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: [email protected].
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.
Monday, January 28, 2019
A talk by J. Barton Scott
From Insult to Injury: The Indian Penal Code and the Governance of Religious Feelings”
Time:  2:15pm - 3:45pm
Location:   Knox Hall, Room 208
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 (2016) and the co-editor, with Brannon Ingram, of Imagining the Public in Modern South Asia (2016). He is currently writing a book called Slandering the Sacred: Law, Media, and Religious Affect in Colonial India.
Thursday, January 31, 2019
A talk by Prachi Deshpande
“Words as Archives: Locating the modern South Asian ‘Vernaculars’ in History”
Time:  4:00pm – 6:00pm
Location:   Fayerweather Hall, Room 413
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.
Monday, February 4, 2019
A talk by Veena Talwar Oldenburg
"The Audacity of Gurgaon: From Mythic Village to Millennium City"
Time:  4:15-5:45pm
Location:   Knox Hall, Room 208
Veena Talwar Oldenburg is Professor Emerita 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).   She is perhaps best known for her article  on the courtesans of Lucknow.."Lifestyle as Resistance: The Case of the Courtesans of Lucknow," first published in 1990 and reprinted in anthologies and scholarly journals. Her most recent publication is Gurgaon: From Mythic Village to Millennium City (2018).
Friday, February 8, 2019
An Invitation to View the Exhibition
"India's French Connection: Indian Artists in France"
Time:  5:30pm - 7:30pm
Location:  Delhi Art Gallery, The Fuller Building, Suite 708, 41 East 57th Street at Madison Avenue
Hosted by the Delhi Art Gallery in collaboration with the South Asia Institute
Save the date: a private viewing of the Delhi Art Gallery's exhibition, "India's French Connection: Indian Artists in France." Among the artists whose remarkable work is exhibited in the gallery are S.H. Raza, Akbar Padamsee, Nalini Malani, Zarina Hashmi, Anjolie Ela Menon, Krishna Reddy, and many others.
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:
Monday, February 11, 2019
A talk by Rosinka Chaudhuri
“Large cabbages and fine blue indigo: Debating Free Trade and Colonization in Calcutta”
Time:  4:15-5:45pm
Location:   Knox Hall, Room 208
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.
Tuesday, February 19, 2019
A panel discussion on
“Nonhuman Empire and Its Afterlives”
Parama Roy (University of California, Davis, English)
Naisargi Dave (University of Toronto, Anthropology)
Ezra Rashkow (Montclair State University, History)
Time:  4:00pm – 6:00pm
Location:  Common Room, Heyman Center, East Campus
Directions to the Heyman Center:  <>
Organized and moderated by Rajbir Judge, Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at IRCPL
Co-sponsored by the Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life and the South Asia Institute
The panel will examine the various linkages between South Asia and the nonhuman. The nonhuman–whether animal, vegetal, telluric/elemental/mineral/topographical, extra-terrestrial, monstrous, or spectral—has called into question colonial and postcolonial imaginative circuits, political formations, and bodily registers, creating new forms of ethical engagement and analysis. These papers continue this important inquiry and, through a range of methods, explore how the non-human, in its questioning and surpassing of given forms, helps us to grasp as well as unravel the coordinates that structure(d) empire and its afterlives.
Thursday, February 21, 2019
A talk by Radhika Mongia on her new book,
Indian Migration and Empire: A Colonial Genealogy of the Modern State
Time:  4:00pm – 6:00pm
Location: Fayerweather Hall, Room 413
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: Recent years have witnessed an increased attention to specifying the characteristics of the colonial state, largely focused on outlining its distinctiveness. Two epistemological frames subtend most inquiries: first, replicating the Weberian view that the state is a territorially circumscribed entity, analyses of the state are also similarly circumscribed. Second, if implicitly, the normative horizon of the inquiries is the European modern state. While recognizing the value and, oftentimes, the necessity of studies conceived in territorially delimited terms, this presentation will suggest ways to address the coproduction of the coeval formations of colonial state and the modern state. Through an assessment of state control of colonial Indian migration, I address how important features of historical state formation are obscured when analyses assume a presentist territorial closure, that modern elements are embedded in the colonial state form, and that a colonial dimension is an integral aspect of the modern state form, globally.

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).
Monday, February 25, 2019
A discussion with Menaka Guruswamy and Arundhati Katju
“Overcoming Section 377: The Decriminalization of Homosexuality and the Indian Supreme Court”
Time:  4:15-5:45pm
Location:   Knox Hall, Room 208
Menaka Guruswamy and Arundhati Katju were the prime architects of a creative, multi-year advocacy campaign that resulted in the Indian Supreme Court’s landmark decision on September 6, 2018, which overturned Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, a colonial-era law dating to 1860, which criminalized “carnal intercourse against the order of nature.”  An historic legal victory, it has been hailed as a giant step for LGBTQ rights in India. 
Dr. Menaka Guruswamy is the B. R Ambedkar Research Scholar and a Lecturer in Law at the Columbia Law School, 2017-19.  Dr. Guruswamy was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, a Gammon Fellow at Harvard Law School, and a gold medalist from the National Law School of India. She has law degrees from all three schools, with a Doctor of Philosophy in Law (D. Phil.) from Oxford University. She has been Visiting Faculty at Yale Law School, New York University School of Law, and a fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin/Institute of Advanced Studies, Berlin.
Dr. Guruswamy practices law at the Supreme Court of India, and has worked at the Office of the Attorney General of India. She has practiced law in New York, as an associate at Davis Polk & Wardwell, and has advised the United Nations Development Fund, and United Nations Children’s Fund, on various aspects of International Human Rights Law.  Among other cases, she successfully represented a group of retired civil servants in a constitutional case that brought reform of public administration and the bureaucracy in the country; has successfully defended federal legislation that mandates that all private schools admit disadvantaged children; and litigated successfully against Salwa Judum—state sponsored vigilante groups in Chhattisgarh; and is amicus curiae appointed by the Supreme Court in a case concerning 1,528 alleged extra-judicial killings by security personnel in the state of Manipur.
Arundhati Katju is an Indian lawyer with over thirteen years’ experience in Indian trial and appellate courts. Heading her own law offices since 2011, Arundhati has a robust white collar defense and commercial litigation practice. She regularly acts as a barrister for leading Indian law firms, having represented clients in India, Germany, Singapore and the US on corruption, and defense procurement cases. She has advised India’s leading public university, prosecuted pollution complaints on behalf of the State pollution regulator and has been appointed amicus curiae to assist the Delhi High Court on numerous occasions.  Arundhati was a public defender with the Delhi High Court Legal Services Committee, India’s top legal aid program, for over three years. In this role, she argued nearly 100 appellate cases before the Delhi High Court. Her pro bono work includes representing child sexual abuse survivors in cases against their abusers.
Arundhati holds a BA LLB (Hons.) degree from the National Law School of India University, and an LLM from Columbia Law School, where she was a Human Rights Fellow (2016-17), James Kent Scholar, and Public Interest Honoree. She has taught white collar crime law at the National Law University, Delhi, and worked with India’s National Commission for Protection of Child Rights to draft the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.  Currently, she is pursuing a J.S.D. degree at the Columbia Law School. Her doctoral project, “From Criminal Tribe to Sexual Citizen: Creating Identities through Colonial Law, Constitutional Rights, and Global Human Rights Movements” focuses on the genealogy of sexual, criminal and constitutional identities in South Asia through the colonial, independence, and post-liberalization periods.
Friday, March 8
Film Screening of “Manto”
(2018, 112 minutes, in Hindi and Urdu with English subtitles)
Followed by a Discussion with director Nandita Das
Time:  5:45pm - 9:00pm
Location:   Milbank Chapel, Zankel Hall
525 West 120th Street
Teachers College
Directions and Map of Teachers College: <>
Organized by the SIPA South Asia Assocation (SAA)
Co-sponsored by DISHA at Teachers College, the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society and the South Asia Institute
Manto is a film biography of Saadat Hasan Manto, written and directed by Nandita Das, focusing on his life in Bombay before independence, and in Lahore after partition.  The film includes dramatizations of five of his short stories.  A “prelude” short film was produced in 2017, “In Defense of Freedo” and can be viewed on You Tube at <>.  Manto premiered in May 2018 in India, and was selected for screening for the Un Certain Regard prize competition at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.
Nandita Das has acted in over 30 feature films, including critically acclaimed performances in the films Fire, Earth, Bawander, and Before the Rains. Firaaq, her directorial debut feature film, traveled to over 50 festivals, and won over 20 festival awards. In 2008, the French Government conferred her with the Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters (Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres).  Nandita Das did her BA at Delhi University and earned a Masters from the Delhi School of Social Work.  She has worked with various NGOs as an advocate for issues of social justice, especially those of women, children and the marginalised communities, through various platforms.  
Monday, March 25, 2019
A talk by Sudipta Sen
"Ganga as Imperial Icon:  Warfare, Spoliation and the Practices of Indian History"
Time:  4:15-5:45pm
Location:   Knox Hall, Room 208
Co-sponsored by the Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life and the South Asia Institute
Abstract:  This talk focuses on the spoliation and seizure of objects as emblems of sovereignty across the valley of the Ganges in India from late antiquity across the longue durée, including desecration of temples and looting of idols, as suggestive points of departure for a history of the seizure and borrowing of images, texts and emblems from bygone or vanquished regimes. It discusses how the valley emerged as the political heartland and theatre of warfare in the subcontinent, redefining the geographical reach of the ‘middle-country’, setting the context for the culmination of an embattled history in which the Ganga, along with its tributary Yamuna, became a guardian deity and imperial icon essential to the practices of warfare, spoliation, patronage and kingship.
Sudipta Sen, Professor of History and Director of the Middle East/South Asia Studies Program, University of California, Davis, is a historian of late Mughal and early British India and the British Empire. He graduated from Presidency College, Calcutta, with BA (Honors) in History, followed by an MA is Modern History from Calcutta University. He earned his second MA in Social Sciences, and was awarded a PhD in History with Distinction, from the University of Chicago. Sen has taught at Beloit College, University of California, Berkeley, and Syracuse University. A former Fulbright-Hays Faculty Research fellow and Senior Fellow at the National Endowment for the Humanities, he won the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Award for his contribution to research and teaching at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University. His work has largely focused on the early history of British expansion in India. He is the author of 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). His latest book Ganges: The Many Pasts of an Indian River (2018) is an exploration of the idea of a cosmic, universal river at the interstices of myth, historical geography and ecology.
Wednesday, March 27, 2019
“Art in Contested Political and Cultural Terrains, Asia”
A panel discussion featuring:
MC Kash, Hip-hop singer from Kashmir
Tenzing Rigdol, Painter, poet, visual artist from Tibet
Maria Madeira, Painter, visual artist from Timor-Leste
Seckon Leang, Painter, performer and visual artist from Cambodia
Time:  6:30pm – 8:00PM
Location:  Seminar Room 1, 2nd floor, Faculty House, East Campus
Directions and Map:
Organized by the Committee on Global Thought
Co-sponsored by the Modern Tibetan Studies Program, the New York Southeast Asia Network,  the South Asia Institute, the Undergraduate Committee on Global Thought, and the Weatherhead East Asian Institute.
Registration for this event is required to attend.  To register, and for full information, visit
Excessive military presence of the state in various regions of Asia has led to protracted conflicts, violence and resistance. Four artists from such conflict-laden regions—Kashmir, Tibet, Timor Leste, and Cambodia—will be at Columbia University to discuss the role of the arts in addressing the issues of identity, ethnicity, religious beliefs, and displacement in militarized societies. Through the rich lenses of rap music, art installations, and painting, the artists will highlight the special role of arts as a potent means to maintain historical identity, create shared memory, develop effective protest strategies, and help with healing processes against the backdrop of militarized regimes.
Held as part of the “Politics of Visual Arts” research project of the Committee on Global Thought, this panel discussion with artists will be moderated by Vishakha N. Desai, project leader and Committee Vice Chair. The artists’ visit is made possible through the support of the Association for Asian Studies and Asian Cultural Council.
Saturday, March 30, 2019
Annual Hindi-Urdu workshop
“MIRAJI and MUKTIBODH: Toward a 'Progressive' Modernism?”
Time:  10:00am – 3:30pm
Location:   Knox Hall, Room 208
Street Address:  606 West 122nd Street, between Broadway and Claremont
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. To register for the the workshop,and additional information, visit the Hindi-Urdu Workshop website:
Tuesday, April 2, 2019
A discussion with
Prabhat Patnaik and Amartya Sen
“India at the Crossroads”
Time:  6:30pm - 8:00pm
Location:  Davis Auditorium, Shapiro Hall, Upper Campus
Directions to the Morningside Heights Campus:
Co-sponsored by the Committee on Global Thought, the Heyman Center for the Humanities, and the South Asia Institute
Prabhat Patnaik held the Sukhamoy Chakravarty Chair of Planning and Development at the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning (CESP) in the School of Social Sciences at Jawaharlal Nehru University at the time of his retirement in 2010. He earned his D. Phil. at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar and taught at the University of Cambridge before joining CESP. He served as Vice-Chairman of the Planning Board of Kerala from 2006-2011. His research interests include the limits of neoliberal economic policies, Marxist economics, and theory of the value of money. His publications include Retreat to Unfreedom: Essays on the Emerging World Order (2003); The Value of Money (2008) and Re-Envisioning Socialism (2011). He is the editor of Social Scientist, the journal of the Indian School of Social Sciences, New Delhi.
Amartya Sen is Thomas W. Lamont University Professor, and Professor of Economics and Philosophy, at Harvard University. He was until 2004 the Master of Trinity College, Cambridge. Sen earlier held appointments at Jadavpur University Calcutta, the Delhi School of Economics, the London School of Economics, and Oxford University. His research has ranged over social choice theory, economic theory, ethics and political philosophy, welfare economics, theory of measurement, decision theory, development economics, public health, and gender studies. Among the awards he has received are the "Bharat Ratn," awarded by the President of India); the Agnelli International Prize in Ethics; the Edinburgh Medal; the Brazilian Ordem do Merito Cientifico; the Eisenhower Medal; the Legion of Honour (France); Honorary Companion of Honour (UK); the George C. Marshall Award (US); the National Humanities Medal (US); and the Nobel Prize in Economics.
Monday, April 22
A talk by Jonardon Ganeri
“Virtual subjects, fugitive selves:
Simulations of subjectivity in Fernando Pessoa’s philosophy of self”
Time:  5:30pm - 7:00pm
Location:  Common Room, Heyman Center for the Humanities, East Campus
Directions to the Heyman Center:
Organized by the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society
Co-sponsored by the South Asia Institute
Abstract: Fernando Pessoa has become many things to many people in the years that have passed since his untimely death in 1935. For some he is simply the greatest poet of the 20th century, certainly in Portuguese and arguably more widely. For others he has gradually emerged as a forgotten voice in 20th century modernism. And yet Pessoa was also a philosopher, and it is only very recently that the philosophical importance of his work has begun to attract the attention it deserves. His heteronymic work, decisively breaking with the conventional strictures of systematic philosophical writing, is a profound and exquisite exploration in the philosophy of self. I will demonstrate the extraordinary explanatory power of Pessoa’s theory by applying it to the analysis of some of the trickiest and most puzzling problems about the self to have appeared in the global history of philosophy. It will turn out that we shall be able to extend Pessoa’s philosophy of self in ways even he did not imagine.
Jonardon Ganeri is a philosopher whose work draws on a variety of philosophical traditions to construct new positions in the philosophy of mind, metaphysics and epistemology. His publications include Attention, Not Self (2018); The Oxford Handbook of Indian Philosophy (2017); The Lost Age of Reason: Philosophy in Early Modern India 1450-1700 (2014); The Self: Naturalism, Consciousness, and the First-Person Stance (2012) ; The Concealed Art of the Soul: Theories of Self and Practices of Truth in Indian Ethics and Epistemology (2007);  and Semantic Powers: Meaning and the Means of Knowing in Classical Indian Philosophy (1998). He joined the Fellowship of the British Academy in 2015, and won the Infosys Prize in the Humanities the same year, the first philosopher to do so.
Tuesday, April 23, 2019
IRCPL Rethinking Public Religion Lecture Series
A talk by William Mazzarella
"Populism as Political Theology:  An Anthropological Perspective"
Time:  4:00pm – 6:00pm
Location: Sheldon Scheps Memorial Library, Department of Anthropology
Schermerhorn Extension, Upper Campus

Co-sponsored by the Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life and the South Asia Institute

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.