Conference on Tamil diaspora opens

MAKING A POINT: French Institute director Jean Pierre Muller and Professor Francois Gros at the inauguration of the conference in Puducherry on Wednesday. Photo: T. Singaravelou  

Staff Reporter

Tie-up to translate old texts

PUDUCHERRY: University of Madras and French Institute of Pondicherry (IFP) would collaborate on projects including the publication of Sangam texts in translation, V. Arasu, Head, Department of Tamil, University of Madras, said.

Speaking at the inauguration of a three-day international conference on `Facets of Tamil Diaspora' on Wednesday, Professor Arasu hoped that the joint efforts would develop into a healthy and interactive relationship between the two institutions. He said the conference was to celebrate the global presence of Tamils.

IFP director Jean Pierre Muller said the institute, since its inception, was an important centre for Tamil studies. "Today, we proudly host one of the significant collections of contemporary Tamil literature that has the potential to cater to any project dealing with Tamil society and culture in its past and in its contemporary phase."

The modern world, he said, was witnessing one of the most vibrant phases of human migration across national and local boundaries. Although knowledge, skills and labour were at the centre of this massive economic and social phenomenon, political conflicts also played a role in dispersing people all over the world in recent times.

Knut Axel Jacobsen of the University of Bergen, Norway, said among the ethnic people in Norway, the Tamils were a very successful lot.

Professor M.A. Kalam, Department of Anthropology, Madras University, said the word `diaspora' has been used widely only after a Jewish organisation started a magazine called "The Diaspora". Until then, words like immigrants and migrants were commonly used.

He also said when people went to other countries, they tried to blend with the local population if they were small in number. But as their population grew, they would try to spread their culture in the foreign country.

The proposed international conference would explore and understand the issues and problems of the `Tamil Experience in Other Spaces'.

Prof. Chitralekha Mauna Guru from Sri Lanka, Prof. Christian Barat from Reunion, Prof. Francois Gros from France, Prof. P. Shanmugam from Chennai, Prof. A. Marx from and V. Geetha from Chennai also spoke.