Past Events

Screening of Across the Burning Track, A video work by Moinak Biswas

The film tells the story of an intellectual (Nilakantha/Ghatak) caught in the turmoil of the 1970s, marked by the Bangladesh Liberation War and the Naxalbari movement.

The video, originally involving two screens and four channels of sound, works through Ritwik Ghatak’s autobiographical last film Jukti, Takko ar Gappo (‘Arguments and Stories’, 1974). It was created for the 11th Shanghai Biennale, 2016.
In one stream, we present a reconstruction of the film, which tells the story of an intellectual (Nilakantha/Ghatak) caught in the turmoil of the 1970s, marked by the Bangladesh Liberation War and the Naxalbari movement.
Nilakantha is a wandering figure killed by a stray bullet at the end of the film.

The other stream involves the writer Manik Bandyopadhyay, and the playwright Bijan Bhattacharya who acts in the film. Manik and Bijan were representative figures of the radical culture of the 1940s.
Two moments of great misery and creativity, 1940s and 1970s, syncopate each other. We present moving and still images, texts and voices that spectrally connect these moments with other times and lives.
Ghatak’s Jukti Takko, a perilously autobiographical narrative, sets in motion flows touching the shores of a distant present.

Moinak Biswas is Professor of Film Studies at Jadavpur University, Kolkata. He writes on Indian cinema and culture. He made the award winning Bengali feature film Sthaniya Sambaad (‘Spring in the Colony’) as writer and co-director in 2010.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016 - 5:30pm
Classics 310

"Landscape Films and State Space: On the Films Division in India”

South Asia Seminar Speaker: Priya Jaikumar
Remembered by fellow documentarians as “Nehru’s favorite cameraman, ” N. S. Thapa directed several landscape and industrial shorts for the Indian Ministry of Information and Broadcasting’s Films Division unit from the 1950s to the 1990s. Everest (1968) is one of his award-winning films, which records the historic expedition of the first all-Indian team to scale Mount Everest, on May 20th, 1965. The story of this film’s production, however, is less matinee-worthy. Films Division initially blocked Thapa’s involvement in the film, so that he was never part of the climb that his film triumphantly documents. The visual aesthetics of the film’s completed version, and its haphazard production process, tell parallel stories about cinema’s status as a visual image and a regulated object. Everest uses a visual lexicon of nationalism characteristic of several Films Division landscape documentaries. At the same time, such shorts register the variable styles of Films Division’s cameramen and directors, and the precarious creative autonomy of its commissioned filmmakers, who were impacted by the institution’s funding structures and the state’s film stock rationing and administrative procedures. In this talk, I use landscape shorts as a provocation to thinking about the relationship between onscreen cinematic spaces, and the institutional and social spaces of bureaucracy, industry, and ideology. The effort is to push back the horizon of historical analysis, so that space refers simultaneously to the visual unit within a film’s frame, and the concept driving a historiography of the state’s efforts to transform a place into a politico-economic territory.

Thursday, November 10, 2016 - 4:30pm
Foster 103

"Inhabiting the Past in Twentieth-Century South Asia"

On November 4, 2016, Faridah Zaman, Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Research Fellow in History, and Daniel Morgan, doctoral candidate in South Asian Languages and Civilizations, will co-host a workshop to discuss issues broadly relating to historical writing, memory, myth and oral traditions, the construction of intellectual and cultural narratives of origin and belonging, and the making of "usable pasts" for purposes that are political or otherwise in twentieth-century South Asia. The workshop will be in Social Sciences Research Building, room 401, from 9 AM to 6 PM.

Friday, November 4, 2016 - 9:00am
Social Sciences Research Building Room 401

Screening: For the Love of a Man

For the Love of a Man follows fans of 'superstar' Rajnikanth, whose fandom often becomes integral to their identities and those of people around them. The visual ethic of fandom and star mimicry reveal a form of star worship that is unique to Indian cinema culture. The lives of fans and their families open us to themes of brotherhood, aspiration, political affiliation, or even just means of being noticed. From bankruptcies to reformations from lives of crime, the lives of the fans offer stories that range from the heroic to the horrific, all in a day's work of turning a film star into a deity.

Friday, October 28, 2016 - 4:30pm
Foster 103

“Globalizing India: How Global Rules and Markets Are Shaping India’s Rise to Power”

South Asia Speaker: Aseema Sinha
India’s recent economic transformation has fascinated scholars, global leaders, and interested observers alike. In 1990, India was a closed economy and a hesitant and isolated economic power. By 2016, India has rapidly risen on the global economic stage; foreign trade now drives more than half of the economy and Indian multinationals pursue global alliances. Focusing on second-generation reforms of the late 1990s, Aseema Sinha explores what facilitated global integration in a self-reliant country predisposed to nationalist ideas. The author argues that globalization has affected trade policy as well as India’s trade capacities and private sector reform. India should no longer be viewed solely through a national lens; globalization is closely linked to the ambitions of a rising India. The study uses fieldwork undertaken in Geneva, New Delhi, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, and Washington, DC, interviews with business and trade officials, alongside a close analysis of the textile and pharmaceutical industries and a wide range of documentary and firm-level evidence to let diverse actors speak in their own voices. This book speaks to the Comparative Politics literature, International Relations literature and Studies of India directly. It examines how the World Trade Organization affected and changed Indian actor’s preferences about globalization. Its deploys an interdependence approach or a dynamic second-image reversed framework to an analysis of India, while also building a dynamic framework that examines how domestic actors shape and re-shape global institutions and markets.

Thursday, October 27, 2016 - 4:30pm
Foster 103

Screening: The Textures of Loss

Screening: The Textures of Loss, followed by a talk by Pankaj Butalia.
The Textures of Loss is an elegy to the wounded Kashmir valley following two decades of violence.
The loss of loved ones manifests itself not only in pain, but also in anger, somatic symptoms, paralysis and deadness. (This film is part of Pankaj Butalia's trilogy about conflicts on the periphery of India titled The Crippled Frontier, and also available independently)

Monday, October 24, 2016 - 5:30pm
Foster 103

“From the Pursuit of a Pandit to How I Became a Digital Humanist”

South Asia Speaker: Yigal Bronner
In this talk, Yigal Bronner, a Sanskritist by training, will tell the sad tale of a database project that took over his life. He will also explain why he is still excited about prosopography and, more generally, about the possibility of turning Indologists into a vibrant community with the help of digital tools.

Thursday, October 13, 2016 - 4:30pm
Foster 103

COSAS Fall Meeting

Tuesday, October 11, 2016 - 12:00pm
Foster 103