Speakers on Friday at the two day conference "Questioning South Asia" highlighted the contemporary South Asian (SA) literature as a viable discourse for exploring the repercussions of war. The two day conference, organized by Habib University (HU) at varsity campus, invited contributions from scholars willing to think beyond the construct of South Asia as a territorially bound space with discrete nations.
The conference brought together top global academics from South Asia, the USA, UK and Pakistan, including the eminent scholar Dr Markus Daechsel from Royal Holloway, University of London, whose keynote speech addressed the nature and value of history in South Asia. According to Dr Daechsel, "instead of arguing with and about history, South Asian politics has increasingly been guided by a desire to by-pass or even undo history.
The evidence of such a neglect of history is visible in the field of heritage destruction and architecture, but can also be observed elsewhere, in debates about school curricula or simply in the relatively low prestige enjoyed by history as compared to the social or natural sciences." The keynote address offered reflections on a number of themes related to this larger question: What does this new status and politics of history mean for our ability to write a decolonized history of South Asia? Dr Daechsel concluded his keynote speech by suggesting that "such explorations have barely begun, but will acquire increasing importance when many of the old certainties of the 19th and 20th century modernity will be superseded."
The conference also arranged a roundtable discussion, Future of South Asian Studies and Research, engaging eminent scholars in the field. The discussion was guided by the key questions, What is 'South Asian Studies' and what role it plays in shaping the intellectual discourse and the allocation of resources to the various inquiries taking place under its rubric.
How can productive and equal collaborations take place between such emerging institutions in the postcolonial world and their counterparts in the 'west'? The conference ended with a commitment of raising awareness on global issues at the Habib University platform and of opening up spaces for critical discourses.