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Eighth Tamil Studies Conference

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Theme | In Many Worlds: Kudi/Kudiyurimai, Citizenship & Belonging

The notion of “Kudi/Kudiyurimai” in the Tamil world is often ambivalent, suggesting a broad spectrum of meanings from subservience to empowerment and liminality. Paradoxically, Kudi/Kudiyurimai can imply both egalitarianism and hierarchy. In a very general sense the term “belonging” encapsulates the multiplicity of Kudi/Kudiyurimai by implying both being and longing.

The objective of the conference is to explore how the notion of belonging (together with entitlement, empowerment, dispossession) has functioned in the past and the present. While papers that deal specifically with the etymology of “Kudi/Kudiyurimai” are welcome, the larger concern is with how belonging has been defined, upheld, or questioned. From the relatively circumscribed spatial units of the Sangam Period, to the reframing of Kudi/Kudiyurimai as republican citizenship, and on to more porous classifications of the diasporic and global present, Kudi/Kudiyurimai and belonging have contained shifting and multiple meanings. Whereas citizenship is often contrasted to the state of slavery, the genealogies of Kudimai in Tamil offer a perspective from which to think beyond these binaries.

This unique International interdisciplinary conference brings together scholars, students, artists, writers and activists to engage with the conference theme more directly.

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