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Vernacular literary magazines and the shaping of colonial and postcolonial South Asia

Focusing on vernacular literary magazines in colonial and postcolonial South Asia, this panel aims to assess both their impact on modern vernacular literature, their relevance as historical sources and their role in the cultural, social and political construction of modern South Asia.

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· Anne Castaing CNRS (Paris, France)
· Eve Tignol Université de Provence (Aix en Provence, France)

Long Abstract

The emergence of mass print culture in vernacular languages from the second half of the 19th c. in South Asia has frequently been pointed out as a crucial element in the history of globalization, colonialism, and the creation of modern identities. Periodicals provided a major platform for public debate and were usually welcomed with enthusiasm, enjoying a wide diffusion and reaching rural space. Increasingly, scholars have emphasized the importance of such a fragile material to understand the shaping of modern South Asia. This panel focuses on literary magazines in vernacular languages from both the colonial and postcolonial periods. Besides highlighting their significance for the development of modern literary genres, canons and for the standardisation of vernacular languages, our objective is to discuss further their historical and political role in the construction of national and community identities. How have literary magazines operated, what was their influence in the larger public sphere (for example for the diffusion of ideologies) and their role in the shaping of national, regional or religious identities? How have they impacted evolving conceptions of the political, the social, or gender? What sort of new interactions and milieus have they fostered through their weekly or monthly issues? Through such reflections, we set out to investigate how editors, columnists and writers have viewed and infused their literary contributions and conversations with meaning and purpose; and how literary magazines played an active role in the making of history. We invite contributions of scholars working with vernacular literary material in a historical perspective.