Madison 2008

The South Asia Madison conference is such a pleasant, communal affair. Every one is in good spirits and any testiness of panel Q&As never spills out into the lobby. It is the biggest gathering of practitioners of the South Asian intellectual trades – though, some disciplines are more gathered than others. (pre-modern folks are few, as usual.)

I confess that my paper was barely there (ok, bad) but my panel, called “Vernacular Histories” was one of the best I have participated on. I further confess that this year’s Madison conference was surely in the top 5 evah. Mostly, because there seemed to be a much healthier group of young Turks selling their wares. Ramachandra Guha gave one of the keynotes – speaking on the need to do ‘contemporary history’ and the urge to write biographies of key “mid-level” figures. Biography, as a genre, is certainly neglected in South Asian historiography (in English, i.e.), and I am sympathetic to his claims. However, that does seem to put Indian language academic/popular works on a different pedestal. Not quite sure why the eighty biographies of Fatima Jinnah in Urdu do not count?

I was also on a roundtable called “Beyond Marginalization: Pakistan as South Asia”. It was a useful discussion – in parts. I don’t think I was the useful part, though.

The highlight was meeting (finally) the legendary Frank Conlon, Professor Emeritus, University of Washington and karta dharta of H-ASIA. He came to our panel and managed a nice zinger on U of Chicago.

You can check out some random fotos, as well.

Finally, this came up in discussion and I feel the urge to let you all bask in this glory. Perhaps my favorite clip of all times.

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sepoy

what is the vertiginous chapati saying to me?

7 thoughts on “Madison 2008”

  1. JSIS represent, w00t! Sadly, I never took a class from Conlon when I was an undergrad, but I remember his presence ’round both my depts quite vividly.

  2. hey! glad you got to meet FFC. I’m proud that he was my advisor when I was at UW. He’s a true gentleman and scholar.

    Appropriate company for you!

  3. ok now i watched the video clip.
    “sexuality and cricket is the way forward.”

    I AM DYING OVER HERE! he is too much.
    i just threw up in my jhola.

  4. “one part of the crowd would definitely love to see them in action” ayyo, it may well be no use keeping everything under wraps, but it’s certainly still best to leave some things unsaid, or un-shouted on television!

    And never mind way forward – sexuality and cricket have always been together. Ask anybody who watched matches with Wasim Akram and Viv Richards in them.

  5. “communal affair”!?

    Normal American use of the term, but with reference to a “South Asia” conference, it gives me an odd image…

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