Peripheral Centres - Central Peripheries

Peripheral Centres-Central Peripheries. Anglophone India and its Diaspora
This interdisciplinary symposium addresses the relationships between centres and peripheries in the context of anglophone India and its diaspora(s). In its transcultural approach it engages with issues of globalization, migration, nationalism, and transitionality.

As the name "Transcultural Anglophone Studies" suggests, the modus operandi in this field is determined by a dual mandate: on the one hand to deal with the various anglophone literatures emanating from those parts of the globe formerly colonized by the British, and on the other, to ensure that these literatures are contextually embedded in their respective cultures. This approach necessitates an engagement with issues lying outside the confines of a philological analysis of texts on the basis of national boundaries -- since its objects of study have, through their histories of inter-cultural contact, been rendered transcultural on a global scale. In postcolonial cultural theory, however, the term centre continues to be customarily applied to the erstwhile site of colonial power and therefore equated with Britain, while those locations formerly under colonial administration are, accordingly, subsumed under Britain's periphery.

In India, anglophone cultural production has been contingent on the implementation of the directives of Macaulay's Minute of 1835, which introduced English as medium of instruction and of English Literature as its ideological carrier in British-run educational institutions. The choice of anglophone India and its diaspora(s) as conference focus has been predicated on consideration of its exemplary status as a case history of the intermeshing of colonial intervention and autochthonous self-determination in the formation of a new mono- or bilingual intercultural arena within an existing multilingual polycultural order.

Anchoring abstraction to the particularities of the dialectics of nationhood and an extraterritorial trans-, or supranational diaspora, the conference posits that a culture like the Indian, commonly regarded as a periphery, be reconsidered in the light of a possible centre, and by corollary, that its diaspora(s) be regarded as peripheries of this centre. Thus, in engaging further with the premises of the co-existence of competing dominant orders as found in the transitionality which follows on the post-colony, the conference seeks to bring the two terms back to academic attention. By examining centres and peripheries in the interdisciplinary frame of a plurality and polyvalency more conducive to understanding the ongoing process of globalization where peripheral centres and central peripheries indeed co-exist, the conference engages with the centre/periphery concept in a way yet to become customary in Anglophone Cultural Discourse.

Aims of the Conference
The conference brings together over twenty international experts from a number of disciplines (predominantly Postcolonial Studies, Cultural Studies, Comparative Literature, Linguistics, Sociology, Anthropology, History, Indology), the media, and the creative arts, who have contributed to the present state of international theoretical discourse on centres and peripheries.

The intellectual interchange will, while addressing a wide range of relevant topics, specifically highlight the following major areas of enquiry:

  • Are generalizations possible with regard to the characteristic features of centres and of peripheries?
  • What inferences are possible from the relationship of a periphery to its centre -- in the context of the Indian diaspora(s)?
  • What are the dominant orders in India? In the localities of its diaspora(s)? How do they relate to each other?
  • What are the parameters of "Indianness" in India -- and in the diaspora(s)?
  • What changes has Indian culture undergone in its transposition to the diaspora(s)?
  • What kind of influence does the centre exert on the diaspora(s), and vice-versa?

Participants and Contributions


  • Timothy Brennan (Minneapolis): "The Southern Intellectual: The Indian Diaspora and Interwar Europe"
  • Meenakshi Mukherjee (Hyderabad): "Whose Centre, Which Periphery?"
  • Dietmar Rothermund (Heidelberg): "Mahatma Gandhi in South Africa: A Voice from the Periphery"



  • Silvia Albertazzi (Bologna): "Salman Rushdie in New York: Looking at the Centre with Furious Eyes"
  • Chandrashekhar Bhat (Hyderabad): "Continuity and Change in the Perceptions of Indianness: Issues of Identity among the Indians and the Indian Diaspora"
  •  Vilashini Cooppan (Yale): "National Longing, Diasporic Form: Indian Writing in the 'New' South Africa"
  •  Rachel Dwyer (London): "Indian Film in Britain"
  •  Keya Ganguly (Minneapolis): "A Signature of the Visible: Satyajit Ray and Cinematic Modernism"
  • Mohan Gautam (Leiden): "Reconstruction of a Cherished Memory of the Home Country: The Caribbean Indian Diaspora between Ideals and Practice"
  • Girish Karnad (London): "Colonialism and Culture"
  • Tabish Khair (Copenhagen): "Travel and Immigration: An Aspect of the Implied Politics of the Discourse of Diaspora"
  • Konrad Meisig (Mainz): "Modern Narrative Technique in the Panchatantra: An Indian Contribution to World Literature"
  • Vijay Mishra (Perth): "Theorizing Diasporas"
  • Rukmini Bhaya Nair (Delhi): "Postcolonial Genre: Does the Literary Review belong to the Centre or the Periphery?"
  • Makarand Paranjape (Delhi): "Indian Anglophony, Diasporan Polycentricism, and Postcolonial Futures"
  • Rajagopalan Radhakrishnan (Amherst): "Diaspora, Hybridity, and Pedagogy"
  • Sujala Singh (Southampton): "Postcolonial Children"
  • Udaya Narayana Singh (Mysore): "Another India: Voices from the Periphery"
  • Harish Trivedi (Delhi): "Postcolonial Centre, Postmodernist Periphery: Reversing a Discursive Hierarchy"
  • Michael Walling (London): "Inter-cultural Tempests – India, Mauritius and London"


Panel Discussion: "Transcultural Perspectives on Centres and Peripheries" with

  • Rachel Dwyer (SOAS, London)
  • Sunetra Gupta (Oxford University)
  • Girish Karnad (Nehru Centre, London)
  • Mini Krishnan (Oxford University Press India)
  • Harish Trivedi (Delhi University)

The following writers have agreed to read from their work:

  • Anjana Appachana
  • Sunetra Gupta
  • Girish Karnad
  • Tabish Khair
  • Kiran Nagarkar
  • Rukmini Bhaya Nair
  • Makarand Paranjape
  • Udaya Narayana Singh