CFP ACLA Seminar. Excavating the Deccan: An archive of 20th century imaginaries

Yamini Krishna Chintamani's picture

Call for papers

Excavating the Deccan: An archive of 20th century imaginaries


Prompted by the increasing and widespread concerns about the state of democracy in India and the occasion of the 75th year of Indian independence, this seminar revisits a formative phase in the life of postcolonial India, i.e. between the 1920s and 1960s when states were reorganized based on linguistic identity, to recover different articulations of how the relationship between the state and its peoples may be forged or imagined.

We propose the region of the Deccan as the site of excavation to uncover new source materials on the intellectual history of democracy in South Asia. The Deccan has been a significant antipode to Imperial North India across the last two millennia, as critical scholarly writings about the medieval Deccan particularly demonstrate. However, less attention has been directed to the role of 20th century Deccan in shaping and contesting ideologies of nationhood and citizenship. A major contributing factor is the absence of source material regarding the Deccan as a politically and culturally distinct region in conventional archives that are used to write ‘national’ Indian histories.

Uncovering this history will be particularly illuminating for South Asia Studies because the early to mid-20th century history of the Deccan, particularly its territorial reorganisation into linguistic states, mirrors the Indian nation’s journey towards political consolidation, as the latter cast off different possibilities and moved towards a centralised but federal nation-state. The Deccan receded from political imagination decisively in the 1950s when the linguistic states of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka (then Mysore), Tamil Nadu and Kerala were formed. This process had already begun from the 1930s itself when incipient organisations had started to demand that linguistically homogenous territorial entities be carved out from British Indian presidencies. These represented distinctly modern articulations of belonging as linguistically determined and weaved in ideas of progress and development with language. We intend to explore and examine the region’s vibrant discourses in multiple languages such as Urdu, Telugu, Tamil, Kannada and Marathi. We invite scholars working with multilingual archives- territorial, bureaucratic, political, among others—to bring ideas which would offer pathways to both understanding and reimagining our democratic present.

Some questions which we are interested in (but not limited to)

-Ideas and reflections on democratic, social, cultural processes of Deccan

-Different voices—supporting, repudiating, indifferent about the idea of a linguistic state and community—from the region

-Ideas which contest difference and sameness - in the context of hegemonic desire for homogeneity in contemporary India

-Historical ideas reimagining Indian democracy as plural rather than majoritarian


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Deadline: 31 Oct 2022

Please use the subjectline ACLA Seminar 2022

Organizer: C. Yamini Krishna, Assistant Professor, FLAME University, Pune

Co-Organizer: Swathi Shivanand, Assistant Professor, MAHE, Bangalore