British Association for South Asian Studies

News & Events

15 November 2020

Call for Papers: "The Polite World of Bhakti in Odisha: From Early Modern to Modern"

Online Conference, Ravenshaw University, Cuttack, 5th-7th February 2021

Submission Deadline: 30th December 2020


Akshaya K. Rath (NIT, Rourkela), Priti Mishra (University of Southampton), Siddharth Satpathy (University of Hyderabad), Urmishree Bedamatta (Ravenshaw University)

What sort of textual narratives did bhakti ecosystem produce in Early Modern and Modern Odisha? The question implies at least two kinds of interrelated enquiries. The first concerns the nature of the discursive space in which texts were produced, read, and circulated. Here, one engages with questions about institutions, political, ecclesiastical and financial, and their role in the formation of the discursive space. One explores how this space formed its centers and peripheries, and how their alignments changed over the years. The second kind of enquiry concerns the specific features of the theological, philosophical arguments or the particular contours of the aesthetic experience the texts helped to build. One studies how these arguments and emotions coalesced over the years to form literary mentalities. One analyzes the continuities and ruptures which characterize such textual cultures. Keeping some such queries at its heart, the conference proposes to reconstruct the world of bhakti textual traditions in the region. Polite is the word it uses to refer to the diverse processes of cultivation which went into the making of the spaces and mentalities in the world of a bhakta. In terms of a method of enquiry, it will rely on close readings of primary textual sources, and their adequate historicization. The survey would broadly cover the period from the sixteenth to the twentieth-century.

The conference invites proposals from early career scholars as well as advanced PhD students. Possible topics include: canonical and non-canonical texts of Odia literary tradition; Sanskrit and Persian discursive culture in Odisha; Bangla, Hindi, Assamese, Marathi, Telugu, and other language narratives either produced about or in Jagannath-Puri; royal courts and systems of patronage; monasteries and their histories; manuscript culture; print cultures and bhakti; anthologies and treatises on music or dance; trade and commerce and the bhakti ecosystem; roles of gender and caste in the formation of the bhakti world view; visual history; translations and adaptations, so on and so forth. The last date for submission of paper abstracts is 30 December 2020. The submissions should be c. 250 words, be accompanied with a short CV, and sent to: Following the workshop, selected papers will be considered for publication in a proposed edited volume tentatively titled, Polite World of Bhakti in Odisha: From Early Modern to Modern. The online conference will be organized by Urmishree Bedamatta, Ravenshaw University. Siddharth Satpathy, Akshaya Rath and Priti Mishra are invited co-hosts.