CFP: De/siring India: Representations through British and French Eyes (1584 – 1857)

UGC-Sponsored International Conference organized by the Department of English, Chandernagore College, Hooghly in potential collaboration with Institut de Chandernagor

De/siring India: Representations through British and French Eyes (1584 – 1857)

Tentative dates: 18 January – 19 January 2016

Since Columbus’s failure and Vasco da Gama’s successful trip to India the Europeans have time and again undertaken travels to discover India, to trade, to proselytize, to make both material and spiritual gains. In the process their desire for discovering the ‘other’ and analyzing the ‘self’ through this discovery led to the siring/begetting of many ‘India’s. This conference will focus on two nations, the British and the French, not only because they were rival colonial powers but also because the motives, means and ends achieved by them in their discovery and representation of India were heterogeneous and multiform. From Ralph Fitch’s arrival in India in 1584 to the Sepoy Mutiny, a landmark event altering colonial relations for ever, the proposed period of examination offers innumerable opportunities of looking at the ‘marvelous possessions’ of the British and the French in India; these cultural pilgrims and colonial aggressors were in their turns possessed by the magic of alterity, the enchantment of desiring and begetting novel representations of India through their travel writings, letters, diaries, journals, reports and illustrations as well as paintings. Whether it is Fitch at Akbar’s court or Tavernier at Shah Jahan’s, the moments of encounters always produced different resonances, antiphonic music, paradigms of alterity.

The conference will attempt to examine and analyse the different perceptions and varying representations of early English and French travellers to India. Papers are invited for this conference; topics may include but need not be confined to the following:

• Travelogue and narrative theory

• Journey and the self

• Culture and alterity

• Material culture and its fluidity

• Visualizing difference

• Anthropology and travel

• Hybridity and identity

• Women travellers and representation

• Nation and diplomacy

• Religion and mysticism

• Desire and Utopia

Please send abstracts of 300 to 350 words to niranjangoswami2@gmail.com within 31 July 2015.

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