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The conference will host over 40 scholars of various disciplines from North America, Europe, South Asia, and Australasia:


Artist: Vasuki
Artist: Kiko
Artist: Vasan

Abraham, S.
Ambalavanar, D.
Arasu, V.
Champakalakshmi, R.
Cheran, R.
Fukao, J.
George, G.
George, U.
Ghose, R.
Guruge, S.
Jegathesan, M.
Kanaganayakam, C.
Kanthasamy, P.
Karunakaran, K.
Karunanithi, G.
Kingsolver, A.
Mason, R.
Maunaguru, S.
Maunaguru, Sitralega
McNaughton, S.
More, J.B.P.
Orr, L.
Pai, G.
Palaniappan, S.
Pandian, M.S.S.
Rajesh, V.
Renganathan, V.
Sangarasivam, Y.
Seylon, R.
Shanmugam, K.
Sivalingam, H.
Sriramachandran, R.
Sundar, A.
Tambiah, S.J.
Tyyskä, V.
Vaitheespara, R.
Vivekananthan, P.
Whitaker, M.
Xavier, S.
Young, K.
Younger, P.

Ravindiran Vaitheespara

Assistant Professor
Department of History
University of Manitoba

The Question of Colonialism and Imperialism in Tamil Nationalist Thought:
The Case of Maraimalai Adigal (1876-1950)
Saturday, June 2nd | 9:30 - 11:30 AM

Maraimalai Adigal (1876-1950) was not only the father of the ‘pure-Tamil’ movement but was the central ideologue of the non-Brahmin Tamil/Saivite movement that began gaining momentum in the early part of the twentieth century in Colonial South India. Many of the non-Brahmin ideologues who later succeeded him and founded Dravidian political parties in Tamil India drew much of their ideas and inspirations from his earlier work. This paper seeks to illuminate the ways in which Maraimalai Adigal re-interpreted the newly discovered ancient Tamil literary sources utilizing European Orientalist scholarship and methods including Western historical imagination and literary traditions to construct an image of a non-Brahmin Tamil past that laid much of the basis for a sense of Tamil middle class respectability that continues to have an enduring currency even in our own times.

Dr. Vaitheespara's research interests include colonial and postcolonial South Asia with a special interest in the formation and articulation of Tamil identity, nationalism and popular culture in both India and Sri Lanka; Left movements and Tamil ethnic politics and postcolonial studies. His recent publications include "Marxism, Nationalism and Tigerism: Interrogating the Historiography of Sri Lankan Tamil Nationalism" in Trans/Formations: Perspectives on Sri Lankan Tamil Nationalism, Sage: London, (forthcoming); "Christianity and the Origins of Tamil Modernity" in The Beginning of Protestant Churches in India: The Danish-English-Halle Mission in South-India (1706-1845) (forthcoming); "Poverty of South Asian Vernacular Modernity’s?" Economic and Political Weekly 38:32 (2003). and "Discourses of Empowerment: Missionary Orientalism in the Development of Dravidian Nationalism" in Nation Work: Asian Elites and National Identities (1999).