Conference 2008

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Empire and Rebellion: postcolonial perspectives

It has been argued that the process of establishing colonial control and rule across most of Asia, Africa and Latin America was supported ideologically by the belief in the civilizational superiority of the colonizers over the colonized. Within this general framework, representations of colonized peoples and the forms of knowledge produced about them tended to project them as distant both in terms of geographical space and historical time. They were seen as people without history, without the ability therefore to act of their own volition; they required, even beseeched domination. Such ideas not only obscured the harsh realities of colonial rule but also served to subdue criticism of colonial as well as other policies at home. As is well known now, establishing and maintaining colonial empires was no peaceful venture, as the colonizers were confronted almost everywhere with some forms of resistance that kept escalating into armed rebellions.

Over the past few decades, the ideas and notions or the cultural wherewithal that accompanied colonial conquest have been studied extensively. Attention has also been focused on the cultural forms in which anti-colonial resistance was articulated. The focus for this conference will be more specifically on responses to rebellions, to large-scale, more or less organized and violent acts by the colonized to overthrow colonial rule. How are rebellions represented? What kinds of questions do they raise about colonial rule and colonial policies? In what way does the experience of military suppression of rebellions feed into the strategies developed for future wars, in Europe and elsewhere? How are these rebellions seen in post-colonial times?

The conference is a follow-up to a conference held in October 2007 on European Responses to the 1857 Rebellion in India. Though it is well known that this rebellion generated an enormous amount of literature in Britain, little note has been taken so far of the responses in the rest of Europe, which took the form of extensive reporting in the newspapers as well as of many fictional and non-fictional texts. The varied responses show the keen interest across several European nations (irrespective of whether they were colonial powers, still to acquire colonies, or belonged to the category of ‘small nations’) evoked by such a major threat to British colonial power. The gap between the considerable body of material and the lack of any study of the area is also a motive for the present conference. Of course, the contemporary world provides enough evidence that questions of colonialism, imperialism and rebellions aiming to overthrow these modes of domination are not just matters of the past.

The conference will bring together interdisciplinary and comparative perspectives to explore responses to anti-colonial rebellions in fictional and non-fictional texts as well as in film and other art forms.


Friday, 7 March 2008, Room 22, Arts Faculty, University of Delhi

10.00 am

Opening Remarks

Vibha Maurya, Shaswati Mazumdar

10.30 am

Fabienne Bradu

Octavio Paz’ perpetual rupture

11.15 am

Dilip Loundo

The War of Canudos, The War of Brazil

12.00 am



12.15 am

Dirk Wiemann

Of the Pleasure to See Towers Tumbling. Fantasy as Anti-Imperial Resistance – Anti-Imperial Resistance as Fantasy



Chair: Vibha Maurya

1.00 pm



2.00 pm

Thomas Schwarz

Abjection and the Crushing of Anti-colonial Rebellions. On Disgust in German Colonial Discourse

2.45 pm

Rano Ringo

Challenging the Discourse of Empire: A Postcolonial Study of Margaret Laurence’s The Diviners

3.30 pm



3.45 pm

Ena Panda

Reinvestigating the Independence Struggle of Mahe: A Study of On the Banks of the Mayyazhi and God’s Mischief by M. Mukundan



Chair: Kusum Aggarwal

Saturday, 8 March 2008, Room 22, Arts Faculty, University of Delhi

10.30 am

Adriana Raducanu

Contemporary Spanish Prose - An Orientalist Appraisal of Antonio Gala's The Turkish Passion

11.15 am

Margit Köves

Revolt in prose, rebellion in the family, revolution in the Empire: Jókai Mór’s The Baron’s Sons

12.00 am



12.15 pm

Flaminia Nicora

Rebels without stories



Chair: Sharmistha Lahiri

1.00 pm



2.30 pm

Sanjoy Saksena

Mirza Ruswa’s Umrao Jaan, Decadence and the Rebellion of 1857

3.15 pm



3.30 pm

Screening of film

The Last Supper (La Ultima Cena)
Director: Tomás Gutiérrez Alea



Chair: Shaswati Mazumdar

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