Welcome to the Committee on Southern Asian Studies

Upcoming Events

Ishtyle: Accenting Gay Indian Nightlife

Please join the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality on 29th October 2020 from 4pm to 5pm (Central Time) for a book salon discussion of Ishtyle: Accenting Gay Indian Nightlife (UMich, 2020) featuring:

Kareem Khubchandani (Mellon Bridge Assistant Professor of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Tufts University), author

Lakshmi Padmanabhan (Assistant Professor of Radio/TV/Film, Northwestern University), discussant

Sharvari Sastry (PhD Candidate in South Asian Languages and Civilizations and Theater and Performance Studies, The University of Chicago), discussant

Sneha Annavarapu (Social Sciences Teaching Fellow, The University of Chicago), moderator 

Registration is required via Zoom link: https://uchicago.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJUkdOmpqTsiGdCqsVRLrkRD3vQvJFXiQpFq

If you require assistance to attend, please email tbrazas@uchicago.edu.

About the Book

Ishtyle follows queer South Asian men across borders into gay neighborhoods, nightclubs, bars, and house parties in Bangalore and Chicago. Bringing the cultural practices they are most familiar with into these spaces, these men accent the aesthetics of nightlife cultures through performance. Kareem Khubchandani develops the notion of “ishtyle” to name this accented style, while also showing how brown bodies inadvertently become accents themselves, ornamental inclusions in the racialized grammar of desire. Ishtyle allows us to reimagine a global class perpetually represented as docile and desexualized workers caught in the web of global capitalism. The book highlights a different kind of labor, the embodied work these men do to feel queer and sexy together. Engaging major themes in queer studies, Khubchandani explains how his interlocutors’ performances stage relationships between: colonial law and public sexuality; film divas and queer fans; and race, caste, and desire. Ultimately, the book demonstrates that the unlikely site of nightlife can be a productive venue for the study of global politics and its institutional hierarchies.

 

Dates: 
Thursday, October 29, 2020 - 4:00pm
Zoom link in event description

TAPSA: Divide and Rule? Separating Wheat From Chaff in Colonial South Asia

Fahad Sajid, doctoral candidate in Political Science

Although divide-and-rule is widely believed to have been an important strategy of colonial control, I argue that the evidence for this popular thesis is mixed at best for British India. Drawing on a range of sources, I demonstrate that while it was certainly used to structure the colonial army, it did not play a significant role in the colony’s civilian administration. I show further that the reason behind the colonial government’s reluctance to use divide-and-rule tactics was a perennial fear of causing civil unrest, a cost-benefit consideration that proponents of the theory have overlooked. This intervention is needed because an acceptance of the divide-and-rule thesis has come at the expense of sustained inquiry into the ways in which small numbers of Europeans were able to establish and maintain control over large stretches of the globe. I conclude, therefore, with a brief discussion on how the alternative framework of “collaboration” could fruitfully be extended.

Register in advance for this meeting:

https://uchicago.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJYvc-6hqTgrGtGHVpxEtAH66Q8TB_jt-Fmf

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Dates: 
Thursday, October 29, 2020 - 5:00pm
Please see event description for registration details

Beyond Boundaries and Within: An exploration of Manipuri Classical Dance with Bimbavati Devi

Introduced by Anna Schultz, Moderated by Supurna Dasgupta, (10am Chicago time, 8:30pm Delhi time)

Tucked away in the Northeastern hills of the Indian subcontinent, Manipur is a land throbbing with soulful tunes, bold drumbeats, and flowing dances. Join us for a unique experience of Manipuri dance performance and a discussion of its history from the Manipuri dance exponent Bimbavati Devi.  Devi, the daughter of the dancer maestros Guru Bipin Singh and Guru Kalavati Devi, has been immersed in Manipuri classical dance for her entire life. Bimbavati Devi’s current style is a well-crafted and ever-dynamic balance between the traditional Vaishnavite ritual movements of classical Manipuri form and sensitive innovations for her contemporary productions. At this event, our guest Bimbavati Devi will offer a short lecture-demonstration of classical Manipuri as well as her fresh contributions, followed by a short conversation with the audience.

Register in advance for this meeting: https://uchicago.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJYsd-6hrz0jGtOHkRy_E6mSKP8BA9...After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Dates: 
Saturday, October 31, 2020 - 10:00am
Please see event description for registration details

South Asia Seminar: Rupa Viswanath

South Asia Seminar: Rupa Viswanath, Professor of Indian Religions at Georg-August-Universität Göttingen

Zoom link will be emailed to the COSAS listservs. If you would like to ensure you can attend the event, please email Rashmi Joshi at rashmij@uchicago.edu to be added to our listserv. 

Dates: 
Thursday, November 5, 2020 - 5:00pm
Please see event description for Zoom details

Talk/Reading with Tarfia Faizullah

Introduction by Tahera Qutbuddin, Q&A moderated by Rashmi Joshi and Lauren Doan

Zoom link will be emailed to the COSAS listservs. If you would like to ensure you can attend the event, please email Rashmi Joshi at rashmij@uchicago.edu to be added to our listserv. 

Dates: 
Monday, November 9, 2020 - 4:30pm
Please see event description for Zoom details

Esoteric Theravada Meditation: Corruption or Abhidhamma?

Kate Crosby, King’s College London

Abstract: This talk will examine the esoteric meditation that dominated much of the Theravada world before the modern period. It will examine features that have seemed heterodox, and gained it a reputation as a corrupt form of Theravada and then counter this by considering how it enacts the path of transformation expounded in commentarial Abhidhamma.

Bio: Kate Crosby is Professor of Buddhist Studies in the department of Theology and Religious Studies at King’s College, London. She works on Sanskrit, Pali and Pali-vernacular literature, and on Theravada practice in the pre-modern and modern periods. She is interested in meditation, the history of the relationship between Buddhism and other technologies, and how varying responses to modernity influenced the shape, rhetoric and practice of Theravada Buddhism in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia. Her publications include The Bodhicaryavatara; The Dead of Night & the Women; Theravada Buddhism: Continuity, Diversity, Identity and Traditional Theravada Meditation and its Modern Era Suppression. 

The lecture is supported through a generous gift by Mr. Jun Zhou.

Sign up here to attend this lecture

Dates: 
Tuesday, November 10, 2020 - 11:15am
Please sign up to receive zoom details

TAPSA: The Federal Turn: Political and Legal Thought in Interwar India

Sarath Pillai, doctoral candidate of Department of History

This paper examines the shift in Indian political and legal thought from unitary state system (singular sovereignty) to federal state system (shared sovereignty) in the late 1920s. It argues that this shift coincides with the inauguration of a new constitutional politics pivoting on the century-old treaties that the princely states had entered with the British. Treaties acquired renewed interest in the interwar period as treaty violations were a major cause for the First World War. Interwar debates on the sanctity of treaties and the rise of a new form of political internationalism that sought to delegitimize wars as instruments of national policy give a global context to the move toward federalism in India. In the second part, the paper demonstrates the unitary nature of nationalist constitutional thinking, and its fidelity to Westminster-style unitary government, as evidenced by the views of nationalists, especially the authors of the Nehru Report (1928). It then shows the challenges posed to it by the federalists—princes and their advisors, conservatives, Muslim leaders, and certain British officials—who discarded the unitary state propounded by the nationalists and sought to fashion future India along the lines of federal states like Imperial Germany and the US. This break with the unitary model of state-making, which held sway in colonial India ever since the establishment of British rule, constitute, what I call as, the “federal turn” in interwar India.

Zoom link will be emailed to the COSAS listservs. If you would like to ensure you can attend the event, please email Rashmi Joshi at rashmij@uchicago.edu to be added to our listserv. 

Dates: 
Thursday, November 12, 2020 - 5:00pm
Please see event description for Zoom details

Girls Burn Brighter: a Reading and Discussion with Author Shobha Rao

Join us for a reading and Q and A session with young adult novelist Shobha Rao, author of Girls Burn Brighter. 

Rao, who was born in Kanpur to a family from the weaver caste of the Andhra town, Mangalagiri, has said, "I grew up observing the lives of women around me, this subset who had poor education, poor health... their lives were very devalued. I've always been interested in the specific vulnerabilities of some women, especially in times of conflict."

Set in the village of Indravelli in Telangana, Girls Burn Brighter explores human trafficking, cultural misogyny, caste, and most of all-- friendship.

 

Introduction by Nisha Kommattam and moderation by Nisha Kommattam & Rashmi Joshi

 

Zoom link will be emailed to the COSAS listserv. If you would like to ensure you can attend the event, please email Rashmi Joshi at rashmij@uchicago.edu to be added to our listserv. 

 

Dates: 
Wednesday, November 18, 2020 - 4:30pm
Please see event description for Zoom details

South Asia Seminar: Durba Mitra

South Asia Seminar: Durba Mitra, Assistant Professor of Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality, Harvard University 

Zoom link will be emailed to the COSAS listservs. If you would like to ensure you can attend the event, please email Rashmi Joshi at rashmij@uchicago.edu to be added to our listserv. 

Dates: 
Thursday, November 19, 2020 - 5:00pm
Please see event description for Zoom details

TAPSA: Nightingales and Falcons: Iqbal’s Ghazals Between Persian and Urdu

Francesca Chubb-Confer, PhD (UChicago Divinity School)

The poetry of the Islamic reformer, philosopher, and poet Muhammad Iqbal (1877-1938), commonly remembered as the spiritual originator of Pakistan and of the 20th century's finest Urdu poets, incorporates a range of imagery from the Persianate ghazal universe and beyond. The appearance of the falcon in his verse has attracted particular attention and signification. The falcon is associated with Iqbal in the popular imagination as well as in scholarship; considered to be his “favorite” or “preferred” motif, the bird of prey is taken to symbolize independence, vigor, and noble ferocity, especially in the context of Islamic revival. Iqbal’s preference for the falcon is contrasted with his supposed disavowal of its symbolic opposite: the nightingale, fated to sing plaintively in the garden to the silent, unresponsive rose. A sustained analysis of Iqbal’s use of these avian symbols, however, has not yet been carried out.

In this talk, we will analyze three ghazals - two in Persian, one in Urdu, from Zabūr-i ‘Ajam (“Persian Psalms,” 1927) and Bāl-i Jibrīl (“Gabriel’s Wing,” 1935), respectively - with a focus on the figures of the nightingale and the falcon. Moving towards a new interpretation of their function in Iqbal's ghazal poetry, we will examine their rhetorical capacities across linguistic difference, re-casting the two not so much as oppositional symbols, but ones that exist in supporting counterpoint, such that their attributes, capabilities, sympathies, and metaphorical relationships shift across and within individual ghazals.

Zoom link will be emailed to the COSAS listservs. If you would like to ensure you can attend the event, please email Rashmi Joshi at rashmij@uchicago.edu to be added to our listserv. 

Dates: 
Thursday, December 3, 2020 - 5:00pm
Please see event description for Zoom details

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.

 

Subscribe to Committee on Southern Asian Studies RSS