About the Conference
The Centre for South Asian Studies at the University of Toronto and the University of Windsor jointly host "Being Human; Being Tamil: Personhood, Agency and Identity," the third annual Tamil Studies Conference from May 15-17, 2008. This conference will bring together Tamil Studies scholars from North America, Europe, South Asia, and Australasia. Over 50 scholars, writers and artists from disciplines ranging from Anthropology, Dance Studies, Diaspora Studies, Environmental Studies, History, Literature, Psychology, Religion, and Sociology will present papers.
The annual conferences have the following goals:
- To make Toronto an important centre for Tamil Studies in North America.
- To bring the Toronto Tamil community into a creative relationship with both the University of Toronto and the academy of Tamil Studies scholars in North America.
- To provide North American scholars with a regular opportunity to present their work before their academic colleagues and informed members of the Tamil community.
- To introduce students in Toronto to the diverse disciplines of Tamil Studies and the scholars pursuing them in North America.
- To enable scholars working on Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka to engage with each other’s work and to develop a more comparative approach to the study of these Tamil regions.
- To make the Tamil diaspora an important subject of academic study and engagement.
- To publish selected conference papers.
The objective of this conference, in response to questions posed by scholarly
critiques of universal conceptions of the human and unified notions of identity,
is to invite papers that investigate how “human” or "personhood" have been
imagined, conceptualized, practiced and performed throughout history within the
Tamil regions and traditions. What is the intellectual, cultural, and literary
history of Tamil understandings of the human person? Was there ever a conception
of a universal human being? What are the sources for imagining the self and the
practices of its construction and expression? What are the continuities and
transformations in Tamil conceptions of the self, particularly in defining men
and women and caste identities?
What are the religious and secular sources of the self? What ritual practices have played a seminal role in constructing the idea of being human? How have texts and print shaped or altered the roles and functions of individuals? What is the relation between geography, landscape and individual identity? How does one understand the relation between ideology and classification? In the modern era how have concepts of "individual" and "collective" rights" affected Tamil articulations of personhood, particularly in relation to gender and caste? How do diaspora and hybridity inform or structure Tamil conceptions of identity and affiliation?