“It is quite common to hear high officials in Washington and elsewhere speak of changing the map of the Middle East, as if ancient societies and myriad peoples can be shaken up like so many peanuts in a jar.”

― Edward W. Said

"A developing country that wants to develop its economy must first of all keep natural resources in its own hands."
- Deng Xiaoping

Sunday, June 19, 2016

International Conference: Twenty Five Years of Post Soviet Experience: Perspectives on Nation Building and Democratization in Eurasia 2 – 4 November 2016 Jawaharlal Nehru University, India

International Conference
Twenty Five Years of Post Soviet Experience:
Perspectives on Nation Building and Democratization in Eurasia

Date: 2 – 4 November 2016 

Venue: School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi-110067

Twenty five years ago the political and social landscape of Eurasia underwent a radical transformation with the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the emergence of 15 new states. The immediate tasks before these states were to redefine nationalism, establish democratic political systems and economic reforms. The nation-building process in these states grappled with the ideas of ethno-linguistic nationalism, multiculturalism and civic nationalism. The challenges before these states were to reclaim the lost nationhood and integrate the minorities. They sought to achieve the first by state policies to promote culture, language, demography and economic welfare of the majority ethnic group which constituted the “core” of the nation. They tried to redefine nationalism on the basis of linguistic, historical and cultural symbols. This unfortunately engendered social conflicts leading to civil war in some of the states. The nationalizing project remains unfinished and the process of separation and reintegration continues unabated as witnessed in Georgia and Ukraine. As a consequence of ethno-cultural nationalism, civic nationalism seems to have suffered a setback. However in many other instances the states have achieved relative success in maintaining social harmony, political stability and containing extremism/radicalization.
The Soviet disintegration raised hopes of democratization among the newly independent states. At the time of independence nearly all these states declared liberal multi-party democracy as their political ideal. Some of these have relative success in this regard. But many post-Soviet regimes are often characterized in the Western literature as “authoritarian”, “semi-authoritarian”, “managed-democracy” and so on. The counter-narratives that emerge from this region often use concepts like “Sovereign-democracy” to describe their unique models. The question is how do we understand and analyze the concept of “Sovereign-democracy”? Is it merely a state rhetoric or has essential normative and analytical value in interpreting the unique cases of Eurasia? Similarly there are alternative models of democracy in Central Asia, emphasizing the centrality of state as the guarantor of security and economic development. Where does Indian scholarship on democracy and nationalism fit into this debate? There is a general consensus that “one size fits all liberal model” may not be suitable for all the countries. But what are the alternative models? How far the varied/diverse experiences/practices of nation building, ‘political democracy’ and economic transition in these post-Soviet states help us critically analyze and better understand these complex concepts?
The debates on these subjects have traditionally been dominated by western ideas and scholarship. The seminar aims to explore alternative perspectives. Scholars are encouraged to critically examine the existing/dominant concepts and discourses and offer their insights based on their own experience, regarding nation building, treatment of minorities, federalism, democracy, multi-party system, economic transition and so on.

 Proposed Themes

Theories on Nation Building and Democratization
Democratization in post-Soviet states: “Sovereign Democracy” vs. Liberal Democracy of West
Political Institutions and Processes
Comparing Indian and post-Soviet Experiences of nation-building and democracy
Ethnic and Civic Nationalism in post-Soviet States
Sub-national and supra-national identity: Eurasianism vs European
Economic Transition and Regional Cooperation
Experiences of Economic Transformation
Eurasian Union, SCO
Foreign Policy
Geopolitics and External Relations
Relations with India
Society and Culture
Social Transitions
Literature, Art and Cinema

                                                               Important Information

Last date for submission of paper titles along with abstract: 30 June 2016.
The abstracts will be screened by the Organising Committee and the applicants will be informed about the decision.
Last date for submission of full paper: 30 September 2016.

Local hospitality (accommodation and food) will be provided to all participants for four days. Accommodation will be arranged by the host from 2nd November to 6th November 2016 morning. The inaugural session will be on 2nd afternoon at 4 PM.
Due to limited resources we will not be able to provide airfare to international participants.
Only in select cases Indian participants will be provided return airfare (by Air India only) with a cap of Rs 10,000/-
For further communication in this regard please send your Title/abstract/paper/queries on crcasconference2016@gmail.com

Prof. Sanjay Kumar Pandey
Chairperson, Centre for Russian and Central Asian Studies,
School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi-110067
Email: skpandeyjnu@gmail.com, Phone: +91-11-26704365, Mobile: +91-9868443183
Prof. Ajay Kumar Patnaik
Director, Centre for Russian and Central Asian Studies,
School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi- 110067

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

HarvardX Online Course - Understanding Islam through its Scriptures

From: Khalil Andani
Reply-To: Sociology of Islam <sociology_of_islam-g@vt.edu>
Date: Tuesday, June 14, 2016 at 6:58 AM
To: Sociology of Islam <sociology_of_islam-g@vt.edu>
Subject: [Sociology_of_Islam] HarvardX Online Course - Understanding Islam through its Scriptures

Dear Colleagues

Wanted to remind you all that Harvard's online course Understanding Islam through its Scriptures is continuing this week and Day 4 begins tomorrow, which focuses on the relationship between the Holy Qur'an and the Prophet Muhammad.

While I am sure  nobody here needs an Intro to Islam course, I encourage and invite you to sign up so you can see what kind of discussions are taking place among the diverse array students. Seeing people's own interactions could help you prepare for your own classes. Also, some of the reading material (on the Qur'an, Shi'i Islam, etc.) is new and specially created for the course and may prove useful to your own respective courses on Intro to Islam. But one of the most interesting aspects are the open FB discussions by course participants (there are also private discussion areas too). 

Of course registration is totally free and you move through the modules at your own pace. As I am one of the TA's for this course, I hope to catch some of you in the Discussion Threads this week.
Khalil Andani, CA-CPA, MTS - Islamic Studies (Harvard)
Doctor of Philosophy Candidate - Islamic Studies
Harvard University

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Occupying academia: Stretching the meaning of ‘career’ by Yvette Taylor


At a recent Early Career BSA forum, organized by Dr Rachel Thwaites and Dr Amy Pressland, titled Early Career Academics’ Experiences of the Academy, the Saturday morning audience paused on some collective concerns, signs of hope, and shared understandings of the complexity of inhabiting academia in a particular time.  How to keep things constructive and positive in the educational climates we find ourselves in? To enable rather than dissuade even as ‘early career’ is ever extended across the career trajectory which means some never ‘arrive’?
I wasn’t speaking as a current ‘early career’ academic, although the stretch of that as up to 10 years post PhD is itself something to dwell on, as are the (dis)connections between, for example, early-mid-established career status. When I completed my PhD the category – and abbreviation – of ECR was rather unheard of, while of course there were always post-docs setting out at the beginning of their careers (and always vulnerable, impermanent academic workers, and those doing ‘jobs’ rather than thinking about ‘careers’). I have of course inhabited ECR status and have been that research assistant (and that teaching assistant) on a temporary contract: this feels important to say in recognizing these as constructed and changing categories, used to name and do different things (and to arguably mobilize around, or even feel an entitlement through…). In academic presentations across the career-stage, we are endlessly displaying and building our own value, with presence and permanence apparently announcing an arrival (even as we ask ourselves ‘what next?’, moving from ‘early’ to ‘mid’ to ‘established’ career). But it’s also important to recognize the past-presence-future of debates on career stage and academic labour (as emotional and material and as often happening on a Saturday morning), rather than as snapshot of fractured academic times. We see such snapshots in off-hand comments; ‘when did she get her PhD?’, ‘were you a professor in your last post?’, ‘who does she think she is?!’, ‘she’s very ambitious’.