University of Wisconsin–Madison

Panelist Search Board

If you are seeking additional speakers to join your Panel or Round Table, or if you would like to find other Single Papers with which to create a Panel, you may submit your abstract below so fellow conference attendees can contact you directly regarding your proposal.

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Title: Ancient Wisdom or Primitive Treatment? Exploring the Perceptions Towards Alternative Medical Systems in South Asia

Abstract: In the world of fast paced innovations where societies compete globally with each other to be at the forefront, maintaining age old traditions is complicated. One such tradition in south Asia involves generations of physicians practicing indigenous medicine, otherwise known as Traditional Medicine (TM).  Westernization and globalization are not congruent with those who pursue the family trade of treating patients.  Individual nations trying to meet international standards are less sympathetic to these indigenous practitioners. For example, the mere invocation of TM itself brings about two dominant but opposing narratives:  one that holds that TM is unscientific in nature and thereby primitive while the other narrative regards TM as suffused with ancient wisdom with the capability of providing an effective alternative to bio medicine (especially in treating chronic illnesses without the risk of side effects to one’s body and mind). In between lay an array of narratives and claims involving various groups.  This panel is set to explore these points of view from the perspective of practitioners. The aim is to assess any changes to the modus operandi of TM practitioners as coping mechanisms and how this influence the TM itself.

Seeking: Panelists for a Panel

Organizer: Sree Padma (

Title: Gender and Mobility in South Asia

Abstract: Mobility is a highly gendered process in which the politics of access and equitable use manifest as uneven landscapes embedded in socio-cultural norms in variegated multi-contextual spaces. In Kathmandu endemic sexual harassment on crowded public transport has contributed to the recent growth in women using scooters creating their own safer mobility-scapes leading to a sense of independence and empowerment. Yet the politics of the state reifies its patriarchal control passing laws limiting women’s mobility such as the ban on women under thirty traveling abroad for work, rumors of a dress code for women driving scooters, and denying women equal citizenship transferal rights. This panel seeks to explore contemporary gendered Asian mobilities within trans-disciplinary fields. We will focus on lived mobility-scapes as continuously evolving processes that both inhabit and construct social landscapes nested in contested geo-political, political economic, multi-cultural, and imaginary landscapes. Using heterogeneous lens across disciplines this panel aspires to expand and articulate unfolding discussions concerning the intersection of gender and mobility in Asia.

Seeking: Panelists for a Panel

Organizer: Robert Beazley (

Title: The Sino-Indian Relationship in South Asia and Beyond

Abstract: India’s hegemonic position in South Asia is presently being challenged by China. The Sino-Indian relationship is complex. While economic cooperation is increasing, the countries also have a history of conflict and disagreement. In recent years tensions have surfaced with regard to border disputes, increased Chinese investments in India’s neighboring countries as well as with regard to China’s gigantic Belt and Road Initiative.

This panel addresses how China’s growth influences Indian strategic thinking. Two aspects pertaining to the Sino-Indian relationship stand out as particularly important. The first aspect is concerned with how China’s expansion influences India’s relations with its immediate neighbors. Relevant cases include how Indian strategic thinking responds to the China-Pakistan axis and how India approaches its neighbors to the north and east: Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar. The second aspect looks beyond the region of South Asian insofar as the panel addresses how India seeks to balance the expansion of China by entering strategic partnerships with countries outside the South Asian region, most prominently with Japan and the US. This latter aspect also has to be understood within the framework of India’s so-called Act East strategy, which emphasizes stronger cooperation with countries in South East Asia and East Asia, both economically and strategically.

Seeking: Panelists for a Panel

Organizer: Lars Tore Flaaten (

Title: Indigenous movements, land displacement, religious conversions, tribal identity

Abstract: This research project aims to explore the ways in which religious identity is articulated in resistance movements against mining and forced land displacements in Chhattisgarh, India. Due to an increased emphasis upon industrialization, the state government of Chhattisgarh has intensified the mining operations in the state and thus been actively engaged in facilitating land acquisitions. Concurrently, the indigenous communities involved in these movements have been repeatedly subjected to “missionization” by outsiders, whether evangelical Christians or recent Hindutva nationalists. But recently, the Gonds in the Surguja district of Chhattisgarh have pushed back as they seek to regain their traditional religious practices and beliefs. This study aims to understand their new social and political movement in relation to religious change and the loss of traditional livelihoods.

Seeking: Panelists for a Panel; Corresponding Single Papers to form a Panel

Organizer: Jay Prakash Sharma (

Title: Categories of Self-Description in South Asian Literature

Abstract: Texts often talk about themselves. Writers and poets encode information about themselves within their works, and often use their writing projects as exercises in self-fashioning. Taking the writing process to be purposeful and dynamic allows us to assess the underlying logics of self-presentations and their potential to both complement and contest arguments within dominant canons of information.

Focusing on self-descriptive moments within South Asian Sanskrit, Persian, and vernacular texts, this panel investigates the rhetorical ways in which writers articulate their individual or collective selfhood, and frame their social, religious, or economic positions by reinforcing existing affiliations or severing them to build new ones. Covering a range of religious and other cultural texts to discuss different categories of self-description, panelists will explore productive tensions of identity between self-narratives and perceived or stated popular narratives. They will study writers’ strategies of mitigating potential risks of their rhetoric being misinterpreted, and also address how patronage and alternate economies of exchange informed production and subsequent reception of such texts.

Seeking: Panelists for a Panel

Organizer: Iva Patel (