“NEGOTIATIONS AND ASSERTIONS: Engaging with Political Realities in Contemporary South Asia”


Date: Jan. 4, 2016 - Jan. 13, 2016

Venue: Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Guwahati Campus (Assam), India


CONFERENCE TITLE: “NEGOTIATIONS AND ASSERTIONS: Engaging with Political Realities in Contemporary South Asia”

Concept Note:

Negotiations and assertions are part of all societies and they constitute everyday struggles for most societies. They underline the very substance of the social, especially in the various ways in which social science researchers read and analyse the past, as well as contemporary times. This is important, particularly in South Asia; because the regional imagination is replete with contestation and cooperation that go on to constitute a particular, South Asian social worldview. Whether in the extraordinary events of social life or in the world of mundane everyday existence, both assertion and negotiation have a capacity to produce realities that are important for social scientists. As researchers we set out to understand the nuances of the world and in doing so, we try to throw light on resistance and domination. As James Scott pointed out, much of lived experience falls between heuristic binaries like power and powerlessness; coloniser and colonised (and so on). The idea of negotiation and assertion therefore, allows us to explore the ways in which groups and individuals create their identities and give meaning to their social world. This workshop is an attempt to share ideas and first drafts of MPhil and PhD researchers working along themes that reflect the wide spectrum of possibilities that constitute the social realities in South Asia in general and Northeast India in particular.

We invite abstracts on the following themes:


Conflict and Peace-building in the nation-making project:- As a nation-state moves ahead in its course of development it is bound to review its past in the hope for attaining a positive outlook for its future. The terminologies of Conflict and Peace play an important role in shaping the dominant discourse in the public sphere. . For students of social science, conflict and peace building become intrinsic to our understanding of political institutions, as well as their receptivity and resistance to change.

Migration and Diasporas: Contesting voices in an era of globalisation

Cross-border migration is a contentious issue in today’s modern world. Inclusion of certain diasporas into a national narrative, as with the Pravasi Bharatiyas, is seen as a welcome move because of the close affinity members of diasporas shares with dominant groups of the host nation-state. On the contrary, other migrating groups are seen as threats to national identity and the state. This theme explores the changes of perception associated with migrants and diasporas in contemporary South Asia. Traditional borders of the nation-state have become obsolete with the advent of globalisation; voices from various quarters are emerging on the need to do away with conventional political boundaries.

Performing Genders and Inter-sectionalities: - History, socio-cultural practices determines the structure of power operative in a community or a society. People are members of more than one community; gender intersects with other identities and can contribute to experiences of oppression and privilege. Intersectional analysis seeks to understand and assess the impact of these converging identities on opportunities and access to rights, and to see how policies, programs, services and laws that impact on one aspect of our lives are inextricably linked to others.

Traditional and formalised customs/laws: Interface and challenges: - In many parts of South Asia, customary laws still finds a prominent place in the definition of law and order of small, relatively closed kin-based societies.. They often lead to contestations with the law of the land when it comes to practices and such interface between the two diverse distinct laws becomes a challenge for the modern nation to maneuver its nation-building process. This theme seeks to address the contradictory and sometimes contentious outcomes of the interface between different systems in the legal universe.

Urban transformations in South Asia: -New forms of social, economic and cultural transformation are taking place in urban spaces. Notions of limited space and unlimited demand have given rise to new forms of addressing social inequalities. Contemporary urban sociality is undergoing rapid changes with advent of communication technology; it has been marked by growing private sphere and limited social relations. This theme seeks to integrate the various strands of debates around new urban imaginations.

Abstracts not more than 250-300 words should be mailed to tissguwahatiwrm2016@gmail.com along with a 2-3 line biographical note of the scholar. This Conference is open only to scholars who are currently pursuing (who have made considerable progress in their research areas) M.Phil/PhD.


Last date of Abstract submission: 15th November 2015

Last date of Paper submission: 5th December 2015

All scholars will be acknowledged on submission of their abstract. Scholars whose abstracts are selected shall be intimated tentatively by 20th of November 2015.

We look forward to your participation and welcoming you to the northeast!