KPU literary conference on Indian Ocean region to draw global scholars

Thu, Oct 19, 2023

Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) will welcome scholars from around the world next week for a symposium on literature and culture in the Indian Ocean region.

(Re)Imagining the Indian Ocean World: A Symposium on Literature and Culture will take place at KPU Surrey’s conference centre on Oct. 24 and 25, and is expected to draw delegates from 14 countries thanks to a hybrid format. Delivering a keynote speech about the ancient links between Eastern Africa and India, and discussing his own heritage, is two-time Giller Prize winning author M.G. Vassanji.

The symposium will also host a book launch for Vassanji, whose latest novel Everything There Is examines the seemingly incongruous worlds of science, religion, and desire.

Dr. Asma Sayed, Canada Research Chair in South Asian Literary and Cultural Studies in the department of English at KPU, is organizing the symposium with Dr. Pushpa Raj Acharya, a post-doctoral fellow working with her at KPU. 

“The symposium will bring together faculty and students from post-secondary institutions from across the globe to have valuable conversations around literature and culture from the Indian Ocean region, and further the understanding of the importance of the east-to-east cultural interchange,” says Sayed.

Conference sessions will focus on genres of poetry, fiction, film, photography, journalism, comics, and visual art. Papers from participating scholars include topics of the climate crisis, gender dynamics, colonization and decolonization, migration, cultural and linguistic exchanges, and interracial relationships.

The papers presented in the symposium will be considered for inclusion in an edited volume on Indian Ocean world literatures and cultures.

“This is a unique forum for knowledge-sharing and collaboration, and a great opportunity for KPU students,” says Sayed. “Our goal is to showcase ongoing research of these interconnections of literature and culture that remind us of one of the greatest networks that shaped the Indian Ocean region and beyond but has not been recognized enough in the Western world.”

(Re)Imagining the Indian Ocean World: A Symposium on Literature and Culture takes place Oct. 24 and 25, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day at KPU Surrey, 12666 72 Ave. Registration is required. Everything There Is: In Conversation with M.G. Vassanji is Oct. 25 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at KPU Surrey. Registration is also required for this in-person-only event. Both are free to attend.

The symposium is funded by the Canada Research Chair Program and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.