CFP: History, Memory, Grief @ McMaster U

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    Chandrima Chakraborty

    History, Memory, Grief: A 30th Air India Anniversary Conference

    John Douglas Taylor Conference, April 29-30, 2016

    Department of English and Cultural Studies, McMaster University, Hamilton

    Organizers: Chandrima Chakraborty, Nisha Eswaran, Sharifa Patel and Sarah Wahab 

    329 people, mostly Indo-Canadians, died in the June 23rd 1985 bombing of Air India Flight 182. It prompted the longest and most expensive criminal investigations in Canadian history, a belated public inquiry that declared the bombing “a Canadian Tragedy” (in 2010), and the Canadian government’s public apology on the 25th anniversary of the bombing for “institutional failings” and the mistreatment of families. Yet, as Sherene Razack noted in her expert witness testimony at the Air India public inquiry, “Canadians do not recall June 23, 1985. As a nation, we were not shaken, transformed and moved to change our own institutional practices for a tragedy we considered had little to do with us.” Using the Air India tragedy as a framing narrative, this conference seeks to prompt a broader conversation about the making of race and nation in Canada, Canadian history and public memory, South Asian racialization and belonging in North America, aesthetic responses to violence, and memorialization practices, among others. Situating the Air India tragedy within local, national and transnational contexts and temporalities, we hope to raise more widespread awareness of the Air India tragedy and its continuing impact on our shared present and future.

    Topics to be considered might include, but are not limited to:

    • Empire and (de)colonization
    • South Asian immigration(s) to North America
    • Canadian history and public memory
    • Representations of South Asians and Canadian multiculturalism in fiction, cinema, poetry or plays
    • Creative remembrances of the Air India events
    • Media and the Air India saga
    • Diaspora cultures: (Un)making communities and alliances
    • Travelling traumas: the Gadar movement, anti-Asian riots, 1947 Partition, 1984 anti-Sikh riots, Komagata Maru, 9/11, and others
    • Grief, grievance and mourning
    • Transgenerational and transnational memories, experiences, activism
    • Memory, memorials, memorialization
    • Postcolonial traumas
    • Violence and the nation; violence as exceptional and everyday
    • Reconciliation and redress
    • Terrorism and (in)security: pre- and post 9/11

    The conference will create a space for dialogue and facilitate exchange of knowledge between Humanities and Social Science scholars; between scholars and cultural producers; and between scholars, creative artists, Air India family members, and the general public about this critical event in Canadian history. Confirmed participants include Sherene Razack and Stef Craps (plenary speakers), Lata Pada (dance performance and talk on personal loss), Susheel Gupta (Chairperson, Air India Victims Family Association), and creative artists Padma Viswanathan and Renee Saklikar (on the remembrance of the Air India events in creative writing).

    If you are interested in presenting a paper or participating in a roundtable, please send a short bio and a 200-word abstract by October 1, 2015 to Dr. Chandrima Chakraborty:

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