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A three-day workshop (14, 15 and 16 December 2017) hosted by MULOSIGE in collaboration with the Raza Foundation (New Delhi). This event has been co-organised by Prof Apoorvanand (Delhi University) and Prof Francesca Orsini (SOAS, University of London).

The full programme for the conference is now available. Attendance is free and open to all!

How can we think of literature and colonialism avoiding simplistic and uni-directional models of “impact” and “diffusion” from metropolitan “centres” to colonial “peripheries” that govern current world literature understandings? What new perspectives and question arise if we “read together” Arabic and French; Amharic, Tigrinya, Oromo and Italian; and Hindi, Urdu, English, Bengali, etc., and if we consider literary texts, phenomena, and figures within this multilingual perspective?

In “Comparison as Relation”, Shu-mei Shih has suggested a model of comparison based on similar experiences: this workshop explores what we can learn by comparing three regions and their literary cultures which underwent different experiences of colonialism, British, French, and Italian. The British one in India was much more prolonged, the others were shorter, though in the case of Morocco the French presence in neighbouring Algeria made itself felt. What effects (intended and unintended) did different colonial education and language policies have on the respective regions? What did local intellectuals make of European genres and discourses (as readers as well as writers), and what local impact did the different kinds of Orientalism have? Were there new equations and understandings of the relationship between languages—and did they replace or complement older ones? What kinds of new ideas and discourses about literature arose, and how did they relate to older concepts, practices, and tastes? To what extent did ideas and practices go together? What entered and circulated in the respective literary markets, and what was exported? What forms of orature were important in this period, did they and their practitioners enter modern media (print and radio)? What new spatial imaginaries and ideas of world literature were locally produced? What kinds of translation practices can we find, and along which vectors? Did modern literature produced in the Maghreb, Horn of Africa, and north India reach Europe and was it recognised?


  • Manuscripts, orality/performance and print; orature as part of modern literary culture
  • Significant geographies: old, new; “semantically dense”, with “multiple temporalities”; frontier zones
  • “Reading together” (Hindi/Urdu/English, Arabic/French, Ge’ez/Amharic/Tigrinya/Oromo/Italian/Arabic) and translations (and question of aesthetics)
  • Comparing colonialisms (particularly for what regards education policies, approaches to literature); world capitalism and colonial culture (the “combined and unequal” and “world system” models)
  • New multilingual locals (e.g. colonial headquarters/capitals/centres) and locations of literature
  • Literary “samskaras”/habitus
  • The role of the market: publishing and book trade, theatre, and other
  • Literary debates, critical discourse, and plural aesthetics; literary historiography
  • New genres and genre mediation
  • India/the Maghreb/the Horn of Africa in Europe (e.g. Trübner, Garcin de Tassy…)
  • Travel literature

Speakers and participants: Apoorvanand (Delhi University), Shiferaw Bekele (Addis Ababa University), Fatima Burney (MULOSIGE, SOAS), Charu (Delhi University), Rosinka Chaudhuri (CSSS Calcutta, University of Oxford), Vasudha Dalmia (UC Berkeley), James de Lorenzi (CUNY), Uoldelul Chelati Dirar (University of Macerata), Itzea Goicolea-Amiano (MULOSIGE, SOAS), Udaya Kumar (Jawaharlal Nehru University), Karima Laachir (MULOSIGE, SOAS), Pragati Mahapatra (LSR, University of Delhi), Sara Marzagora (MULOSIGE, SOAS), Sadhana Naithani (Jawaharlal Nehru University), Shad Naved (Ambedkar Univerity Delhi), Francesca Orsini (MULOSIGE, SOAS), Mihir Pandya, Alok Rai (Delhi University), Rizio Yohannan Raj (Lila Foundation, New Delhi), Ravikant (CSDS, Delhi), Kumkum Sangari (UWM), Yogesh Pratap Shekhar (University of South Bihar), Maryam Sikandar (SOAS), Khalid Zekri (Meknès).

The full programme for the conference is now available.



Prof Uoldelul Cherati Dirar, University of Macerata (Italy):

“The workshop has been incredibly exciting. A lot of challenging and intriguing theories and methodologies have been discussed. This has seriously impacted on my historiographical understanding. MULOSIGE has led to a substantial enrichment of my bibliography and a revision of my epistemological approach” 

Prof Sadhana Naithani, Jawaharlal Nehru University (India):

“The conference made my understanding of world literature more nuanced, more complex and as something that is as unique as it is interlinked”

Prof Ravikant, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (India):

“During the conference the monolithic expressions of colonialism were dismantled, and collaborations were emphasised along with contradictions in the experimental enterprises”

Prof Shiferaw Bekele, Addis Ababa University (Ethiopia):

“I was introduced to theories of world literature only a couple of years ago, and the conference was an excellent opportunity for me to gain a deeper understanding of current debates in the discipline. In Ethiopia, which is a multilingual country, scholars of Amharic literature and historians do not engage in comparisons. The conference convinced me of the importance of introducing the MULOSIGE approach back home at Addis Ababa University. In order to continue the conversations we have started here in Delhi, I would like to organise a follow up workshop at AAU. In the immediate future, I will introduce the notions of “multilingualism”, “negotiation”, “ambivalence”, “colonial disjuncture” and “colonial encounter” in the theoretical framework of a study I am carrying out at the moment. Secondly, I will look into what has already been done (not much) on the history of the Ethiopian radio and I will encourage a young scholar to take up the theme for a doctoral study. In the long run, I will advocate grater comparative approaches to Ethiopian literatures at AAU”

Prof Pragati Mohapatra, Indraprastha College for Women (India):

“MULOSIGE has encouraged me to look at my work in a more comparative perspective while not losing sight of specific historical contexts. It has also encouraged me to look beyond the ‘local’ and also look at the ‘local’ in a different way – as already embodying strands of the ‘world'”