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  • Call of Papers (Tamil Studies Network)

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    Dear Colleagues,

    Greetings!  My name is Rupa Viswanath, and I teach Indian Religions at the Center for Modern Indian Studies (CeMIS) in Goettingen.  I write today to announce that my colleagues Michael Bergunder, Torsten Tschacher, Gabi Alex, and I would like to invite you, your PhD students and any other PhD students you may know in Germany, to participate in a small Tamil studies workshop at CeMIS to be held on June 7th and 8th 2013.

    A concept note for the workshop is appended below, so let me first explain the larger rationale for holding it.  Our intention was to create a solid Tamil Studies Network in Germany to share ideas and expertise, and to hold such a workshop once a year.  If this takes hold, we hope, in the near future, to expand the network  to our colleagues elsewhere in Europe, and ultimately to expand the annual workshop into a large annual European Tamil Studies conference.  Whether this happens, of course, depends on your involvement and support.

    We will be able to offer travel and accommodation for most presenters, depending on numbers.  And we also urge you to attend even if you are not presenting a paper, simply to discuss ideas for further workshops and/or activities of the network, as well as to meet your colleagues.  We hope the first workshop’s theme will bring together the wide range of disciplines and interests we represent, with enough overlap to ensure meaningful conversation for all of us.  Please do RSVP as soon as possible, but no later than March 15, 2013 to Ulrike Schroeder <ulrike.schroeder@wts.uni-heidelberg.de>, and if you intend to present a paper, please also send an abstract to me at <rviswan@gwdg.de> by April 1, 2013.  We will make final decisions and inform presenters by April 21, 2013.  Papers will be due for pre-circulation among participants on May 15, 2013.

    We very much look forward to your presence and participation!


    Rupa Viswanath


    Rituals of Community and Political Ritual: The Making and Remaking of a Tamil People

    Tamils have a remarkably long history of imagining themselves as a distinctive “community” with culturally and socially unique traits. From the clear counterposition  of cultured Tamil against its dialectal variants as well as against Sanskrit that one finds in the earliest Tamil grammar Tolkappiyam (c. 8th century CE), to the heated linguistic policy debates of the 20th century and the rise of Dravidian nationalism, Tamils across the centuries have, in distinctive and historically specific ways, produced ideas of what being a (proper) Tamil person means and what an (ideal) Tamil society should look like.

    For the first meeting of the network, we hope to examine some of the practices and strategies used to create Tamil subjects, to make what in modern democratic jargon is called “a people.” What forms of moral, ethical and pedagogical work have been carried out to produce a Tamil people?  What routines and rituals—religious, political, domestic, bodily, and so on—have been introduced to faciltiate or in other ways accompany these processes?  What different forms have practices of people-making taken in different sub-regional milieux and under different political-religious regimes?   We invite papers from historians, anthropologists, political scientists, Indologists, scholars of religion and others whose empirical research pertains to these broad thematic concerns.   Topics that might be addressed include, but are not limited too:
    Rituals and sovereignty

    Violence and community

    Gender regimes and Tamilness

    Populism as politics in the postcolonial Tamil world

    Religion and/as Tamilness

    Elite and subaltern Tamils

    Conceptions of caste and castelessness in Tamil society

    “Othering” in Tamil social worlds

    Dr. Rupa Viswanath
    Professor of Indian Religions
    Centre for Modern Indian Studies
    University of Gottingen
    Waldweg 26
    37073 Gottingen