SASNET 2014 inter-disciplinary research workshop on Culture, Technology and Development

SASNET Inter-disciplinary Research Workshop on
South Asia: Culture, Technology, and Development

Falsterbo, Sweden, 13–15 June 2014

The Interdisciplinary Research Workshop on South Asia is being organised by SASNET in collaboration with the Nordic Centre in India (NCI) university consortium and the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (NIAS) at Copenhagen University. The workshop will focus on three thematic areas: Culture, Technology, and Development. It will take place at the Falsterbo Conference Resort in Höllviken, south of Malmö, Sweden.

The main objective of the workshop is to bridge the gap between Nordic researchers in various disciplines working on South Asia. We will discuss interdisciplinary research in terms of theoretical and methodological approaches, assumptions, ethical considerations, and practices. The workshop will consider interdisciplinary research that is already being done in the field of South Asian studies, and will give participants an opportunity to explore promising new areas for future research projects and publications. Talks by three prominent researchers will be featured. 

See call for abstracts

View complete Programme 

See the conference poster

Keynote Speakers:

 Kirin Narayan, Assa Doron and Ursula Rao.

Professor Kirin Narayan received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1987 and was professor of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison from 1989 onward, joining the the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra in 2013. Narayan has done extensive fieldwork in South Asia focusing on oral traditions. She has published numerous books and articles on aspects of narrative, oral history and ethnography.  

Dr Assa Doron received his Ph.D. in Anthropology and Sociology from La Trobe University, Melbourne, in 2005. Since 2007 he has been a researcher at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra. His work concentrates on development studies, health practitioners, religion, tourism, and urbanisation. He is currently involved in examining how mobile telecommunications are bringing about changes in politics, culture, and everyday life in India. 

Prof. Ursula Rao is Director of the Institute of Anthropology at University of Leipzig, Germany. She is an urban anthropologist doing research on India. The central focus of her work is changing power relations in rapidly globalising cities, with regards to three  different topics: (1) the interaction between urban poor and state agencies in a landscape of  shifting ideologies of urbanity and social security; (2) the changing role of news media for shaping urban  politics; (3) The role of religious institutions and ritual performances for  renegotiating social relations. Her current work focusses on e-goverance and biometric technology.

Workshop Structure 

The workshop is divided into three main themetic sessions:

Session A: Methods, Fieldwork and Ethics in the South Asian context
Chairpersons: Dr. Anna Lindberg, SASNET/Lund University, and Dr. Sirpa Tenhunen, NCI/University of Helsinki

This multidisciplinary workshop seeks to advance the understanding of ethics involved in research on South Asia. We invite scholars representing different disciplines to discuss ethical issues they have faced as researchers in South Asia. Participants will explore how mutually beneficial relationships can be established in a sensitive and respectful manner while doing fieldwork.
Does research in South Asia typically involve certain ethical issues? Can case studies help expand research ethics beyond the common positivistic and activistic approaches? What kind of ethical challenges do the structures of inequality and the social hierarchies in South Asia present to the researcher? How can one manage local expectations and deal with conflicts of interests in an ethical manner?The workshop intends to produce an edited volume on research ethics that can be used for teaching how to do fieldwork in South Asia.

Session B: Culture, Religion, and Technology in South Asia
 Dr. Kristina Myrvold, Linnaeus University, and Prof. Knut A. Jacobsen, University of Bergen

Technological developments in the twentieth century have resulted in new religious practices including live prayers, services, and sermons on radio and television, cassette recordings, video tapes, CDs, and digital videos. In addition, there are social and interactive spiritual places on the Internet, mobile phones, and other devices. Religion has become an increasingly technological phenomenon, negotiating identities, authorities, interpretations, ritual practices, resistance, etc. Scholars working on various aspects of religion and technology in South Asia are welcome to submit papers on these topics to be considered for publication.

Session C: Theory , Practice, and Development in South Asia
Chairpersons: Dr. Stig Toft Madsen NIAS/University of Copenhagen, and Dr. Olle Frödin, SASNET/Lund University

This group will look at development theory and practice in relation to South Asia. Thousands of development projects have been undertaken in South Asia in recent times, so that a large part of what the state does when it rules is engaging in development. The countries of South Asia seem developmentalist when they do not appear as security states , failed states, or Asian “Tiger” states. Similarly, much of what people do as concerned citizens is development work. 
Theories and presuppositions that such development work has generated within academia will be explored, with emphasis on what development has meant to individual academic disciplines and to cross-disciplinary collaboration.

How has interdisciplinary research arisen? Has it been successful in theory and practice in different fields? Has its promise of giving a fuller, broader, and truer picture been born out in practice? If so, how and where? What are the advantages and disadvantages of working in interdisciplinary teams? How are disagreements settled in such groups? To what extent have development studies become a discipline in its own right, fostering its own theories and practices? Do development studies lend themselves to interdisciplinary approaches? What feedback loops exist between development work in the field versus academic work? How do academic theories make their way down to development agencies? Under what circumstances may disciplinary work reassert itself in the field of development studies, and why?

Practical details


Scholars and young researchers who co-operate or want to co-operate with Nordic Universities and whose work focuses on South Asia were invited to apply. Only Ph.D. candidates and postdocs whose degrees were awarded after 30 June 2012 were eligible to apply as young researchers.  


All participants are responsible for their own travel expenses and arrangements to and from Malmö, Sweden. Free bus transportation will however be available between Malmö Central Station and the conference venue in Falsterbo. More information to be announced.


The conference fee for young researchers whose abstracts are accepted is 1000 SEK, and 2 000 SEK for other scholars. Attendance and payment of the registration fee includes a shared double-room, three generous buffet-style meals daily, coffee breaks, and an evening of entertainment.


All abstracts have been reviewed by the organisers, and those selected notified.  

For more information contact:
Linda Hiltmann,
SASNET coworker: Professional Communicator