KARACHI: The Habib University international conference titled ‘Questioning South Asia’ concluded here on Friday.

A large numbers of people, including academics, students, and civil society representatives, attended the conference, according to a press release issued here.

The conference brought together global academics from South Asia, the USA and the UK and Pakistan, including eminent scholar Dr Markus Daechsel from Royal Holloway, University of London, whose keynote speech addressed the nature and the value of history in South Asia.

“Instead of arguing with and about history, South Asian politics has increasingly been guided by a desire to bypass or even undo history,” Dr Daechsel said.

“The evidence of such a neglect of history is visible in the field of heritage destruction and architecture, but can also be observed elsewhere in debates about school curricula or simply in the relatively low prestige enjoyed by history as compared to the social or natural sciences,” he added.

Dr Daechsel concluded his keynote speech by suggesting that “explorations have barely begun, but will acquire increasing importance when many of the old certainties of the 19th and 20th centuries’ modernity will be superseded.”

The two-day conference was organised around five panels.

The first panel, ‘Revisiting Urdu Literary Traditions in South Asia’, offered insights into the diverse genre and forms of cultural representation of the region.

The second panel, ‘The Politics of Othering in South Asia: Secularisation, Identity and Environment’, illuminated the pressing contemporary challenges effecting the world.

The third panel, ‘Performance, Language, and Politics’, highlighted the cultural logic of South Asian societies.

The fourth panel, ‘Retheorising South Asia’, reflected upon the changing contours of the region due to mega infrastructure projects.

The fifth panel, ‘Religious Movements, State and National Identity’, offered a commentary on the confluences of religion and politics.

The conference ended with a commitment of raising awareness of global issues at the Habib University platform and of opening up spaces for critical discourses.

Published in Dawn, February 3rd, 2018