Past Events

Chicago Tamil Forum

Thursday: Keynote speaker Michael Silverstein
The theme of this year's workshop is Poesis/Politics of Language and Place in Tamilagam, which is devoted to, and emerges out of conversation with, the work of the late Barney Bate, who was a central member of the group.
Friday and Saturday: Paper workshopping. Participants pre-circulate scholarly works-in-progress (two to three weeks in advance) that take the major themes/works of Barney's research as a departure point.

Thursday, May 25, 2017 (All day) to Saturday, May 27, 2017 (All day)

TAPSA: “Of Parrots and Crows: Bīdel and Ḥazīn in their Own Words”

Jane Mikkelson, PhD candidate, SALC and NELC

Was there a historically identifiable “Indian style” of early modern Persian poetry, or is this a term that has been merely invented (as some have argued) by modern scholarship? If there was indeed an emic conception of an Indian style of Persian verse, in what did this style consist, and by whom was it defined? Finally, what is the value of thinking with this category today? This talk will attempt to address these questions in two ways. First, key examples drawn from the early modern Persian literary critical tradition will be presented, with particular attention to how certain figurations – including ambiguity (īhām), metaphor (esteʿāre), and what is imagined (khayāl) – were identified by early modern Persian-language critics as being constitutive of an Indian style. These first steps towards reconstructing the complex history of the very idea of an Indian style lead to the second angle of approach: allowing the poets to speak for themselves. To this end, the talk will examine three early modern Persian lyric poems on the theme of geography, homeland, and exile: a ghazal by Ṣāʾeb Tabrīzī (d.1676), and two response-poems (javābs) by Bīdel Dehlavī (d.1721) and Ḥazīn Lāhījī (d.1766), close reading of which will be informed by categories, values, and orientations recovered from the early modern critical tradition. Building on the rich range of specific meanings and values that analysis of these three poems brings to light, it will also be argued more generally that attending to the Persian lyric tradition must be regarded as vital – even central – to investigating matters of style, geography, and belonging in the early modern Persianate world.

Thursday, May 18, 2017 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm
Foster 103

Vivekananda Lecture

Speaker: David Shulman

Tuesday, May 16, 2017 - 5:30pm
International House Assembly Hall

South Asian Classical Music Society of Chicago presents: Shri Kushal Das, sitar, with Ramdas Palsule, tabla

Considered by many the leading sitarist of our day but rarely heard live outside of India, Kushal Das makes his first Chicago appearance in decades. His music stunningly joines marvelous melodic approaches with wonderful rhythmic virtuosity. Admissions free; donations to SACMS encouraged.

Saturday, May 13, 2017 - 8:00pm
DePaul University Concert Hall, 800 W. Belden St.

South Asia Seminar

Sunila Kale, Associate Professor, International Studies, University of Washington

Thursday, May 11, 2017 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm
Foster 103

TAPSA: Zak leonard, PhD candidate, History

From the late 1830s onwards, Quakers, radicals, abolitionists, and free traders increasingly sought to ameliorate the condition of British subjects at home and abroad who suffered at the hands of monopolistic forces. Articulating a rights-based imperial constitutionalism that interwove a defense of English liberties and natural law, these reformers observed that Indian peasant cultivators, the British working classes, and native princes alike were degraded by forms of political, or “virtual,” slavery. Representing the economic and political monopolization of power as an intra-imperial evil provided the reformers with a unifying principle for their agitation. Moreover, it allowed them to envision a future in which India could be thoroughly integrated within the broader empire as an equal trading partner and governed as a sub-polity under metropolitan legal protection. But despite these advances, officials in the upper echelon of the East India Company bureaucracy repudiated calls for greater transparency. Institutionalized obstacles continued to obviate systematic reform and hinder the establishment of a functional imperial civil society. This paper will focus on two particular issues that precipitated debate over Indians’ subject rights: the causes of the 1837-38 Agra famine and the dethronement of Pratap Singh, the raja of the princely state of Satara, in 1839. In doing so, it will engage with recent scholarship on constitutionalism, the creation of scandal, and the revival of Burkean critiques of colonial malfeasance.

Thursday, May 4, 2017 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm
Foster 103

South Asia Seminar: “South Asia’s Coastal Frontiers”

Sunil Amrith, Professor, History, Harvard University

In the environmental history of South Asia forests, not the coasts or the seas, have provided the focus for accounts of the expansion of state power over nature. By contrast, recent writing on inter-regional mobility has tended to treat port cities in their relations with one another, but abstracted from their material environment. This talk explores the environmental history of coastal India, in an effort to address the imbalance between histories of mobility and immobile histories of power.

Thursday, April 27, 2017 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm
Foster 103

“A Meeting of Two Seas” (Hindu-Muslim Concert)

A concert celebrating the joint contributions of Hindus and Muslims to the artistic traditions of South Asia, followed by a catered dinner.
Sponsors: Hindu Student Sangam, Muslim Students Association, Office of Spiritual Life, South Asian Students Association
This event is the first collaboration between the Hindu Student Sangam and the Muslim Students Association in over a decade!

Saturday, April 22, 2017 - 6:00pm to 8:30pm
Rockefeller Memorial Chapel

TAPSA: “We Can’t Afford to Be Ethical: Professional Aspirations and its Limits in Pakistani News Media”

Ayesha Mulla, PhD Candidate, Anthropology

In 2013, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists surmised that at least 18,000 new journalists had entered the workforce, where almost 70% of these recruits had no formal training in journalism and less than 5% of which were women. Drawing on recent ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Karachi and in-depth interviews with a range of broadcast news journalists – from reporters and producers to executive producers – this paper traces how the professional aspirations of journalists turn on the ambiguous and volatile boundaries of sensationalist television news in Pakistan.
Among the frequent critiques levied at private news channels, the trope of the untrained reporter, dispatched to cover breaking news events, continues to feature regularly in liberal elite commentary. Invariably described as contaminating crime scenes, entering victims’ residences, shoving cameras and microphones into grieving family members faces and asking them inane questions in between their wails, these “unprofessional” and “unethical” reporters often find themselves in precarious dilemmas. Caught between the ratings-race to deliver breaking news footage to their respective newsrooms and simultaneously scapegoated by their corporate management when they step out of bounds, how do employees in the television news industry negotiate their journalistic ethics while operating in a climate of uncertainty that has both fed and threatened their daily work? Tracing these conflicting tensions, this paper will show how the prevailing discourse on the ethics of journalism (as aspirational and yet inadequate), becomes a site through which vulnerable labor in the Pakistani news media industry emerges as most apparent.

Thursday, April 20, 2017 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm
Foster 103

"Music and Moral Being in South and Central Asia"

Questions of music's relation to the moral being of those who make and hear it have occupied the minds of philosophers, theologians, bards, and ordinary listeners since classical antiquity. Richard Wolf will explore these questions in light of the lives, the poetry, and the music of bards and drummers of Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India. The presentation is based on approximately 8 years of fieldwork in these countries, drawing texts and interviews in Persian, Tajik, Urdu, Tamil, Kota, and Wakhi languages.
Reception to follow.

Friday, April 14, 2017 - 4:30pm
Saieh Hall for Economics 146