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(Re)Imagining the Indian Ocean World: A Symposium on Literature and Culture

Greater Vancouver, BC, Canada
Organization: Asma Sayed and Pushpa Raj Acharya
Categories: Postcolonial, Hispanic & Latino, Comparative, Interdisciplinary, Genre & Form, Popular Culture, Literary Theory, World Literatures, Adventure & Travel Writing, Children's Literature, Comics & Graphic Novels, Drama, Narratology, Poetry, Aesthetics, Anthropology/Sociology, Classical Studies, Cultural Studies, Environmental Studies, Film, TV, & Media, Food Studies, History, Philosophy, African & African Diasporas, Asian & Asian Diasporas, Australian Literature, Canadian Literature, Caribbean & Caribbean Diasporas, Indian Subcontinent, Eastern European, Mediterranean, Middle East, Native American, Scandinavian, Pacific Literature
Event Date: 2023-10-24 to 2023-10-25 Abstract Due: 2023-06-15

(Re)Imagining the Indian Ocean World: A Symposium on Literature and Culture
October 24-25, 2023
Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Surrey, BC, Canada (Greater Vancouver)
Keynote Speaker: TBA
We respectfully acknowledge that at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, we live, work and study in a region that overlaps with the unceded traditional and ancestral First Nations territories of the Musqueam, Katzie, Semiahmoo, Tsawwassen, Qayqayt, and Kwikwetlem; and with the lands of the Kwantlen First Nation, which gifted its name to the university.
Symposium co-conveners: Dr. Asma Sayed and Dr. Pushpa Raj Acharya
The ‘world’ in the Indian Ocean World is plural. The fluid space of the Indian Ocean and its territorial rim refer to the worlds of Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Australia. It also includes the linguistic, literary, cultural, and imaginative worlds created by the interconnectedness, networks, relations, and exchanges, which have existed from ancient and medieval to contemporary times. During and after the colonial period in the region, the forces of capital and labour have “re-/de-territorialized,” or one could even propose “oceanized,” the Indian Ocean World with the nexus of knowledge, power, and imagination. In the era of neoliberal globalism and new geopolitical struggles, the Indian Ocean region and the littoral countries have gained a renewed interest as they remind us of one of the greatest networks, mobility, and traversal that shaped the socio-economic structures not only in the region but also in the western world. Yet, we do not know much about the ramifications of the interconnections especially in the context of literature and culture. The stories of the colonial and postcolonial interactions in this cosmopolitan "interregional arena" remain untold (as Sugata Bose refers to it in A Hundred Horizons: The Indian Ocean in the Age of Global Empire, 2006). We hear more about Afro-Asian encounters with the West, about the Atlantic Ocean World, but our reading of the history as an encounter with and among the regions of the East might provide us with a different set of possibilities of interpretation and analysis (Gaurav Desai – Commerce with the Universe, 2013). Looking at the interregional encounters and interactions from ancient to modern times will shed light on under-explored areas in postcolonial studies. In fact, the studies of the Indian Ocean World may even provide "a key to understanding Asia's future" (Sunil Amrith, Crossing the Bay of Bengal: The Furies of Nature and the Fortunes of Migrants, 2013). This symposium calls for papers on areas such as language, literature, art, music, film, culture, and oral traditions in the Indian Ocean World. We hope that the studies in literature and culture from the Indian Ocean region will make us rethink how the processes of interaction and encounter function, what the areas and the subareas represent, how we understand Africa and Asia, and how we reinterpret arts and letters from the region.
Possible topics include but are not limited to:
·      Representation of the Indian Ocean World in the ancient, medieval, and contemporary literature
·      Emergence of the Indian Ocean as a contact zone that produces literary and cultural works
·      Interaction of literary and other cultural forms (for example, music, film, and visual art) from the Indian Ocean region
·      The colonial and postcolonial movements in the Indian Ocean and its rim; the way they have been recorded, imagined, constituted, and conceptualized, and responded to; the way they reveal the story of migration (voluntary and forced), diaspora, transnationalism, and trade
·      Formations of multiple histories and identities as a result of encounters in the Indian Ocean World
·      Rethinking the Indian Ocean Studies in the context of equity, inclusion, and anti-racism
·      The ideas of Asias and Africas in literature and culture of the Indian Ocean World
·      Linguistic transitions and transformations in the Indian Ocean region
·      Representations of climate change in literature and arts in the context of the Indian Ocean World
·      Transnational food narratives in the context of the Indian Ocean World
·      Travel narratives, space, and cityscapes in the Indian Ocean World
·      Operations of imperialism and capital in the Indian Ocean area and their impact on literature and culture
We welcome papers that engage with these and other possible questions in the Indian Ocean Studies and accommodate different national, literary, and disciplinary contexts. Papers may explore literary, visual, or other forms of textualities.
Please submit a 250 to 300-word proposal and a 100-word bio as email attachment in Word to indianoceansymposium@gmail.com by June 15, 2023.

The papers presented in the symposium will be considered for inclusion in an edited volume on the Indian Ocean world literatures and cultures. We are currently in discussions with interested publishers.
Full-length paper submissions for publication will be due after the symposium, latest by January 15, 2023 (MLA formatting, 6,000-8,000 words).
Abstracts due: June 15, 2023
Acceptance response: June 30, 2023
Symposium: October 24-25, 2023
Full papers due: January 15, 2024
Convener bios:
Dr. Asma Sayed is Canada Research Chair in South Asian Literary and Cultural Studies at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Canada
Dr. Pushpa Raj Acharya is a post-doctoral fellow in South Asian Studies at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Canada
This symposium is funded by the Canada Research Chair Program and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.



Asma Sayed and Pushpa Raj Acharya