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First Annual SAMCS Conference a Success

Friday, January 23rd, 2015 marked the first annual South Asian Media and Cultural Studies Conference (SAMCS) at Florida State University.

The conference was a joint effort of the College of Communication and Information, the Center for Global Engagement, the South Asian Media Studies research department of the School of Communication, Department of Religion, College of Social Sciences and Public Policy, and the College of Education.

The conference featured dozens presenters split between six parallel panels, presenting on topics like religion, urban studies, media studies and history. It was attended by around 70 students, faculty and community members throughout the day.

The evening of Thursday, January 22 opened the conference with Somnath Sen, an Indian filmmaker, who spoke on the difference in Western and Indian narratives in filmmaking. The conference concluded on Friday evening with a screening of his film, Leela.

Somnath Sen speaking with student Omar Ismail

The conference opened with Dr. Evan Hoffman, an assistant professor in the Department of Conflict Analysis and Resolution at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale. He spoke about peace resolution talks in Myanmar. Hoffman’s research focuses on durable peace and the creation of new models for peace.

Dr. Evan Hoffman

Lunch was provided courtesy of the Center for Global Engagement and attendees were served an authentic Chinese meal. The luncheon keynote was Former Ambassador Michael Thurston, the current Diplomat in Residence at Florida A&M University. As an ambassador, he has had posts in Australia, Ethiopia, Iraq, Mexico, New Zealand, Rwanda and many others. His luncheon talk focused around the U.S. pivot to Asia and the political habitat in Myanmar.

Michael Thurston

“Our guest speakers did a great job of highlighting current issues of significance in the South Asian region,” said Dr. Steve McDowell, one of the driving forces behind the conference.

“It was nice to be able to focus on the important region of South Asia in sustained interdisciplinary discussions.  We are very glad for the positive response from students and faculty across campus, as well as several students and invited guest speakers from outside FSU.”   

Michael Thurston and Dr. Steve McDowell

With a great school and community response, there are plans to organize a similar conference next year. As the conference grows, the organizing committee hopes to include more disciplines at Florida State and students from other universities.