[Reader-list] SociologySeminar at SAU: Prof. Udaya Kumar

Diya Mehra diyamehra at hotmail.com
Fri Oct 3 05:56:33 CDT 2014

Department of Sociology, South Asian University, cordially invites you to a


Spatialities: Vernacular Thought and Territorial Imagination in Twentieth
Century Kerala


by Prof. Udaya Kumar, Nehru
Memorial Museum and Library and University
of Delhi

Wednesday, October 8 2014, 2.30 pm, FSI Hall, South Asian University, Akbar Bhawan,
Chanakyapuri, New Delhi


This paper
focuses on two instances of alternative territorial imagination in Kerala in
the first half of the twentieth century. Accounts of ancient Kerala provided in
Brahaminical texts such as Keralolpathi and
Keralamahatmyam were contested in
early twentieth century by non-Brahmin thinkers such as Chattampi Swamikal. In
the ensuing decades, alongside spatial imaginaries of consolidation which
sought to shore up a coherent Malayali identity across Travancore, Kochi and
Malabar, one also finds the emergence of new imaginaries of dispersal that
locate Kerala in terms of connections with other lands and histories. This
paper will consider two thinkers from twentieth century Kerala who offered such
narratives: Dr. P. Palpu and A. Balakrishna Pillai. Palpu, in his voluminous
correspondence with colonial administrators and officials of Travancore state,
argued that ancient Kerala was the centre of a transoceanic Buddhist empire,
while A. Balakrishna Pillai located vital sites of ancient Kerala history in
modern day Arabia. This paper examines aspects of these revisionary accounts
against the broader background of community histories and other efforts in the
domain of vernacular thought to propose new, alternative normative frames for
Kerala society. 

Kumar is a Professor in the Department of English, University of Delhi and
currently Fellow at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library. His interests
include autobiography, modern Indian literature especially from Kerela. He is the
author of The Joycean Labyrinth:
Repetition, Time and Tradition in Ulysses (Oxford: Clarendon Press).  		 	   		  

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