International workshop on the culture of the Ilankai Tamilar

Peter.Schalk at Peter.Schalk at
Thu Aug 8 12:53:25 UTC 1996

International Workshop on the Culture of the Ilankai Tamilar,
in Uppsala, Sweden, 28-31 May 1998.

First Call (August 1996)


Dear colleagues.

During the last few years several very good academic publications on the
history, religions, language and ethnic characteristics of the Ilankai
Tamilar have been published. There seems to be an interest for the study of
the Ilankai Tamilar in several places of the world. So, why not co-ordinate
all these efforts and arrange an "International Workshop on the culture of
the Ilankai Tamilar" with studies that fall within the fields of social
sciences and arts studies? If there is an interest, the workshop will be
organised by professors Alvapillai Veluppillai and Peter Schalk in Uppsala
from 28-31 May, 1998 (arrivals on 27 March, departures on 1 June). We need
so much time to collect funds to make it possible for scholars from Ilankai
and India, for those who are writing on Tamil culture in the regions of
Yalppanam, Vanni, Tirukkonamalai, Mattakalappu, Kolumpu, Malaiyakam, and on
Tamil places of worship in the South, to come to Uppsala. Scholars from
other parts of the world, inclusive of countries of Tamil exile, will have
to cover their own expenses for registration, travelling and accomodation
in Uppsala.

Ilankai Tamil culture is Ilankai Tamil exile culture also. There is an
Ilankai Tamil culture in Toronto, Sydney, Paris, Bern, Oslo, etc. We know
young Tamilar who read Strindberg in Swedish and Sartre in French, and we
have met even "Kiwi Tamilar". There is a flood of Tamil exile literature.

Regarding "culture of the Ilankai Tamilar", it will be the task of the
workshop to consider different definitions and come to a conclusion. We
just want to emphasise one dynamic and formative aspect of this culture,
its shifting relations to South India, to Sinhala Buddhist culture, to the
Tamilulakam and to the rest of the world.

There is a tendency that social scientists constitute a majority in
conferences. There is also a tendency that modern studies dominate. This is
most welcome as long some  historical disciplines also are represented. We
want to enumerate some of these  disciplines through which Lankan Tamil
culture can be studied. Having been neglected, they are welcome in Uppsala.

Pre-colonial history
Pre-colonial literature
Art history
Historical and comparative linguistics
Dialect studies
Tamil Saivism
Tamil Buddhism
Tamil Christianity
Tamil Islam

When we say "workshop", we mean a group of about 20 people who have sent a
paper not later than Tuesday 31 March 1998 for preparation of all
participiants, and especially of one appointed discussant. The paper
delivered is a draft, that may be re-written by the author after the
workshop, considering the comments having been made by the participiants.
Each paper will be given much time to be commented upon. The aim is to
publish the contributions in a series of academic publications from Uppsala
University. The publication is expected to reflect many aspects of Ilankai
Tamil culture.

We are aware that there is a Sri Lanka Study Conference already. The next
(6th) will be arranged in Nuvara in August 1997. The international workshop
we have in mind focuses on the culture of the Lankan Tamilar in strictly
academic presentations in an exclusive academic surrounding (that goes back
to 1477, the date of the founding of Uppsala University).

We are sending this letter to some selected scholars to which we have an
e-mail address, fax and mail address. We request you kindly to foward it to
scholars who might have an interest in contributing with a paper on the
culture of the Lankan Tamilar.

We are expecting your decision to participate with a working title of your
paper, a summary of it in about 400 words and/or suggestions for
improvement of the workshop's organisation. Having got your declaration of
interest, we shall send you information about accomodation, Uppsala
University and information about our publications pertaining to the culture
of the Lankan Tamilar.

With the best wishes

Peter Schalk, professor in the History of Religions, Uppsala University
Alvapillai Veluppillai, professsor of Tamil, Dr. h.c. (Uppsala).

Phones: 46 18 182293(office), 46 18 252682 (residence, P Schalk), 46 18
403648(residence A Veluppillai).

Email: Tamil.studies at

Fax: 46 18 12 84 71 or 46 18 241786

Mail: P Schalk, A Veluppillai, Box 1604, 75146 Uppsala, Sweden


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