Organized Panel Session
Travelling is often a transgressive act. Those who move across geographical, political and socio-cultural frontiers, whether within or across precolonial and postcolonial boundaries mandated by nation-states, often engage in the act as a form of ethical exercise. It results in, or so the travelers and their audiences imagine, a widening of horizons - physical, mental and socio-political.
Travelling is translation (from the latin trans-latio, to carry across) in its very literal form, where once-alien landscapes and strangers become slowly revealed and familiarized; in the present political climate, travel and mobility have become increasingly divisive loci of socio-political debate. While migration, especially labour and refugee migrations across the Indian Ocean, have received growing attention in the study of South Asia across disciplines in the twentieth century, there is a need to re-situate the fundamental human context of travel beyond these parameters, in a broader historical context, in the precolonial period as well as in the age of empires.
To this end, this panel will focus on literary depictions of "domestic" travel, from urban to rural, center to periphery or vice versa, within South Asia - especially the lands once belonging to the Mughal Empire - in various South Asian languages from the early modern period to the present. Presenters will explore the transgressive nature of mobilities that fostered political, social, sexual and cultural intimacies and offer a more nuanced analysis of human solidarities fostered thereby, which fundamentally reshaped debates about culture and identity in South Asia, and continue to do so at present.