Conference: Text and Practices of South Asian Art

Anna A. Slaczka annamisia at YAHOO.COM
Mon Feb 23 21:57:07 UTC 2009

Dear Friends and Colleaguges,

We are pleased to announce the 2nd Vilnius Conference on Topics in the Study of Asia (June 4-6, 2009; please note the short deadline!).

Call for papers

The Second Vilnius Conference on Topics in the Study of Asia

Texts and Practices of South Asian Art

Centre of Oriental Studies, Vilnius University

June 4–6, 2009

Dr. Valdas Jaskunas, Vilnius University
Dr. Anna A. Slaczka, Leiden University

The conference aims to bring together scholars from different countries for an interdisciplinary discussion of various aspects of the history of practices and histories of texts in South Asian art. We are particularly interested in the problems surrounding the codification of art practices and textual (shastric) tradition on an individual artistic, communal, and regional level, with attention to cases that centre on issues of cultural
(dis)location, historicizing, and transition of South Asian art approached both from historical and contemporary perspectives.
The conference welcomes also papers focusing on the relationship, and mutual influences, between South Asian and Southeast, East and Central Asian art.

The organizers welcome papers from historians, anthropologists, philosophers, and historians of art and religion that are based on original research in specific issues and that fall into any of the proposed panels listed below or raise related issues:
• critical studies of South Asian art, its production and replication
• reconstructing art practices from the texts of the shastric tradition
• literary sources of visual narratives in South Asian sculpture and painting
• histories of vastu- and silpa-sastras and models of transmission of art knowledge
• Indian artists’ and artisans’ contestation for social status and debate about identity
• politics of building temples in South Asia and the diasporic milieu
• art and engineering in South Asian architecture
• biographies of art objects and artefacts
• constructing the history of South Asian art: the role of museums and exhibitions in
creating, shaping and maintaining South Asian art
• urban histories as a theme of investigation for South Asian art historians
• reception of South Asian art in the West.

The location of the conference
The University of Vilnius, one of the oldest and most famous establishments of higher education in Eastern and Central Europe, was founded in 1579. Functioning for a long time as the only school of higher learning in Lithuania, it was a preserver of cultural and scientific traditions and has played a significant part in the cultural life not only of Lithuania, but also of neighbouring countries. The Centre of Oriental Studies at Vilnius University, originally founded in 1810 as the Chair in Eastern Languages and housed on the historic main campus in the Old Town of Vilnius, was re-established in 1993, following the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the re-emergence of Lithuania as an independent state. The centre offers undergraduate courses in the literature, religion, art
and societies of Japan, China, India, Iran, Turkey, Arabic speaking countries, and Tibet.
We offer six specializations: Japanese Studies, Chinese Studies, Indian Studies, Iranian Studies, Turkish Studies and Arabic Studies. A Master’s degree program on Modern Asian Studies, started in 2006, consists of interdisciplinary subjects with a focus on the application of theories of post-colonial, identity, visual, and media studies to Asian
Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, is directly accessible by plane from most major European cities, (including London, Amsterdam, Prague, Helsinki, Paris, Frankfurt, Berlin, Brussels, Dublin, and Vienna). All participants will be met at the airport. The conference organizers have arranged housing in the centre of the historic district of the
city, and daily events will include opportunities to see this baroque city.
Why this conference and why in Vilnius?
The year 2009 is extremely significant for Lithuania and its capital Vilnius. This year Lithuania commemorates the millennium of the name of Lithuania (first mentioned in 1009 in the annals of Quedlinburg, Germany), and Vilnius is a European Capital of Culture 2009.
Vilnius, being one of the research centres of Indo-European studies, has been constantly showing interest in studies of Sanskrit and Indian cultural traditions. Although due to political reasons India-related studies have been conducted with interruption, since the first launch of the Chair of Eastern Languages in Vilnius University in 1810, South Asian
languages and cultures have been studied in one form or another.
To review recent history, Lithuania was briefly independent as a country from 1918 until 1940, under National Socialist control from 1940–1944 and under Soviet occupation from 1944 until 1990. Lithuania became a member of the European Union in 2004 and is currently being phased into the full European economy. The social transitions of Lithuania in the 20th century were enormous, often violent, frequently covert, and fastpaced,
and the issues addressed in this conference can be readily seen in the cultural context of contemporary Vilnius. The city of Vilnius provides a setting for a series of conversations at a unique moment in time in Eastern Europe. While originally noted for its tolerance and mutual respect of its diverse ethnic population through the 1930s,
predominantly as the centre of Jewish learning in Europe, Vilnius and other areas in Lithuania were also the location of the atrocities of the Holocaust, and later the subjugation of the Lithuanian people under the Soviet regime. Post-war Lithuania encountered severe difficulties in maintaining and creating a space and models for interaction of multicultural traditions. Our Centre of Oriental Studies is
interested in foregrounding the theme of traditional knowledge systems in Asia precisely because we feel that specific cases from other places in the world have a great deal to contribute to the ongoing debates and discussions here at home. We are interested in inviting scholars who work on these issues in other contexts to come to Lithuania.
Paper and panel submissions
The working language of the conference is English. We are accepting both individual papers and whole panel proposals and ask that all proposals be submitted electronically, via e-mail to Valdas Jaskunas at valdas.jaskunas at .
Individual paper proposals must include 1) a working title of the presentation; 2) a brief abstract of the paper (not to exceed 250 words); 3) the full name, affiliation, and CV of the presenter; and 4) a detailed description of any audio-visual needs required for the presentation. Panel proposals must follow the same guidelines as those for individual
papers, but must also include 1) a working title of the panel; 2) a description of the issues addressed in the panel as a whole and the rationale for the panel; 3) the full name, affiliation, and CV of the panel coordinator and respondent (if not a paper presenter).

Publication of the papers
The peer-reviewed papers based on the Conference presentations will be published in the journal Acta Orientalia Vilnensia Vol. 10, Issue 2 (2009) from Vilnius University Press.

Transportation and conference fees
The full conference fee is € 290 (USD 399) for scholars and € 190 (USD 259) for doctoral students. It includes all local transportation to and from the airport and within Lithuania; hotel fees for the nights of June 4, 5, and 6; and lunch provided at the conference venues. We have included as part of the conference an opportunity to visit the famous Grutas Park, a theme park that was created after the Soviet era to decontextualize
and display Soviet era public ideological sculpture and memorials and is
located in the Lithuanian countryside. Travel and admission to the site is included in the conference fee.
All conference presenters must be registered. The deadline for registration is April 17, 2009. Registration materials will be sent upon request.
Contact information:
Centre of Oriental Studies
Vilnius University
Universiteto 5
LT-01513 Vilnius
Phone/fax: (+370 5) 2687256
Contact person:
Valdas Jaskunas
Email: valdas.jaskunas at

Anna Slaczka
Leiden University
The Netherlands
Email: a.a.slaczka at


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