From ancient times to the present, people have sought to understand their identities both from an individual as well as a collective perspective. In so doing, not only do they define who they are, but also who they are not. In the mass migrations of the last 200 years, millions of people have left their ancestral homelands and cultures to settle in new places. The primary purpose of this conference was to explore the connections between ancestral homelands and new belongings and focus on the complexities of shaping and reshaping linguistic, cultural and religious identities.
Over the two day event, 33 scholars presented their research and findings on the identity issues facing global Gujarati communities, leading to interactive discussions and debates around the topics of Nationalism, Patriotism and Citizenship; Fusion, Cultural Hybridity and New Ethnicities; Human Rights, Civil Rights and Natural Law; Religion, Religious Values and Religious Movements; Migration, Forced Migration and Diasporas; and Language, Literature and the Arts. The conference also provided a forum for students and young academics to engage with others who share their academic interests.
Based on some of the papers from the first conference that took place in 2006 at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Dr. Mukadam and Dr. Mawani have edited a volume entitled ‘Gujaratis in the West: Evolving Identities in Contemporary Society’.
The Gujarat Studies Association was co-founded by Dr Anjoom Mukadam and Dr Sharmina Mawani in May 2005. It is supported by its Patron, Lord Professor Bhikhu Parekh as well as members of the Advisory Board, which include: Professor Azim Nanji (IIS), Professor Christopher Shackle (SOAS), Professor Raymond B. Williams (Wabash College, Indiana), Professor Itesh Sachdev (SOAS), and Professor Rachel Dwyer (SOAS). The GSA is an academic network aimed specifically at the study and research of Gujarat and Gujaratis.