2017-18 Upcoming Events

Except as noted, the default time and location for all events:
Time:               4:15-5:45pm
Location:         Knox Hall, Room 208
606 West 122nd Street, between Broadway and Claremont
Monday, March 5
A talk by Andrew Nicholson (SUNY Stony Brook) 
“Hindus Against God: Anti-theistic Arguments in Sāṃkhya and Vedānta Philosophy”
Moderated by Sheldon Pollock, Arvind Raghunathan Professor of South Asian Studies, MESAAS

Andrew J. Nicholson is Associate Professor at State University of New York at Stony Brook. He earned his PhD in South Asian Languages and Civilizations at Chicago.  Nicholson's primary area of research is Indian philosophy and intellectual history, most recently focusing on medieval Vedānta philosophy and its influence on ideas about Hinduism in modern Europe and India. His first book, Unifying Hinduism: Philosophy and Identity in Indian Intellectual History (2010) was part of the South Asia Across the Disciplines book series sponsored by the university presses at California, Chicago, and Columbia.  In 2011, it won the American Academy of Religion's Award for Best First Book in the History of Religions.  His second book is Lord Śiva's Song: The Īśvara Gītā (2014).
Monday, March 26
A talk by Anastasia Piliavsky (Cambridge)
“Hierarchy as a value in Indian democracy”

Moderated by Allison Busch, Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies

Dr. Anastasia Piliavsky is Newton/ Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH); Fellow and Director of Studies, Girton College; and Affiliated Anthropologist, Department of Social Anthropology, Cambridge University.  Her research Interests include political anthropology, South Asia, democracy, hierarchy, the morals of crime, secrecy and publicity, and political normativity.  Over the past dozen years she has performed ethnographic and historical research in the Indian province of Rajasthan, writing about crime, policing, secrecy, publicity, and gangster politics.  Her current focus is political life in South Asia, and the normative categories of demotic political thought and the distinctive shape that democracy has assumed in the region. She written on the symbiosis of democracy and corruption in the region, and how it may inform democratic theory at large, in her edited volume, Patronage as Politics in South Asia (2014).  Dr Piliavsky is Co-investigator of ‘Democracy and the criminalisation of politics in South Asia’ funded by the European Research Council and the Economic and Social and Research Council.  From 2016-2019 she will be working on ‘India’s democratic boom and its implications’ funded by the Leverhulme Foundation.

Monday, April 2
A talk by Sonali Perera  (Hunter College)
"Perspectives on Sri Lankan Writing"

Moderated by Gauri Viswanathan, Class of 1933 Professor in the Humanities, English and Comparative Literature; and Director, South Asia Institute

Sonali Perera is Associate Professor, Department of English, Hunter College.  She is a faculty associate of the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute Human Rights Program, and affiliated faculty with the Department of Women and Gender Studies.  Professor Perera earned her Ph.D. in English and Comparative Literature from Columbia University. Her research interests include Postcolonial Literature and Theory, Marxist Theory, Working-Class Literature, Globalization Studies, Feminist Theory, World Literature, International Law, and Colonial Discourse Studies. Much of her scholarship is based on the premise that postcolonial studies, as it was conceptualized by its rigorous, most skeptical practitioners, provides methodologies for parsing the changing meanings of political economy, sovereignty, andmpire in today’s globalized world.  Prof. Perera is the author of No Country: Working-Class Writing in the Age of Globalization (2014), and is currently at work on her second book, Between Imperialism and Internationalism: World Literature and Human Rights.  From 2006-2008, she served on the executive board of directors of SAALT (South Asian Americans Leading Together), a national non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring civil rights and social justice for marginalized members of the South Asian immigrant community in America.

Saturday, April 7
Annual Hindi-Urdu Workshop
"The Romance (?) of the Rainy Season"
Organized by Francis Pritchett (Professor Emerita, MESAAS) and Allison Busch (Associate Professor, MESAAS)
The workshop is sponsored by the South Asia Institute and the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies, at Columbia University. It is free and open to the public, but advance registration is required. Registration will be possible starting one month before the workshop.  For more information, see the Workshop website. 
Time:  10:00am - 3:30pm
Location:  Knox Hall, Room 308, 606 West 122nd Street, between Broadway and Claremont
Thursday, April 12
A conversation between Kamila Shamsie and Colm Tóibín
“Haunting Heroines: Greek Plays and Transnational Novels”
Co-sponsored by the Heyman Center for the Humanities; the Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality; the School of General Studies, and the South Asia Institute.
Registration is required to attend the event, via the Heyman Center website.
Kamila Naheed Shamsie is a novelist whose works have been translated into twenty languages. In 2013, Granta Magazine named her in a list of “20 young British novelists to watch out for” in the next decade.  She was born and brought up in Karachi, Pakistan.  Kamila Shamsie’s first novel, In the City by the Sea (1998), was shortlisted for the Mail on Sunday/John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, and her second, Salt and Saffron (200), won her a place on Orange's list of '21 Writers for the 21st Century'.  Her other novels include Kartography (2004), which won the Patras Bokhari Award from the Academy of Letters in Pakistan, and was shortlisted for the John Llewellyn Rhys award; Broken Verses (2005), earning a second Patras Bokhari Award; Burnt Shadows (2009), shortlisted for the 2009 Orange Prize for Fiction;  A God in Every Stone (2014), shortlisted for the 2015 Walter Scott Prize and the Baileys Women's Prize For Fiction and most recently, Home Fire (2017), longlisted for the 2018 Booker Prize.
Colm Tóibín is Irene and Sidney B. Silverman Professor of the Humanities at Columbia University, and Chancellor, University of Liverpool. His essays, short stories, novels, poems, and plays have been translated into thirty languages. Tóibín studied at University College Dublin and has received honorary doctorates from the University of Ulster and from University College Dublin.  He has taught at Manchester, Princeton, Stanford, and the University of Texas at Austin. 
Colm Tóibín’s novels include The South (1990), shortlisted for the Whitbread First Novel Award and winner of the Irish Times/ Aer Lingus First Fiction Award; The Heather Blazing (1992), winner of the Encore Award; The Story of the Night (1996), winner of the Ferro-Grumley Prize; The Blackwater Lightship (1999), shortlisted for the IMPAC Dublin Prize and the Booker Prize; The Master (2004), winner of the Dublin IMPAC Prize; the Prix du Meilleur Livre; the LA Times Novel of the Year; and shortlisted for the Booker Prize; Brooklyn (2009), winner of the Costa Novel of the Year; and Testament of Mary (2012), shortlisted for the Booker Prize; Nora Webster (2014); and House of Names (2017).  His short story collections are Mothers and Sons (2006, winner of the Edge Hill Prize) and The Empty Family (2010, shortlisted for the Frank O'Connor Prize.
Time:  6:15pm – 8:00pm
Location:  Butler Library, Rooms 522-523
Link to Butler Library directions:  http://heymancenter.org/visit/butler-library/
Monday, April 23
Mary Keatinge Das Lecture
Sumathi Ramaswamy (Duke)
"Gandhi in the Gallery: The Art of Disobedience"
Moderated by Gauri Viswanathan, Class of 1933 Professor in the Humanities, Department of English and Comparative Literature; Director, South Asia Institute
Abstract:  Mohandas K. Gandhi has been described as “an artist of non-violence,” crafting a set of practices of the self and politics that earned him the mantle of Mahātma, “the great soul.”  There is an enormous body of scholarship that has explored and critiqued Gandhi’s philosophy and praxis of satyāgraha, non-violent civil disobedience.  Yet what does it mean to think of satyāgraha as an aesthetic regime, and its principal practitioner as the paradigmatic artist of disobedience? In this presentation, I set out to answer these questions with the help of India’s modern artists who have over the past century, but especially in recent decades, turned to the Mahātma as their muse.  In the process, they have transformed Gandhi into an aesthetic subject worthy of artistic investment across a wide range of media ranging from painting and sculpture to video installation works and digital productions.  At a time when Gandhi has been reduced to a hollow symbol and set of empty platitudes in the land of his birth, why have India’s artists lavished so much attention on the Mahātma?  This is especially ironical given that in his own lifetime, Gandhi himself appeared to have had little time for the visual arts, or for artists for that matter.  I reflect on this irony even as I make a conceptual argument for how the tools of visual and media history reveal the intimate connection between aesthetics, ethical action, and non-violent politics in our time.
Sumathi Ramaswamy is Professor of History at Duke University, and is President-elect of the American Institute of Indian Studies for the 2018-19 term.  She is a cultural historian of South Asia and the British Empire, and studied ancient Indian history at Jawaharlal Nehru University before earning her Ph.D. in History from UC Berkeley.   Her most recent publications include the monographs The Goddess and the Nation: Mapping Mother India (2010), Husain's Raj: Visions of Empire and Nation (2016), and Terrestrial Lessons: The Conquest of the World as Globe (2017); and two edited volumes, Barefoot Across the Nation: Maqbool Fida Husain and the Idea of India (2010), and Empires of Vision (co-edited with Martin Jay, 2014).  Professor Ramaswamy is co-founder of a trans-national digital network for popular South Asian visual culture called Tasveerghar: A Digital Network of South Asian Popular Visual Culture.