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SCSNEI organises Two-day seminar on "Silent Whispers: Cosmologies, Nature-Human Relationship and Ecological Distress in Northeast India (NEI)"

SCSNEI organises Two-day seminar on "Silent Whispers: Cosmologies, Nature-Human Relationship and Ecological Distress in Northeast India (NEI)"

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SCSNEI organises Two-day seminar on "Silent Whispers: Cosmologies, Nature-Human Relationship and Ecological Distress in Northeast India (NEI)"
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Two-Day Seminar
 Silent Whispers: Cosmologies, Nature-Human Relationship and Ecological Distress in Northeast India (NEI)


Jointly Organized By
University of Bergen, Norway
University of Oslo, Norway
Special Center for the Study of North East India
(Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi)
(Funded by Nordic Center in India, NCI)


13-14 December
Venue:  Room-344, School of International Studies-II, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi


The goal of the project is to bring together PhD-students and researchers from Norway and India who study the Northeast India from perspectives that are at the forefront of scholarly development within the social sciences, as well as at the center of political attention. The relation between human and nature is an important topic that has followed the social sciences and especially anthropology since the inception. However, in the last two decades the question has been radicalized by the ontological turn, posing the question to which degree people inhabit different worlds according to their world-views. Even more important has been the discovery and acknowledgement of indigenous cosmologies as the sources of deep knowledge about the human-nature relation. We should not only study, but also learn it. At the same time, the question of severe and threatening ecological degradation has may be become the most urgent political and scholarly issue, both through accelerating global climate change and a host of threatening local ecological disasters. At the intersection of these two issues, there has arisen the quest for alternatives, or the possibility of envisaging and imagining radical different ways of inhabiting and living in the nature which is not ecological detrimental.


Our project is situated exactly at this intersection. While the ontological turn has been mostly based upon studies of the Amazonia, there is an urgent need to broaden the field and draw upon studies of other regions of the world, both to enrich the scholarly debate, and to increase the political potency and relevance of the perspective. In this context, the Northeast India offers a host of very promising and important cases and examples. In our group, we have PhD-projects on the Northeast that may offer privileged insights to develop the important scholarly debate on the ontological turn and bring it to a new level. At the same time, we have projects clearly demonstrating, and offering deeper insights into, the diverse ecological problems, and threatening disasters of the region.


Our Ph. D projects also offers unique insights into the complex question of ecological protective agency. Political, as well as NGO-based, initiatives to protect nature and ecologies, are often based upon a perspective of “the empty nature”, implying that human presence and activities are by definition ecological detrimental, which have resulted in massive evictions of populations traditionally inhabiting the nature. In this way, age-old livelihoods are lost. This is both a local problem in the Northeast India, as well as an all-India dilemma related to Adivasis in the forests, and a global tendency, e.g., related to carbon offset policies (REDD+). The practices of local people may represent severe ecological challenges due to modernized lifestyles, e.g., concerning pollution and resource expenditure, while at the same time their cosmologies and life forms may offer valuable insights and alternatives concerning many aspects of the human-nature relation. These paradoxes are explored in our Phd-projects on the Northeast.

A warm welcome to the modified and updated website of the Centre for East Asian Studies. The East Asian region has been at the forefront of several path-breaking changes since 1970s beginning with the redefining the development architecture with its State-led development model besides emerging as a major region in the global politics and a key hub of the sophisticated technologies. The Centre is one of the thirteen Centres of the School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi that provides a holistic understanding of the region.

Initially, established as a Centre for Chinese and Japanese Studies, it subsequently grew to include Korean Studies as well. At present there are eight faculty members in the Centre. Several distinguished faculty who have now retired include the late Prof. Gargi Dutt, Prof. P.A.N. Murthy, Prof. G.P. Deshpande, Dr. Nranarayan Das, Prof. R.R. Krishnan and Prof. K.V. Kesavan. Besides, Dr. Madhu Bhalla served at the Centre in Chinese Studies Programme during 1994-2006. In addition, Ms. Kamlesh Jain and Dr. M. M. Kunju served the Centre as the Documentation Officers in Chinese and Japanese Studies respectively.

The academic curriculum covers both modern and contemporary facets of East Asia as each scholar specializes in an area of his/her interest in the region. The integrated course involves two semesters of classes at the M. Phil programme and a dissertation for the M. Phil and a thesis for Ph. D programme respectively. The central objective is to impart an interdisciplinary knowledge and understanding of history, foreign policy, government and politics, society and culture and political economy of the respective areas. Students can explore new and emerging themes such as East Asian regionalism, the evolving East Asian Community, the rise of China, resurgence of Japan and the prospects for reunification of the Korean peninsula. Additionally, the Centre lays great emphasis on the building of language skills. The background of scholars includes mostly from the social science disciplines; History, Political Science, Economics, Sociology, International Relations and language.

Several students of the centre have been recipients of prestigious research fellowships awarded by Japan Foundation, Mombusho (Ministry of Education, Government of Japan), Saburo Okita Memorial Fellowship, Nippon Foundation, Korea Foundation, Nehru Memorial Fellowship, and Fellowship from the Chinese and Taiwanese Governments. Besides, students from Japan receive fellowship from the Indian Council of Cultural Relations.