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1999: Workshop on Telugu Cinema: History, Culture, Theory,  August 13-16
2000: The Human Sciences and the Asian Experience, February 18th-20th
2001: Rethinking the Disciplines,
July 6th-7th

2001: Feminisms in Asia, October 17-20
2001: 'Alternatives': Political Theory/Activism/Cultural Studies,
December 20-21
2002: Articulating Undergraduate Spaces, August 8-10
2004: 2004 Inter-Asia Cultural Studies Conference, Feb 23-25
2005: Thinking Through Region,
July 15-16
2005: Enculturing Law,
August 11-13
2005: Exploring the Indian Ocean as a Cultural Terrain Dec 9-10
2006: The Future of Higher Education in India
Feb 20-21

Workshop on Telugu Cinema: History, Culture, Theory,  August 13-16, 1999
(Under a grant from the Ford Foundation, New Delhi).

CSCS organized the Workshop on Telugu Cinema: History, Culture, Theory in collaboration with Anveshi Research Centre for Women's Studies, Hyderabad. The workshop drew on two earlier initiatives. One, the workshop on Rethinking Media: Gender, Globalisation and Social Change organized by CSCS and Anveshi in February 1997 in Hyderabad; and two, the workshop on 'Tamil Cinema: History, Culture, Theory' organized by Madras Institute of Development Studies at Chennai in August 1997. 

The Telugu Cinema Workshop was the culmination of a research project which began in January 1999. Involving nine researchers (some of whom worked part time) and a coordinator based in Hyderabad, the research project aimed at generating material which would help students/researchers in their study of Indian cinema in general and Telugu cinema in particular. The project researchers worked for a period of six months in order to collect material on a range of topics related to cinema. Periodically CSCS fellows met the researchers to review the progress of the project. 

Particular attention was paid to the print media, government policies and audience responses. The archive put together by the research team includes articles on the history, politics and culture of Andhra Pradesh in addition to selections from film and other journals/magazines on cinema from the 1930s till 1998. While selecting articles from the print media the focus has been on the genealogies of genres, careers of stars, concerns of film criticism over the years, spectatorial practices, conditions in cinema halls, representation of caste, class and gender and alternative critiques of cinema. Government orders related to production, distribution and exhibition of films have been collected from the Andhra Pradesh State Archives, Hyderabad. A sample of interviews (on audio tape) with Dalit and female audiences from all the three regions of the sate (Telangana, Rayalaseema and Coastal Andhra) with transcriptions of selected interviews are a unique feature of the archive. In addition songbooks, novels on film stars and the film industry, film scripts in the novel form and books on cinema in Telugu and several film titles on videotape have been procured. 

Selections from the archive were translated into English and compiled as a dossier which was given to the participants of the workshop. A Telugu version of the dossier too has been prepared. The archive itself will be housed at Anveshi. The process of digitizing the material is currently under way and once this is complete it will become a part of the CSCS Media & Culture Archive. One set of the CD-ROMS of the workshop material will be available at Anveshi. 

The workshop had papers by a) eminent social scientists on the history, culture and politics of Andhra Pradesh (K.Balagopal, Rama Melkote and Atlury Murali); b) project researchers who presented the findings of their research (B.Uma Maheshwari, K.Murali, P.Keshav Kumar, Janaiah, Chaitanya, Kiranmayi, G.L.N.Reddy); and c) CSCS fellows working on cinema (S.V.Srinivas, Tejaswini Niranjana, M.Madhava Prasad and Ashish Rajadhyaksha). Two films representative of major trends in Telugu cinema in the pre-independence priod, Raitu Bidda (G. Ramabrahmam, 1939), Gruhapravesam (L. V. Prasad, 1946) and one major contemporary film, Kartavyam (A. Mohan Gandhi, 1990) were screened during the workshop. Papers presented covered a range of topics. The workshop ended with a panel discussion by outstation participants. The panelists provided valuable inputs in the form of suggestions for further work on Telugu cinema and future directions for research in Indian cinemas. 

Over fifty participants from Hyderabad, including research students, faculty members, journalists and members of activist groups attended the workshop. Nine outstation participants, consisting of eminent scholars of Indian cinema as well as young researchers associated with the Tamil Cinema Workshop (1997) were among the invitees. 

The Human Sciences and the Asian Experience, 18th-20th February, 2000
(Under a grant from the Japan Foundation, New Delhi.)

The conference set out to explore the question of how the human sciences, products of western culture, have fared in Asia. The background assumption was that the human sciences, both in the west and in Asia, are in a state of stagnation and crisis.  Therefore the question confronting the Asian intellectuals was: could it be that the stagnation and crisis of the disciplines can be overcome only if the non-western cultures begin the process of reconceptualizing the human sciences?   The background paper raising this question was circulated among the potential participants.  After a process of dialogue involving criticism, elaboration, and reformulation of the question, fourteen papers addressing this issue from very different perspectives and national traditions were selected. 

The papers presented could be roughly divided into three types or groups: 1) the explicitly philosophical papers which addressed epistemological issues concerning the status of the humans sciences and  examined the possibility, the necessity, as well as the difficulty of reconceptualizing the human sciences  2) papers which either actually attempted to provide an alternative way of doing social sciences or critically assessed the attempts at providing alternatives to the existing human sciences; 3) papers which looked at specific problems, for example,   caste in India, modernization and nationalism in Japan, the politics of alternative sexualities in Taiwan, the postcolonial predicament in Taiwan. 

There was a general consensus about the need to reconceptualize the human sciences, and surprisingly, a considerable overlap of concerns also emerged during discussion.  The crucial methodological and substantive questions were: Can one speak of Asian experience in the singular or should one really be talking about experiences in the plural? What does one make of Asianness?  While the overlap of concerns, questions and even terms of discourses were noted, the differences in situation, trajectory and problems too were highlighted. While it is true that colonization has been an important historical experience for many Asian nations, how does one understand the Japanese situation, since Japan itself was a colonizer?  Equally importantly, do we need to significantly transform the existing model of colonization provided by postcolonial theory in order to understand the complex condition of Taiwan and Korea?  Does one include the middle-eastern tradition in our understanding of Asia?    In what senses could one say that colonization has "made over" the people who were colonized?  What role did social sciences play in the kind of knowledges produced in the colonial situation?  What's the status of that "knowledge"? How does social science or orientalism in the colonial situation relate to social science in the west?  Are they the same thing?  What epistemological stance underlies both of them? If we reject that stance, what other conceptual and normative space is available for reconceptualizing the human sciences?  These questions would not have emerged without this conference, which, as all the participants agreed, was unique in many ways. The event was brought to a fitting closure by the valedictory address of the distinguished political theorist Partha Chatterjee. 

The formulation, elaboration  and clarification of these questions were undoubtedly the major achievement of this conference which in fact laid a sound conceptual basis for future dialogues.   The need to have further dialogues was urgently felt by the participants.  The round-table discussion on the last day was devoted to exploring both intellectual and institutional problems of organizing a series of such conferences.  Some participants have agreed to actively explore the possibility of organizing a sequel, even as we continue the exchange in order to prepare the papers and discussions for publication.

Rethinking the Disciplines, 6th-7th July, 2001
Workshop with Undergraduate faculty in Bangalore, in association with the Centre for Social Research, Christ College. 


Addressing the Crisis: Shaji Varghese, Christ College; Madhava Prasad, CSCS.
Curicular Initiatives: Rethinking the Crisis in English Group, Bangalore; V.S. Sreedhara, Vijaya College; Janaki Nair, ISEC; Ramesh Bairy, University of Hyderabad.

Pedagogy in Practice: Mrinalini Sebastian, Sheshadripuram College; Sudha Sitaraman,Government Arts College; S.P. Vageshwari, Christ College; Etienne Rassendran, St. Joseph's College. 

Research Questions: Tejaswini Niranjana, CSCS; H.S. Raghavendra Rao, National College Jayanagar.

Feminisms in Asia: October 17-20, 2001

See Feminisms in Asia page

'Alternatives': Political Theory/Activism/Cultural Studies, December 20-21, 2001

Two-day workshop 

Organised in collaboration with 


Areas for Discussion

The New Globalisation:
(I): Primitivising the East 

(II): Internationalising Questions of Caste 

(III): Questions for Human Rights 

(IV): The Asian Middle Class 

Cultural Politics After the Cold War: The Asian Experience 

Critiques of Feminism: Feminism in the Sphere of Recent Politics 

Mobilising Heritage: Conservation Policies, Development Policies

Theories of Performance: The Activist as Performer

Culture and the Law

South Asia: The Joint Action Forum 


Ambrose Pinto, St. Joseph Evening College
Arvind Narrain, Alternative Law Forum 

Cho Hee-yeon, SungKongHoe University and the People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy 

Chua Beng Huat, National University of Singapore 

Firdous Azim, University of Dhaka and Naripokkho 

Gautam Navlakha, Pakistan-India People's Forum 

J.S. Sadananda, Kuvempu University 

K.V. Akshara, Ninasam 

Kancha Ilaiah, Osmania University 

Kang Myung-Koo, Seoul National University 

Kim Soyoung, Korean National University for the Arts 

Kuan-Hsing Chen, Tsing Hua University, Taiwan 

Malathi de Alwis, International Centre for Ethnic Studies, Colombo 

Mathew John, Alternative Law Forum 

Rajaram Hegde, Kuvempu University 

Rajendra Chenni, Kuvempu University 

Samina Choonara, National College of Art, Lahore

Shamsul A.B., Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia 

T.P. Ashok, Ninasam 

Yoshitaka Mori, Kyushu University, Fukuoka

About Inter-Asia Cultural Studies

The Inter-Asia Cultural Studies journal (published by Routledge), now into its third year, has received recognition as one of the most significant pan-Asian platforms for investigating cultural theory and the relationship between cultural theory and cultural/political movements. The IACS Editorial Board, which consists of representatives from over 15 Asian countries, has periodically met in different countries in order to engage with local writing on local issues that would otherwise be inaccessible outside its immediate context and its native languages. 

IACS Conferences

The Inter-Asia Cultural Studies journal has organised one conference in Taipei (1998), Problematising Asia, and a second in Fukuoka (2000), Transformative Era, Transformative Work, in association with the Kyushu University. Both conferences have produced several influential papers from China, Korea, Japan, Australia, Singapore, Taiwan and India that have been published in the journal itself. In addition, these conferences have generated a range of other outcomes in terms of local exchanges, feeding into other (and related) events, and in supporting various kinds of local academic work, inside as well as outside the University. The current workshop is a first stage towards planning a major conference in India in late 2002. 

Collaborating Institutions:

The Alternative Law Forum, Bangalore, is a collective formed by a group of young lawyers who have been practising, as well as theorizing, a concept of Alternative Lawyering. In terms of theory, their concerns have been those of bringing cultural questions into an understanding of law, especially in the fields of sexuality, cultural rights, human rights, and media studies. In 2001 the ALF had organised a major workshop on Alternative Lawyering that saw the presence of a number of well known legal activists discuss recent precedents for addressing the challenges posed to law by newly developed practices of political work. 

The Centre for Social Research has been set up as a new initiative in the Christ College, one of Bangalore's leading institutions addressing new undergraduate initiatives in the social sciences. The CSR has a collaboration with CSCS to expose advanced academic research in the social sciences to the undergraduate faculty and student. The current workshop is being organised under that aegis. 

Articulating Undergraduate Spaces: August 8-10, 2002

See Articulating Undergraduate Spaces page

2004 Inter-Asia Cultural Studies Conference:

See IACS Conference page


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