Welcome to the Committee on Southern Asian Studies

Upcoming Events

South Asia Seminar: "Strivers and Seekers in 17th century Lahore"

Purnima Dhawan, Associate Professor at the Department of History, Director of Graduate Studies, Howard and Frances Keller Endowed Professor, University of Washington

By the seventeenth century a proliferation of individuals and communities in the Mughal province of Lahore began to articulate their search for new ethical norms in a variety of texts. Situated both in elite, courtly circles as well as humbler vernacular contexts, this phenomenon has generally been studied through the lens of religious expression and reform. By placing these texts within the dramatically changing demographic profile of the province, this paper argues that such texts should also be viewed as articulations of new social personas and ethical codes that give us an exciting glimpse of the rapidly changing nature of Lahore’s communities.

Thursday, April 26, 2018 - 5:00pm
Foster 103

“Diplomatic Encounters Series: An Overview of Pakistan-US Relations by The Ambassador of Pakistan to the US Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry”

This event is co-sponsored by International House at The University of Chicago, Committee on Southern Asian Studies and The Consulate General of Pakistan in Chicago. A reception will follow formal remarks. This event is free and open to the public.

Saturday, April 28, 2018 - 2:00pm
International House Assembly Hall

"A Meeting of Two Seas"

"A Meeting of Two Seas": For the second year in a row, UChicago's Hindu Student Sangam and Muslim Students Association present "A Meeting of Two Seas"! This year's concert celebrates the diverse performing arts traditions of South Asia, with a focus on the Hindu, Muslim, and Sikh mystic poets of Central and South Asia who spoke out against orthodoxy, fundamentalism, and injustice. Featuring opening acts of dance, music, and poetry, with a main performance by special guests Riyaaz Qawwali. Light refreshments will follow. Free and open to all! (7:30-9:30 pm, Rockefeller Memorial Chapel)
RSVP to the Facebook event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/167248770574394

Sponsored by the Hindu Student Sangam, Muslim Students Association, Sikh Student Association, Spiritual Life Office, South Asian Students Association, Sadhana: Coalition of Progressive Hindus, and Rockefeller Memorial Chapel.

Saturday, April 28, 2018 - 7:30pm
Rockefeller Memorial Chapel

TAPSA: “Negotiating ‘Green’ Citizenship in North-east India: Of Native Peacocks and Non-Native Nepalis”

Suchismita Das, doctoral candidate in the Department of Anthropology

This paper is an interrogation of the “cross-pollination” of political and ecological discourses about belonging – specifically the linkages between the value placed on nativism of species in ecology and on autochthony in ethnopolitics. The ethnography traces the declaration of a Bird Sanctuary near Kitam, a predominantly Nepali village in Sikkim. The Nepali community, despite more than two centuries of presence in the Indian landscape faces a deficit of belonging, as a group whose name itself indexes foreignness. The peacock is the flagship species of the protected area, around whose protection the demand for the sanctuary revolved. How is the belonging of this multi-species knot, of the Nepali community and the peacocks, recognized under the ecological gaze of the forest department, environmental NGOs and national ecotourists visiting the sanctuary? How do the two distinct parameters of valuation of diversity – “unity in diversity” as a motto of multicultural inclusion, and biodiversity as a central tenet of ecological conservation – intersect in constituting an emergent regime of recognition of ethnic diversity and of belonging on the frontier? What are the limits in the strategic mobilization of environmental stewardship as a claim towards “green” citizenship? The paper aims to speak both to this particular moment of ethnopolitics and the larger question of the influence of moral philosophies of nature on principles of political belonging, inclusion and exclusion.

Thursday, May 3, 2018 - 12:45pm
Foster 103

20th Annual Michicagoan Conference: Significations of Modality and Value

With a keynote address by Hirokazu Miyazaki, Professor of Anthropology, Department of Anthropology, Cornell University, titled: “The Gift of Internationalism: Persons, Things, and the Power of Exchange in U.S.-Japan Citizen Diplomacy”

Now in its 20th year, the Michicagoan Graduate Student Conference in Linguistic Anthropology serves as a forum for scholars attuned to the emergent production of linguistic, cultural, social, and otherwise material phenomena via diverse semiotic processes.

The conference is pleased to present papers that take semiotic approaches to “value” and “modality” in their various instantiations across heterogeneous semantic and disciplinary fields. Through this theme, participants will attend to relations between and among linguistic codes; their sociopragmatic uses-in(- and -as)-context across variously-scaled discursive types (utterances, typified genres, registers); the kinds of relations so expressed (and made expressable); their by-degrees codifications (linguistically, legally, habitually, institutionally); and the entailments of these relations in subsequent uptake.

For more information, please contact the event organizers at jdbabcock@uchicago.edu or rhoward3@uchicago.edu.

Friday, May 4, 2018 (All day) to Saturday, May 5, 2018 (All day)
Classics 110

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

The Study of Southern Asia at the University of Chicago

The University of Chicago is one of the leading centers for the study of Southern Asia. Countries in which we have scholarly expertise include in South Asia, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka; and in Southeast Asia, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, East Timor, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Tibet (as an autonomous region), and Vietnam.

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