Anxiety and Authority in South Asia (Princeton South Asia Conference)

Devika Shankar's picture
Call for Papers
January 5, 2018
New Jersey, United States
Subject Fields: 
Asian History / Studies, Asian American History / Studies, Sociology, South Asian History / Studies

Princeton South Asia Conference, April 6th-7th 2018

 Anxiety and Authority in South Asia

 Deadline: January 5th 2018

From fears of an imminent environmental crisis to pervasive concerns about security, we seem to be living in an age in which anxiety has permeated public discourse on an unprecedented scale.  While the intensity and scope of many contemporary fears might be new, recent scholarship has shown that anxiety -- broadly understood as fear without a definite object -- has been a longstanding feature of political life. No longer regarded as a purely private experience, anxiety has come to be recognized as an affective state that has shaped not only state policies but political subjectivities themselves.  Through their focus on anxiety, recent studies in disciplines across the humanities and social sciences have revealed the inadequacy of accounts that have viewed politics and the state purely through the prism of reason and rationality. In the context of South Asia, such studies have shown the extent to which the rule of the colonial and post colonial states has been marked by apprehensions emanating from epistemic and ontological uncertainties that have contributed to frequent slippages between the ordinary and extraordinary powers of the state. At a time when a politics of anxiety appears to have led to a surge in populism across the world, this conference invites applicants to probe anxiety as a public phenomenon in South Asia in both historical and contemporary contexts.

The seventh annual Princeton South Asia Conference will bring together early career scholars (advanced graduate students and junior faculty) across disciplines that engage with South Asia. In keeping with the theme of the conference, we invite papers that engage with South Asia in a broad sense, including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Tibet, Nepal, the Maldives, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Myanmar or Burma, India, and transnational and diasporic spaces.

Papers may engage, but need not limit themselves to, any of the following topics related to the conference theme:

Empire and Colonial Difference
Movement and Migration
Gender, Caste and Social Hierarchies
Tradition and Modernity
Propaganda and Mass Media
The environmental crisis
Finance and Speculation
Identity and Culture
Science and Development
Infrastructure and Urban Crisis


The event will be held on April 6-7, 2018 in Princeton, NJ. For more details please visit Questions can be directed to


Please submit proposals at by January 5, 2018. Proposals should include a title, a 250-word abstract, institutional affiliation, and contact information.