British Association for South Asian Studies

News & Events

31 July 2017

CfP: Sri Lanka: Critical Reflections on Legacies of Authority and Difference

2017 Sri Lanka Graduate Conference, Cornell University, 13-14 October 2017

CfP Deadline: 28 August 2017

The 2017 Sri Lanka Graduate Conference will be held on October 13-14 at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Hosted for the first time by Cornell’s South Asia Program, the conference is co-sponsored by the American Institute for Sri Lanka Studies. As in years prior, this workshop will bring together graduate students in both the final writing-up stage and pre-research/planning stages from a variety of disciplines and institutions. The graduate conference aims to enhance intellectual exchange on Sri Lanka, emphasize the production of empirical and non-sectarian knowledge, focus attention on recent potential transformation of key concepts, build a new cohort of researchers (and research) across disciplines and institutions, and strengthen relationships between American graduate students and local intellectual circles in Sri Lanka. We invite students from all disciplines to participate.

The conference theme is “Sri Lanka: Critical Reflections on Legacies of Authority and Difference.” Conceiving of “Authority” and “Difference” in their broadest senses, we hope this theme will prompt consideration of, among other things, the ways in which structures of political, social, and economic power engender or condition difference in Sri Lanka. This query is a common entry point in the field of Sri Lankan studies, particularly when considering nationalist, nativist and populist movements from the early modern to the contemporary period. We envision the target of critical reflection on this occasion to include legacies of authority and difference that shape not only our objects of investigation as students and scholars of Sri Lanka, but also the theoretical and methodological constructs with which we carry out such investigations. Papers might explore questions such as: What are the implications of where we are writing from, and whom do we envision our audiences to be? In a field that arose from a legacy of imperial constructions of knowledge, how do we account for legacies of authority and difference in our own research and writing? We invite paper proposals from all disciplines that reflect not only on the role these legacies play in our research and focus of study, but also on our roles as historically situated actors within the field of Sri Lankan Studies.

The conference takes place over two days. On Friday October 13, a small, closed pre-dissertation development workshop will be held for four to six students who are working on their research proposals, with several faculty mentors from Cornell and elsewhere. On Saturday October 14, the conference will consist of several panels of paper presentations from advanced graduate students, with Cornell faculty discussants, which will be open to the public.

We would like to invite three categories of potential participants to submit proposals to by August 28, 2017.

  • 1. Advanced graduate students may submit individual paper proposals for Saturday’s panels. Proposals should include a title and 300-word abstract, as well as a brief CV indicating institutional affiliation, degrees earned, current address, and any notable publications and/or presentations.
  • 2. Pre-research students in Masters or PhD programs may apply for the Friday pre-dissertation development workshop. These proposals should include a 300-500 word description of your research interests and plan. Please also include a one-page CV indicating institutional affiliation, degrees earned, current address, and any other relevant information.
  • 3. Graduate students at any stage of their studies, who wish to participate in the conference without presenting may send brief expressions of their interest, noting how this conference would be beneficial to your graduate studies. Please also include a one-page CV indicating institutional affiliation, degrees earned, current address, and any other relevant information.

We have limited funding for travel and accommodations for participants of all three varieties. Please let us know if you are unable to access departmental funding.

Please send proposals as PDF or Word attachments, with “Sri Lanka Graduate Student Conference” in the subject line, to the South Asia Program at by Monday August 28. Inquiries prior to that date are most welcome. Please indicate the category of your proposal in your email.