India Beyond India:
Debating Communalism and Belonging

International Conference: May 24 – 26, 2012

Institute of Cultural and Social Anthropology, University of Göttingen

Issues of communalism, communitarian organization, identification, belonging and dispute have long informed the history of the Subcontinent and continue to do so in today’s India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. These issues are informed by a variety of historical legacies such as politics, religion, social and ethnic dynamics as well as the attendant modes of ‘othering’. While these themes have been discussed at length in the academic literature on the Subcontinent, it is worth asking how communitarian dynamics have influenced the development of the South Asian diaspora. Have they encouraged, for example, the reproduction of communalist organization and dispute in Indian diasporic communities beyond India? Or have diasporic contexts and issues of citizenship/belonging modified or even blocked the resort to communalism? If this is so, citizenship and belonging may have been more prominently implicated in the development of diasporic groups in East Africa, South Africa, the Caribbean (Trinidad, Guyana), Fiji, Malaysia, Canada, the US or Britain,than is usually supposed.

The conference proposes to open up a forum for discussion of both new and established conceptions of communalism and belonging – or rather plural belongings – to imagined, encountered and represented communities operating within various political contexts. We hope that light will be shed on the extent to which belonging is formed, for instance, by acquisition of a certain status (e.g. citizenship) as well as the way in which belonging and communitarian identity are shaped by interaction and the constitution of selves and others in intercultural fields. This perspective will encourage scrutiny not only of diasporic contexts beyond the Subcontinent, but also of a multitude of diasporic spaces worldwide. Migrants and their descendents labour indeed to (trans)form relations with both their country of origin and their country of residence. They have been establishing ‘little Indias’ around the globe, whose growing number and strength invite reconsideration of Indian diasporic communities and contexts in terms of ‘India(s) beyond India’.

Organized by PD Dr. Elfriede Hermann and Prof. Dr. Roman Loimeier

Funded by
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)
Niedersächsisches Ministerium für Wissenschaft und Kultur
Universität Götttingen
Forschungskommission der Sozialwissenschaftlichen Fakultät
Göttingen International
Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) and Government of India
Conference Program