Call for Papers : Cultures of the Political Left in Modern India

A 2 day conference hosted by the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Bombay is inviting papers that discuss the histories of the cultural practices of the political Left in modern India.


The mainstream Communist parties in India have been generative of and have relied on debates and practices in the realm of art and imagination. The work of theatre groups and practitioners, writers, filmmakers, visual artists, creative producers, cultural theorists—sometimes directly affiliated to Communist parties, sometimes ‘independent’—has provided a crucial ground for it. While there has been some attention to such practices in the context of Bengal and in Kerala, as well as some recent interest in transnational networks, a rich archive of such initiatives in other parts of India remains to be discussed, translated, or even discovered for a larger academic discussion. The Left has also fostered cultures of being, belonging, working, mobilising, and politicising through many labour and protest movements, trade unions, associations, familial and interpersonal networks and relationships: these in turn have enabled, provoked, and inflected artistic expressions. The discursive field of the political Left in India has also been an embattled one with critiques from within as from the outside. These critiques from other formal political formations, including from Dalit, feminist, minority and sexuality positions or movements, have often taken artistic forms worth serious attention.

Cultures of the Political Left is a step forward to open up the academic inquiry into a wider field that seeks to examine various cultural practices as ones of reiteration, refusal and debate; it seeks to bring these dispersed and divergent strands in conversation with each other. Existing scholarship has worked predominantly within the rubrics of the national, the regional, or the global. This conference, while engaging with these analytical frames, also hopes to complicate and transform them in order to attend to the intensely transactional nature of these formations.

In the context of “cultures of the political left in modern India”, we invite papers that discuss the following:

● forms, idioms, styles, customs, conventions
● individual or collectives of authors, artists, cultural producers, texts, practices, traditions
● literary and artistic critiques of the political Left from inside and outside its ambits
● institutions, organizations, unions, associations, communes, and the family
● habits and habitations
● work, labour, and infrastructures of artistic practice
● life writing and other genres
● key historical events and processes

The above list is illustrative rather than restrictive.

Please send abstracts (300-350 words) and a bio-note (100-150 words) to [email protected] by November 5, 2022. Decision regarding acceptance will be intimated by November 10, 2022. Queries, if any, may be sent to the same email address. Accommodation and travel support (within India) will be provided for all participants.


Paulomi Chakraborty, Ratheesh Radhakrishnan , Sharmistha Saha
Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Bombay

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