Tamil Studies Conference

Tamil Studies Conference

Tamil Worlds Initiative, Historical and Cultural Studies, UTSC is delighted to present two talks on 3 and 4 November 2014 by

Sunil Amrith, Birkbeck College at the University of London

Monday, 3 November 2014

Crossing the Bay of Bengal: The Furies of Nature and the Fortunes of Migrants

Integrating migration and environmental history, Amrith gives an account of the Bay of Bengal and the diasporas who have inhabited it, with a particular focus on the Tamil diaspora.

6:30-8:00 PM

Council Chambers (AA 160) UTSC

Comment: Jayeeta Sharma,

Associate Professor Historical and Cultural Studies, UTSC

Chair: Donna Gabaccia

Professor, Historical and Cultural Studies, UTSC

Please join us for a pre-reception at 5:30 PM at the Ralph Campbell Lounge

RSVP: tamilworlds.initiative.utsc@gmail.com. For campus map and transit directs see



Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The South Asian Monsoon: A History for the Anthroposcene

Long before global recognition of anthropogenic climate change, the uncertainties of the monsoon stimulated thinking about poverty and inequality in South Asia. The paper examines how monsoon-related dreams and fears shaped repeated attempts to conquer nature and harness water, with unintended consequences—consequences that suggest the need for a more flexible definition of the region.

2:00 PM - 4:00 PM

108N North House, Asian Institute Munk School of Global Affairs

Chair: Ritu Birla

Director, Centre for South Asian Studies, University of Toronto

Register online at: http://munkschool.utoronto.ca/ai/event/16616/register/

Sunil Amrith is Reader in Modern Asian History at Birkbeck College, University of London. His work focuses on the circulation of people, ideas, and institutions between South and Southeast Asia. His most recent book is Crossing the Bay of Bengal: The Furies of Nature and the Fortunes of Migrants (Harvard, 2013). He is currently working on the environmental history of India's eastern seaboard, supported by the European Research Council.

Cosponsored by Centre for South Asian Studies, Asian Institute, Working Group on Religion and Materiality in the Indian Ocean, Institute of Islamic Studies, Canada Research Chair in South East Asia, Center for South East Asian Studies, and the Department of History, University of Toronto.


May 16 - May 18, 2014

Tamil World's Initiative Co-Sponsored Event:


“In Many Worlds: Kudi / Kudiyurimai,

Belonging, and Citizenship in the Tamil Imaginary”

Organized by the University of Toronto, St. George and Scarborough Campuses,

The plenary speakers include: C.S. Lakshmi, (a world renowned author and feminist scholar), and V. Arasu, (Head of the Tamil Department at the University of Madras and leading scholar of Tamil literature and print culture).

There will be more than 30 papers read by scholars, artists, activists and writers from N.America, Europe, S.Asia, Central America and Australasia. This year there are several exciting cultural performances and art installations. (For schedule see www.tamilstudiesconference.ca)

On May 16, the opening reception and performances will be held at the University of Toronto, Scarborough around the theme of “Pirivu” (Separation). This event is free and open to the public.

 On May 17, conference will be held at St George Campus, downtown (at William Doo Auditorium, New College, Wilcox and Spadina). This event is for registered attendees. Scroll below for details about registration and schedule, and details about "Mass Arrival" an art installation.

On May 17 and May 18, “Uravu:”  a special performance on queerness and belonging in Tamil Worlds (at William Doo Auditorium, New College, Wilcox and Spadina).

This will take place on May 17 @ 8.00pm

There will also be a show on May 18, @ 4:00 

Tickets will be: $15 (early bird) and $20 (at the door)

Please see the website: http://www.tamilstudiesconference.ca/ for full details of the participating scholars, performances and to register to attend.  Registration is now open and will remain open until May 8 2014, 2pm. After this date, all those interested in attending the conference can register on the days of the conference.

Previous Series on Tamil Worlds:

March 4th, 2014

"The Politics of the Urban Poor in Postwar Colombo"

Professor Jonathan Spencer will visit UTSC on March 4th to discuss the political dynamics involved in revitalizing Colombo’s urban areas. He will explore the city’s town planning projects that are currently taking place under the supervision of the Ministry of Defence in historically dense and culturally and religiously mixed areas. These projects have called for the removal of “sub-standard” housing, the construction of leisure areas, and heavy controls on hawkers.

For over 30 years, Jonathan Spencer has carried out fieldwork in Sri Lanka, first focusing on local politics and rural development, with recent interests concentrating on ethnic conflict, political violence and non-violence in the country. He has published several works on Sri Lankan politics and the civil war, and has made noteworthy contributions to the history and theory of anthropology.

This event is part of a yearlong series on Tamil Worlds, presented by Tamil Worlds Initiative and the Department Historical and Cultural Studies of University of Toronto Scarborough.

Co-Sponsors: Centre for Ethnography, University of Toronto Scarborough



Date Tuesday March 4th, 2014
Place Council Chambers (AA 160), 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Speaker Jonathan Spencer, Professor of Anthropology of South Asia, University of Edinburgh
Comment Rajyashree Reddy, Assistant Professor, Geography and Urban Planning, University of Toronto Scarborough
Reception Ralph Campbell Lounge (BV 380), 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM


November 19th, 2013

“Religious Difference and the Making of the Modern “Tamil-Hindu”

Details: Scholars of religion met at UTSC to discuss the contested pasts of Modern Hinduism in South India, Sri Lanka and Toronto. The panel addressed questions such as the emergence of the “Tamil-Hindu” in modern times and its connection to Saivism and religious reform; the differences between thinking of a critical history of religious difference and thinking of a history celebrating religious diversity in postcolonial worlds; and examining history in the context of contemporary discussions about pluralism today.

Speakers: Srilata Raman, Associate Professor, Department of Religion, University of Toronto; Darshan Ambalavanar, Independent Scholar, Batticaloa, Sri Lanka; Sudharshan Durayappah, Lecturer, Global Asian Studies, University of Toronto


October 5th, 2013

“Writing Within/Writing Against: Subaltern Fiction and Poetry in Tamil”

Details: An informal discussion on Tamil fiction, poetry and cultural politics took place, examining the different ways authors have experimented with language and genre to recuperate histories and collectivities uncontained by national imaginaries. How have Muslims and Dalits written some of the most original fiction and poetry in Tamil while remaining overlooked by the Tamil literary world? The event was led by M. Kannan, from the Institute of French Studies in Pondicherry, India.



For more information, go the the Series on Tamil Worlds page.

Download the conference poster (PDF format)

Download the agenda (PDF format)

Download the Uravu poster (PDF format)