September 1, 2010academicsBangladeshdiasporaForeign AffairsIndiaNepalPakistanSouth East AsiaSri Lankasubcontinent

Pax Indica: We are not South Asian

The term South Asia’ is an attempt to appropriate the Indian subcontinent’s geography while denying its composite civilisational history

This is an archived blog post from The Acorn.

At a seminar a couple of weeks ago, one of the organisers argued that the South Asian identity” has made inroads across the world. He supported this argument with an example. Many universities in the United States, he said, now have bhangra and garba troupes, often consisting of people of entirely non-South Asian backgrounds.

I nearly fell off my chair.

There is nothing South Asian’ about bhangra and garba, just as there is nothing South Asian’ yoga, ayurveda or tandoori chicken (when was the last time you went to a North South Asian restaurant?). Actually, there’s nothing South Asian about qawwals, ghazals or the Multani raga (when was the last time you went to a South Asian classical concert?). In fact—and you might think, I’m stretching it—there’s nothing South Asian about Nepal, Bhutan, India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. If you measure Asia north to south, roughly along the 120°E longitude from the Siberia’s Arctic coast to Indonesia’s southern islands, you’ll find the subcontinent more or less in the middle. Geographically, if there is a South Asia, then the self-confessed South Asians’ are neither in it nor from it. Read the rest at Yahoo! India »

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