South Asia Seminar Series

South Asia Seminar - Kapil Raj

"Making a Portuguese-Language Herbal Speak: 'Local' Knowledge and the East India Company on the Malabar Coast in the 18th Century"

European knowledge, especially medicine, is usually presented as being "scientific" as opposed to the "empirical", non-theorised, "local" practices of non-European peoples. It is thus a commonplace amongst historians to consider that the former displaced the latter if not into total oblivion at least into marginality during the course of European expansion and colonisation. Preliminary research on a mid-18th Portuguese-language century herbal and pharmacopeia from the Malabar coast allows us to examine this widely-held assumption and helps throw new light on the interaction between European and "local" medical practices as well as on the languages through which they they circulated and interacted with each other. Finally, this research also contributes significantly to our understanding of the commercial, administrative and diplomatic practices of the English and other European East India Companies on the Malabar coast during this period.

Dates: 
Thursday, April 24, 2014 - 4:30pm
Foster 103 (1130 East 59th Street)

South Asia Seminar - Ritty Lukose

In recent debates about the post-liberalization achievements, failures, and future directions of the Indian economy, the choices before the Indian state and electorate have been cast as the "Gujarat versus Kerala" models. This discourse partakes of a long-standing construction of Kerala's development trajectory, often called "the Kerala Model", as one pole in "growth versus redistribution" policy arguments. This model came into being in the mid-1970s, linking the region to the international development apparatus, just as the transformations we currently associate with "neoliberalism" were taking shape. What was this "model" an alternative to in the mid-1970s? What is it an alternative to now? This paper addresses these questions as part of a larger exploration of our understandings of gender, development and neoliberalism.

Dates: 
Thursday, March 13, 2014 - 4:30pm
Foster 103 (1130 East 59th Street)

South Asia Seminar - Naisargi Dave

Dates: 
Thursday, March 6, 2014 - 4:30pm
Foster 103 (1130 East 59th Street)

South Asia Seminar - Jocelyn Chua

“'Between the Devil and the Deep Sea': Suicide and Stories of Development in Contemporary Kerala"

Dates: 
Thursday, February 20, 2014 - 4:30pm
Foster 103 (1130 East 59th Street)

South Asia Seminar - Sonal Khullar

"Scratches in Time: M.F. Husain's Through the Eyes of A Painter (1967)"

Dates: 
Thursday, February 6, 2014 - 4:30pm
Foster 103 (1130 East 59th Street)

South Asia Seminar - Rich Freeman

Dates: 
Thursday, January 23, 2014 - 4:30pm
Foster 103 (1130 East 59th Street)

South Asia Seminar - Christoph Emmrich

"Camaṇakālam: Time, Age, Moment, Period, and the Tamil Jains"

Dates: 
Thursday, December 5, 2013 - 4:30pm
Foster 103 (1130 East 59th Street)

South Asia Seminar - Daud Ali

Dates: 
Thursday, November 21, 2013 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm
Foster 103 (1130 East 59th Street)

South Asia Seminar - Oliver Freiberger

"I Belong to the Sakyas' Son:" Revisiting Religious Boundary-Making in Ancient India"

This talk discusses the question of how historians of religion can distinguish religions in pre-modern South Asia. It suggests seven aspects of an analysis of religious boundary-making and then presents two examples from ancient India, the concept of the Buddha as an avatāra of Viṣṇu in the Purāṇas and the segregating concept of the Middle Way in the so-called Pāli canon. The analysis of these cases will focus on the plurality and instability of religious boundaries. The talk also discusses the application of the terms “religion” and “religions” and argues that terms widely used to identify the latter are problematic, hybrid terms that are fully contingent upon the demarcation activities of religious actors.

Dates: 
Thursday, October 31, 2013 - 4:30pm
Foster 103 (1130 East 59th Street)

SA Seminar - Srilata Raman

"Anti-Hagiography and Public Controversy in Colonial South India"

The genre of polemical literature collectively known as khaṇḍanas has a long history in both Sanskrit and Tamil literature. Nevertheless, polemical positions long rehearsed and anticipated, through centuries of inter-textuality, had to re-thought and crafted anew with the decisive emergence of Christianity – both Jesuitical and Evangelical – in the Tamil literary scene, both in Jaffna and Southern India, starting from the 17th century. After the mid-19th century much of this polemics, among the traditional elites, was conducted in the new medium of printed books. There was, in general, an increased literary competitiveness in the air as those other than the traditional, religious establishment, who formed a category of self-invented, new and “lay” religious leaders, began to give voice to their views in print, thus provoking the critical response of the former. In this paper I will discuss one such work that repudiated, through savage polemics, the genre of hagiography, as practiced in the Tamil religious context. I call this text an anti-hagiography inasmuch as it questions and subverts hagiographical assumptions through comprehensively containing elements of a genre inversion. The text is attributed to Ārumuka Nāvalar of Jaffna (1822-1879) and is an indictment of his with regard to his contemporary and popular Śaivite religious poet Ramalinga Swamigal (1823-1874). In discussing this text we will also be addressing the broader issues of religious authority, canonicity and the new conceptions of authorship which begin to emerge in the context of the printing of religious literature in colonial South India.

Dates: 
Thursday, October 10, 2013 - 4:30pm
Foster 103 (1130 East 59th Street)

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