Doctoral School

South Asian Anthropologists Group (SAAG) 2013 Conference

Supported by the Doctoral School's Researcher-Led Inititative (RLI) fund

Call for Papers

South Asian Anthropologists Group (SAAG) 2013 Conference

Telling Stories of Transition: Interpreting Experiences of Change in Everyday Lives

11th-12th of September 2013
School of Global Studies, University of Sussex

The 2013 SAAG conference will explore ‘stories of transition’ in the lives of groups and individuals in South Asia and the broader diaspora. The conference is open to a range of papers, both descriptive and methodological, dealing with these areas. SAAG 2012, hosted in Edinburgh, was particularly striking in that the conference involved ethnographic contributions from disciplines where narrative-driven methods are not commonly employed. As such we are encouraging the submission of ethnographic papers from fields within and beyond anthropology.

The aim of the conference is to generate discussions on the ways in which transition is talked about and negotiated, and how this is used within the methodological context of ethnography. As anthropologists we regularly deal with the fluid and contested nature of cultures, economies and lifeworlds. We seek to understand the impact of such processes from the view of subjective experience. This may take the form of telling ‘stories’ of those who have experience of large scale projects such as structural adjustment, liberalisation, revolution or conflict. It may also focus on more personal journeys such as lifecycle changes, religious conversion or coming of age. Often we find that the personal and structural worlds are intertwined. Ethnographers also tell reflexive stories in the context of the researcher entering, engaging with, or leaving the field.

In addition to telling ‘stories of transition’, we hope that the conference will generate useful and creative debates around such stories and ask questions concerning their use and meaning in South Asia. On a descriptive level we ask contributors not just to share ‘stories of transition’ but also to consider how these experiences interact with perceptions of everyday life, introduce new possibilities, allow for construction or reconstruction of worldviews and impact upon notions of belonging within communities in South Asian and the diaspora. Conceptually and methodologically speaking we ask contributors to consider what it means to be ‘in transition’, what can be learnt from the telling of such stories, how they are told, and the contribution this makes to furthering ethnographic understanding?

SAAG 2013 will be hosted by the School of Global Studies, University of Sussex, from the 11th to the 12th of September in the Fulton Building, University of Sussex, Brighton, BN1 9RH. Lunch and refreshments will be provided for which a small contribution will be required. There will also be a social event on the evening of the 11th involving a meal at a restaurant. Accommodation is available on campus in the nearby Swanborough building. We hope to provide some travel and accommodation bursaries, which will be announced later, but participants are encouraged to look for other funding sources.

SAAG is a relaxed and friendly event which aims to stimulate intellectual debate and dialogue on current research and emerging issues in the study of South Asia. As with last year, the conference will be linked with a special issue of The South Asianist (, in which presenters will have the opportunity for their papers to potentially be published. Papers will be pre-circulated to participants. The format for panels will be paper presentation by a discussant who summarises the paper and comes up with comments and questions (10mins), paper giver replies (10 mins) followed by open discussion (25 mins). Each paper gets 45 mins in total. As usual, we welcome paper proposals from people at any stages of their academic careers, from first year PhD students onwards.

If you are interested to attend, submit a paper, or act as a discussant for SAAG 2013, please contact For those proposing a paper, please send a title and brief abstract by 31st May 2013. Further is also available on the SAAG 2013 Facebook page.


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