Ilankai Tamil Sangam

24th Year on the Web

Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

Being Human, Being Tamil

Personhood, Agency, Identity

The papers will focus on answering such questions as: what is the intellectual, cultural, and literary history of Tamil understandings of the human person?  What are continuities and transformations in Tamil conceptions of the self, particularly in defining men and women and caste identities?  The papers will also focus on: religious and secular sources of the self; the relation between geography, landscape, and individual identity; how the concepts of “individual” and “collective rights have affected Tamil articulations of personhood, particularly in relation to gender and caste; and how diaspora and hybridity structure Tamil conceptions of identity and affiliation.

The Third Annual Tamil Studies Conference will be jointly hosted by The Centre for South Asian Studies at the University of Toronto and the University of Windsor on Being Human; Being Tamil: Personhood, Agency and Identity, from May 15-17, 2008. Tamil Studies scholars from North America, Europe, South Asia, and Australasia will be brought together to present their papers from various disciplines including Anthropology, Diaspora Studies, Literature, Psychology, Religion, Sociology, and so forth.

A few objectives of this conference is to invite papers that investigate how “human” or “personhood” have been imagined, conceptualized, practiced, and performed throughout history within the Tamil regions and traditions.  The papers will focus on answering such questions as: what is the intellectual, cultural, and literary history of Tamil understandings of the human person?  What are continuities and transformations in Tamil conceptions of the self, particularly in defining men and women and caste identities?  The papers will also focus on: religious and secular sources of the self; the relation between geography, landscape, and individual identity; how the concepts of “individual” and “collective rights have affected Tamil articulations of personhood, particularly in relation to gender and caste; and how diaspora and hybridity structure Tamil conceptions of identity and affiliation.

Panel Spotlight:

Cultural Psychology of Gender and Psychological Well-Being of Tamils Immigrants

This panel explores three areas: i) beliefs about manhood and womanhood, ii) gender role conflict, and iii) sexual abuse in Tamilnadu and among Tamil immigrants in the United States, with a specific focus on psychological well-being.

Featured Presenter:

David Shulman: Renee Lang Professor of Humanistic Studies. Faculty of Humanities. Hebrew University.

Prof. Shulman’s main research is on the history of the imagination of South India, particularly in the Andhra and Tamil areas; he is preparing a book on this topic, focusing largely on the cultural transition of the 16th and 17th centuries.

Other papers include:

  • Antony, Richard: Diasporic Youth Gang Culture of Sri Lankan Tamils in South East England
  • Hellmann-Rajanayagam, Dagmar: Female Identity Under Conditions of War: Tigresses and Others
  • Kankesan, Tharsni: The Psychological Meaning of Biculturalism
  • Yim, Jennifer: Brown Masculinities and the Contours of Resistance to Hegemonic White Masculinities: Implications for Psychological Well- being

For further details on topics, speakers, and registration information, please visit our website: www.tamilstudiesconference.ca.  Please note that registration is limited for this conference.  Also, if you would like to receive posters, pamphlets, information packages, or would like a brief presentation for your organization from us, please do not hesitate to contact me at sathiya.siva@gmail.com.