Recent Events, 2018-19

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
Thursday, September 20
The Jaipur Literature Festival at New York
In association with the Asia Society and in partnership with the South Asia Institute
(Please check the Asia Society website link for complete panel descriptions, time changes and other updated information)
1:00 pm-1:30 pm:  Music by Zila Khan
1:30pm - 2:00pm: Inaugural Address, “Imagining Our Worlds”
Namita Gokhale, William Dalrymple, Ambassador Navtej Sarna and Sanjoy K. Roy
2:00 pm-2:40 pm: Panel 2, “Kohinoor: The Light of the World”
Ambassador Navtej Sarna, William Dalrymple, and Navina Haidar
2:50 pm-3:30 pm: Panel 3, “The Written Word”
Martin Puchner and William Dalrymple
3:40 pm-4:20 pm: Panel 4, “Medical Narratives: The Pulse of the Story”
Sharad Paul and Sandeep Jauhar
4:30 pm-5:10 pm: Panel 5, “Shakespeare: The Year of Lear”
Preti Taneja, James Shapiro, and Gauri Viswanathan
5:20 pm-6:00 pm:  Panel 6,“The Intelligence of Tradition”
Molly Emma Aitken, Navina Haidar, and William Dalrymple
6:10 pm-6:50 pm: Panel 7, "The City of Many Tongues”
Alia Malek, Kayhan Irani, Ross Perlin, Ruchira Gupta, and Kanishk Tharoor
7:00 pm-7:40 pm: Panel 8, “India Sutra”
Shashi Tharoor and Tunku Vardarajan
Time:  1:00pm – 8:00pm
Location:  Asia Society, 725 Park Avenue at 70th Street
Monday, September 24
South Asia Institute Welcome Reception
Time: 5:00pm – 7:00pm
Location:  207-208 Knox Hall,
606 West 122nd Street, between Broadway and Claremont
Monday, October 1
A talk by Rishabh Kumar (California State University at San Bernadino)
"The evolution and metamorphosis of Indian wealth 1860-2012”
Moderated by Suresh Naidu, Associate Professor of International and Public Affairs and Economics, SIPA

Abstract:   This research is about the metamorphoses of aggregate Indian wealth over fifteen politically transformative decades. Based on a comprehensive new database, I find that wealth-income ratios (i.e. the relative size of wealth accumulated in the past) have fluctuated tremendously in the twentieth century. In emerging India of the twenty first century, wealth is quickly attaining the same disproportionate size (relative to national income) that was seen during economic downturns in interwar colonial India. The long run U shaped trajectories of wealth-income ratios are reasonably explained by a mid-century asset price slowdown and the return of high land shares in national wealth. The implications for balanced growth models are not too sanguine because rising wealth-income ratios have become visible in most large economies, irrespective of their stage of capitalist development.

Rishabh Kumar is Assistant Professor of Economics, at California State University (San Bernardino), and previously worked as Economist for the New York City Department of Finance.  He earned his PhD in Economics at the New School University, an MA from Jawaharlal Nehru University, and BA from Delhi University.  His teaching and research fields include Political Economy, Economic and Social History, Macroeconomics, and Inequality.
Friday, October 5
"Songs for Krishna in Autumn:  Devotional Music from North India"
A concert with Aastha Goswami 
with Suryaksha Deshpande (tabla) and Anirban Chakraborty (harmonium)
Moderated by Jack Hawley (Religion)
Sponsored by the Institute for Religion and Culture in Public Life, the South Asia Institute, the Barnard Religion Department, and the Hindu Students Organization.
Free and open to the public.
Time:  6:00pm-7:30pm
Location:  Miller-Glickstein Theater, The Diana Center, Barnard College, Columbia University
Map and directions to Morningside Campus and Barnard College: <>
Tuesday, October 9
A talk by Kajri Jain (University of Toronto)
“When the Gods Emerge from the Temples:
Iconic Exhibition Value and Democratic Publicness in India”
Organized by the Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life under the auspices of the Luce project on
“Rethinking Public Religion in Africa and South Asia”; co-sponsored by the South Asia Institute
Abstract:  We are well acquainted with how the affective forces of modern politics depart from the normative ideals of bourgeois publicness. But rather than treating this departure as a binary opposition perhaps it’s more useful to recognize the layered coexistence of, and circuits between, these modalities of publicness, as when electoral politics strategically deploys both religious and secular idioms while also keeping distinctions between them in play. Religion, too, has taken on board the salience of the secular horizon, adopting its forms of value and authority alongside auratic canonical traditions. Revisiting the “oscillation” between cult and exhibition value in a footnote to Benjamin's Artwork Essay, this talk provides a glimpse into how successive new image technologies and genres of public iconopraxis in India, from neighbourhood festivals and printed icons to monumental concrete deities, have played a key role in melding the sensible idioms of democracy and religion.
Kajri Jain is Associate Professor of Indian Visual Culture and Contemporary Art at the University of Toronto. Her research focuses on images at the interface between religion, politics, and vernacular business cultures in India, and contemporary art. Prof. Jain is currently completing a book on the emergence of monumental iconic sculptures in post-liberalization India, Gods in the Time of Democracy. She is the author of Gods in the Bazaar: The Economies of Indian Calendar Art (2007). Recent essays have appeared in the edited volumes Places of Nature in Ecologies of Urbanism (2017), Art History and Emergency (2016), New Cultural Histories of India (2014), and the Cambridge Companion to Modern Indian Culture (2012).
Time: 4:10pm – 6:00pm
Location:  208 Knox Hall,
606 West 122nd Street, between Broadway and Claremont
Monday, October 15
A talk by Edward Simpson (SOAS, University of London)
“State Highway 31: A road trip through the heart of modern India”
Abstract: This talk follows the route of State Highway 31 through western Madhya Pradesh, central India. The research was part of a larger project looking at the ideas behind the production of infrastructure in South Asia. This journey takes us through landscapes of sex work and opium, some of the oldest nationalist networks in the country, and along the fault-lines of long-running tensions between local communities. The road was one of a series built as a public private partnership and, as such, speaks of the reconfiguration of state relations with private capital and business. Toll booths become places of company ethos, education and for the creation of new kinds of citizens. The nexus of government and private enterprise takes us on a dizzying journey through the world’s tax havens and onto the decks of luxury yachts. Exploring the broader political economy of the road and the organisation of institutions and travellers that sustain it encourages questions about the nature of governance and power in the country.
Edward Simpson is a Social Anthropologist and Director of the South Asia Institute at SOAS University of London. He is currently interested in the relationship between infrastructure, automobility and the global-sustainability agenda.  He is Principal Investigator on a five-year project funded by the European Research Council looking at infrastructure across South Asia, and undertaken in partnership with the Mumbai-based artists CAMP.  His recent publications include The political biography of an earthquake: Aftermath and amnesia in Gujarat India (2013), and the edited volumes The future of the rural world? India's villages 1950-2015, with Alice Tilche (2016); Society and history of Gujarat since 1800: A select bibliography of the English and European language sources (2011); and with Aparna Kapadia, The idea of Gujarat: History, ethnography and text (2010). 
Thursday-Friday, October 18-19
Inaugural Annual B.R. Ambedkar Lectures at Columbia
Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, one of Columbia University’s most distinguished alumni, was a political thinker and constitutional lawyer whose thought and activism shaped the world’s largest democracy. In 2018, the Inaugural B.R. Ambedkar Lectures have been planned as a series of two public events to recognize Ambedkar’s continuing relevance for social justice activism and democratic thought in a global frame.  
The B. R. Ambedkar Lectures are hosted by the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society;  and co-sponsored by the Office of the Executive Vice President for Arts & Science; Office of the Dean of Humanities, Arts & Sciences; Office of the Provost at Barnard College; Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought ; Institute for Research in African-American Studies; Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies; South Asia Instite
Thursday, October 18, 2018
“Global Ambedkar”
Etienne Balibar (French and Comparative Literature )
Nahum Chandler (University of California at Irvine)
Gopal Guru (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (University Professor, Columbia)
Moderated by: Debjani Ganguly (Virginia) and Anupama Rao (History and MESAAS)
Time: 6:30pm- 8:00pm
Location: James Room, Barnard Hall, entrance at 117th and Broadway
Friday, October 19, 2018
“Ambedkar Now”
A talk by journalist Sudipto Mondal of the Hindustan Times,
followed by a conversation with Gaiutra Bahadur, author of Coolie Woman.
Time: 6:30pm -8:30pm, followed by public reception
Location: Davis Auditorium, Shapiro Center, Morningside Upper Campus
Saturday, October 20
A Concert with Pandit Tejendra Narayan Majumdar (Sarod),
accompanied by Shri Nitin Mitta (Tabla)
Organized by the Columbia chapter of SPICMACAY.
Co-sponsored by the South Asia Institute, and the Engineering Graduate Students Council.
Pt. Tejendra Narayan Majumdar is one of the most renowned Sarod players of recent times. He received his initial training from Ustad Bahadur Khan and later studied under the legendary Ustad Ali Akbar Khan. His repertoire consists of a combination of DhrupadTantrakari, and Gayaki styles. He has performed all over the world and earned many accolades in his long journey.  Notable awards include the Indian Presidential Gold medal and the 2010 Grammy nomination for his album, "OM NAMOH NARAYANAY".
Shri Nitin Mitta is one of the most sought after Tabla players in the music world and has quickly established a reputation as an artist with a rare combination of technical virtuosity, spontaneity, clarity of tone, and sensitivity to melodic nuance. He has performed with several of India's celebrated classical musicians such as Pandit Jasraj, Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, Ustad Shahid Parvez, Ustad Nishat Khan and many more.
The concert is open and free to Columbia students, faculty, staff and alumni, and is subject to RSVP.
CUID is required for entry to Lerner Hall.
Collect your Eventbrite tickets here.
For further information, contact:
Time:  7:00pm –9:00pm
Location:  Room Arledge Auditorium, Lerner Hall
Thursday, October 25
A Symposium at the Asia Society
“The Progressive Genealogy: Art and Culture in Modern India”
An interdisciplinary collaboration between the Asia Society and the South Asia Institute
In conjunction with the Asia Society exhibition
(14 September 14, 2018 - 20 January 20, 2019)
Link to Symposium Agenda on Asia Society website.
11:00–11:15am:  Opening remarks
11:15am–12:45pm:  Panel I: The Progressive Artists’ Group: Creating Modern India
Zehra Jumabhoy, Associate Lecturer, Courtauld Institute of Art, London
Sonal Khullar, Associate Professor, Art History, University of Washington
Karin Zitzewitz, Associate Professor, South Asian Art, Michigan State University
Moderated by Boon Hui Tan, Vice President of Global Arts & Cultural Programs and Director of Asia Society Museum, New York
1:45–3:15pm:  Panel II:  The “Progressive” narratives in arts and sciences in New India
Sonali Perera, Associate Professor, English, Hunter College/CUNY
Debashree Mukherjee, Assistant Professor, Modern South Asian Studies (MESAAS)
Kavita Sivaramakrishnan, Associate Professor, Sociomedical Sciences, School of Public Health
Moderated by Gauri Viswanathan, Class of 1933 Professor in the Humanities, English and Comparative Literature; and Director, South Asia Institute
3:30–5:00pm: Panel III: The Legacy of the Progressives
Jitish Kallat, artist, Mumbai
Brinda Kumar, Assistant Curator, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Anupama Rao, Associate Professor of History and MESAAS
Moderated by Vishakha Desai, Senior Advisor for Global Affairs; Senior Research Scholar in Global Studies, Columbia
6:30pm – 8:00pm:  “The Progressive Genealogy: Art and Culture in Modern India” 
Keynote Address by Homi Bhabha (Harvard University)
Time:  11:00am – 8:00pm
Location:  Asia Society, 725 Park Avenue at 70th Street
To Register for the Symposium, or purchase tickets to the Keynote address,
Visit the “Symposium” page at the Asia Society webpage
Monday, October 29
A talk by Manu Goswami (New York University)
“‘The Communism of Intelligence': Early Communism in late Imperial India"
Manu Goswami is Associate Professor of History at New York University.  She earned her PhD at the University of Chicago. Her research and teaching center on nationalism and internationalism, political economy and the history of economic thought, social theory and historical methods. Her book, Producing India: From Colonial Economy to National Space was published in 2004 as the inaugural volume of an interdisciplinary book series, Chicago Studies in the Practices of Meaning. She is currently working on an intellectual and political history of colonial internationalisms during the interwar decades. Her longer-run research interests include the place and status of empire in the work of major classical and neo-classical economists during the nineteenth and twentieth century. She was a fellow in the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in 2010-2011.
Monday, November 5:  All Classes suspended
Tuesday, November 6:  University closed for Election Day
Thursday, November 8 – 6:15pm. 
A talk by Priya Jaikumar (University of Southern California)
“Globalization’s Histories Written in Cinematic Space”
Moderated by Debashree Mukherjee (MESAAS)
Abstract:  Conceiving of cinematic space as the tensile relationship between a film’s screen spaces and its social spaces, which together constitute the sites of cinema’s visual appearance and its institutional materialities, I propose that Bollywood’s backgrounds register the nation’s politico-economic transition with acuity. Cinema’s heterogeneous artifactual status as a regulated and profit-making commodity, technological apparatus, representational medium and employment opportunity links the changing look of contemporary Hindi cinema’s mise-en-scène to the current commodification of land and leisure, the technologization of environment, and the shifting social range of Bollywood’s professional workers in globalizing India.  The composition and appearance of a film’s background encodes larger socio-economic histories of India’s transition from quasi-socialist secularism to aggressive privatization, ethnocentrism, and the commodification of everyday life. Based on my conversations with industry professionals working on film locations and backgrounds in 2013, in the months leading up to a national election that put Narendra Modi in power, this talk illustrates a spatial film historiography that asks film historians to account for a politics and phenomenology of place.
Priya Jaikumar is Associate Professor, Division of Cinema and Media Studies, School of Cinematic Arts, at the University of Southern California. A historian and theorist of colonial and postcolonial cinemas, she has written on comparative modernities and aesthetics in film, critical theories of film history, place and space in cinema, film and cultural geography, and transnational feminism   She has taught at Syracuse University and has worked in India as a television and print journalist, with Business TV IndiaThe Indian Express, and The Economic Times.  She earned her PhD at Northwestern University, and MA from Ohio State, and her BA from Delhi University, with post-graduate work at the Indian Institute of Mass Communications.  She is the author of Cinema at the End of Empire: A Politics of Transition in Britain and India (2006), and the forthcoming Where Histories Reside: India as Filmed Space.  The former book was chosen by Duke University Press to be included in the open access “Knowledege Unlatched” program, which features over 1,000 full text books from university presses on the website of Open Access Publishing in European Networks (OAPEN).
Time:  6:00pm – 7:30pm
Location:  Room 208, Knox Hall
606 West 122nd Street, between Broadway and Claremont
Monday, November 12
A talk by author Sujatha Gidla
"Caste Oppression in India"
Summary:  More than 206 million people in India were born untouchable, with 500 million more belonging to low castes that are also oppressed under the caste system.  Caste is neither simply a bad idea nor an irrelevant remnant of ancient times. It has roots in the economic structure of contemporary India.  I will be discussing caste—a central question for the Indian left—in light of my experience as an untouchable from the state of Andhra Pradesh and one-time activist for the Radical Students’ Union, as well as the research I conducted for my book about my family history, Ants Among Elephants.
Sujatha Gidla is the author of Ants Among Elephants: An Untouchable Family and the Making of Modern India (2017), a widely praised memoir of her extended family. Ants Among Elephants was listed in the Top 10 Nonfiction Books of 2017 selected by the Wall Street Journal.  Her writing has appeared in the Oxford India Anthology of Telugu Dalit Writing (2016).  Sujatha Gidla earned an MSc in Physics at the Regional Engineering College, Warangal, India, and worked as a researcher in the Department of Applied Physics at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras.
Tuesday, November 13
A talk by Patrick Eisenlohr
“Atmospheric Citizenship: Sonic Movement and Public Religion in Shi’ite Mumbai”

Co-sponsored by the South Asia Institute and the Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life, as part of the "Rethinking Public Religion" Project

Abstract:  This talk will focus on the sonic dimensions of religious life and place-making in Mumbai, and its connections to a “right to the city” for people facing a precarious future. Muslim traders were among the original inhabitants of Bombay and played a crucial role in its rise to the imperial hub of the Indian Ocean, and finally a global city. In present-day Mumbai however, the great majority of Muslims are in very marginal positions, having been subject to violence as well as socio-economic exclusion and ghettoization. For the staging of claims to the city, public religious rituals and processions have long played very important roles in Mumbai. For Twelver Shi‘ite Muslims, they have constituted a chief means of marking certain areas as “Shia” and thus defending their right to be in and belong to the city in the face of an uncertain future. While soundscape is an established concept for the investigation of the sonic aspects of urban place-making, including its religious dimensions, Eisenlohr argues that an analytic of atmospheres is better suited to capture the powerful emotive dimensions of place-making through sonic performances. As an example, this talk addresses ritual performances and processions among Twelver Shi‘ite Muslims during the Islamic month of Muharram.
Patrick Eisenlohr is Professor of Anthropology, Chair of Society and Culture in Modern India at the University of Göttingen. He obtained a PhD from the University of Chicago and previously held positions at Washington University in St. Louis, New York University, and Utrecht University. He is the author of Little India:  Diaspora, Time and Ethnolinguistic Belonging in Hindu Mauritius (2006), and Sounding Islam: Voice, Media, and Sonic Atmospheres in an Indian Ocean World (2018). He has conducted research on transnational Hindu and Muslim networks in the Indian Ocean region, particularly between Mauritius and India, the relationships between religion, language, and media, the sonic dimensions of religion, the links between media practices and citizenship, as well as language and diaspora.
Time: 4:10 pm - 6:00 pm
Location:  Location:   Knox Hall, Room 208
Street Address:  606 West 122nd Street, between Broadway and Claremont
Wednesday - Friday, November 21, 22, and 23:  University closed for Thanksgiving Recess
Monday, November 26
A talk by Kavita Sivaramakrishnan (Mailman School of Public Health)
"Containing Toxicity, Creating Citizens:
The Boundaries of Bodies, Health and Public Life in India (1920-70)"

Author Abstract:  In this talk, I explore debates around cancer care and smoking in Calcutta, Madras and Bombay, the politics of regulating internal and external spaces, and will analyze the limits and challenges posed to the intertwined promise of political, medical, and technological modernities in late colonial-post-colonial India.

Kavita Sivaramakrishnan is Associate Professor, Sociomedical Sciences, Mailman School of Public Health, and an Affiliated Faculty with the History Department. She earned a BA at St. Stephen’s College, University of Delhi, and a BA at Trinity College, University of Cambridge, and her PhD at Jawaharlal Nehru University.  She was David Bell Research Fellow at the Center for Population Studies and Development Studies at Harvard University and was awarded the Balzan Fellowship for her work on social inequalities and health by University College London.
Prof. Sivaramakrishnan is a public health historian of South Asia with a focus on the politics of health, medicine and science in the global South. Her early research focused on the politics of ‘indigenous’ Ayurvedic medicine and its reconfiguring in a late colonial context in North India through claims and representations based on language and religion, published as Old Potions, New Bottles: Recasting Indigenous Medicine in Colonial Punjab"(2006). She has worked on social histories of epidemics and the role played by experts and scientific evidence, including the plague and its national and regional politics in South Asia. Her most recent research is on the global politics of aging, which culminated in her recent publication, As the World Ages: Rethinking a Demographic Crisis (2018).  Her current book project focuses on the history of consumption and disease risks in South Asia, tracing the transformation of bodies, metabolisms and minds in South Asia over the past century that have redrawn the map of South Asia’s epidemiological and social history. She is collaborating with David Jones (Harvard University) and writing a monograph on heart disease in India and the making of new networks of medical expertise; and works with Jennifer Manly on a research project on cultures of aging and cognitive decline in India and South Africa.