Spring 2019 Calendar of Events

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
Wednesday, December 22 - Monday, January 21:  University Winter Recess
Monday, January 28
A talk by J. Barton Scott
From Insult to Injury: The Indian Penal Code and the Governance of Religious Feelings”
Abstract:  In 1927, a new law on religion was added to the Indian Penal Code. Section 295-A, which criminalizes words and images that “outrage the religious feelings of any class,” was designed to resolve a crisis raging around the Rangila Rasul, a 1924 tract that lambasted the Prophet Muhammad. The legislators who framed the law saw it as, at best, a necessary evil. They predicted, with uncanny accuracy, that it would later be used to restrict free speech and scholarly research about religion. Why, then, was the law framed as it was? This talk answers that question by situating 295-A in a historical context where print media and affect went hand in hand and where both were often connected to “sacred personalities” —men like the Prophet and Swami Dayananda Saraswati. By tracing the rise and fall of a proposed 298-A, which would have protected such “holy personages,” and reading 295-A against this failed law, I show how 295-A enshrined into law a particularly impersonal species of affect and of religion. 
J. Barton Scott is Assistant Professor of Historical Studies and the Study of religion at the University of Toronto. He is the author of Spiritual Despots: Modern Hinduism and the Genealogies of Self-Rule and the co-editor of Imagining the Public in Modern South Asia. He is currently writing a book called Slandering the Sacred: Law, Media, and Religious Affect in Colonial India.
Time:  2:15pm - 3:45pm
Location:   Knox Hall, Room 208
Thursday, January 31
A talk by Prachi Deshpande
“Words as Archives: Locating the modern South Asian ‘Vernaculars’ in History”
Organized by the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society
Co-sponsored by the South Asia Institute, Center for International History, and the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies
Abstract:  Linguistic modernization in the nineteenth century prompted a new interest in the pasts and the futures of South Asian regional languages. Within the framework of language families and historical grammar, etymology – tracing the origin and transformation of words – became a critical methodological tool of historical exploration. Histories of languages also became intertwined with the histories of their speakers and the regions in which they were primarily spoken. This paper examines writings on the history of the Marathi language in western India, focusing on ways in which etymology was deployed to characterize Marathi as a modern deshabhasha with a deep social and geographic history. Marathi’s relationship with other languages like Sanskrit on the one hand, and Tamil and Kannada on the other was a critical question in this context, and formed part of wider regional debates over caste and regional culture. These linkages between language, place and people, and the enmeshing of linguistic, social and cultural histories, the paper argues, have been critical to the nature of Marathi modernization, and its importance and viability as a language of mass education, media and regional politics in the later half of the twentieth century.
Prachi Deshpande is a Fellow in History at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta.  She earned her PhD at Tufts University.  She has taught at University of California, Berkeley; Rutgers University; and Colorado State University, Fort Collins.  Her research interests cover language and modernity; script and language; multi-linguality; cultures of historiography; memory; translation; scribal cultures, Maratha states; 19th and 20th century western India; and Marathi literature and culture. Dr. Deshpande is the author of Creative Pasts: Historical Memory and Identity in Western India, 1700-1960 (2007). She is currently working on a book on Marathi language practices, especially scribal writing in the cursive Modi script, from the eighteenth through the twentieth centuries.
Time:  4:00pm – 6:00pm
Location:   Fayerweather Hall, Room 413
Map and directions to Morningside Campus: https://www.barnard.edu/about/visit
Monday, February 4
A talk by Veena Talwar Oldenburg on her new book,
Gurgaon: From Mythic Village to Millennium City
Veena Talwar Oldenburg is a Professor of History at Baruch College and the CUNY Graduate Center.  She earned her Ph. D. in History from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and has taught at Columbia University and Sarah Lawrence College.  She has been the recipient of senior research fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, American Institute of Indian Studies, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, and the American Philosophical Society for Useful Knowledge.
Among her publications is her work on British colonial urbanization, The Making of Colonial Lucknow, 1856-77 (1984, 1990)  Dowry Murder: The Imperial Origins of a Cultural Crime (2001), which combines her interest in colonial history, anthropology, and the politics of gender, and was issued in a popular version, entitled Dowry Murder: Reinvestigating a Cultural Whodunit (2010);  and an edited volume,  Shaam e Avadh: Writings on Lucknow (2007).  Her most recent publication is Gurgaon: From Mythic Village to Millennium City (2018).
Time:  4:15-5:45pm
Location:   Knox Hall, Room 208
Friday-Saturday February 8-9, 2019
The International Conference on Protection and Accountability in Burma
Featuring a Keynote address by lawyer, diplomat and human rights advocate
Radhika Coomaraswamy
Organized by Global Cultural Studies and the Free Rohingya Coalition
Co-sponsored by the Institute for the Study of Human Rights, South Asia Institute (Columbia University), and The Consortium for Critical Interdisciplinary Studies (Barnard College)
About the Conference: Against the backdrop of the stalled efforts at repatriating Rohingyas from Bangladesh to their country of origin, Myanmar, the conference is designed to call world’s attention to, and educate the international public at large about, the twofold need of protection and accountability which Rohingya genocide survivors and other ethnic and religious minorities such as Kachin, Shan, Karen, Myanmar Muslims, etc. demand and deserve. To that end, the conference brings together leading Rohingya campaigners, renowned genocide scholars, engaged international law practitioners, UN officials, and international friends of Rohingyas.
Friday:  9:00am – 5:00pm
Saturday:  9:00am – 1:30pm
Location:  James Room, Barnard Hall, 4th Floor, 3009 Broadway
Entrance at 117th Street and Broadway
Map and directions to Morningside Campus and Barnard College: <https://www.barnard.edu/about/visit>
Monday, February 11:
A talk by Rosinka Chaudhuri
“Large cabbages and fine blue indigo”: Debating Free Trade and Colonization in Calcutta”
Co-sponsored by the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society.
Abstract:  This talk returns to the scene of excitement that comprised the topic labelled ‘On the Colonization of India’ in the newspapers and journals of 1829, focusing tightly on this issue of ‘colonization’ alone, exploring the arguments for and against free trade in the run up to the renewal of the East India Company’s charter in 1833 as they unfolded in Calcutta. The objective is to gesture toward the complexity and referential instability of the archives as they are used in historical research, and more broadly, to read the moment as it took place in Calcutta in 1829 without large generalizations from the vantage point of historical narratives of empire, free trade, or the Indian ‘renaissance’, emphasizing instead local perspectives that have not been looked at so far.  As a result of concentrating on the local scene as the debate on colonization played itself out in the context of Calcutta, an alternative explanation is attempted of the different interests which, while upholding a basic faith in the desirability of British rule, were ranged in this period in the form of unstable alliances for and against Company monopoly and Company rule.
Rosinka Chaudhuri is Professor of Cultural Studies and Director of the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta (CSSSC). She earned a D.Phil at the University of Oxford and was the inaugural Mellon Professor of the Global South at Oxford, 2017-18.  Prof. Chaudhuri’s publications include Gentlemen Poets in Colonial Bengal: Emergent Nationalism and the Orientalist Project (2002), Freedom and Beef-Steaks: Colonial Calcutta Culture (2012) and The Literary Thing: History, Poetry and the Making of a Modern Literary Culture (2013), and  A History of Indian Poetry in English  (2016).  Her edited publications include: Derozio, Poet of India: A Definitive Edition (2008), and, with Elleke Boehmer, The Indian Postcolonial (2010), and An Acre of Green Grass: English Writings of Buddhadeva Bose (2008).  She translated the complete text of the letters Rabindranath Tagore wrote his niece Indira Debi as a young man, entitled, Letters from a Young Poet (1887-94) (2014), which received an Honorable Mention in the category A.K. Ramanujan Prize for Translation at the Association for Asian Studies Book Prizes in 2016.
Time:  4:15-5:45pm
Location:   Knox Hall, Room 208
Thursday, February 21
A talk by Radhika Mongia on her new book,
Indian Migration and Empire: A Colonial Genealogy of the Modern State
Organized by the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society.
Co-sponsored by the South Asia Institute, Center for International History, and the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies
Radhika Mongia teaches in the Department of Sociology and the Graduate Programs in Sociology, Women's Studies, and Social and Political Thought at York University. Her research is situated at the intersection of history, law, and political theory and explores the makings of the global modern. She is the author of Indian Migration and Empire: A Colonial Genealogy of the Modern State (2018).
Time:  4:00pm – 6:00pm
Location: Fayerweather Hall, Room 413
Map and directions to Morningside Campus: <https://www.barnard.edu/about/visit>
Monday, March 18 – Friday March 22:  Columbia University Spring Break
Monday, March 25
A talk by Sudipta Sen on his new book,
Ganges: The Many Pasts of an Indian River
Co-sponsored by the Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life
Sudipta Sen is Professor of History at the University of California, Davis.  He earned his Ph.D. in History at the University of Chicago.  A scholar of India and the British Empire, his work has focused on the early colonial history of British India. His most recent publication, released in December 2018, is entitled, Ganga: Many Pasts of an Indian River, and is an exploration of the idea of a cosmic, universal river at the interstices of myth, historical geography and ecology. He is the author of two books, Empire of Free Trade: The English East India Company and the Making of the Colonial Marketplace (1998) and Distant Sovereignty: National Imperialism and the Origins of British India (2002). He is currently working a  book length manuscript project: Empire of Law and Order: Crime, Punishment and Justice in Early British India, 1770-1830.
Time:  4:15-5:45pm
Location:   Knox Hall, Room 208
Saturday, April 6
Annual Hindi-Urdu workshop
“MIRAJI and MUKTIBODH: Toward a 'Progressive' Modernism?”
Co-sponsored by the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies; and the South Asia Institute
These two contemporaries, Sana'ullah Dar 'Miraji' (1912-1949) and Gajanan Madhav 'Muktibodh' (1917-1964), moved beyond the Progressives' political ideology, but did they ever entirely renounce its concerns? Both were controversial in their time; both had difficult lives and major health problems; both died young. Their attempts to grapple with the Progressive movement--and with their own Sufi/bhakti heritage--helped to shape modern literary movements in Urdu and Hindi.
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. Registration will be possible starting one month before the workshop, at the Hindi-Urdu Workshop website:
Time:  10:00am – 3:30pm
Location:   Knox Hall, Room 208
Street Address:  606 West 122nd Street, between Broadway and Claremont
Directions:  See < http://www.sai.columbia.edu/location-directions>
Thursday, April 11
A dance performance with
Janaki Patrik and the Kathak Ensemble
“We Sinful Women”
Post-performance discussion with Janaki Patrik and Gauri Viswanathan.
Co-Sponsored by the Dance Department, Barnard College
The dance performance “We Sinful Women” is based on eight Urdu poems from the book We Sinful Women, written by Pakistani poets Ishrat Aafreen, Kishwar Naheed, Zehra Nigah and Fahmida Riaz, published in Pakistan in 1990. It features original music composed by two-time Canadian Grammy winner and composer Kiran Ahluwalia.  “We Sinful Women” premiered in Spring 2018 at the Danspace Project, at St. Mark’s Church in Manhattan’s Lower East Side.
Janaki Patrik has been trained in Kathak classical North Indian dance, Hindustani vocal and tabla drumming at the Kathak Kendra, New Delhi, by several of North India’s greatest artists, Kathak Guru Pandit Birju Maharaj, vocalist Vidushi Siddheswari Devi and percussionist Sri Purushottam Das. As well, she has trained in music and dance idioms of her native United States. Janaki has studied classical Western flute, ballet, and at the Merce Cunningham Studio, modern dance.
Since poetry lies at the foundation of Kathak technique, repertoire and performance practice, Janaki has acquired facility in many of the major languages and dialects of North India, including Sanskrit, Hindi, Urdu, Braj and Maithili. She was awarded a Senior Research Fellowship from the Fulbright Foundation in 1988/89 to study the poetry of the Kathak dance repertoire, and an American Institute of Indian Studies Language Fellowship to study Hindi in India in 1994. She received her Master of Arts from Columbia University, The Department of Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures in May 2000, concluding her academic work with a translation and contextualization of an epic poem by the early twentieth-century Hindi poet Jayshankar Prasad.  While studying at Columbia, she first encountered We Sinful Women in a literature class taught by Prof. Gauri Viswanathan.\
Cofounder of The Kathak Ensemble & Friends in 1978, Janaki has performed both classical Kathak and her own choreography throughout the United States, Canada and India at venues including Lincoln Center and Asia Society in New York City, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, Premier Dance Theatre in Toronto, the Indian International Center in New Delhi, the Bindadin Maharaj Rangmanch in Lucknow, U.P., India and the Srinathji Mandir in Nathadwara, Rajasthan, India.
The Kathak Ensemble & Friends and its arts-in-education unit, CARAVAN, communicate the richness of Indian culture through its arts, most specifically through the classical North Indian dance style Kathak, its storytelling techniques (katha) and its accompanying Hindustani music. The Ensemble creates its own innovative repertoire, in which Kathak interacts with familiar American arts forms, demystifying unique details of Indian culture and engaging audience members in a journey of the imagination, revealing exotic other-ness as a variation on the common theme of human-ness.
Time:  7:00pm – 9:00pm
Location:  Miller-Glickstein Theater, The Diana Center, Barnard College, Columbia University
Map and directions to Morningside Campus and Barnard College: <https://www.barnard.edu/about/visit>
Tuesday, April 23
A talk by William Mazzarella
Title to be announced
Organized by the Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life
William T.S. Mazzarella is  Neukom Family Professor of Anthropology and of Social Sciences in the College; and Chair of the Anthropology Department, University of Chicago.  He earned his PhD at the University of California Berkeley.  Prof. Mazzarella writes and teaches on the political anthropology of mass publicity, critical theory, affect and aesthetics, ritual and performance, and the occult shadow of the modern. His books include Shoveling Smoke: Advertising and Globalization in Contemporary India (2003) and Censorium: Cinema and the Open Edge of Mass Publicity (2013). He was co-editor, with Raminder Kaur, of Censorship in South Asia: Cultural Regulation from Sedition to Seduction (2009), and editor of K D Katrak: Collected Poems (2016). His most recent book, The Mana of Mass Society (2017), brings classic anthropological writings on magical efficacy and charismatic agency into conversation with critical-theoretical takes on marketing, aesthetics, and the commodity image.
Time:  to be announced
Location: to be announced