Contemporary Europe and the Postcolonial World

Interdisciplinary and Comparative Perspectives on Cultural Transformations

Major changes are occurring in Europe in the context of globalization and the emergence of the European Union. The erstwhile colonial world in Asia, Africa and Latin America is also experiencing far-reaching changes affecting all spheres of life. These changes have social, political, economic and cultural dimensions that are interlinked and affect not only the concerned countries and peoples but also their relations with each other.

Within this larger context of transformation of the world that evolved in the aftermath of the Second World War and decolonization, there is also a redefining taking place of the cultural encounter between Europe and the former colonial empires. This second paradigmatic shift, as it were, is observable in the changing contours of interaction and exchange between India and Europe. The cultural encounters between Europe and the former colonial empires in Latin America and Africa are also going through such a second paradigmatic shift, each having its distinct features. Moreover, while the contemporary processes of transformation are compelling closer interaction, they are also leading to new conflicts.

The objective of the project is to focus teaching and research on the cultural transformations taking place based on interdisciplinary and comparative perspectives. This includes the institutional and social factors driving the cultural transformations as well as the historical and ideological roots of contemporary cultural phenomena, the legacy of colonialism and the new forms of conflict, resistance and mediation emerging.

These issues and debates confronting Europe and the postcolonial world today include for instance questions of the large-scale migrations of peoples and their cultural consequences, the changing notions of identity and multiculturalism, the new geographies of power, and how to conceptualize the emerging Europe and its relationship to the postcolonial world.

The literary – and other art – forms that capture or engage with cultural phenomena provide special insights into these phenomena as well as into their broader contexts. This epistemological dimension of all forms of art is a central aspect of the project.

The Department has for some time had a focus in its teaching programmes and academic activities on the reflections in culture of changes taking place in Europe and the world with which it is historically linked through colonialism. The courses offered at the MA and MPhil levels include a focus on a theme of contemporary relevance and an international interdisciplinary conference on a central aspect of the theme. Since 1996 these conferences have been held each year. Details …

The project, which was begun in the academic year 2006-2007, is aimed at taking forward the efforts of more than a decade and developing a centre of ongoing research on the cultural transformations in contemporary Europe and the postcolonial world. The project is one of the thrust areas supported under the Special Assistance Programme of the University Grants Commission.
The project includes the following activities:

Annual International Conference
As in the past, a theme is chosen each year for study at the MA and MPhil levels and an international interdisciplinary conference organized with a focus on the theme. Themes chosen each year and conferences associated with the theme:


Diversity and unity in multicultural societies


The Contentious Question of Culture(s) in Contemporary Societies


Empire and Rebellion


Empire and Rebellion: postcolonial perspectives


Narrative Spaces

Imagined Horizons: Spatial Configurations of the Present

Annual Student Seminar
A joint student seminar is also held at the end of the year at which students of MA and MPhil in the various languages make presentations on the chosen theme after having engaged with it over the year.

Lecture series on ‘Contemporary Europe and the Postcolonial World’
An ongoing lecture series by Visiting Fellows and invited experts from India and abroad and from different disciplines. See list…

Research Colloquium
An annual Research Colloquium is held in November/December where all PhD students as well as all MPhil students in the dissertation stage present papers on their research topics. 

Related Research Projects
European Responses to the 1857 Rebellion in India Read more…

The papers presented at the conferences are published in germinal. Journal of the Department of Germanic and Romance Studies and as a book.

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