St. Stephen's

St.Stephen’s College Academic Conclave: An academic extravaganza

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The first of its kind Academic Conclave was held from 11th to 13th February at St.Stephen’s College, with the aim of blurring the boundaries between the disciplines that we study and encourage an amalgamation of different ideas and perspectives that cut across disciplines. In its first edition, the Conclave sought to encompass three broad themes: Science and Society, What Makes a Good Society, and Arts, Culture and Society. The three-day academic extravaganza saw distinguished personalities from the fields of History, Economics, Mathematics, Law, Philosophy and the Natural Sciences, conducting public lectures, workshops and interactive sessions.

Professor Irfan Habib, eminent Marxist historian on ancient and medieval India, and Padma Bhushan awardee, addressed the Conclave as the plenary speaker on the day of its commencement. Professor Habib’s talk on ‘The National Movement and its Legacy,’ set out the criticism of the National Movement at its very outset, by scholars like Perry Anderson and other subaltern, new left and far right scholars. Professor Habib proceeded to point out how these criticisms do not pay heed to the contribution of those like Keshav Chandra Sen, Ram Mohan Roy and Justice Ranade, without whose fight against caste and oppression of women, India could not have emerged as a nation. At the end, he quipped, “After 1947, ever coward can be a patriot.”

The first day also saw workshops on critical writing and ghazal writing being held, along with panel discussions on ‘Goddesses and Devotees,’ ‘Caste in Higher Education’ and ‘Economics and Climate Change.’

The plenary speaker for the second day of the conclave was Professor Satyajit Mayor, scientist and Director of NCBS, whose session was about ‘The shifting geography and language of biosciences: an Indian cell biologist’s perspective.’ His insights into the world of biological science and its recent shift to an interdisciplinary nature, examined questions in the field of research that are closer home to India.


A session was also held by historian and author, Professor Rudrangshu Mukherjee, who spoke on ‘The Revolt of 1857: Problems of Aims and Leadership.’ He sought to understand the similarity in the actions of the sepoys across the cantonments of Delhi, Meerut and others, simultaneously addressing the fears in the minds of sepoys and the general public. “British rule had removed a way of life that was familiar. The people lost a world that they knew to be theirs and this drove them to the indiscriminate bloodshed of 1857, in the forlorn hope of reviving those days” said the professor, adding that we must remember this trail of blood when we appropriate the revolt to our national heritage.


Discussions on ‘Atheistic Traditions in India’ by Dr. Alex Watson, ‘Death penalty and Extraordinary Laws,’ a discussion on Snowden’s revelations and their impact on individual privacy, along with workshops on dramaturgy and critical reading were held. A three-day DNA extraction workshop and Robotics Workshop were also held.

The third day of the conclave held for us Anjolie Ela Menon, besides discussions on supermassive black holes and inclusive growth.

Abhinaya Harigovind

[email protected]

Image credits: Abhinaya

[email protected] ; 'A self-confessed workaholic, I run on endless cups of coffee, last-minute panic, and the smell of fresh print on paper. Student of History at St.Stephen's College, but home and heart lie in Bangalore. Like Holden says, "I'm quite illiterate, but I read a lot."'

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