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.

For more information about TAPSA, please visit the TAPSA blog.

All events are open to the public.

The South Asia Seminar Series and TAPSA Talks meet on alternating Thursdays at 5:00PM-6:00PM in Foster 103 (1130 East 59th Street).

Imperial Infection: An Ecological History of the Third Plague Pandemic in Bombay, India, 1880-1920

TAPSA: Emily Webster, Department of History, University of Chicago

The third plague pandemic looms large in the historiography of colonial India. This attention is warranted, given the disproportionate effects of the pandemic: out of a total of 14 million deaths from plague worldwide during this time, a suspected 12 million occurred in India - more than its region of origin - beginning with the first epidemic in Bombay in 1896. While historians have analyzed the social, political, and intellectual implications of the plague epidemic in Bombay city and in India more broadly, the complexity of plague and its vectors as an epidemiological and ecological force have yet to be explored. This talk will introduce preliminary thoughts on the historical ecology of plague in Bombay, India, from its arrival in 1896 through its eventual decline in the late 1920s. It will examine the unique features of Bombay that may have allowed for the propagation of the disease – namely, mass migration into the city to support the burgeoning cotton industry; overcrowding and unsanitary conditions; social geography; and the many urban improvement projects that may have influenced vector migration and behavior. Drawing on traditional historical data and emerging practices in science and technology studies, this talk will examine the interaction of human and nonhuman actors that allowed Yersinia pestis to take hold in Bombay.

Thursday, January 17, 2019 - 5:00pm
Foster 103 (1130 East 59th Street)

Adivasi Christians and Contextual Theology

TAPSA: Elsa Marty, Department of Theology, University of Chicago

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.

Thursday, January 31, 2019 - 5:00pm
Foster 103 (1130 East 59th Street)

Manifest Anxiety: Managing Religious Conversion in Early 20th Century British Malaya

TAPSA Talk: Hanisah Binte Abdullah Saini, Department of Sociology, University of Chicago

In the early decades of the 20th century, the expanding colonial administration in British Malaya provided attentive reports on cases of conversion into Islam. This was despite a longstanding policy against intruding into matters of religion and customs, which were left entirely to indigenous elites. This paper asks: Why was the colonial administration concerned about conversions into Islam, and how did this reflect the state's evolving policy on religion and customs more generally? Examining administrative memos, newspaper reports, and personal correspondences, this paper situates the colonial state’s anxiety with religious conversion against compounding stresses faced by a rapidly expanding administration.

Thursday, February 7, 2019 - 5:00pm
Foster 103 (1130 East 59th Street)

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.

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