2016-17 Recent Events

Monday, September 19
A talk by Daud Ali (Pennsylvania)
The Death of a Friend:  Companionship, Loyalty and Affiliation in Chola South India
 

Introduction by Vidya Dehejia, Barbara Stoler Miller Professor of Indian and South Asian Art

Daud Ali is an historian of pre-Mughal South Asia. He taught history at SOAS, University of London, and joined the University of Pennsylvania in 2009. He is Professor and Graduate Director in the Department of South Asia Studies. His area of training and expertise is early medieval South Asia, but his research interests have expanded to include the history of mentalities and practices in pre-Sultanate South Asia. Future and ongoing projects include collaborative projects on the history of friendship in early and medieval South Asia, a translation of a Buddhist text on erotics, as well as a study of the production of the King Bhoja cycles in Western India.  His most recent publications include the edited volumes Garden and Landscape Practices in Precolonial India: Histories from the Deccan (2011);  Knowledge Production, Pedagogy and Institutions in Colonial India(2011); Ethical Life in South Asia (2010); and the monograph Courtly Culture and Political Life in Early Medieval India (2004).

Thursday, September 22
A talk by Peter Sutoris
Visions of Development:  Films Division of India and the Imagination of Progress, 1948-75
 
Moderated by Anupama Rao (History)
 

Peter Sutoris is a scholar of development, a documentary filmmaker, and an educator. He is the director and producer of The Undiscovered Country, a film about education, development and environmental degradation in the Marshall Islands. He has lived and worked in South Asia, the Pacific, the Balkans and South Africa.  He earned his BA at Dartmouth College, and is a PhD candidate and Gates Scholar at the University of Cambridge.  His current research focuses on cross-cultural scalability of development interventions, with a focus on environmental education.  His book, Visions of Development examines the Indian state’s postcolonial development ideology between Independence in 1947 and the Emergency of 1975-77 through an analysis of films made by the Films Division of India between 1948 and 1975.

Monday, September 26
A talk by Shankar Ramaswami (Harvard)
“Towards a Grounded, Immanent Critique:  The Politics and Cosmologies of Migrant Workers in Delhi”
 

Shankar Ramaswami is Lecturer on South Asian Studies and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of South Asian Studies at Harvard University, where he teaches courses on anthropology, cinema, literature, and religion.  He completed a B.A. in Economics at Harvard College and a Ph.D. in Anthropology at the University of Chicago.  He is currently working on a book, entitled Souls in the Kalyug: The Politics and Cosmologies of Migrant Workers in Delhi.

Monday, October 3
A talk by Projit Mukharji (Pennsylvania)
"Dak-Banglor Hatchhani: A Spectral History of State Vampirism, Classical Genetics and Serotribality in South Asia, 1920-66"
 

Projit Mukharji is the Martin Meyerson Assistant Professor in Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.  He earned an MA and MPhil from Jawaharlal Nehru University, and a PhD from SOAS at the University of London.  His publications include the co-edited volumes,Crossing Colonial Historiographies: Histories of Colonial and Indigenous Medicines in Transnational Perspective (2010), and Medical Marginality in South Asia: Situating Subaltern Therapeutics (2012), and the monographs Nationalizing the Body: The Medical Market, Print and Daktari Medicine(2011); and the forthcoming Doctoring Traditions: Ayurveda, Small Technologies, and Braided Sciences, (2016).

Wednesday, October 5
A talk by Gajendran Ayyathurai (Göttingen) 
"Considering the beneficiaries it should be called ... Brahmin Congress:
The Tamil Buddhist Anticaste Critique of the Indian National Movement"
 
Moderated by E. Valentine Daniel (Anthropology)
 

Gajendran Ayyathurai is a Post-doctoral Research Fellow at the Centre for Modern Indian Studies, and a member of the Critical Caste Studies Group, at the University of Göttingen, Germany.  He earned his PhD in Anthropology at Columbia in 2011. He has taught at William Paterson University and Hunter College. His teaching and research interests include the Anthropology of South Asia; History of Modern South Asia; South Asian Diaspora; Historical Anthropology of Dalits and Non-Dalits; Buddhism and Dalits; Subaltern Religious Movements in South Asia; Historical Anthropology of South Asian Indentured Labor; and Comparative Historical Anthropology of Caste and Race. His current work-in progress is entitledCasteless Humanism: The Deep History of Anticaste Consciousness, Iyothee Thass, and Tamil Buddhism.

Monday, October 10 
What the Fields Remember (52 mins, Bengali and English, 2015).
Film screening followed by a discussion with the director, Subasri Krishnan
Moderated by Debashree Mukherjee (MESAAS)
Co-sponsored by Film Program, School of the Arts
 
Time:  5:00pm – 6:30pm
Location:  Lifetime Screening Room, 511 Dodge Hall, 2960 Broadway at 116th Street
 

On 18th February 1983, from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm, more than 2,000 Bengali-speaking Muslims were killed in the town of Nellie and its surrounding villages in Assam, India. People’s homes were burnt down and their fields destroyed. Most of those who died were old people, women and children. To date, the Nellie massacre remains on the margins of India’s public history, and is virtually wiped out from the nation’s collective memory.

The documentary film What the Fields Remember revisits the massacre three decades later. From the survivors’ retelling of the event, and their struggles of coping with loss and memories that refuse to fade away, the film attempts to explore ideas of violence, memory and justice, to understand how physical spaces continue to mark people’s relationship to history and memory, and to raise larger questions around collective memory – of what we choose to remember​ ​and why we choose to forget.

Subasri Krishnan is a filmmaker and heads the Media Lab at the Indian Institute for Human Settlement (IIHS), where she teaches and curates the Urban Lens film festival.   She is the Director of the International Association of Women in Radio and Television Asian Film Festival, to be held in New Delhi in March 2017.  Her films include Brave New Medium, on internet censorship in Southeast Asia, and This or That Particular Person, which looks at the idea of official identity documents and the Unique Identity number.  The latter film was awarded Best Short Documentary Film at the International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala (IDSFFK), 2013.

Monday, October 24
Mary Keating Das Lecture
Sumit Guha (Texas at Austin)
"Did the Subaltern Speak? Some narratives from Western India"
 

Sumit Guha earned a BA from St. Stephen's College and an MA in History from Jawaharlal Nehru University, and a PhD in History from the University of Cambridge.  He has taught St. Stephen's College and the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta.  In 2000, he was appointed S.P. Das Distinguished Professor at Brown University, and in 2004, jointed Rutgers University of New Jersey. Since 2103 he has been Frances Higginbotham Nalle Centennial Professor in History at the University of Texas at Austin.

His publications include The Agrarian Economy of the Bombay Deccan 1818-1941 (1985); Environment and Ethnicity in India, c. 1200-1991 (1999);Health and Population in South Asia from earliest times to the present (2001), and  Beyond Caste: Identity and Power in South Asia, Past and Present (2013).

Tuesday, October 25
A talk by Ahuja Fellow Tapati Guha-Thakurta
“The Object Flows of Empire - I
Cross-Cultural Collecting in Early Colonial Calcutta”
Time:  6:15pm - 7:45pm
Location: Sulzberger Parlor, Barnard Hall, enter at Barnard College gate, 118th Street at Broadway
 

Introduction by Univerisity Professor Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (English and Comparative Literature)

ABSTRACT OF TALK

VIEW LECTURE ON YOUTUBE

Tapati Guha-Thakurta is the Fall 2016 Ahuja Family Distinguished Visitor. She is the Director and Professor of History, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta, where she has taught since 1989.  She earned a D.Phil. in the History Faculty at the University of Oxford, and has taught at Presidency College and the University of Calcutta.  Prof. Guha-Thakurta has been a Fellow at the Getty Research Institute for the History of Art and Humanities, Los Angeles, and at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.  She has been a Visiting Professor at Smith College, the Yale Centre for British Art in New Haven, the University of California at Berkeley, and Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Professor Guha-Thakurta’s most recent book is In the Name of the Goddess: The Durga Pujas of Contemporary Kolkata (2015).  Her publications include the monographs The Making of a New 'Indian' Art: Artists, Aesthetics and Nationalism in Bengal, c.1850-1920 (1992); Monuments, Objects, Histories: Institutions of Art in Colonial and Post-colonial India (2004), and the exhibition monographs, In her own Right; Remembering the artist Karuna Shaha (2000); Visual Worlds of Modern Bengal, (2002); The Aesthetics of the Popular Print, Birla Academy (2006), and The City in the Archive: Calcutta’s Visual Histories (2011).  She co-edited  (with Janaki Nair and Anjan Ghosh) Theorising the Present; Essays for Partha Chatterjee (2011); and with Partha Chatterjee and Bodhisattva Kar, New Cultural  Histories of India: Materiality and Practices (2012).

Wednesday, October 26
Christophe Jaffrelot (CERI-Sciences Po/CNRS) 
"Quota for Patels? The neo-middle class syndrome and the (partial) return of caste politics in Gujarat"
 

Co-sponsored by the Alliance Program at Columbia University

Dr. Christophe Jaffrelot is Senior research fellow at CERI-Sciences Po/CNRS, and Professor of Indian Politics and Sociology at the King’s India Institute (London). Among his publications are The Hindu nationalist movement and Indian politics, 1925 to 1990s (1999), India’s Silent Revolution(2003) and The Pakistan Paradox. Instability and Resilience (2015).   

Monday, October 31
A talk by Ahuja Fellow Tapati Guha-Thakurta
“The Object Flows of Empire - II
The Changing Landscape of Calcutta’s Colonial and Postcolonial Statuary”  
Time: 6:15pm - 7:45pm
Location: East Gallery, Maison Française, Beull Hall (Upper Campus, West of Low Library. Enter at 116th and Broadway)
 

Introduction by  Vidya Dehejia, Barbara Stoler Miller Professor of Indian and South Asian Art

ABSTRACT OF TALK

VIEW LECTURE ON YOUTUBE

Tapati Guha-Thakurta is the Fall 2016 Ahuja Family Distinguished Visitor. She is the Director and Professor of History, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta, where she has taught since 1989.  She earned a D.Phil. in the History Faculty at the University of Oxford, and has taught at Presidency College and the University of Calcutta.  Professor Guha-Thakurta has been a Fellow at the Getty Research Institute for the History of Art and Humanities, Los Angeles, and at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.  She has been a Visiting Professor at Smith College, the Yale Centre for British Art in New Haven, the University of California at Berkeley, and Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Professor Guha-Thakurta’s most recent book is In the Name of the Goddess: The Durga Pujas of Contemporary Kolkata (2015).  Her publications include the monographs The Making of a New 'Indian' Art: Artists, Aesthetics and Nationalism in Bengal, c.1850-1920 (1992)Monuments, Objects, Histories: Institutions of Art in Colonial and Post-colonial India (2004), and the exhibition monographs, In her own Right; Remembering the artist Karuna Shaha (2000); Visual Worlds of Modern Bengal, (2002); The Aesthetics of the Popular Print, Birla Academy (2006), and The City in the Archive: Calcutta’s Visual Histories (2011).  She co-edited  (with Janaki Nair and Anjan Ghosh) Theorising the Present:Essays for Partha Chatterjee (2011); and with Partha Chatterjee and Bodhisattva Kar, New Cultural  Histories of India: Materiality and Practices (2012).

Monday, November 14
A talk by Ali Riaz (Illlinois State)
"Bangladesh:  Beyond the Binaries”
 
 

Ali Riaz is University Professor and the Chair of the Department of Politics and Government at Illinois State University, at Normal, Illinois.  His primary areas of interest are political Islam, madrassahs, South Asian politics, and Bangladeshi politics. He has taught at Dhaka University and was a Public Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington D.C.  From 1995-2000, he was Senior Broadcast Journalist for the BBC World Service, Bengali Section, in London.  Among his many publications are Islam and Identity Politics among British-Bangladeshis: A Leap of Faith (2013); Inconvenient Truths about Bangladeshi Politics (2012); a volume of essays co-edited with Christine Fair,Political Islam and Governance in Bangladesh (2011), another edited volume, Religion and Politics in South Asia (2010); Faithful Education: Madrassahs in South Asia (2008); and Islamist Militancy in Bangladesh: A Complex Web (2008).  His talk will be based on his most recent publication, Bangladesh: A Political History since Independence (2016).

Monday, November 28
A talk by Karuna Mantena (Yale)
"Satyagraha and Collective Power:  Gandhi and the Dilemmas of Mass Action”
 

Karuna Mantena is Associate Professor of Political Science and Chair of the South Asian Studies Council at Yale University. Since 2011, she has served as co-director of the International Conference for the Study of Political Thought.  She earned a BSc(Econ) in International Relations from the London School of Economics, an MA in Ideology and Discourse Analysis from the University of Essex , and a PhD in Government from Harvard University.   Her research interests include modern political thought, modern social theory, the theory and history of empire, and South Asian politics and history.  Her first book, Alibis of Empire: Henry Maine and the Ends of Liberal Imperialism (2010), analyzed the transformation of nineteenth-century British imperial ideology.  Her current work focuses on political realism and the political thought of M.K. Gandhi.

Monday, December 5
"A Celebration of Mahasweta Devi (1926-2016)"
An evening to honor the life and work of Bengali writer and social activist, Mahasweta Devi, organized by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, University Professor in the Humanities, and Gauri Viswanathan, Class of 1933 Professor in the Humanities.
 
Co-sponsors
Department of English and Comparative Literature
Global Cultural Studies
Heyman Center for the Humanities
Institute for Comparative Literature and Society
Institute for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality
South Asia Institute
 
Panel One, 4:00pm to 6:00pm
Opening remarks by University Professor Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (English and Comparative Literature)
Moinak Biswas, Director of Film Studies, Jadavpur University
Naveen Kishore, Seagull Books
Richard Peña,  School of the Arts, Columbia University and Director Emeritus, New York Film Festival
 
Panel Two, 7:00pm to 9:00pm
Moderated by Gauri Viswanathan (English and Comparative Literature)
Sadia Abbas (Rutgers)
Meena Alexander (CUNY)
Ben Baer (Princeton)
Etienne Balibar (French and Romance Philology)
Partha Chatterjee (Anthropology and MESAAS; Acting Director, South Asia Institute)
Ybette Christiansë (English and Africana Studies, Barnard)
Sudipta Kaviraj (MESAAS)
Lydia Liu (East Asian Languages and Cultures, and Director, Institute for Comparative Literature and Society)
Rachel McDermot (Religion and AMEC, Barnard)
Sonali Perera (CUNY)
 
Time and Schedule:  
4:00pm - 6:00pm:  Panel One
6:00pm - 7:00pm: Intermission, light refreshments
7:00pm - 9:00pm:  Panel Two
 
Location:  Room 1501, International Affairs Building, 420 West 118th Street, 15th floor.
Morningside CampusMap and Directions
 
Monday, February 13 
A talk by Naveeda Khan (Johns Hopkins)
"Madness as Auguring Extinction"
 

Abstract:  A sepulchral note has finally entered the insistently optimistic global discourse on climate change produced by the Conference of Parties (COP). With the introduction of the language of "loss and damage," several parties to the UN framework convention on climate change (UNFCCC) have acknowledged that climate change may not be mitigated or adapted to, that there is lasting damage to human settlements and ecosystems, even to species being. In this paper I explore how the language of loss and damage allows us to speak of the damage wrought by the social as much as by the environmental, embodied in female figures of the traumatized, the mad or the psychically afflicted.  These figures, explored more specifically on silt islands in Bangladesh, provide a further vantage to a consideration of extinction as not only the sudden vanishing of species, as it is represented in extinction studies, but also as modes of self-extinguishing.  They remind us that life is not only about self-preservation but also about destruction.​

Naveeda Khan is Associate Professor, Anthropology Department, at the Johns Hopkins University.  She earned a PhD from Columbia University in 2003.  Prof. Khan is the author of Muslim Becoming: Aspiration and Skepticism in Pakistan (2012), which was awarded the 2012 American Institute of Pakistan Studies Book Prize, as well as Beyond Crisis: Re-evaluating Pakistan (2010).  She is presently working on a new manuscript tentatively titled "Towards a Romantic Anthropology: River Life and Climate Change" based on her research on the Jamuna River in Bangladesh.

Monday, February 20
A talk by Layli Uddin
"Maulana Bhashani: The Making of the Modern King"
 
Introduction by David Ludden, Professor and Chair, Department of History, New York University
 
Layli Uddin is a researcher at the Department of History, Royal Holloway, University of London, and is Project Curator for "Two Centuries of Indian Print," at the British Library.  She earned an MPhil from the University of Oxford in 2011 and a PhD from the University of London in 2015.
 
Monday February 27
Parimal G. Patil (Harvard)
"Why Buddhists Argue"
 

Introduction by Sheldon Pollock, Arvind Raghunathan Professor of South Asian Studies, MESAAS

Parimal G. Patil is Professor of Religion and Indian Philosophy, and Chair of the Department of South Asian Studies at Harvard University.  He earned his PhD at the University of Chicago.  Professor Patil is a philosopher and intellectual historian of religion who is interested in South Asian intellectual practices and their relevance to broader issues in the Study of Religion, Philosophy, and Area Studies. He is particularly interested in Indian Buddhism, its intellectual history in Southern Asia, and Buddhist, Hindu, and Jaina debates in aesthetics, epistemology, metaphysics, and philosophy of language. His current work includes a book length project on one such debate during the "final phase" of Buddhism in India, and articles on Buddhist narrative literature, epistemology, and philosophy of language. More recently, he has become interested in classical South Asian literature and literary theory, and its relevance to historiography and religious ethics.  His publications include Against a Hindu God: Buddhist Philosophy of Religion in India (2009); and with Lawrence J. McCrea, Buddhist Buddhist Philosophy of Language in India: Jñanasrimitra on Exclusion.

Monday March 6
Andrew Sartori (NYU)
"Property and Political Norms: Hanafi Fiqh in Colonial Bengal""
 

Andrew Sartori is an intellectual historian of modern South Asia, and Professor in the Department of History, NYU.  He earned his PhD from the University of Chicago in 2003. His work focuses on the relationship between histories of concept-formation and the history of capitalist society. He has written on the history of the culture-concept, property, political economy, and liberalism.  His publications include the edited volumes, From the Colonial to the Postcolonial: India and Pakistan in Transition, co-with Dipesh Chakrabarty and Rochona Majumdar (2007); Global Intellectual History, with Samuel Moyn (2013); and A Companion To Global Historical Thought, with Prasenjit Duara, and Viren Murthy (2014); and the monographs Bengal in Global Concept History: Culturalism in the Age of Capital (2008), and Liberalism In Empire, (2014).