2019-20 Events Calendar

Due to the rapidly changing situation around the coronavirus,
and to safeguard the health and well-being of the Columbia community,
the South Asia Institute has decided to cancel all remaining events
in the spring calendar.  Details will be announced later about
rescheduling of canceled events.  SAI thanks our entire community
for its continued support.
Except as noted, the default time and location for all events:
Time:  4:15-5:45pm
Location:   Knox Hall, Room 208
Street Address:  606 West 122nd Street, between Broadway and Claremont
CANCELED:  Tuesday, March 24
The Mary Keatinge Das Lecture
by musician, activist, and author T. M. Krishna
Time:  6:15pm-7:45pm
Location:   The Kellogg Center, Room 1501 International Affairs Building
420 West 118th Street, at Amsterdam Avenue
 Map and Directions:  https://visit.columbia.edu/content/maps-and-directions
In collaboration with the Columbia chapter of the Society for the Promotion of Indian Classical Music And Culture Amongst Youth (SPIC MACAY).

T. M. Krishna  is a vocalist in the Karnatik music tradition who has received international acclaim for his innovative contributions to Indian classical music. He is also a prominent public intellectual, writing and speaking on issues of structural inequality and discrimination. Krishna is the author of several books, including Sebastian and Sons: A Brief History of Mrdangam Makers (2020) and A Southern Music: The Karnatik Story (2013), which won the 2014 Tata Literature Award for best first book.  He has been part of several important collaborations, such as Chennai Poromboke Paadal, performances with the Jogappas who are traditional transgender musicians, the Karnatik Kattaikuttu that brought together art forms from two ends of the social spectrum, and an enduring poetic partnership with Tamil writer Perumal Murugan. 

In 2016, Krishna received the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award in recognition of “his forceful commitment as artist and advocate to art’s power to heal India’s deep social divisions.” In 2017 he received the Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration for his work in promoting and preserving national integration in India.

CANCELED:  Monday, March 30
A talk by Radhika Coomaraswamy
“The Dilemmas of UN Fact Finding in a Post-Colonial World – Case Study of the Rohingya Crisis”
Time:  6:15pm-7:45pm
Location:   The Kellogg Center, Room 1501 International Affairs Building
420 West 118th Street, at Amsterdam Avenue
Radhika Coomaraswamy is the South Asia Institute Distinguished Visitor in 2019-2020, and in residence from March 23-31.  She is a Sri Lankan lawyer, diplomat, and human rights advocate.  She was the Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict from April 2006 until 13 July 2012, serving as a moral voice and independent advocate to build awareness and give prominence to the rights and protection of boys and girls affected by armed conflict. In 2017, after atrocities against the Rohingya people, she was appointed a Member of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on Myanmar.
Ms. Coomaraswamy, a lawyer by training and formerly the Chairperson of the Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission, is an internationally known human rights advocate who has been widely recognized for her work as Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women (1994-2003). In her reports to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, she has written on violence in the family, violence in the community, violence against women during armed conflict, and the problem of international trafficking. A strong advocate of women’s rights, she has intervened on behalf of countless women throughout the world seeking redress from governments in cases involving violence against women.
In addition to chairing the Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission, Ms. Coomaraswamy was also a director of the International Centre for Ethnic Studies in Sri Lanka, leading research projects in the field of ethnicity, women and human rights. She has served as a member of the Global Faculty of the New York University School of Law. She has published widely, including two books on constitutional law and numerous articles on ethnic studies and the status of women.
Ms. Coomaraswamy has won many awards. These include the International Law Award of the American Bar Association, the Human Rights Award of the International Human Rights Law Group, the Bruno Kreisky Award of 2000, the Leo Ettinger Human Rights Prize of the University of Oslo, Cesar Romero Award of the University of Dayton, the William J. Butler Award from the University of Cincinnati, and the Robert S. Litvack Award from McGill University.  In 2005, the Government of Sri Lanka honored her with the title of Deshamanya, the second-highest national civilian honor of Sri Lanka awarded for "highly meritorious service."
Ms. Coomaraswamy is a graduate of the United Nations International School in New York. She received her B.A. from Yale University, her J.D. from Columbia University, an LLM from Harvard University and honorary PhDs from Amherst College, the University of Edinburgh, the University of Essex and the University of Leuven.
CANCELED:  Thursday, April 2
Film Screening, “Recasting Selves” [80 minutes, 2019]
Followed by a discussion with director Lalit Vachani
Time:  6:00pm – 8:00pm
Location:  Common Room, Heyman Center, Upper Morningside Campus
Co-sponsored with the Ambedkar Initiative at the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society
Synopsis:  Set at CREST (the Centre for Research and Education for Social Transformation) in Kozhikode, Kerala, the film documents the ‘soft skills’ training of Dalit and Adivasi post-graduate students in a sensitive and nurturing campus environment as preparation for their employment in the new Indian economy. As a progressive institution combating caste inequalities, CREST has trained over 1200 students and professionals from marginalized communities in Kerala.
But how politicized or politically aware is the ‘recast self’?  Filmed in February and April 2016 – a few months after Rohith Vemula’s suicide in Hyderabad, the students are initially forced to confront their own identity and a history of discrimination in the context of Vemula’s tragic death.  Matters come to a climax when the CREST students research and select the theme of the play at the end of semester. Will they choose to do a play that exposes caste discrimination around Rohith Vemula’s suicide? Or will they select one that expresses their fears about ‘Bengali’ migration to Kerala?  In this choice of play subject and its ensuing debate lie signs and markers about power, livelihood and identity politics, just as there is silence around issues of caste in Kerala.
Lalit Vachani is a documentary filmmaker, producer and video editor. He studied at St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University, and at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania in the US.  His documentary work includes The Starmaker (about the business of ‘starmaking’ in the Hindi film industry); The Boy in the Branch and The Men in the Tree (on the RSS and Hindu nationalism); The Play Goes On (about the left street theatre group, Jana Natya Manch); The Salt Stories (following the trail of Mahatma Gandhi’s salt march in Narendra Modi’s Gujarat); Tales from Napa (about a village that resisted Hindu fundamentalism during the 2002 Gujarat riots), An Ordinary Election (an in-depth study of an Indian election campaign) and Die letzten Tage (about the last days of a refugee center in Germany). Vachani teaches courses on media and politics, the political documentary and documentary film theory and production at the Centre for Modern Indian Studies (CeMIS) at the University of Göttingen, Germany.
CANCELED:  Saturday, April 4
Annual Hindi-Urdu Workshop
"Allison Busch's final projects"
Time:  10:00am – 3:30pm
Location:   Knox Hall, Room 208
Street Address:  606 West 122nd Street, between Broadway and Claremont
The workshop is sponsored by the South Asia Institute and the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies, Columbia University. It is free and open to the public, but advance registration is required.
To register for the workshop, and additional information, please visit the Hindi-Urdu Workshop website, by following the link below:
CANCELED:  Tuesday, April 7
A talk by Rajmohan Gandhi
“Hindu State versus Democratic Rights: Assessing India’s Ongoing Battle”
Time:   4:15pm-5:45pm
Location:  Knox Hall, Room 509
Abstract: For some months following Narendra Modi’s big victory in May 2019, it seemed that the bid to turn India into a Hindu state could obtain early and complete success. Starting with December 2019, however, the story appears to have changed. It is too early to say that Indian democracy has been saved, but it can be said that India’s honor has been saved by women and students protesting fearlessly in India’s streets, parks and colleges. Across the land, a fight is being waged to defend the rights earned in 1947 by Mohandas Gandhi and his colleagues in India’s struggle for independence from British rule, and assured in 1949 by free India’s constitution. Rajmohan Gandhi’s talk will examine the prospects, short-term and long-term, of this fight to protect equality, free speech and minority rights in India.
Professor Rajmohan Gandhi, whose latest book, Modern South India: A History from the 17th Century to Our Times, was published in December 2018, is a historian, biographer, and worker for peace, reconciliation, and human rights. For fifteen years, until the end of 2012, Rajmohan taught political science and history at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  Currently he serves with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as Research Professor in the Department of Education Policy, Organization and Leadership. He was Hannah Distinguished Visiting Professor, Michigan State University, during the fall semesters of 2015, 2016, and 2017, and visiting professor at different times at the Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar, and the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay.  In December 2017, he served as president, Contemporary History, at the 78th session of the Indian History Congress, held in Kolkata.  From 1992 to 2000 he was Research Professor at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi. Prior to that he served as a Member of the Rajya Sabha (the upper house of the Indian Parliament), as Resident Editor, Indian Express, in Chennai, and as Chief Editor, Himmat, Mumbai. Rajmohan has been associated from 1956 with Initiatives of Change, formerly known as Moral Re-Armament. In 2009 and 2010, he served as president of Initiatives of Change International.
His father, Devadas Gandhi, editor of the Hindustan Times from 1935 until his death in 1957, was Mohandas K. Gandhi's youngest son.
Recent books by him include Why Gandhi Still Matters: An Appraisal of the Mahatma’s Legacy (2017); Understanding [India’s] Founding Fathers (2016); and Punjab: A History from Aurangzeb to Mountbatten (2013).  An earlier study by him, A Tale of Two Revolts: India 1857 & the American Civil War (2009) looked at two 19th-century wars occurring in opposite parts of the world at almost the same time. A previous book, Gandhi: A True Story of a Man, His People and an Empire, published in India, England, France and the USA, received the Barpujari Biennial Award from the Indian History Congress in 2007.  In 2002 he received the Sahitya Akademi Award for his Rajaji: A Life, a biography of Chakravarti Rajagopalachari.  Other books by him include Patel: A Life, a biography of Vallabhbhai Patel; Revenge & Reconciliation: Understanding South Asian History; Understanding the Muslim Mind; and Ghaffar Khan: Nonviolent Badshah of the Pakhtuns.
CANCELED:  Monday, April 13
A talk by Shiben Banerji
“Saving Empire:
Spaces of Duty and Translation in Modern Ashram Life”
Time:  4:15pm-5:45pm
Location:   Knox Hall, Room 208
Abstract:  This paper situates the interwar discourse of the ashram at the crossroads of the South Asian reception of Euro-American proposals for global cities and the concomitant Euro-American reception of the ashram as a site for learning self-restraint. It locates this transnational crossing of moral thought and urban form amid growing anxiety about mass mobilization under the rival banners of socialism and fascism, and a fear that liberal politics based on individual interest could not contain febrile populations. For Annie Besant, the Irish-born Indian anti-colonialist, Theosophist, and ex-socialist, and for Charles Frederick Weller, an American internationalist, M.K. Gandhi’s spiritual politics represented a seductive alternative to liberal orthodoxy that had to be emulated and surpassed. Whereas Besant commissioned an ashram in suburban Bombay to elaborate a substitute for Gandhian askesis, Weller, working with the Chicago architect Marion Mahony, developed a commune in rural New Hampshire where pacifists translated Gandhian non-violence into a Christian idiom. Examining real estate records, unpublished correspondence, and journals published in these communities, the paper tracks the use of inventive translations and orthography to produce commensurability across diverse urban forms and ethical traditions.
Shiben Banerji is Assistant Professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His research uncovers the global provenance of American urbanism, analyzing the imbrication of urban design in the critique of political and economic liberalism. He is currently pursuing this theme through two book projects. The first, titled Lineages of the Global City, follows the Chicago architects Marion Mahony and Walter Burley Griffin across the mid-Western United States, Australia, and India between 1895 and 1949 to uncover theories of the city as a non-nationalist alternative to empire. The second project, tentatively titled In the Shadow of Sovereignty, examines the formative influence that experiments in communitarian living had on legal reasoning in the United States.
For over a decade, Prof. Banerji has been actively involved in formulating new ways for government agencies and NGOs to respond to contending demands for justice within Indian cities, first in his role as the Associate Director of the Urban Design Research Institute in Mumbai and more recently as a Research Fellow in the MIT Urbanization Laboratory.
Prof. Banerji holds a BA in Architecture from Columbia University; A Master’s in City Planning, and PhD in History and Theory of Architecture, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge. He co-edited Landscape + Urbanism: Looking Around the Bay in Mumbai (with Alan Berger and Rahul Mehrotra).
CANCELED:  Monday, April 20
A talk by Cynthia Talbot
"Discerning Martial Sentiments in Rajput Histories"
Time:  4:15pm-5:45pm
Location:   Knox Hall, Room 208
Abstract:  In this talk, Cynthia Talbot will explore the utility a history-of-emotions approach to the study of seventeenth-century Rajput histories.  These texts praising the past accomplishments of a warrior lineage or the recent exploits of an individual hero are restricted in their emotional range, by modern standards.  Instead, they propagate martial sentiments such as honor, loyalty, and the glory of dying in battle.  Drawing on two or three case studies, Talbot will discuss how we might best analyze the emotional dispositions found in warrior texts.
Cynthia Talbot is a Professor in the Department of History at the University of Texas at Austin.
She earned her PhD at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  Her research interests include the social and cultural history of medieval and early modern India (ca. 1000-1750); historiography and historical memories, Hindu-Muslim relations; emotional regimes of Indian warrior cultures. 
Professor Talbot is the author of Precolonial India in Practice: Society, Region, and Identity in Medieval Andhra (Oxford University Press, 2001); co-author, with Catherine B. Asher, of India Before Europe (Cambridge University Press, 2006); and editor of Knowing India: Colonial and Modern Constructions of the Past (Yoda Press, 2011). Her latest book is The Last Hindu Emperor: Prithviraj Chauhan and the Indian Past, 1200-2000 (Cambridge University Press, 2016), which was awarded the 2018 A.K. Coomaraswamy Award from the Association for Asian Studies.