Monday, 10 March 2014

Visual Anthropology and Contemporary South Asian History conference

Right hand image from Tymms 8, Royal Commonwealth Society Film collection,
copyright Cambridge University Library

Registration is now open for the interdisciplinary conference ‘Visual Anthropology and Contemporary South Asian History’,, which takes place at CRASSH, University of Cambridge, 4-5 April 2014.

Dr Annamaria Motrescu-Mayes (University of Cambridge)
Professor Marcus Banks (University of Oxford)

The ‘Visual anthropology and contemporary South Asian history conference’ aims to offer historians, anthropologists and postgraduate history students a unique opportunity to share and strengthen their scholarship within a cross-disciplinary research network concerned with the crucial relevance of applying theories of visual anthropology to the study of contemporary South Asian history. This conference is the result of the positive feedback and detailed suggestions received during the ‘Exploring modern South Asian history with visual research methods’ pre-conference seminar series organised in February-March 2013 by the Centre of South Asian Studies (CSAS) in collaboration with the CRASSH and the Royal Anthropological Institute, and led by historians, anthropologists and postgraduate students (podcasts available here). Accordingly, this conference has two objectives. First, it will examine the ways in which scholarship in the field of visual anthropology informs historiographical methodologies pertinent to re-interpreting, producing, distributing, and repatriating visual records of South Asian history. Second, it will create a strategically innovative research and practice-based framework for postgraduate history students at the University of Cambridge interested in experimenting with, and advancing new cross-methodological approaches. These objectives will be achieved by securing the participation of some of the key scholars in the fields of visual anthropology and South Asian history, and by organising a special pre-conference workshops which will introduce the theme of the conference and help postgraduate history students explore new ways in using visual research methods. 

Keynote addresses will be delivered by Professor David MacDougall (Australian National University) and by Professor Elizabeth Edwards (Vice-President of the Royal Anthropological Institute and Director of Photographic History Research Centre at De Montfort University). Professor Alan Macfarlane (University of Cambridge) will present a special contribution. Other invited speakers include Professor Christiane Brosius (Heidelberg University), Professor Malavika Karlekar (Centre for Women’s Development Studies, New Delhi), Dr Lotte Hoek (University of Edinburgh), Dr Zoe Headley(Institut Français de Pondichery), Dr Vron Ware (Open University) and Dr Mandy Rose (UWE).

The conference will host a special session titled ‘Tamil Societies and Visibility' in association with the Fondation Maison Science de l’Homme, Paris, and Centre of South Asian Studies, Cambridge. Speakers include Dr Raffaela Cucciniello, Dr Sujit Sivasundaram, Dr Annamaria Motrescu-Mayes.

The pre-conference workshop will be dedicated to ‘Writing South Asian history with visual research methods’. Prof. Marcus Banks and Dr Motrescu-Mayes will advise on the methodology used by ten postgraduate history students who will work with unique visual records selected from the collections held by the CSAS. The aim of this workshop is to introduce history students to using theories of visual anthropology to the study of contemporary South Asian history. The research findings and short visual essays produced by the students during the workshop will be subsequently presented and discussed during a three-hour special conference session chaired by Professor Banks. Also, CRASSH Digital Humanities network will participate in designing and developing the pre-conference postgraduate student workshop with a view to expand and integrate similar practice-based learning strategies within digital humanities programs. As a result, building on the valuable on-going collaboration between CRASSH and CSAS, ‘Visual anthropology and contemporary South Asian history’ conference will continue to advance and strengthen the dynamic, international and cross-disciplinary research network formed by scholars of historical and visual anthropological studies of South Asia.'

Sponsors: Supported by the Centre for Research in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (CRASSH), the Smuts Memorial Fund, the Centre of South Asian Studies (University of Cambridge), the Fondation Maison Science de l’Homme, Paris, and the Thriplow Charitable Trust.

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