Past Events

“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

Syllable Scrambling in Dhivehi Poetry of the Maldives

South Asia Seminar: Garrett Field, School of Interdisciplinary Arts and School of Music, Ohio University

The official language of the Maldives is Dhivehi, an Indo-Aryan language. Prior to the twentieth century the most popular form of Dhivehi poetry was known as raivaru. To create raivaru Maldivians utilized a poetic device termed bas olhuvun. Bas olhuvun literally means “word scrambling” and it refers to the scrambling of syllables. This presentation consists of three parts. Part 1 offers a brief social history of raivaru. Part 2 centers attention on six formal features that function as the playground where syllable scrambling occurs. Part 3 analyzes types of syllable scrambling in raivaru and identifies binary principles that raivaru poets internalized to help them quickly scramble syllables.

Dates: 
Thursday, April 18, 2019 - 5:00pm
Foster 103

Apur Sansar

Doc Films Screening: Apur Sansar

7pm & 9:30pm

Dates: 
Wednesday, April 17, 2019 - 7:00pm
Doc films 1212 E 59th St # 3, Chicago, IL 60637

India in Global Intellectual History

Once approached primarily through a regional and historical focus on Western Europe and North America, intellectual history has in recent years come to adopt an increasingly expansive, global perspective. Scholars have begun to explore the cross-fertilization of ideas between Europe and other regions, as well as to examine the distinct methodological challenges raised in doing “intellectual” (as opposed to social, economic, or cultural) history outside the West. The aim of this workshop, sponsored by the Theorizing Indian Democracy research project at the Neubauer Collegium, is to interrogate the place of India within current frameworks of global intellectual history. How might analyzing the formation of concepts within the geographical and cultural space of modern India give us new insights into the region’s relationship to other intellectual traditions around the world? The workshop will investigate what the recent “global” turn in the history of ideas can contribute to studies of the Indian past.

SPEAKERS:
Faisal Devji (University of Oxford)
Shruti Kapila (University of Cambridge)
Nico Slate (Carnegie Mellon University)

MODERATOR:
Rama Mantena (University of Illinois at Chicago)

Dates: 
Friday, April 12, 2019 - 4:30pm
Franke Institute for the Humanities 1100 E. 57th St.

Adivasi Christians and Contextual Theology

TAPSA: Elsa Marty, University of Chicago Divinity School

Christians in the tribal state of Jharkhand are predominantly Adivasi (indigenous). In recent years, Christians have been returning to their Adivasi cultural roots and are increasingly reflecting on what it means to be simultaneously Christian and Adivasi. Drawing upon ethnographic work with two Lutheran denominations in Jharkhand, this paper explores the churches’ different approaches to articulating and promoting an Adivasi Christian identity and discusses the implications of their divergent approaches for contextual theology more broadly.

Dates: 
Thursday, April 11, 2019 - 5:00pm
Foster 103

Aparajito

Doc Films Screening: Aparajito

7pm & 9:30pm

Dates: 
Wednesday, April 10, 2019 - 7:00pm
Doc films 1212 E 59th St # 3, Chicago, IL 60637

“A vast sea of slums”: From chawls and “insanitary villages” to zopadpattis in 20th century Bombay

South Asia Seminar: Nikhil Rao, Department of History, Wellesley College

Over the course of the middle decades of the 20th century, the category “slum” underwent important changes in large, fast-growing cities like Bombay. From a descriptive term used to characterize dwellings such as chawls (tenements) or villages on the urban fringe that did not measure up to sanitary standards, “slum” in post-Independence India became a bureaucratic category that invoked the uncertain tenurial status of more makeshift forms such as the zopadpattis of Bombay. This paper traces aspects of this change in meaning, before moving to consider the implications of this change for the pattern of urban expansion in Indian cities.

Dates: 
Thursday, April 4, 2019 - 5:00pm
Foster 103

Pather Panchali

Doc Films Screening: Pather Panchali

7pm & 9:30pm

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

Reason and the Image: On Satyajit Ray’s Shatranj Ke Khilari (The Chess Players)

South Asia Seminar: Keya Ganguly, College of Liberal Arts, University of Minnesota

This talk focuses on Satyajit Ray’s cinematic treatment of an episode from India’s late colonial history in Shatranj Ke Khilari (“The Chess Players,” 1977). I suggest that through his portrait of the betrayal of reason under the pretext of law, Ray makes an appeal on behalf of the visual image as a critique of reason (rather than its lure).

Dates: 
Thursday, March 21, 2019 - 5:00pm
Foster 103

Embodied Empiricism and the Respectability of Labour at the Madrasa Tibbiya Delhi

TAPSA: Sabrina Datoo, Department of History, University of Chicago

This paper elucidates how the mores of the north Indian service-gentry were implicated in the reformation of Avicennian medicine in colonial India. The paper focuses on a single site, the Madrasa Tibbiya of Delhi, a medical school founded in 1889 by a renowned lineage of Avicennian practitioners (hakims). This essay explores how medical education at the Madrasa proceeded by managing respectability (sharafat) as an aesthetic and ethical sensibility in order to dignify the manual labors required by scientific empiricism.

Dates: 
Thursday, March 14, 2019 - 5:00pm
Foster 103 (1130 East 59th Street)

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