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Testimonies and Interpretations of South Asian World War Experiences

The panel focuses on the various forms of representing South Asian soldiers’ experiences of the two world wars in the twentieth century that were characterised by unprecedented violence and sacrifices.

id: shlpb

Convenor:

· Alaka Atreya Chudal University of Vienna (Vienna, Austria)

Long Abstract

The panel focuses on the various forms of representing South Asian soldiers’ experiences of the two world wars in the twentieth century that were characterised by unprecedented violence and sacrifices.

The war experience can be studied through a range of disciplines: they are represented in literature, also in folk narratives, oral histories, art performances, or images. For example, many songs speak eloquently about the experience of war, suffering and loss. Using available resources, the focus can be on autobiographies and other life-writings or audio recordings of soldiers in the two world wars. Such testimonies may be studied in relation to how they were produced away from home, and how memory reflects on home from a distance. One can also focus on visual representations of world war soldiers from Nepal, India, and Sri Lanka and apply a contrapuntal reading of western colonial visuality regarding South Asian soldiers. The metaphors and images of home in South Asian war discourse often weave an ironic and even romantic narrative about the two world wars.

We invite papers from different disciplines with different perspectives on representations of South Asian world war experience, both at home and abroad. Discussions may reflect on how the wars were not only events but discourses dealing with memory and loss, violence and colonization, nostalgia and feelings of belonging.

Presentations