seminar is interdisciplinary, scholars across disciplines are invited to make their presentation at the seminar. Each participant will get 20 minutes presentation time and 5 minutes will be devoted to discussion. Each session will start with a plenary lecture (if possible) that will give direction to the discussions.

Place: I & PR Conference Hall, Treasury Square, Aizawl, Mizoram.
Time : 10 & 11 March 2009

Last date for submission of seminar abstract: 10thth February 2009
Last date for submission of complete papers: 2nd March 2009

Weather will be pleasant but light sweaters / jackets will be required

How to reach Aizawl: Air link from Kolkata, Imphal and Gauhati by Indian Airlines / Air Deccan ; Road link from Assam, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Tripura and Manipur via Silchar by Bus and Sumo.

Address of Contact Persons :

Convener :
Prof.Margaret Ch Zama
Head, Department of English
Mizoram University, Aizawl
Pin -796 009
Phone Nos. (0389) 2330631 / 233705 (Fax)
Mobile Nos. 9436142413
Email :

Dr. Margaret L. Pachuau
Department of English
Mizoram University, Aizawl
Pin -796 009
Mobile Nos. 9436141232
Email :

1 comment:

Ramakrishna said...

I am persuing my research on "North East India" literature. My question is: Is it possible to get the papers submitted for "Emerging Literature" seminar? Can you give any e-resources information for my research? Thank you