Organized Panel Session
Traveling as transgression provided creative impetus for a range of Indian women and men to redefine themselves as modern subjects of a globalized world. In the age of empires and beyond these intrepid travelers tried to forge new intellectual, socio-cultural and political solidarities and re-frame their own understanding and reinvention of Indian tradition in a wider Asian context. An important emergent field the in intellectual history of the Indian Subcontinent has begun to trace the journeys undertaken eastwards – away from the gravitational pull of metropole of Britain, or the more western parts of the Persianate cultural realm toward which the Mughal world had often looked. Seminal academic work emerging in the last decade, and exemplified by Sugata Bose, Sunil Amrith and Tansen Sen, has focused on the idea of forging Asian solidarities, primarily by tracing interconnectedness of literary, cultural and intellectual exchange between South Asia and the countries of Southeast and East Asia – connections between India, Tibet, China, Malaya, Burma, Thailand and Japan. Building on such work, the papers in this panel will explore numerous facets of the Asian connections fostered or imagined towards the East, from the linguistic to the erotic, from politics to social class and class politics. The comparative perspectives that emerge from such analyses enriche our understanding of the genealogies of modern tensions around the creation of national and ethnic identities in soon to emerge post-colonial nations, and the shifting currents of uniquely Asian anti-imperial discourse that flowered through such intimate translations and travels.