Past Conferences and Workshops

Discussion of Modern South India: A History from the 17th Century to Our Times

Discussion with author Dr. Rajmohan Gandhi

Author of more than a dozen books, Rajmohan Gandhi is a historian and biographer involved also in efforts of trust-building and reconciliation.

Professor until end-2012 with the Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, he continues to teach as visiting professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar, and at Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan.

From 1990 to 1992 he was a member of the Rajya Sabha (the upper house of the Indian Parliament). Earlier in 1990, he led the Indian delegation to the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva.

In the Indian Parliament, he was convener of the all-party joint committee of both houses addressing the condition of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

Associated from 1956 with Initiatives of Change (formerly known as Moral Re-Armament), Rajmohan Gandhi served as president of Initiatives of Change International for a two-year term, 2009-10.

Through writing, speaking, public interventions and dialogues he has been engaged for sixty years in efforts for reconciliation and democratic rights.

In the 1960s and early 1970s, he played a leading role in establishing Asia Plateau, the 68-acre centre of Initiatives of Change in the mountains of western India, which fosters dialogue, reconciliation and ethical governance, and is recognized on the Indian subcontinent for its ecological contribution.

During the 1975-77 Emergency in India, he was active for democratic rights personally and through his weekly journal Himmat, published in Bombay from 1964 to 1981.

India-Pakistan and Hindu-Muslim reconciliation have remained his goals. Since 9/11, he has also tried to address the divide between the West and the world of Islam.

Recent books by him include

Understanding the Founding Fathers: An Enquiry into the Indian Republic’s Beginnings (New Delhi: Aleph, 2016)
Prince of Gujarat: The Extraordinary Story of Prince Gopaldas Desai, 1887-1951 (New Delhi: Aleph, 2014); and
Punjab: A History from Aurangzeb to Mountbatten, 1707-1947 (New Delhi: Aleph, 2013).
An earlier study, A Tale of Two Revolts: India 1857 & the American Civil War (published in 2009) looked at two 19th-century wars occurring in opposite parts of the world at almost the same time. A previous book by him, Mohandas: A True Story of a Man, His People and an Empire, published in India, England, France and the USA, received the Barpujari Biennial Award from the Indian History Congress in 2007.

An earlier book, The Good Boatman: A Portrait of Gandhi, was published in 2009 in a Chinese translation in Beijing.

In 2002 he received the Sahitya Akademi Award for his Rajaji: A Life, a biography of Chakravarti Rajagopalachari.

Other books by him include Patel: A Life, a biography of Sardar Vallabhbai Patel; Revenge & Reconciliation: Understanding South Asian History; Understanding the Muslim Mind; and Ghaffar Khan: Nonviolent Badshah of the Pakhtuns.

Before teaching at the University of Illinois, he served as Research Professor with the New Delhi think-tank, Centre for Policy Research. From 1985 to 1987, he edited the daily Indian Express in Madras (now Chennai), India.

Dates: 
Friday, May 10, 2019 - 2:00pm
Classics 110

The Modern Spirit of Asia: Comparing Indian and Chinese Spiritual Nationalism

Annual Vivekananda Lecture by Professor Peter van der Veer, Director at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity

Peter van der Veer is Director of the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity at Göttingen and is currently a Visiting Professor in the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations. He served as Dean of the Social Science Faculty and as Dean of the Amsterdam School for Social Science Research at Amsterdam, and as Director of the International Institute for the Study of Islam and Chairman of the Board of the International Institute for Asian Studies, both in Leiden. Van der Veer works on religion and nationalism in Asia and Europe. He published a monograph on the comparative study of religion and nationalism in India and China, entitled The Modern Spirit of Asia. The Spiritual and the Secular in China and India (Princeton University Press, 2013) Among his other major publications are Gods on Earth (LSE Monographs, 1988), Religious Nationalism (University of California Press, 1994), and Imperial Encounters (Princeton University Press, 2001). Most recently he edited the Handbook of Religion and the Asian City. Aspiration and Urbanization in the Twenty-First Century (University of California Press) Professor van der Veer serves on the Advisory Board of China in Comparative Perspective, Political Theology, and the Journal of Religious and Political Practice. He has just started a new journal: Cultural Diversity in China.

Dates: 
Tuesday, May 7, 2019 - 6:30pm
Social Sciences 122

“Popular Islam in South Asian Visual Culture,” lecture by renowned filmmaker Yousuf Saeed

Among the vibrant examples of public art found in Indian towns and villages, the most popular are religious posters and calendars depicting deities, saints, and places of worship. Besides iconography of Hindu deities, a large number of Islamic posters portraying the shrines at Mecca and Medina, or the Quranic verses in calligraphy are also available, besides the portraits of local Sufi saints, their tombs, miracles, and other folklore, represented as vividly as in a Hindu mythological scene. Unhindered depiction of Sufi portraits in this popular culture often disrupts the stereotype of Islam’s image of iconoclasm and reveals the sentiments of popular Muslim piety. These popular portraits and media also help attract the devotees to their shrines, despite the fact that such hybrid culture is increasingly frowned upon by many Muslims affected by the puritanical Wahhabi ideology. Interestingly, Muslim artists or publishers do not necessarily produce all these Islamic images – the industry doesn’t distinguish between the identities of producers and consumers of these images, and continues to remain largely syncretic. This presentation features examples of popular visuality and rituals associated with Sufis and their shrines through images and videos. Short documentary films, Basant (12 mins), Sufi Sama (12 mins) and Jannat ki Rail (7 mins) will be shown in the presentation.

About presenter:
Yousuf Saeed is a Delhi-based independent filmmaker and writer, currently managing the Tasveer Ghar archive of popular art. Having worked at organizations like the Times of India and Encyclopedia Britannica, Yousuf has produced TV programmes (like Turning Point on Doordarshan) and documentary films like Basant, Khayal Darpan, Jannat ki Rail, Khusrau Darya Prem ka, and Campus Rising, besides writing in the Times of India, Marg, and other periodicals. He has researched on and documented south Asia’s popular Islamic art and heritage, authoring a richly illustrated volume Muslim Devotional Art in India (Routledge, 2018) and a small visual catalogue South Asia’s Islamic Popular Art (2019).

More details about the presenter: http://yousufsaeed.com

Dates: 
Monday, April 22, 2019 - 12:30pm
Foster 103

Sixteenth Annual South Asia Graduate Student Conference: “South Asia: The Political, the Public, the Popular”

South Asia Graduate Student Conference XVI: The Political, the Public, and the Popular
For more information on the conference, including its schedule, please visit: https://lucian.uchicago.edu/blogs/sagsc/

Fri., Mar. 8 and Sat., Mar. 9

Friday, March 8
Keynote: Ayesha Jalal, “Past Presentism: History and the Recovery of Imagination” (Swift Lecture Hall)
6:30pm — FILM SCREENING: ‘Abu’ (2017), followed by discussion with director Arshad Khan (Logan Center for the Performing Arts, Screening Room 201). A reception with appetizers and drinks will be held preceding the screening outside of Room 201 (5:30pm-6:30pm)

Saturday, March 9
Keynote: Pamela Philipose, “South Asia: Borders on Maps and Minds” (Swift Lecture Hall)
7:00 — Dinner (Logan Center for the Performing Arts, Performance Penthouse 901)

Organizing Committee:
Andrew Halladay, South Asian Languages and Civilizations; History
Titas De Sarkar, South Asian Languages and Civilizations
Zoya Sameen, History
Faculty Advisor: Laura Letinsky, Professor, Department of Visual Arts

Dates: 
Friday, March 8, 2019 - 9:00am to Saturday, March 9, 2019 - 9:00pm
Swift Hall 3rd Floor Lecture Hall, Logan Center for Performing Arts

From Weber to Varāha: Toward an Astrological Hinduism

Public Lecture by Marko Geslani, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, University of South Carolina

Marko Geslani is a historian of religion specializing in ritual studies and medieval Hinduism. His first book, Rites of the God-King: Śānti and Ritual Change in Early Hinduism (OUP 2018), forms a historiographic critique of Hinduism through a history of omen-appeasement (śānti) rituals, from late Vedic ritual manuals to medieval Hindu purāṇas. His current research explores the role of the astrological tradition (jyotiḥśāstra) on the problems of personhood and state formation in early Hinduism. He is also researching the recent history of Hindu studies in the North American Academy from the perspective of Asian American studies.

Dates: 
Monday, January 28, 2019 - 4:30pm
Swift Hall Common Room

Measuring Futures: Expertise and Postcolonial Politics in Asia

Measuring Futures will comparatively examine the rise and impact of postwar data and planning sciences on development policies, democratic change and political infrastructures in a number of Asian countries, including India, China, Japan, Singapore and Malaysia. This effort is part of a longer series of events at the University of Chicago (under the title New Nations/New Sciences: Cybernetic States), that aimed to revisit historical and anthropological insights on the politics of expertise, to centrally examine the tensions between technocracy and democratic aspirations in the Asian context.

Dates: 
Monday, December 10, 2018 (All day) to Tuesday, December 11, 2018 (All day)

Book Launch and Reading: The Tale of the Missing Man

Join Jason Grunebaum and Ulrike Stark for their reading of their English translation of Manzoor Ahtesham's The Tale of the Missing Man, published by Northwestern University Press, and winner of the inaugural Global Humanities Translation Prize.

Dates: 
Friday, November 16, 2018 - 6:00pm
Seminary Co-Op

Buddhism, Thought, and Civilization: A Memorial Symposium for Steven Collins

Thursday: Swift Lecture Hall, 2:45pm-7pm
Friday: Franke Institute, 8:30am-1:30pm; Foster Hall 103, 3pm
Please see the uchicago voices event page for a schedule and other details.

Dates: 
Thursday, November 15, 2018 (All day) to Friday, November 16, 2018 (All day)