'I am made and remade continually. Different people draw different words from me.', said Virginia Woolf and rightly so. Identity has always played an important role in human development because it is this identity that human beings are extremely conscious of; it is this identity that defines the individual viz-a-viz society and vice versa. However, to define identity is not easy. As Whitman had once remarked, ‘We contain multitudes’. The question ‘Who Am I?’ is as old as civilization yet answers are ever evolving ever new and none are complete. Ironically, the question of identity has become more complicated and entangled as civilization progressed. It is because we see ourselves differently in different contexts. As individuals, we are born with a certain identity over which we probably have no choice. As we grow, simple things and simplest of choices start defining us. Gradually different kinds of identities shackle us in the name of authority and convention. Political, sexual, sociological, regional, linguistic, psychological identities encounter us wherever we go. With multiple identities staring at one’s face, it is difficult to retain an emotional balance. Therefore, there is an urgent need to redefine one’s self.
Writers, all over the world, down the ages, have written about the question of belonging. One realizes that all literature revolves around the concepts of identities and emotions. Literature has mapped human emotions along with other forms of art. Art has evolved with changing times. Our parameters to belong, our sense of (be)longing has changed and so has its expression. The proposed conference is an attempt to rethink and redefine the two. We encounter strange experiences everyday—experiences and situations hitherto unknown. Hence, the need to define these new circumstances, classify new emotions and reactions and find new ways to express and write them. Contemporary writings show how emotions have been bracketed with social constructs or identities.Our parameters to belong, our sense of (be)longing has changed and so has its expression. The proposed conference is an attempt to rethink and redefine the two.
It is hoped, that this conference will enable writers, critics, researchers, scholars and academia to debate and discuss the layered meanings of identity, being and (be)longing and to understand them in the present context.