‘Cosmopolitan Cultures and Oceanic Thought: Thinking through History Across the Waters’

Nishat Zaidi's picture
Call for Papers
November 23, 2020
Subject Fields: 
Humanities, Maritime History / Studies, South Asian History / Studies, African History / Studies

Department of English

Jamia Millia Islamia New Delhi [MHRD-SPARC supported]

International Conference On ‘Cosmopolitan Cultures and Oceanic Thought: Thinking through History Across the Waters’

23-24 November 2020

Keynote Address: Professor Elleke Boehmer Professor of World Literature in English; Fellow, Wolfson College; Director, Oxford Centre for Life


For too long, we have worked with the Global South as the space of “experience” and EuroAmerica as the space of “thought”. What would it mean to think about both history and thinking as fluid: not premised on terrestrial locations and incarcerated within the nation state or paradigms of area studies. Perhaps we need to start thinking with “geographies of affinity” rather than the geographies of colonialism and nationalism. The proposed conference, connected to a SPARC-sponsored collaboration between Jamia Millia Islamia and the Centre for Indian Studies in Africa, University of the Witwatersrand, aims to foreground mobility, circulation and the longue duree-thinking with movements across the Ocean rather than terrestrial histories.The proposed conference concerns itself with mobility, circulation and cosmopolitanism in the Indian Ocean space while engaging with traditions of reflection and intellection in the global south in order to think about an alternative history of concepts for the social sciences. Edouard Glissant in the Caribbean draws upon the histories of movement and enslavement in the ocean; Frantz Fanon thinks with France, Algeria and Martinique simultaneously; and Mandela draws upon Nehru, even as Nehru thinks with Julius Nyerere and Kenneth Kaunda. This is an exigent need since we do not think often enough of how a University in the Global South should think its intellectual project, its syllabi and pedagogy. What would it mean to think with the connected histories of the Global South through the movement of people, ideas and material through the ocean? Yet again, what would it mean to derive a conceptual vocabulary from these sedimented histories, where we can address our amnesia, born of the colonial wound, towards Indian, Chinese, Islamic and Caribbean thought?

Paper proposals may be about, but not confined to the following themes:

  • Interconnected-ness in Narrative traditions and folk cultures of the Global South
  • Cross-current of Ideas in Theatre and Cinemas from the Global South
  • Sufi orders, and the Spread of Islamic Thoughts: Travelogues, Hajj Narratives, Ziyarat Narratives
  • Sanskrit cosmopolis, Arabic cosmopolis and the Indian ocean world 
  • Intertwined Networks of kinship, religion, commerce and scholarship
  • Transoceanic Movements and Anticolonial Struggles in Global South
  • Global Economy, Migrant Labour and Transnational Identities
  • Movements of material goods and its impact on configurations of culture
  • Islands and archipelagic imagination
  • Creolization, Indigeneity and Indigenous Knowledge Systems
  • Slavery and caste

Important Dates:

Submission of Abstracts: 30 July 2020

Intimation of Accepted Abstracts: 30 August 2020

Submission of Full-Length Papers: 30 September 2020

For further details please visit the URL https://www.jmi.ac.in/bulletinboard/eventmodule/latest/detail/2325/22969

Contact Info: 

Professor Nishat Zaidi, Head, Department of English, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi-110025

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