[URBANTH-L]CFP: Identity, Representation and Power: Experiencing the State from the Margins (Madison, Wisconsin)

Angela Jancius jancius at ohio.edu
Tue Feb 26 23:23:59 EST 2008


Identity, Representation and Power:
Experiencing the State from the Margins

The 37th Annual Conference on South Asia October 16- 19, 2008,
Wisconsin-Madison, USA.

We are inviting the submission of papers on "Experiencing the state
from the margins" from which to build a panel for the Annual South
Asian conference. Please see the panel abstract below this

Applicants should familiarise themselves with the conditions, in
particular the "proposal instructions" on the conference website at:
http://southasiaconference.wisc.edu/ and send an abstract NO MORE than
400 words in length to dc323 at cam.ac.uk & pjw61 at cam.ac.uk.

The deadline for abstracts is midnight of Sunday March 16th, 2008. A
final decision on the panel will be made by March 20th 2008 before the
final submission of the complete panel to the Conference organisers
before 1st April 2008. Applicants should therefore be aware that if
their abstract is accepted the conditions for overall panel submission
requires individual registration and payment of conference fee
(Student $60) by March 24th 2008 to us, so that , so that we can
ensure payment reaches Madison by 1st April 2008.

We really look forward to hearing from you and hope that if you are
interested or have further queries you will get in touch.

Many thanks and best wishes,

Philippa & Deepta

Department of Geography
University of Cambridge
Philippa Williams pjw61 at cam.ac.uk
& Deepta Chopra dc323 at cam.ac.uk


Identity, representation and power: experiencing the state from the margins

Experiences of the state by India's marginalised communities are
variously influenced by issues of power and representation. Ethnic
minorities, tribal groups, displaced people, the poor, linguistic
minorities, disabled, gays, unemployed, women etc. have typically
struggled to represent their voices at the state level. Nonetheless
expectations for 'the state' to deliver their citizenship rights
endure, especially as new spaces and modes of protest, pressure and
participation emerge within civil society. The interface between 'the
state' and society may be understood as a complex and 'messy' site of
interactions which are progressively mediated by both formal and
informal civil society institutions. The nature and type of mediation
by civil society raises important questions about the legitimacy of
these actors in representing people at the margins of mainstream
society and how their influence shapes the resulting social policies.
This is not to deny the agency of marginalised groups who implicitly
and actively both inspire and challenge representations of themselves
and notions of citizenship.

In the context of a neo-liberal growth strategy as followed by the
Indian state, a plethora of social policies which aim to address the
needs of the 'common man', for instance the RTI, NREGA, and Tribal
Rights Act, the Sachar Committee report, policies on reservations etc.
at the same time as deeply disputed policies such as the SEZ act have
recently emerged. These then reflect greater contestation and tension
between the promise of citizenship and its actual reflection and
refraction in India's developmental agenda. Given the patchwork of
policies and institutions/ actors that are prevalent in India, and the
zig-zag movement of their interactions, the question is how these
social policies are formulated and enacted through the interplay
between the state and pressures from below, and to what extent are
these processes and outcomes in the interests of the marginalised
groups they claim to represent?

In answer to this, the panel will explore the processes of social
policy making by critically considering, not only how marginalised
groups and their representatives are included and occluded in state
political processes, but the extent to which their responses to state
actions feed reiteratively into the political process. As both
positive and negative impacts of these policies are played out, it is
essential to appreciate not only the interactions between and within
the state, civil society and marginalised people that shape these
policies, but also the power and political dynamics that operate
within these interactions. By exploring these issues within an overall
framework for 'inclusive citizenship', this panel seeks to unpack
issues of identity, representation and power and how they are
differentially experienced through interactions between various

Papers should be empirically grounded, with case studies from India
exploring the following issues:

1)      Representations of marginalised communities by formal and informal
civil society institutions, including community organisations, NGOs,
state officials, social movements etc., and how these affect and are
in turn affected by the identities of marginalized communities
2)      How marginalised populations are represented within the conception,
formulation and implementation processes of social policy, and how the
politics of power relations influence whose voices are considered
3)      How state actions (policies, interventions, recommendations,
reservations etc.) impact on the livelihoods of marginalised
communities and how their experiences of and reactions to the state
may in turn shape state processes.
4)      Reviews of existing policies and assessments regarding their
suitability to the needs of marginalised communities.

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