01/11/2013 - Conference - Tagore on Discriminations: Representing the Unrepresented

On November 1st 2013 the Metropolitan University Prague proudly hosted an international conference on South Asia entitled “Tagore on Discriminations: Representing the Unrepresented”. The second annual conference organized by doc. Blanka Knotková-Čapková, Ph.D., the Indian studies expert from the Department of Asian Studies, gathered a number of renowned academicians from several different countries, this time focusing on the intellectual legacy of Rabindranath Tagore, Indian poet, novelist, philosopher, painter and the first non-European to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913.

The conference was opened by Prof. Michal Klíma, rector of the MUP, and H.E. Mr. Ashok Venkatesan, Ambassador of India to the Czech Republic, who on behalf of the embassy kindly gifted the university a set of five Tagore paintings and further encouraged future co-operation between the two countries and institutions.
Chhanda Chatterjee (Visva-Bharati University, India) gave a speech about Tagore’s Six Punanscha Poems, focusing on the jati varna system and the struggle to find a rational explanation of this social anomaly while trying to recast the outcaste. Bashabi Fraser (Edinburg Napier University, GB) introduced a paper exploring the issues of social inclusion, social realism and justice presented in Tagore’s work. Prof. Geraldine Forbes (State University of New York in Oswego, USA) gave a speech on Tagore’s female characters analyzed from the perspective of a historian, comparing the representation of the issues facing Bengali widows in Tagore’s Chaturanga and other stories and historical documents. Sutapa Chaudhuri (University of Calcutta, India) then presented a paper about reading into Tagore’s Chandalika, a text which even nowadays evokes raging debates in the Indian society since it centers on the issue of the untouchables. Blanka Knotková-Čapková (Metropolitan University Prague) in her paper chose to inspect several chosen Tagore’s poems from the perspective of gender analysis and within the framework of a postcolonial feminist view. The conference was continued in the afternoon, again opening with a speech on the phenomenon of the Unrepresented, given by Arabella Unger (Germany). Dipannita Datta (University of Calcutta, India) in her paper chose to elaborate on the character of Bimala from Tagore’s The Home and The World, seeing her as very complex and self-divided by the conflicting pressures on her as woman, particularly as an Indian woman. The next paper written by Prof. Suresh Chandra Ghosh (Jawaharlal Nehru University, India) discussed the term “Hindu” as the “Hijacker” of Our Vedic and the Upanishadic Religion. Igor Grbic (Juraj Dobrila University, Croatia) provided a paper on Rabindranath Tagore and Julius Evola, delving into the text entitled “Nationalism” and confronting the idea of nation and nationalism as presented therein. Martin Hříbek (Charles University in Prague) then presented a paper on Tagore and the different translations of his work into Czech. The last speech given by Debabrata Chakrabarti (University of Calcutta, India) aimed attention at the Prague born Austrian Orientalist Moriz Winternitz and his connections to Rabindranath Tagore, pinpointing the source of friendship between the two.
The conference was concluded in late evening hours by a performance of traditional Indian dance, kindly organized by the Embassy of India in Prague.

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