India Study Circle

June 19th – July 17th 2010
Panchmarhi, Madhya Pradesh, India

This interdisciplinary study circle brings together scholars, students and social movement activists concerned with better understanding the dynamics of various regions of India. Established authorities on Central India, North India, the Deccan & South India, and the North-east will lead the study circle. The purpose of the study circle is to arrive at a useful understanding of India that makes sense of its geographical complexity. A textured approach is deemed essential, since the subcontinent is remarkable for its distinctive regional formations, wherein many so-called ‘secular’ trends, social relations, et cetera, exhibit important spatial variation. The organisers posit that there can be no definitive all-India perspective/history, without an indulgence in reductionism. An emphasis will thus be upon comprehending the dynamics of significant territorial swathes of India that are relatively marginalised in existing scholarship. (Eastern and Western India are hence absent from this programme, as developed research exists on these zones.)

The study circle will run for 4 weeks, with each week dedicated to a separate region. University scholars and pro-people researchers will take turns in leading the study circle according to their regional specialisation. Each will elaborate upon: (1) the historical geographical traditions/writings of their region; (2) an important theme of their expertise (e.g. on patriarchy in India); (3) their on-going research and political concerns. A full day each week will be set aside for discusson of the expert presentations, and readings. Weekends will be for informal meetings, documentary screenings and fieldtrips. A complete reading list will be circulated to participants beforehand. Hard copies of the most essential readings will be provided on arrival.

Topics covered will include, but not be limited to: adivasis; patriarchy; caste; class; region; ecological processes; approaches to historical-geographical writing. It is the opinion of the organisers that the gathering will be of interest to all concerned for the production of empirically substantiated pro-people studies.

The venue will be Panchmarhi, Madhya Pradesh. This is a cool and scenic hill station, near Bhopal. The locale has been chosen for two reasons. First, it lies at the heart of the subcontinent – spatially and historically. It has a continuous record of settlement from the Stone Age to present. Evidence of different incurring civilisations in India – Megalithic, Vedic, Buddhist, Moghul, colonial, and the post-1947 state formation – are all found layered in this area. Second, the political-geographical location provides an opportunity to meet with scholars, students and activists from the interior parts of India. This will help study circle participants obtain a first hand experience of India, and how scholarship and politics is developing. Many studies coming from the metropolises, including within India, have a certain homogenising tendency with regard to understanding ‘globalisation’. By contrast, in several areas, closer to the political pulse and movements of the country, authentic voices are still heard.

The study circle will be run as a collective. All participants will be involved in deciding upon and performing necessary chores. Private rooms will be provided in clean and comfortable lodges. A registration charge of Rs. 3000 (employed) / Rs. 1500 (student) includes all accommodation, meals and reading materials. The study circle is financed entirely through registration of Indian and international delegates. No state or NGO monies are involved.

For further information/registration, please contact and provide some details of your research interests and why you would be interested in participating in the study circle.

The organisers are..:

Simon Chilvers (Honorary Associate, Macquarie University); K. Chandan Sharma (Associate Professor, Tezpur University); Dharmendra Kumar (Associate Professor, J.H. College, Betul, Madhya Pradesh); Fraser Sugden (Research Fellow, University of Stirling); K. Sanjay Singh (Associate Professor, University of Delhi); Margaret Walton-Roberts (Associate Professor, Wilfrid Laurier University); Terah Sportel (Ph.D. Candidate, University of Guelph).

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