South Asia Conference on Sri Lanka


DATE: Friday, October 13, 2006

CONTACT: Rachel Weiss, Outreach Coordinator, UW-Madison Center for South Asia, (608) 262-9224,


Madison, WI – The 35th Annual Conference on South Asia will be held on October 19 – 22, 2006 at the Madison Concourse Hotel, 1 West Dayton St., Madison, WI 53703. The conference is sponsored by the Center for South Asia at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and annually is attended by over 500 scholars and South Asian specialists from around the world.

In recognition of the tenth anniversary of the American Institute for Sri Lankan Studies (AISLS), the conference will focus on Sri Lanka, with various special events, panels and papers devoted to this area. Although the conference is primarily an academic one, several events involving film screenings and music and dance performance are free and open to the public.

This year’s conference features more than 75 academic panels, roundtables, association meetings and special events. Presenters will cover a broad range of topics and disciplines ranging from archaeology, architecture, film studies, and history, to Buddhist and religious studies, international economics, literature, and politics.

“The Annual Conference on South Asia has been the most important academic meeting of its kind for decades,” says Charles Hallisey, UW-Madison professor in the department of Languages and Cultures of Asia and conference chair. “This year’s conference stands out for its special focus on Sri Lanka and presentations that offer something especially unusual and inviting for the broader community across Madison. In this long history of excellence, I think this year’s conference still stands out and promises to be memorable.”

Events that are open to the public include:

  • Sri Lankan film symposium on the films of Prasanna Vithanage, Thursday, Oct., 19 from 4 to 10:30 p.m. in the Madison Ballroom, Concourse Hotel. Prasanna Vithanage is Sri Lanka’s premier filmmaker. There will be a rare U.S. screening of two of his most well known films and a panel discussion on the films and the themes they raise.
  • Musical performance by the B. Balasubrahmaniyan Ensemble including vocal music from South India, Friday, Oct. 20 at 9:30 p.m. in the Madison Ballroom, Madison Concourse Hotel.
  • Panel discussion on “The Future of Secularism in South Asia,” Saturday, Oct. 21 at 3:45 p.m. in the Capital Ballroom A & B, Concourse Hotel. The Indian sub-continent has witnessed almost continuous ethnic violence in the past century, continuing into the present. While the nature and circumstances of such violence varies, they are also linked together by their geographical proximity, shared histories and a regional politics of conflict and cooperation. This panel will explore the specific aspects of the crisis of secularism in national contexts.
  • Dance performance, “The Space Between Thoughts,” performed by Diaspora Flow, Saturday, Oct. 21 at 8:00 p.m. in the Rotunda Stage at the Overture Center for the Arts. The performance is an installation involving dance, visual art, video and music. The choreography is a fusion of classical South Asian dance, modern dance and yoga, creating a new style of movement. Diaspora Flow is a Minnesota-based Sri Lankan American nonprofit arts organization connecting communities of color through artistic expression. The group is dedicated to supporting young artists of color in pursuing their vision as artists and activists.

For more information about the conference and public events, go to:, or phone (608) 262-4884.