Upcoming TAPSA Talks

Theory and Practice in South Asia (TAPSA)

The workshop is designed to keep faculty and graduate students of social science and humanistic disciplines concerned with South Asia in touch with new directions in the field by providing interdisciplinary models of methodological and substantive approaches. The Workshop makes a special point of crossing the boundary between the humanities and social sciences. It collaborates with the South Asia Seminar, one dedicated to graduate student presentations, the other to presentations by in-resident or visiting scholars and faculty. The South Asia Seminar series and the TAPSA Workshop bring together not only scholars from various disciplines, but make a special point of attracting scholars from South Asia. Their visits are designed to promote continuing exchanges with recent work on the sub-continent and to introduce graduate students to future colleagues in South Asia.

All events are open to the public.

The South Asia Seminar Series and TAPSA Talks meet on alternating Thursdays at 4:30PM-6:00PM in Foster 103 (1130 East 59th Street).

TAPSA: “The Politics of Catholic Conversion and Colonialism”

Aditi Shirodkar, doctoral candidate in the Department of Political Science

Beginning in 1510, Portuguese colonialists led a brutal, sweeping Christianization program throughout Goa, the capital of Portugal’s empire in Asia. In time, almost all natives in the territory converted to Catholicism. However, many natives expressed devotion far in excess of what was mandated: some sought greater immersion in theological studies and accession to the clergy, going as far as Rome when these were denied in Goa. The paper asks, therefore: How were some natives moved to convert with manifest ardor to an imposed faith? Relying upon original archival research from Goa and Rome, this paper reflects upon these questions through the lives of two native converts to Catholicism who asserted their right to preach to their fellow Goans. The paper argues that conversion to Catholicism provided Goans with a spiritual and intellectual vocabulary that was, paradoxically, empowering: a set of governing rules and ethical ideals that allowed natives to claim moral authority for themselves and question the political authority by which they were governed. It also granted them access to the Roman Catholic Church; the same autonomous body that provided the legitimizing premise for Portuguese colonialism now also provided the basis for novel challenges from the colonized. Thus, the Goan case shows how universalizing religious norms can transcend the constraining power of a repressive political order.

Thursday, April 5, 2018 - 5:00pm
Foster 103

TAPSA: “The Role of Human and Animal Diets in the Socioeconomic Organization of Neolithic, Iron Age, and Early Historic South India: A Zooarchaeological and Dental Microwear Study”

Kelly Wilcox, doctoral candidate in the Department of Anthropology

This paper examines faunal remains from the site Kadebakele (Karnataka) in order to explore how human-animal relationships and animal-based subsistence practices changed throughout the Neolithic (3000-1200 BCE), Iron Age (1200BCE-300BCE), and Early Historic (300BCE-500CE) periods in South India. In addition, the paper includes recent analyses of dental microwear data and its usefulness in reconstructing changes in herd animal diets and for determining if shifts in animal management practices coincided with periods of overgrazing. Using the results of these analyses, this paper explores how human and animal diets both played an important role in shaping broader changes in socioeconomic organization and land-use choices.

Thursday, April 19, 2018 - 5:00pm
Foster 103

TAPSA: "Dancing Corporate: Shifting Transnational Patronage in Indian Contemporary Art Worlds”

Ameera Nimjee, doctoral candidate in the Department of Music (Ethnomusicology)

This paper explores the patronage of Indian dance by multinational "corporate houses" and virtual communities, underscored by the transnational travel of capital in and beyond South Asia. This paper explores how technological and telecommunications companies such as Nokia, NASSCOM, and IBM negotiate contracts with artists to perform and produce affective capital at events, product launches, and through media platforms. The paper focuses on Indian contemporary dance as a case study in the investigation of transnational corporate patronage. Practitioners define the form as one of high art that is visually similar to world traditions of modern dance, in which they draw on abstract movement vocabularies to express responses to issues. Also explored are the aesthetic, kinesthetic, and fiscal mobilities of practitioners within the confines of corporate contracts, and how these contracts challenge national and transnational notions of citizenship in the patronage of Indian art worlds at large.

Thursday, May 17, 2018 - 5:00pm
Foster 103

TAPSA: “‘Marwa Na Dena’: Reporting Between the Marginal and the Military”

Ayesha Mullah, doctoral candidate in the Department of Anthropology

Limited critical scholarship on the Pakistani military establishment has documented its penetration into virtually every sphere of public life, including the bureaucracy and the media, showing how through its allies, with both direct and indirect decision making, the military effectively dominates Pakistani society (Siddiqa 2007). This paper analyzes the ways in which the shadow of the deep state featured in my dissertation fieldwork among news media professionals in Karachi and Islamabad. The paper focuses on the shifts in tone, the anxious laughter and the lengthy pauses that verbose journalists adopted when they would perform an inarticulate critique of the military. Such enactments rest upon the very real dangers of straying past the limits of investigative inquiry in Pakistan, particularly when presented with the fate of their colleagues pursuing critical leads on military activities. How then do Pakistani news media journalists, occupying diverse class positions in professional hierarchies, negotiate their journalistic ethics while operating in a climate of uncertainty that has both fed and threatened their daily work? Based on a series of in-depth interviews, this paper will analyze the politics of producing sensationalist news and the subsequent self-regulation that media professionals must practice in a volatile sociopolitical environment.

Thursday, May 31, 2018 - 5:00pm
Foster 103