2020-21 Events Calendar

 
Friday, October 30, 2020 at
A lecture by Pamila Gupta (University of the Witwatersrand)
“Of Sky, Water and Skin: Photographs from a Zanzibari Darkroom”
 
Time:  11:30am EST
 
Abstract:  For this paper, Gupta proposes to take up the concept and physical space of a photographic ‘darkroom’ located in Stone Town, Zanzibar to explore a set of images from the Capital Art Studio (1930-present) collection produced by Ranchhod Oza (1907-1993), and inherited by his son Rohit Oza (1950-). She employs a concept of darkness to read this visual archive differently and propose multiple ‘other lives’ for a set of images. First, by bringing this African photography collection to light, she is taking it out of the ‘dark rooms’ of history in one sense (Hayes 2017) and exposing it for interpretation. Second, she focuses her lens on the Oza physical darkroom located in the back of the studio on Kenyatta Road in Stone Town, where photographs of a range of Zanzibari persons were both developed and printed and that open up the darkroom as a place of photographic complexity and sensorium, and not just mechanical reproduction (Jansen 2018). Third, Gupta develops darkness as a form of beauty in certain images of sky, water and skin from this archive that showcase Zanzibar’s position as an Indian Ocean island and port city whilst under rule by the Omani Sultanate (1698-1964) and British Protectorate (1890-1963). Fourth, she conceptualizes the Zanzibar Revolution of 1964 as a time of visual darkness, which temporarily restricted photographic practices operating in Stone Town under the new Afro-Shirazi political party. Throughout her analysis, Gupta uses a framing of ‘darkness’ to interrogate photography as an aesthetic practice deeply immersed in materialities and metaphors of dark and light, black and white, and as integral to Zanzibar’s oceanic islandness.
 
This lecture is part of the year-long project Oceanic Imaginations, led by Mana Kia and Debashree Mukherjee (MESAAS) and sponsored by the Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life. Please register at ircpl.columbia.edu/calendar/of-sky-water-and-skin to receive the webinar link.
 
Friday, November 6, 2020
Understanding Systemic Racism:
"Race, Caste, and Democracy" with
Nico Slate (Carnegie Mellon University)
Moderated by Anupama Rao, ICLS Associate Director
 
Time: 12:30pm – 2:00pm
 
Organized by Prof. Lydia H. Liu, Director of ICLS
and Prof. Anupama Rao, Associate Director of ICLS
 
Sponsored by the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society
The Ambedkar Initiative at ICLS
 
About the Series:  The Institute for Comparative Literature and Society is committed to the goal of social justice through education and critical scholarship. To address the urgent need to combat racism in our times, we introduce a new 2020-2021 conversation/lecture series called “Understanding Systemic Racism” to reflect on the roots of racial discrimination, class oppression, colonial injustice, and other institutionalized oppression and sanction for violence against Black people and peoples of color. We stress the importance of opening the U.S. centered conversations surrounding race and identity toward a broad and comparative reckoning with racism and its violent histories around the world. This exciting webinar series is programmed in conjunction with our Ambedkar Initiative that links Columbia University with the anti-caste legacy of B. R. Ambedkar to reflect on his continued relevance to discussions about social justice, affirmative action, and democratic thinking in a global frame.
 
Friday, November 13
A Panel Discussion with Debashree Mukherjee (MESAAS)
On her new book,
Bombay Hustle: Making Movies in a Colonial City
Discussants:
William Elison (Religious Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara)
Neepa Majumdar (Film and Media Studies, University of Pittsburgh)
Gyan Prakash (History, Princeton)
 
Time:  10:00am – 11:45am

Advanced registration required to attend the event - Follow this link.  After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

William Elison is Associate Professor, Department of Religious Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara.  An ethnographer and historian, he works in the areas of South Asian Religions, Religion and Media, and Visual Culture. Much of his work has focused on the problem of mediation of subject positions by visual forms such as sacred icons and popular cinema.  His most recent publication is The Neighborhood of Gods: The Sacred and the Visible at the Margins of Mumbai (2018), which was part of the South Asia Across the Disciplines Series, a joint venture of the university presses at Berkeley, Chicago, and Columbia.  

Neepa Majumdar is an Associate Professor of English and Film and Media Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. Her research interests include star studies, film sound, South Asian early cinema, documentary film, and questions of film history and historiography.  Her book Wanted Cultured Ladies Only!: Female Stardom and Cinema in India, 1930s to 1950s (2009) won an Honorable Mention in the 2010 Best First Book Award of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies. Her essays have appeared in The Canadian Journal of Film StudiesSouth Asian Popular Culture, and Post Script, and various anthologies on sound in film and film analysis.

Debashree Mukherjee is Assistant Professor, Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies.  She is affiliated with Center for Comparative Media; Film & Media Program, School of the Arts; Institute for Research on Women, Gender, & Sexuality (IRWGS).  Prof. Mukherjee is a film historian and media theorist working across the fields of production studies, new materialisms, feminist film historiography, postcolonial studies, and South Asian studies. Her new book, Bombay Hustle: Making Movies in a Colonial City (Columbia University Press, 2020), presents a practice-oriented history of the consolidation of the Bombay film industry in the 1930s. The book investigates the material relations between cinema’s bodies, machines, aesthetics, and environments as they intersect with practices of modernity and freedom in late colonial India. 

Gyan Prakash is the Dayton-Stockton Professor of History, Princeton University. His general field of research and teaching interests concerns urban modernity, the colonial genealogies of modernity, and problems of postcolonial thought and politics.  Until the dissolution of the Subaltern Studies group in 2008, he was a member of its editorial collective, actively involved in the publication and other intellectual activities of this group of scholars. His most recent publication is Emergency Chronicles: Indira Gandhi and Democracy's Turning Point (2019)

 

Friday, November 13, 2020
Understanding Systemic Racism
The Third Annual Ambedkar Lecture by
Isabel Wilkerson, author of Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents
“Race, Caste and Social Justice”
 
Note:  Registration for this event is limited to Columbia/Barnard affiliates and will not be recorded.
 
Time:  6:30 pm – 8:00 pm
Online event registration will open on October 15th at 12PM EST
 
Organized by the Ambedkar Initiative at Columbia University and
Anupama Rao, Associate Director of ICLS
 
Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Isabel Wilkerson is the author of the New York Times’ bestseller The Warmth of Other Suns. She will be speaking on her latest book Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents.
 
The Ambedkar Initiative at ICLS is supported by the Office of EVP of Arts and Sciences; Barnard Provost’s Office; Office of the Deans of Humanities and Social Sciences; Institute for Research in African-American Studies; African American and African Diaspora Studies Department; Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life; Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies Department; Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race; CU Libraries; and CU Press
 
About the Series:  The Institute for Comparative Literature and Society is committed to the goal of social justice through education and critical scholarship. To address the urgent need to combat racism in our times, we introduce a new 2020-2021 conversation/lecture series called “Understanding Systemic Racism” to reflect on the roots of racial discrimination, class oppression, colonial injustice, and other institutionalized oppression and sanction for violence against Black people and peoples of color. We stress the importance of opening the U.S. centered conversations surrounding race and identity toward a broad and comparative reckoning with racism and its violent histories around the world. This exciting webinar series is programmed in conjunction with our Ambedkar Initiative that links Columbia University with the anti-caste legacy of B. R. Ambedkar to reflect on his continued relevance to discussions about social justice, affirmative action, and democratic thinking in a global frame.

 

Monday, November 23
A talk by Usha Iyer (Stanford)
“Corporealizing Colonial Modernities:
Dancer-Actresses as Choreographers of New Mobilities.”
 
Time:  4:15pm – 5:45pm
Registration details to be announced
 
Co-sponsored by the Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality.
 

Usha Iyer is Assistant Professor, Film and Media Studies, in the Department of Art and Art History, Stanford University.  Professor Iyer's research and teaching interests lie at the intersection of cinema, performance, and gender studies with a specific focus on stardom, body cultures, spectatorial desire and engagement, and the political economy of transnational media.  Her new book, Dancing Women: Choreographing Corporeal Histories of Popular Hindi Cinema (Oxford University Press, 2020), examines the role of dance in the construction of female stardom in popular Hindi cinema from the 1930s to the 1990s, theorizing and historicizing film dance, a staple “attraction” of the popular Indian film form, in relation to the construction of cinematic narratives, star bodies, and spectator-citizens.

 
Monday, January 25
A talk by Manan Ahmed (History)
On his new book,
The Loss of Hindustan: The Invention of India
 
Registration details to be announced
 

Manan Ahmed is Associate Professor in the History Department at Columbia University. He is an historian of South Asia and the littoral western Indian Ocean world from 1000-1800 CE. His areas of specialization include intellectual history in South and Southeast Asia; critical philosophy of history, colonial and anti-colonial thought. He is interested in how modern and pre-modern historical narratives create understandings of places, communities, and intellectual genealogies for their readers.

Prof. Ahmed’s second book, The Loss of Hindustan: The Invention of India (Harvard University Press, 2020), tells a history of the historians of the subcontinent from the tenth to the early twentieth century. The core of the book is the history Tarikh-i Firishta which was written by Muhammad Qasim Firishta (b. ca. 1570) in the Deccan in the early seventeenth century. Broadly, the book presents a concept-history of “Hindustan,” a political and historiographic category that was subsumed by the colonial project of creating British India and the subsequent polities of “Republic of India” and “Islamic Republic of Pakistan.”