Past Events

Chicago Tamil Forum Keynote: “The Language of Christians and Christian-Tamil – The Peculiar Journey of the 17th century Śaivite Poet Tāyumāṉavar”

South Asia Seminar and keynote speaker for Chicago Tamil Forum: Srilata Raman, Department of Study of Religion, University of Toronto

The 19th century saw intensive missionary activity in the Tamil region of South India. Particularly enduring proved to be the work of the Scudder family, evangelical Christians preachers from the Dutch Reformed Church of North America, who lived and preached in the North Arcot area of the Madras Presidency from the early 19th – 21st century. Prominent among this family was Henry Martyn Scudder (1822-1895), a fine Tamil scholar who wrote a compilation of preaching tracts called The Bazaar Book or the Vernacular Preacher’s Companion published in 1865. This work dealt extensively with the poetry of the Śaivite poet of the 17th century, Tāyumāṉavar, whose works endured and were immensely popular as part of the oral Tamil tradition in the 19th century. The Bazaar Book sees Tāyumāṉavar as a Crupto-Christian whose religious views are nothing other than Christian truths. This paper discusses the appropriation
of Tāyumāṉavar in the context of the emergence and consolidation of Christian-Tamil as a unique form of Tamil with its own conceptual vocabulary, thus also exploring what this language and the literature that it is embedded in might say about what is to be considered “Tamil” both linguistically and culturally in the second half of the second millennium.

Dates: 
Thursday, May 23, 2019 - 5:00pm
Foster 103

The Adversary

Doc Films Screening: The Adversary

7pm & 9:30pm

Dates: 
Wednesday, May 22, 2019 - 7:00pm
Doc films 1212 E 59th St # 3, Chicago, IL 60637)

Chicago Folklore Ensemble Performance

12 songs from Tagore's Gitanjali, featuring violin, sitar, cello, accordion, singer Subhajit Sengupta and narrator Swarnali Banerjee.

Dates: 
Sunday, May 19, 2019 (All day)
International House

The People Follow the Faith of the Ruler: Sovereignty and Popular Politics in Late Mughal Delhi

South Asia Seminar: Abhishek Kaicker, Department of History, UC Berkeley

A long-held preconception in the study of premodern South Asia has been that ordinary people were the passive objects of imperial sovereignty. By contrast, this talk will make the case that by the late seventeenth century, a distinct politics of the people in relation to kingship had become manifest in the cities of the Mughal empire, and particularly its capital Shahjahanabad. Such a popular politics, however, cannot come into view until we both rethink our conceptions of both sovereignty and politics before colonialism.

Dates: 
Thursday, May 16, 2019 - 5:00pm
Foster 103

The People Follow the Faith of the Ruler: Sovereignty and Popular Politics in Late Mughal Delhi

South Asia Seminar: Abhishek Kaicker, Department of History, UC Berkeley

A long-held preconception in the study of premodern South Asia has been that ordinary people were the passive objects of imperial sovereignty. By contrast, this talk will make the case that by the late seventeenth century, a distinct politics of the people in relation to kingship had become manifest in the cities of the Mughal empire, and particularly its capital Shahjahanabad. Such a popular politics, however, cannot come into view until we both rethink our conceptions of both sovereignty and politics before colonialism.

Dates: 
Thursday, May 16, 2019 - 5:00pm
Foster 103

Days and Nights in the Forest

Doc Films Screening: Days and Nights in the Forest

7pm & 9:30pm

Dates: 
Wednesday, May 15, 2019 - 7:00pm
Doc films 1212 E 59th St # 3, Chicago, IL 60637

“Tala Chakra,” the South Asian Music Ensemble’s annual Spring recital

Join us for “Tala Chakra,” the South Asian Music Ensemble’s annual Spring recital.
The South Asian Music Ensemble explores a variety of song traditions and instrumental performance styles from the Indian Subcontinent, including classical, vernacular, and popular genres, and in a number of languages. Our 25-member ensemble includes vocalists, tabla, sitar, bansuri, violin, veena, mridangam, and other instruments.
Admission is free, and a reception will follow.

Dates: 
Saturday, May 11, 2019 - 7:30pm
Logan Center Performance Penthouse

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 Mahābhārata in Double Vision

TAPSA: Nell Hawley, University of Chicago Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations

The weight of the Sanskrit epic Mahābhārata exerts a kind of gravitational pull on South Asian literature. Retellings of the Mahābhārata fill South Asia’s languages and literary genres, and each retelling answers the dark and violent world of the epic in its own way. In this presentation, I discuss one particularly unexpected response: the Sanskrit drama Pañcarātra (“The Five Nights”), attributed to the early poet Bhāsa (ca. 200 CE), which imagines a Mahābhārata in which the central characters of the Sanskrit epic actually avert the very war that is the Mahābhārata’s defining feature and live more or less happily ever after. In my reading, the play presents the epic in double vision—a feeling of construction, or integration, layered over something much more unstable.

Dates: 
Thursday, May 9, 2019 - 5:00pm
Foster 103

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