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Seminar @ University of Gour Banga, West Bengal

Two-day International Seminar
Nation and Beyond: Interdisciplinary Perspectives
Organized by
University of Gour Banga, West Bengal, India

14, 15 April 2017

Seminar Concept Note

Ernest Renan famously observed that ‘[a] nation is a daily plebiscite.’ This observation reveals the contested nature of the modern nation. The imagination of a ‘nation’ depends on a wide consensus among the members of a ‘community’ (which itself a homogeneous term) and the national imaginary contingent on this consensus is vulnerable to critical scrutiny; for it is problematised by issues such as the right of secession, urge for state-formation, ethnic conflict, minority protection, control of resources, globalization, diasporicity, and trans-national formations, corporations and mechanisms. The objects and ideas having semiotic values (e.g. the national flag, certain sartorial style, particular food habit) are supposed to be constitutive elements of a nation or a national identity, but these are often simultaneously received as divisionary and exclusionary. The assertion of nationality often assumes aggressive masculine qualities. The immigration of new groups of people problematises the issue of the nationality, and the nation state often adopts a policy of, to use Giorgio Agamben’s phrase, ‘inclusive exclusion.’ The emergence of contestatory discourses of separatism and self-determination speak up against the forces of homogenization and hegemonisation. The question of whether to include or exclude the diasporic community within the scope and definition of the nation remains yet another gray area. The concept of nation thus invites debates and discussions.

In recent years, a more potent but conflictual discourse has come into prominence. On the one hand, it seeks to explode the myth of national identification as natural, primary, and permanent that claims to precede history and preclude dissent. On the other hand, it complements the problematic of the much-visited trope of ‘Nationalism’ from the perspectives of its varied cultural, historical and political backgrounds and compulsions. Now it has moved beyond the communitarian mutuality within a given geographical frontier and confronts a queer amalgam of socio-political and cultural constructs. National identities, ideologies and interests give shape to current economic, religious, ethnic and environmental crises. The question of nationalism is seen to promote both democracies and dictatorships, chauvinisms and egalitarianisms, and even localities and identities.

Within such a conceptual domain, at once encompassing diverse disciplines like economics, history, political science, sociology, philosophy, law, literature etc. and hegemonized by the local, the national and the global, there is ample scope for discussing many theoretical and empirical implications that may arise when we consider our specific allegiances and aversions to the national formations and their alternatives. The seminar will seek to investigate reasons why we are at once attracted to and annoyed by the question of nationality and what is its still indispensable content in the present temporality and uneven development that resists its demise. The necessity and efficacy of non-Western discourses of the nation and the national, as put forward by Samir Amin, Partha Chatterjee, Aijaz Ahmad, Naoko Shimazu etc., in supplementing the Western views on the same by such thinkers as Ernest Gellner, Eric Hobsbawm, Benedict Anderson, Anthony D. Smith etc. may also be discussed. The question of the ‘Others’ in the process of identity formation and the prevalence of a passionate polemic in the post 9/11 and post Arab Spring world are also issues that demand serious discussion and deliberation. The seminar abstracts may not be limited to the issues specified in the “subthemes” section. The Review Committee reserves the right to make the final selection.


•           Nation: Concepts and Contexts
•           Nation and Ethnicity
•           Nation and Polity
•           Nation and Memory
•           Nation and History
•           Nation and Narrative
•           Nation and Culture
•           Nation and Terrorism
•           Nation and Conflict
•           Nation and Nature
•           Nation and Migration
•           Nation and Law
•           Shades of Nationalism
•           Nation and Plebiscite
•           Nation and Gender

Deadline for submissions: March 20, 2017
contact email: [email protected]


Interested participants are to send an abstract within 350 words to [email protected] by March 20, 2017. Acceptance of abstracts will be communicated to the participants by March 24, 2017. Full papers, not exceeding 3000 words are to be submitted by April 10, 2017. Full papers with abstracts and short bio-notes of the author(s) should be mailed as a single MS word attachment, font size 12 in Times New Roman with 1.5 line spacing. Participants are to adhere to the guidelines provided in the MLA handbook (latest edition). Selected papers will be published in a Book with ISBN.

Professor Amit Bhattacharya,
Convener, Mobile: +91 9434327525 

For the Brochure, click HERE

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Seminar @ University of Gour Banga, West Bengal


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