Graduate Students Conference: Community: Subject and/or Object

Event Speaker: 
Prof. Kumkum Roy (Keynote) and Prof. Soumyabrata Choudhury
Event Time: 
09:00 AM to 06:00 PM
Event Venue: 
IRD Conference Room, 7th Floor, Main Building, IIT Delhi


Graduate Students Conference 2019

Graduate Students Conference

The Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi is organizing a Graduate Conference scheduled on 15th and 16th March 2019. The main aim of the Graduate Conference is to provide students with an opportunity to present and enrich their work by exchanging their ideas with fellows and distinguished academics devoted to research in different areas of humanities and social sciences.

Concept Note

Historically, a multitude of definitions and theorisations of community have surfaced to analyze this essentially contested concept. Nevertheless, certain features like shared social ties, shared perspectives, shared participation, shared background, and shared space, among others, are often found in frequently articulated definitions of community. There is a resurgence in the primacy of community as far as thinking in various disciplines are concerned. The limitations of methodological individualism manifest differently in different discourses.

Within sociology, notions of complexity have crept in. The individual is a part determined by the whole and not just determining the whole. Economics cannot see the consumer or the seller as an isolated agent following its own self-interest but is determined by imitation of or influence from its proximate agents. Within legal studies, controversial debates raise questions if the idea of liberty shall remain essentially individual or can the rights framework be extended to communities? The unity of institutions relies ever more on refining definitions of collective responsibility. Within literary studies, digitization enables a reconsideration of aesthetic response as shared .Thereby ,the idea of a reading community is significant to how cultural studies casts a shadow on literary interpretation and criticism. The empirical turn in linguistics becomes statistical with the privileging of the actual practice of language in a community over and above the search for generative structures. The sociology of science and mathematics articulates the necessity of a community as the condition of existence of knowledge that is objective.

Within these developments, community is being employed as a subject (active) or being an object (passive). Whether the community can be conceived of simultaneously as a subject and an object, or either of these, is a contentious issue in the humanities and the social sciences. The vantage point with which one approaches this idea - philosophy, sociology, political theory, anthropology, history, psychology, linguistics, literature, and other disciplines - determines its conceptualization as a subject and/or object. On one hand, empirical social sciences have sought to develop methods to study community as an object, downplaying the role of personal experience. The treatment of community as an object revives the echoes of structuralism . On the other hand, scholars of political theory have sought to identify theories to study community as subject/agents . The centrality of meanings or feelings in the study of the community has also been a subject of debate. As such, the concept of community, like many social science concepts, is a slippery, intricate and multifaceted trope covering a wide range of social phenomena . The community can be a passive object of study that reveals the messy complexities of its constitution instead of appropriating the unity of an agent or a subject.

While significant tensions between conceptualizing community as either a subject or an object can be identified, there can also be points of convergences between the two opposed categorizations. For instance, geopolitics treads a complex terrain:the dynamics of interacting nations cannot be fully understood through either of the subject/object binary alone.Or community can chart a diverging path by offering itself as neither a subject nor an object but as a condition of existence or a mode of being itself as suggested by Heidegger.

Different parameters to approach the concept of the community include (though not confined to):

1. Political, Social, Legal, Anthropological, Economical
2. National, International, Academic, Ecological
3. Virtual, Film and Media, Cultural, Religious, Scientific
4. Literary, Linguistic/Speech/Language, Psychological
5. Urban, Rural, Agricultural
6. Class, Caste, Gender, LGBTQI, Self and other, Values, Memory

Some questions to be addressed (though not confined to):

1. What are the ways in which a community is perceived as agents and subjects, and passive objects? How are communities formed? What are the contradictions involved in conceptualizing community as subject and object of inquiry?
2. Are there any adequate theoretical frameworks to analyse the notion of community as subject or object? How can these frameworks be criticized or modified?
3. What is the relationship of the individual to the community?
4. What are the different ways of conceptualising any collectivity as a community? How do configurations like nation shape the concerns of any collectivity? Are there any alternative models available?
5. How do ideas of community and community-based identities influence the manner in which development policies are designed and implemented?
6. Where do community and individuals intersect and diverge? What would be the implications for health, education and decision making?

Some concerns to be addressed (though not confined to):

1. The community as law-giver, as the initiator of change, as subject and object of policy-making; the role of law in the process of forming communities
2. Community and justice; Museum as a community; Memory and community
3. Art, aesthetics, imagination, projection, market, and community
4. Community and marginalization; Community and development; freedom and rights; practice and community
5. Place, space, and community; Violence, oppression, and community
6. Meaning, language, speech, and community
7. Text and community, theatre and community
8. Health, healing and Community
9. Community, Identity, Crime, Privacy
10. Communalism and community
11. Individual and community, substitutability of individuals

Conference dates: 15th and 16th March, 2019
Venue: IRD Conference Room, 7th Floor, Main Building, IIT Delhi

For queries, please email to, with the subject line “Query”

Conference website (for schedule, etc.) -

Conference Registration link -

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