Friday, 10 February 2012

Off to Dubai

I am going to Dubai tomorrow, to present at the Gujarat Studies Association's 4th Biennial Conference. The conference is to be on "The Gujarati Community: Globalisation, Mobility and Belonging." Needless to say, I'm super excited. I'm excited about visiting Dubai for the first time. I am also excited about meeting scholars from around the world who work on Gujarat and Gujarati issues. I am also looking forward to getting a couple of days with my cousin's family there. Apart from the usual places, I want to check out local second hand booksellers, and try Persian zafrani tea there. Vipul is probably as excited as I am, at the thought that I shall be away a week!

Here's a copy of my abstract:
Telling Tales of Globalisation: Gujarati and British Narratives

In 1866 two texts England Maan Pravaas (Travels in England) by Karsandas Mulji and Up the Country: Letters Written to her Sister from the Upper Provinces of India by the Hon. Emily Eden were published. Mulji was a Gujarati social crusader on his way to England, ‘the great and glorious land of commerce, learning and benevolence’. Eden, on the other hand, was the sister of a previous Governor-General of India, and her letters indicate a desperate desire to be back home and a strong sense of exile. The difference in tone between Mulji’ excitement and Eden’s sense of exile also brings into clear focus the idea of the colonising world as the strong Centre, attractive to the colonised peripheral regions. Both these writers were subjects of and subject to the same overall political entity, the British Empire, though they were on different sides of the race and gender barrier, privileged in one but restricted in the other. These two gendered, colonised subjects negotiate and construct England and India in different ways. Mulji accepts subordinate colonial condition as natural. His tone is earnest and enumerative, whereas Eden’s tone is ironic and playful. My paper attempts to examine the ways in which their framing of the ‘foreign land’ is constituted by their subject positions, vectored by factors of class, gender and coloniality. These two texts illustrate the ways in which questions of belonging and longing are played out in the context of the hierarchy of the West and the non-West, nation and empire and hegemony and subalternity.