RAW CON 2013 sought to reengage with the questions posed by/to modernity and explore the possibilities of various modernities. It deepened our understanding of vernacular modernities and their viability within a national/global atmosphere.

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The inaugural of this seminar was at the Auditorium, School of Humanities, in the presence of distinguished personalities. The session was chaired by Prof. M. T. Ansari, Director, CCL. The welcome address was given by Zameer Ahmad Butt, PhD representative, CCL. Prof. Amitabha Das Gupta, Dean, School of Humanities, gave the inaugural address. Speaking on the model of modernity available to the countries with a colonial past, Prof. Das Gupta, mentioned that modernization has become synonymous with westernization. To counter this concept, there is a need to formulate an alternative concept which can be created effectively through literary and artistic engagements. Sudarshan Rayala, coordinator for the event gave the introduction and vote of thanks was delivered by Sanjeeta, the co- coordinator.

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This seminar had 12 sessions and 25 papers spread over three days. The plenary session on 25th September started at 10:30 am with Dr. J. Devika’s lecture. She reflected on the history of modernity in 20th century Kerela and its interconnections with the histories of migration and trans-nationalism in the region.

The third session on day one titled ‘Vicissitudes of Modernity’ attempted a theoretical understanding of modernity on the basis of the ideas of various thinkers like Partha Chatterjee, Salman Rushdie, Dipesh Chakravarthy, etc. Locating modernity within a theoretical framework, the presenters expressed their views on the political implications of such an act, the possibility of multiple modernities and the adequacy/inadequacy of western theories in providing a satisfactory explanation for both western and Indian realities. The post lunch session titled ‘Othering Modernity’ focused on historicizing modernity. The papers emphasized on the role of ayurveda and Bhakti Movement in creating an alternative modernity in India. The last session of the day ‘Nationalisation and Vernacularisation’ talked about modernity based on linguistic practices in India.

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The 6th session on the second day of the seminar focused on the concept of internal colonization. Colonization is not just an outside phenomenon but also an internal process within the geographical boundaries of a nation-state. The papers focused on the Gorkhaland movement and other issues in North Eastern India and their relation to modernity. This was followed by two other sessions which explored the idea of modernity in relation to other concepts like culture, feminism and education. The importance of journal and text books as being influential in shaping vernacular modernities in various regions in India was stressed upon by the paper presenters. The last session on the second day had its focus on films. The papers talked about the politics of imagining a nation through film censorship and the inter-medialities in Indian modernity.

The 10th session on the third day related the popular to the modern. The papers focused on how folktales and figures from folktales become the medium for expression for modernity. The post tea session debated over the difference between the popular and the classical and their contribution in the making of the modern. The last three papers in the concluding session reflected on modernity in Assamese culture and literature, the role of book as a commodity in creating Bengali self identity and Dalit literature and modernity.

The panel discussion at the end of the day was chaired by Prof. Tutun Mukherjee. The speakers Dr. Sowmya Dechamma, Prof. Narayanan and Prof. MSS Pandian, in their response to the issues discussed in the three day seminar raised certain questions to grapple with the question of modernity.

– By CCL Raw. Con 2013 Publicity Team