“Towards Indian Theory / Theories of Cultural Studies”

Chandigarh March 14, 2019

14-15 March 2019 at the Department of English and Cultural Studies,
Panjab University, Chandigarh

The two-day UGC-DRS II national seminar titled “Towards Indian
Theory/Theories of Cultural Studies” was inaugurated at the Department
of English and Cultural Studies, Panjab University, Chandigarh, on 14
March 2019. The inaugural session was graced with the presence of
Prof. Raj Kumar, esteemed Vice Chancellor, Prof. Bijoy Boruah,
visiting professor at IIT Ropar and keynote speaker, Prof. Deepti
Gupta, the chairperson, Professors RuminaSethi and Akshaya Kumar,
organisers, in addition to faculty members and large number of
scholars from the region. Coordinator of the DRS – II, Prof. Rumina
Sethi welcomed the Vice Chancellor, guest speakers, and research
scholars to the seminar and  spoke about the need to engage with the
concepts of culture, tradition and antiquity in a balanced way and
distinguish between Indian theories of culture and cultural studies in
India.

TheVice Chancellor, Prof. Raj Kumar delivered the presidential
remarks. He emphasised the need for such multidisciplinary programs by
linking the various domains of knowledge of the globalised world.
Prof. Akshaya Kumar pointed towards urgent structural changes needed
in the critical system and traced the trajectory of English Studies in
India within the new imperative of Cultural Studies. He set the focus
of the seminar on debates of the post-1947 era. He shared his views on
the philosophical nature of the Indian freedom struggle and mentioned
how theories emerging from this era are crucial for our understanding
of culture.

            The keynote speaker, Prof. Bijoy Boruah, addressed the
audience about the importance of creatinga dialogic encounter between
tradition and innovation for the affirmation of the self in a living
text as well as in lived reality. Very skilfully,he yoked the binaries
of tradition and innovation in a seamless thread pointing to the need
of a pluralistic approach to life.

            The session was proceeded further with a lecture by Prof.
Sudhir Kumar. He drew attention to the Gandhian approach to culture
and literature. He discussed Gandhi as a chaotic thinker whose
experiments with truth have drawn encouragement and criticism alike.
He talked about Gandhi’s ideas of Satyagraha, Swadeshi, Sarvodaya, and
Dharma and the relevance of these ideas for the understanding of
Culture. Prof. Simona Sawhney, from IIT Delhi, questioned the need of
an Indian cultural studies in a globalised world. She used Bhagat
Singh’s life and testimonies to argue that researchers must employ
cultural theories indiscriminately if they can justify them rather
than search for a ‘pure’ Indian theoretical basis. Prof. Sumanyu
Satpathy, current fellow at IIAS and former faculty member at Delhi
University, discussed the uses of controversy in the Indian context.

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