Thursday, January 12, 2012

15th World Sanskrit Conference —general considerations

It was a great experience to be in India for this WSC. Beside the sheer fact of being in India, the following ones are, in my opinion, the plus points we could experience. I am listing them in increasing order of importance:

  1. 1. great theater performances every night.
  2. 2. many Indians (who are often not able to reach expensive locations in the West or in Japan) could come. Hence, the many facets of Sanskrit studies could interact a little bit more, or at least have a glimpse of what was going on "abroad" (i.e., in places different from one's own one, whatever this is).
  3. 3. we could listen to a lot of stimulating debates held in Sanskrit, held by some terrificly interesting paṇḍits.

The minus points are those intrinsic to each WSC, i.e., the extreme heterogeneity of the subjects involved (is the fact that they happen to involve Sanskrit really enough to discuss them in the same occasion?), the awful numbers of parallel sections (so that one could get only a snippet of what was really going on), the fact that the time allotted for each paper was comparatively short and that there were too many papers per day (12, with each one having max. 30' time, inclusive of discussion). Further, notwithstanding the excellent convenors, several uninteresting papers crept in. I tend to be encouraging when young researchers are too emotional to deliver a good speech, but I cannot understand how they made their way into an international conference without any previous experience. Would not it make better sense to start "training" in an undergraduate conference (such as the excellent IIGRS)?

Generally speaking, I would prefer less speakers and more time for discussion. After all, we all went a long way and we did it not just for some 3 to 10 minutes feedback at the end of our papers. One might object that one's paper is usually just the beginning of an on-going discussion which will find place during coffee-breaks etc. I agree. Yet, I wonder why not to include the coffee breaks into the conference, or, better, to just make the conference look like a relaxed coffee break discussion.

In case you attended, which were your favourite papers and why? What would you change?

All the posts of the first two weeks of January 2012 are dedicated to the WSC. You might check this one (on discussions in Sanskrit) and the following four on single papers: Lubin's, Cardona's, McAllister's, Iwasaki's.


Jayarava said...

Hi Elisa

Thanks for your various reflections on the conference. Not much for my fields of interest, but still it is good to get your insights.


elisa freschi said...

You are right, Jayarava, I keep on writing about dry subjects, even when I mention Buddhist texts. I'll try to be more interesting in the future.

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