NIAS Conference: National Seminar on Nation, Community and Citizenship in Contemporary India

National Level Conference on
School of Social Sciences
National Institute of Advanced Studies
Indian Institute of Science Campus, Bengaluru
sponsored by ICSSR
January 9-10, 2017
To mark the birth centenary of M.N. Srinivas, one of the main founders of Indian sociology, the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS) is organising a two-day national level conference on the theme of Nation, Community, and Citizenship. ‘MNS’ spent his final years at NIAS where he founded the Sociology and Social Anthropology Unit, now absorbed into the School of Social Sciences.
M.N. Srinivas shaped Indian sociology and social anthropology in numerous ways, but especially by mapping the contours of ‘Indian society’ and its structuring based on communities such as caste and village. MNS gave us key concepts such as ‘dominant caste’ and ‘sanskritisation’, which provided a framework for understanding power, domination, and exclusion as well as social mobility. Through concepts such as ‘vote bank’, his work also addressed the issues faced by a nascent democratic polity and the aspirations of diverse groups within it.
The political life of the Indian nation, in recent years, has been marked by the crystallisation or resurgence of ‘communities’ of diverse kinds – from groups that have been regarded by sociologists as ‘dominant castes’ agitating for reservations, to diverse dalit and OBC mobilisations, to struggles for regional autonomy and contestations around religious identities. What can Indian sociology, which has been profoundly shaped by the work of Srinivas, contribute to contemporary debates on the nature and significance of the nation, which is increasingly being questioned by its own citizens, from diverse perspectives? What concepts, theoretical frameworks, or empirical insights can we offer to help unravel and understand the diverse social movements, protests, and assertions that we have witnessed around questions of exclusion and inequality – mobilisations that often crystallise around particular community identities such as caste, ‘ethnic’ or ‘tribal’ identities, and express claims to full citizenship by marginalised groups? What implications can such political churning have in the post-liberalisation and globalisation era, which appeared to hold the promise of technological and economic progress for India? How do we begin to comprehend, within the present context, the many imaginations of ‘development’ within the Indian nation? 
The early 21st century has been a time of multiple transformations, giving rise to new questions, assertions, and aspirations – developments that require new concepts and research agendas. The current scenario also demands a rethinking and re-interpretation of received categories – of caste, class, race, and ethnicity – which are underwritten by particular notions of ‘community’. In the contemporary moment, how do we interpret demands for community rights and the recognition of community identities in relation to the nation-state and the democratic principle of equal and inclusive citizenship?
The aim of the conference is to look back at the kind of Indian sociology that was crafted by Srinivas and his students, and its understanding of the Indian nation as constituted by diverse communities yet united by national culture and particular social institutions; to reflect critically on the legacy of Srinivas for our understanding of current debates around nation, social identity, marginalisation, and equality; to provide a platform for the presentation of new research on these themes; and to collectively debate the question of community in relation to citizenship and nation in contemporary India.

Participation by registration only. Seats are limited. For registration, please write to:

Monday, January 9, 2017 to Tuesday, January 10, 2017