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:


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? 

Upcoming: Upcoming Tamil Studies Conferences are slated for May 21 - 23, 2009 and May 20 - 22, 2010.

About the Conference