British Association for South Asian Studies annual conference

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference


The 23rd Annual Conference of the British Association for South Asian Studies (BASAS) took place at the University of Edinburgh, 30 March–1 April 2009. The conference was convened by Crispin Bates (School of History, Classics & Archaeology and Centre for South Asia Studies, University of Edinburgh) with the assistance of Caroline Lewis and the BASAS committee. This was the second conference organised for the newly enlarged BASAS, which combines together the former British Association for South Asian Studies with the South Asian Studies Association, to provide a single source of advocacy and support for teaching and research on South Asia in the United Kingdom. The association is grant-aided by the British Academy. Edinburgh was chosen as the location for the annual BASAS conference for the second time in several years, by way of recognition of its growing international importance as a centre for research on South Asia and the strong out- reach and training programmes organised by the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for South Asian Studies. In order to reflect the very wide range of disciplines and research activities now encompassed by BASAS, the 2009 conference was planned to be as inclusive as possible. In this ambition the conference was a remarkable success, with a record number in excess of 200 delegates attending from the United Kingdom, the USA, Europe and India, and with the involvement of possibly the largest number to date of postgraduates and early career researchers. There were a total of 52 panels covering topics across the disciplines of anthropology, geography, history (medieval and modern), religious studies, literature, sociology, philosophy, and political science, alongside a number of parallel events including an exhibition, film and documentary screenings, the annual meeting of the British Nepal Council, and two British Academy sponsored workshops. The keynote speaker was Professor Dipesh Chakrabarty (Lawrence A. Kimpton, Distinguished Service Professor of History, South Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago and L.M. Singhvi, Visiting Professor, University of Edinburgh). His talk ‘Towards a Social History of Knowledge: The Utopian and Actual Lives of Historical Documents in India’, was extremely warmly received and provoked a lively discussion. The conference involved too many panels to list, but highlights included the two days of meetings (including those organised by the Britain Nepal Council) held to discuss Nepal and the other Himalayan states, the several panels discussing dalit and adivasi activism, and a series of panels addressing issues relating to health, healing and medicine in South Asia. Topical innovations included a panel on banking crises in South Asia in historical perspective, two panels on conflict and reconciliation in Sri Lanka, and a panel on the science and politics of climate change in South Asia. Other panels (to name but a few) addressed the narration of the Indian Uprising of 1857–1859, history as performance, new developments in the history of medieval India, new research on gurus, renunciation, and religious leadership, gender norms and non-governmental organisation activism, technology and development, the politics of participation in Pakistan, Muslim life-worlds in South Asia, democracy and governance, trends in state-level politics, and postcolonial media and literature. In between these engagements and the panel meetings, there were extensive opportunities for speakers, delegates, and participating members of the public to meet and discuss their interests in the relaxed and informal manner that has become characteristic of the annual BASAS conference.
Period30 Mar 20091 Apr 2009
Event typeConference
LocationEdinburgh, United KingdomShow on map