Utsav Lal, Raga and Jazz pianist and guitarist Alec Goldfarb
Chandrahas Choudhary, Krishnendu Ray, and Adam Platt in conversation with Ligaya Mishan
Our taste buds carry receptors of memory and food is an intangible trigger of feelings and emotions, internal states of the mind and body. The complex relationship between food, memory, and narrative has been invoked by writers in literature across the world. To most of us, the food that we associate with home is an essential part of our identity and cultural heritage. Novelist Chandrahas Choudhury, academic and scholar of food studies Krishnendu Ray alongside iconic food critics Adam Platt and Ligaya Mishan discuss the intersections of food, memory, and culture.
Neeraj Kaushal, Prajwal Parajuly, Zarrar Said, and Alia Malek in conversation with Ruchira Gupta
Presented by the South Asia Institute at Columbia University
In an age of immigrants and global movement, more and more people claim a multiplicity of coexisting identities. They seek better opportunities, flee from the horrors of war and politics, or seek refuge from natural calamities. The pain and suffering of dislocated communities are matched by rising decibels of nativist fervor. A panel of writers and thinkers looks at the forces of nationalism, the demographics and economics of human movement, as well as the personal interpretations and stories of the lands we call home.
Margo Jefferson, Yashica Dutt, and Sharmila Sen in conversation with Prajwal Parajuly
Variables of race and color, class and gender confront and mock the very idea of social justice. Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and critic Margo Jefferson is the author of Negroland, a landmark work on privilege, discrimination, and the fallacy of post-racial America. Sharmila Sen’s Not Quite Not White is a first-generation immigrant’s exploration of race and assimilation in the United States. New York-based Indian author and journalist Yashica Dutt’s memoir Coming Out as Dalit pushes us to confront the injustices of the Indian caste system. Together, they talk about these intersectionalities and share their experiences and convictions.
Priyamvada Natarajan introduced by journalist Sree Sreenivasan
Professor of Astronomy and Physics at Yale University, Priyamvada Natarajan is noted for her work in mapping dark matter, dark energy, and black holes, she has authored Mapping the Heavens: The Radical Scientific Ideas That Reveal the Cosmos. With an extraordinary gift for making abstract and complex scientific ideas accessible to general audiences, she speaks of the missing pieces of the puzzle in our understanding of black holes and how some of her early theories have recently been vindicated.
Manisha Koirala in conversation with Sanjoy K. Roy
Bollywood actor Manisha Koirala shares the highs and lows of her life, her career, relationships, and her battle with ovarian cancer. In conversation with Sanjoy K. Roy, Managing Director of Teamwork Arts, she speaks of the pressures of her film career, the life choices she was compelled to make, and how she redefined her priorities and regained a sense of balance and well-being. A no-holds-barred session about the emotional roller-coaster ride of Koirala’s life post-diagnosis, her learnings and inspirations, and the process of healing.
William Dalrymple introduced by Sanjoy K. Roy
In August 1765, the East India Company defeated the young Mughal emperor and forced him to set up in his richest provinces a new administration run by English merchants who collected taxes through means of a ruthless private army, what we would now call an act of involuntary privatization. The East India Company’s founding charter authorized it to “wage war” and it had always used violence to gain its ends. The creation of this new government marked the moment that the East India Company ceased to be a conventional international trading corporation dealing in silks and spices, and became something much more unusual: an aggressive colonial power in the guise of a multinational business. It had trained up a security force of around 200,000 men and had subdued an entire subcontinent, conquering first Bengal and finally, in 1803, the Mughal capital of Delhi itself. The Company’s reach stretched until almost all of India and was effectively ruled from a boardroom in London. The Anarchy charts how the Mughal Empire disintegrated and came to be replaced by a dangerously unregulated private company, the East India Company.
Works in progress include a book of essays on philosophical and literary concepts of vitalism and its relation to anthropological understandings of everyday life, titled “Waxing and Waning Life,” and a new anthropological monograph on urban poverty, mental health, drug addiction, and collective violence, set in the “resettlement colony” of Trilokpuri in East Delhi. This monograph grows out of a year of research he conducted over the past academic year, with grants from the Wenner-Gren Foundation and the American Institute of American Studies, based at the Department of Psychiatry, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS, Delhi). In collaboration with psychiatrists at AIIMS, he is in the process of creating a consortium for longitudinal research on issues of mental health and urban poverty."
Time: 4:10pm - 6:00pm
Location: Knox Hall, Room 208
Abstract: This lecture will look at two frameworks for situating the question of the secular in Pakistan and its diaspora. The first is exemplified by Rasheed Araeen, who has deployed “Islamicate” forms in his practice, along with his criticism of valorizing exoticized subjectivity and cultural difference. Araeen brings to the idea of “modern Islamic art” a persistent practice of self-critique and social engagement. By contrast, another framework has emerged in Pakistan during the recent decades, in which social concerns are seemingly peripheral to emphasis on repetitive practice. What are possible terms for evaluating these intensive formalist procedures? This paper will offer tentative lines of inquiry into these developments, informed by recent theoretical debates on secularism.
Debashree Mukherjee is Assistant Professor of film and media in the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies at Columbia University. She is currently completing a manuscript titled “Bombay Hustle: Making Movies in a Colonial City,” which provides a practice and practitioner-oriented history of the consolidation of the Bombay cine-ecology at a time of intense social, political, and economic flux in colonial India. The book is inspired by Debashree’s prior career in Mumbai’s film and television industries (2004-2007). Debashree edits the peer review journal, BioScope: South Asian Screen Studies, and has curated archival exhibitions of film ephemera and photographic objects. In Spring 2020, she will be based in Paris on a fellowship at the Institute of Ideas & Imagination, Reid Hall, where she begins work on a new project on the monsoon, media, and migration in the Indian Ocean region.
Abstract: Though historians are critical of unilinear and teleological notions of time, the form of reasoning that accompanies this time, contextual reasoning, remains dominant. This paper grapples with the problem of contextual reasoning by examining a central Sikh institution, Darbar Sahib in Amritsar, in the late 19th Century and its relation to colonial law. More specifically, this paper explores the colonial state’s violent attempt to control Sikh sites and institutions through Act XX of 1863, which created a foundational law for the management of religious endowments. But Darbar Sahib caused much trouble for the colonial state, as officials noted Darbar Sahib refused effective management and functioned as the threshold of colonial law. Unable to be situated within customary or secular law, colonial officials continually suspended the law at the site and explicitly produced Darbar Sahib as an exception that refused the state's contextualizing attempts. I examine both the reach and the absence of colonial law by considering how Sikhs became situated temporally and spatially within the colonial imagination.
Rajbir Singh Judge is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life with affiliations in the Department of Religion and the South Asia Institute at Columbia. He received his PhD in History at the University of California, Davis. His current project examines the ways in which Sikhism at the end of the 19th Century remained a generative site through which Sikhs and their diverse milieu in the Punjab contested not only British rule, but the very nature of sovereignty. More broadly, he specializes in the cultural and intellectual history of South Asia, with a particular emphasis on the Punjab. His most recent publications can be found in the Journal of the History of Sexuality and History & Theory.