Friday, October 4, 2013

CfPs: International Conference on State and Society in North East India; 26-28 Feb; JNU

International Conference on State and Society in North East India
Organised by North East India Studies Programme, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
26-28 February 2014
Venue: Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi

Call for Papers
Academic and everyday debates on North East India have generally been dominated by themes on ethnicity, tribe and nation.
For many scholars working on North East India, these themes have been major academic research areas from around the 1980s. While one may consider this as the reflection of embeddedness of the people around such categories, the role of the state with regard to these categories of tribe, ethnicity,
nation, civic institutions and everyday civil society spaces has been less explored. One such area of exploration could be the relationship between the state and society. A state-society analytical framework may help to understand historically the location of state as a political unit and practices in North East India.
This also opens the scope to investigate state representing society as its integral part or the society as resisting or autonomous spaces to the state.
Pre-colonial states of the present North East either had the organic model of state and society or the model of state where society evaded state making processes or remained autonomous from the state. Comprising the state making experiences in both hills and valleys, while the organic model involved a system of clans and chiefs' representation in state making, in the latter model, state making was through military expeditions, mobilisation of labour, classification of people, etc. These models of state- society were historically co-existent. However, under the colonial regime the state - society relations were reframed to construct the empire's frontier and territorial enclaves. After Independence, the new nation state of India then further reconstructed these polities and societies in new frames of state- society relations.
The conference also seeks to explore how the modern Indian state as legal - rational authority transforms, develops and governs polities and societies of North East India. It is equally necessary to explore how the people of the region experience and interpret the state in this regard. For this, the discussion on state needs a distinction between state as the 'structure of practices' and the 'effects of the structure of state' on the lives of people.
In other words, while one may look at state as the legal-rational entity, there is further scope for understanding state through the everyday experiences. The conference wishes to emphasize on the latter.
An additional focus of the conference would be on state practices and reactions or resistances of the people to these state - making practices.
While the process of resistant nationalisms in the region has continued, in recent times, the processes of electoral democracy, neoliberal economic policies, and rural developmental schemes have brought different dynamics to the state - society relations. Increasing demands for reservation, autonomy and alternative arrangements under the Constitution of India are parts of these changes and contestations.
The conference invites papers on the following broad themes:
  • State formation and society
  • Writing histories of state and society
  • Social imaginaries and politics of nationalism
  • State's classification of people
  • Religion and state
  • Technology, state and people
  • Civil society and state
  • Demand for reservation and autonomy
  • Electoral politics, developmental schemes and power politics
  • Militarism, violence and cultures of impunity
  • Art practices
  • Media, state and people
  • Diary, biography and autobiography as sites of people's experiences

Interested researchers are invited to submit an abstract of 200–300 words along with a brief CV latest by 25 November 2013. Selected abstracts will be informed by 5 December 2013. Full papers are to be submitted by 31 January, 2014.
All communications should be addressed to: G. Amarjit Sharma, Convener, at or
Co-conveners: Lipokmar Dzuvichu, Manjeet Baruah, Kh. Bijoykumar Singh

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