Image: Courtesy of Dev N. Pathak, Sociology, SAU.
About The Department - Vision and Beyond

Over the last half century or so, a vast body of knowledge(s) on the region has evolved within South Asia that mostly remain within the countries of their origin due to a number of reasons. In this specific context, there is a crucial need to share some of this knowledge in contemporary times when, despite assertions of localisations and mini-narratives, the universal does retain its emphasis through a constant dialectics of the two. The debate between the local and universal or mini-narratives and meta-narratives continue to rage, and is more clearly visible in the context of South Asian context. Even so, we are acutely aware of the non-existence of regular and serious forums for South Asian scholarship in social sciences to showcase our own research and thinking. We are also quite conscious of the fact that the process of establishing sociology in the region has created its own peculiarities which has established close inter-relationships between sociology and social anthropology, history, cultural studies, archeology and other related disciplines. We consider the porousness of South Asian sociology one of its most enduring strengths. On the other hand, we are not unaware of the unfortunate regressions sociology has experienced in different South Asian contexts over the last 30 years or so marked by numerous institutional failures.

It is within the context(s) outlined above that the Department of Sociology at South Asian university, initiated in 2011 witihn the Faculty of Social Sciences contributes to teaching, training and knowledge production. It is not intended to be a mere forum for the production of cutting-edge intellectual knowledge and exchange of that knowledge traversing across national borders in South Asia and beyond. Our expectation is that this knowledge would dislocate the persistence of an imposed framework emanating from the colonisation process and postcolonial politics of knowledge. Despite the passage of over fifty years since the process of official decolonization began in the region, much of the analyses of our problems, situations, histories and dynamics emanate from Euro American academia; this is certainly the case when it comes to conceptual formulations and theoretical approaches that are being employed in exploring the region’s social and cultural complexities often without much self-reflection.

The Department of Sociology strongly believes in the need to reformulate this situation by effectively centering South Asia without naively shunning thought from these established centers of knowledge be they in Europe or North America. We believe in an active and robust engagement with these issues within South Asia. In this context, through the work of its faculty and the research of graduate students, the Department would bring forward the newer forms of knowledge that comprehends and represents the South Asian context with a more authoritative and nuanced voice. We strongly believe in the need to actively intervene in the process of knowledge formation through a constant sharing of knowledge that the region produces as well as through interaction with the world beyond the region.

The courses taught in the Department as well as the research carried out by its faculty members reflect this overall vision and our collective commitment towards innovation, move beyond untenable stereotypes, and explore a new world of knowledge within the discipline of Sociology.

Class of 2011, Department of Sociology, South Asian University; Image: Courtesy of Dev N. Pathak, Sociology, SAU.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Conference: Educational Transformation and Transformative Education: Possibilities and Alternatives to the Educational Crisis

Cartoon on Sri Lankan education by Awantha Atigala  

Call for Papers 
Department of Sociology, South Asian University in association with Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung will organise an international conference in March 2014 on the theme, Educational Transformation and Transformative Education: Possibilities and Alternatives to the Educational Crisis. The conference would look at the possibilities and alternatives to the crisis generated in the field of education by impact of neoliberalism. Some of the tentative themes to be debated during the conference would include the following:

1. Imagining a transformative education:

a. Resistance as the beginning of transformation; the  distinct forms of resisting neoliberalism in education.
b. Alternative as the beginning of resistance; embryonic alternative visions within crisis and the resistances
c. Existing educational alternatives in South Asia and their transformative potential to neoliberal orientations

2. The changes in South Asian education as neoliberalism arrives and the nature of responses to the changes

3. Contribution of critical pedagogy towards imagining an alternative

a. Can education autonomously effect socio-political transformation?
b. Consequences of locating education within the larger socio-economic and political matrix
c. Teacher as an agent of transformation
d. Conceptualising extensions of pedagogy beyond the classroom
e. Establishing the necessity to connect socio-economic and political realities with pedagogy

4. Social movements as pedagogical possibilities

Last date of submission of abstracts (500 words): 30th November, 2013
Submission of selected papers: 1st March 2014

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