Welcome to Committee on Southern Asian Studies

South Asia Anniversary Conference

SITES OF SOUTH ASIAN STUDIES APRIL 28-30, 2015

A Conference Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations and the 60th Anniversary of the Committee on Southern Asian Studies

The Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations is one of the earliest South Asia area studies centers in the United States. 2016 is also, not coincidentally, the sixtieth anniversary of the Committee on Southern Asian Studies (COSAS), a unique body that serves as an academic and institutional umbrella for all scholars working on Southern Asia at the University of Chicago. We take the occasion of these anniversaries to reflect collectively upon the relationship between area studies and the particular disciplines (Anthropology, History, Literature and Language, Music, Law, Business, Economics, Religious Studies, Philosophy, to name a few) in which a large and visible number of scholars at the University of Chicago carry out their research and teaching endeavors.

Upcoming Events

gender|publics|panics in the global South

A conference co-sponsored by the Center for International Studies and the Committee on Southern Asian Studies.

Dates: 
Thursday, May 5, 2016 (All day) to Friday, May 6, 2016 (All day)
Wilder House, The University of Chicago

South Asia Seminar Series: The Murderous Saint: Making Sense of the Life of Ra Lotsawa

Lecture by Bryan J. Cuevas

Tibet’s scandalous eleventh-century tantric master, monk, and translator of Buddhist scripture, Ra Lotsawa Dorjé Drak, is notorious for having killed through magical means more than a dozen of his rivals and others he perceived as antagonistic to his spiritual mission. How does tradition make sense of this murderous saint and why would the life of such a peculiar sort of Buddhist hero be considered worthy of celebration and memorialized in writing in an extravagant work of Tibetan namtar, an exemplary Tibetan Buddhist sacred biography? In my presentation these and other questions are on the table for discussion.

Dates: 
Thursday, May 5, 2016 - 4:30am
Foster 103

South Asia Seminar Series, Bryan J. Cuevas: “The Murderous Saint: Making Sense of The Life of Ra Lotsawa”

Tibet’s scandalous eleventh-century tantric master, monk, and translator of Buddhist scripture, Ra Lotsawa Dorjé Drak, is notorious for having killed through magical means more than a dozen of his rivals and others he perceived as antagonistic to his spiritual mission. How does tradition make sense of this murderous saint and why would the life of such a peculiar sort of Buddhist hero be considered worthy of celebration and memorialized in writing in an extravagant work of Tibetan namtar, an exemplary Tibetan Buddhist sacred biography? In my presentation these and other questions are on the table for discussion.

Dates: 
Thursday, May 5, 2016 - 4:30pm
Foster Hall 103

South Asia Music Ensemble featuring Ameera Nimjee

Join the South Asian Music Ensemble for its annual Spring event, featuring performances of classical and folk Indian dance and instrumental transitions from across the Indian subcontinent. Reception to follow.
Presented by the Department of Music and the Committee on Southern Asian Studies.

Dates: 
Saturday, May 7, 2016 - 7:30pm
Logan Center Performance Penthouse

Annual Swami Vivekananda Lecture

Annual Swami Vivekananda Lecture

Dates: 
Tuesday, May 10, 2016 (All day)

TAPSA Seminar: Breaking Form: The Urdu Medical Periodical & Its Readers

Lecture by Sabrina Datoo, PhD Candidate, History, University of Chicago

The Urdu medical periodical appeared as a new form for the circulation of medical knowledge in the middle of the nineteenth century. By the early twentieth century, these periodicals began to give voice to their readers through columns on medical advice. In so doing, they introduced the symptom to a broad public, as an object of scrutiny and a source of self-fashioning. This paper seeks to trace the voice of the ill reader as it moved out of the clinic and personal correspondence and into a public domain mediated by editors, medical specialists and other ill readers.

Dates: 
Thursday, May 12, 2016 - 4:30am
Foster 103

South Asia Seminar Series: “Customs, Norms, and Narratives: Exegetical Strategies for Reading the Mahāsāṅghika-lokottaravāda Bhikṣuṇī-vinaya Amy Langenberg”

Lecture given by Amy Langenberg.

How to “translate” texts across centuries is the historian’s conundrum. To what extent, for instance, can texts that mention nuns be read as evidence for a thriving ancient nuns’ community? This paper asks basic questions about exegetical strategies for reading the vinaya, a Buddhist literature vital to questions about women in early Buddhism. It proposes that we read the Mahāsāṅghika-lokottaravāda Bhikṣuṇī-vinaya and other vinaya texts in a flexible manner, using several interpretive approaches depending on the “facial expression” of the passage in question.

Dates: 
Thursday, May 19, 2016 - 4:30pm
Foster 103

Chicago Tamil Forum

The Chicago Tamil Forum is an annual two-day workshop for scholars working on modern Tamil Nadu to share their on-going, unpublished work. This year’s topic is “Politics of Media, Media of Politics." In addition to the workshop proper are two public events: (1) a memorial session of the workshop dedicated to the scholarship and legacy of Chicago Tamil Forum member, Chicago PhD (Anthropology, 2000), and dear colleague, John Bernard Bate (1960-2016) (Friday, May 20th, 2:45-4:20pm, Haskell 315), and (2) a screening of Nagappattinam: Waves from the Deep, a documentary about the plight of fisherman in post-Tsunami Tamil Nadu directed by Swarnavel Eswaran Pillai (Western Michigan University) (Friday, May 20th, 4:30-6:15pm, Foster 103).

A schedule and list of participants can be found here: Click for link. For more information, please contact Constantine V. Nakassis (cnakassi@uchicago.edu).

Dates: 
Friday, May 20, 2016 (All day) to Saturday, May 21, 2016 (All day)
Various Locations

Chicago Tamil Forum

The Chicago Tamil Forum is an annual two-day workshop for scholars working on modern Tamil Nadu to share their on-going, unpublished work. This year’s topic is “Politics of Media, Media of Politics." In addition to the workshop proper are two public events: (1) a memorial session of the workshop dedicated to the scholarship and legacy of Chicago Tamil Forum member, Chicago PhD (Anthropology, 2000), and dear colleague, John Bernard Bate (1960-2016) (Friday, May 20th, 2:45-4:20pm, Haskell 315), and (2) a screening of Nagappattinam: Waves from the Deep, a documentary about the plight of fisherman in post-Tsunami Tamil Nadu directed by Swarnavel Eswaran Pillai (Western Michigan University) (Friday, May 20th, 4:30-6:15pm, Foster 103). A schedule and list of participants can be found here: http://anthropology.uchicago.edu/resources/chicago_tamil_forum/ . For more information, please contact Constantine V. Nakassis (cnakassi@uchicago.edu)

Dates: 
Friday, May 20, 2016 (All day) to Saturday, May 21, 2016 (All day)

Third Annual Vivekananda Lecture: “The Subtle Surfaces of Wickedness: From Nigamasarma to the Occupation of Palestine”

Lecture given by David Shulman.

Wickedness, perhaps a more personal quality than the abstract notion of evil, is worthy of study, especially when we move away from brute malevolence, often terrifying but boring, to more complex inner states, in which choice may or may not be accessible. This lecture will explore, first, a South Indian vision of the wicked, taken from Tenali Ramakrishna's Panduranga-mahatmyamu. On the basis of this text, it may be possible to formulate an understanding of wickedness as the integral act of whole persons, without the usual splitting of the self into dark and luminous halves or into the familiar Platonic dichotomies of body and mind. To test a different model, my experiences in the Palestinian territories, specifically the South Hebron Hills, with settlers, soldiers, judges, bureaucrats, and policemen will be examined, at least in part in a comparative light, and with frequent sidelong glances to Mahatma Gandhi and Vivekananda.

Dates: 
Tuesday, May 31, 2016 - 6:00pm
Assembly Hall, International House

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