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CALL FOR PAPERS: Borders and Connectivity – Narratives from the Himalayas

Ashoka University in collaboration with South Asian University is organising a conference on 24-25 April 2020. The last date for abstract submission is 5 January 2020.

Office of PR & Communications

5 December, 2019 | 8 min read

Connectivity is an important buzz word in Asia, and the Himalayas today, as this part of the world witnesses unprecedented infrastructural boost. With the scramble among nations to increase connectivity – China’s One Belt, One Road initiative being foremost – transport and infrastructure has come to dominate both academic and policy discussions on connectivity.

This conference invites a broader conceptualisation of connectivity. We attempt to move beyond a narrow definition of infrastructural connectivity to include new forms, routes, histories and modalities of connectivity.

What intellectual conversations can be opened up when we broaden the concept of connectivity to mean the process of being connected – as concerning the components of a network that share a common connection – as involving circulation, interaction, and inter-connection, and the sharing of ideas and resources on platforms that are historically, ethnographically, and technologically diverse?

We intend to explore the relation between connectivity and mobility. As people and objects move, they forge relationships, they leave a trail behind, and they acquire and create social lives of their own (Appadurai 1986). But connections and connectivity can occur without physical movement of people and objects. How do we conceptualise all these diverse forms? How are borders – physical, cultural, and metaphorical – implicated in narratives of connectivity?

We focus on breaks, interruptions and even the severance of connectivity, for these too have creative and generative properties (Pederson 2013). What are the ways in which we can creatively engage the moments between journeys, the halts in connectivity, as well as failed connectivity?

n this conference, we look at avenues of connectivity, movement and circulation. We examine agents, institutions of connectivity, networks of people, ideas and ideologies, human-nature connectivity, as well as the intervals and stops. We therefore invite a multidisciplinary approach to understand narratives of connectivity.

Our focus is the region broadly known as the Himalayas. As a conference on connectivity, we are attentive to the processes and practises, the links and networks, the ideas and subjectivities, that bring different people and places together. The theme of connectivity and regional focus on the Himalayas in this conference stand for orienting signposts, instead of definitive guidelines.

Potential themes

  • Trade, Commerce, Reciprocity
  • Migration and Movement
  • Tourism and Travel
  • Literature and Language
  • Human-Nature Interaction
  • Social Movements
  • States and Borders
  • Border and Cross-Border Communities
  • Institutions and Organisations

Dates of the conference:
24 – 25 April 2020

Last date for submission of abstracts (500 words):
5 January 2020

Late date for submission of full papers:
30 March 2020

  • Papers will be shared only with discussants.
  • Each paper presenter will get 30 minutes of presentation time.
  • Travel subsidies and accommodation for 3 nights will be provided by Ashoka University


Swargajyoti Gohain
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Ashoka University

Mallika Shakya

Department of Sociology

South Asian University


Please email abstracts to:

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