Past Conferences and Workshops

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 Dr. Nisha Kommattam and Q & A moderation by Rashmi Joshi

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Wednesday, November 18, 2020 - 4:30pm
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Faith, War, and Belonging: A Conversation with Poet Tarfia Faizullah

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

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Monday, November 9, 2020 - 4:30pm
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Beyond Boundaries and Within: An Exploration of Manipuri Classical Dance with Bimbavati Devi

Introduced by Professor Anna Schultz; Moderated by Supurna Dasgupta, doctoral student in South Asian Languages and Civilizations (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.

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Saturday, October 31, 2020 - 10:00am
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“since feeling is first:” Hedonic Tone (_Vedanā_) in the Meditation Practice of S. N. Goenka

Erik Braun, Associate Professor of Religious Studies at University of Virginia

Erik Braun co-edited with David McMahan the volume "Buddhism, Meditation, and Science" (Oxford University Press, 2017) and is the author of "The Birth of Insight: Meditation, Modern Buddhism, and the Burmese Monk Ledi Sayadaw" (University of Chicago Press, 2013), which was a co-winner of the Toshihide Numata Book Prize in Buddhism in 2014. Currently, he is working on a book project about contemporary transformations of meditative practice on the global stage. His research focuses on Burmese Buddhism in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Pāli literature, and the roots of modern forms of meditative practice. He received his Ph.D. in the Study of Religion from Harvard University.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2020 - 11:15am
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Chicago Dialogues: Episode 2 - The Near in Blood

Chicago Dialogues: "The Near in Blood" (9:30am-10:30am CST, Facebook)

History is replete with the unfulfilled promise of princes cut down in their prime. The Mughal Empire is no exception. This episode traces the life and times of the crown prince, Dara Shukoh, his prodigious talent as a chronicler, poet, philosopher and connoisseur of the arts, his deeply syncretic ideas, the bitter rivalry with his brothers, leading to an open War of Succession – and his tragic end.

The series of Chicago Dialogues is being hosted by UChicago Center in Delhi in association with

Join us live on: Facebook @UChicagodelhi/ and YouTube (No prior registration required)


Professor Muzaffar Alam

Muzaffar Alam is George V. Bobrinskoy Professor, South Asian Languages and Civilizations, at the University of Chicago. Trained at Jamia Millia Islamia, Aligarh Muslim University and Jawaharlal Nehru University, he taught for three decades at the Centre for Historical Studies, JNU, and held visiting positions in several European and American academic Institutions. A specialist in Persian, Arabic, Hindi and Urdu, Professor Alam is one of the world’s leading historians of medieval and the Mughal India. He also has a strong interest in philology, literature, and text studies. His major publications include “The Crisis of Empire in Mughal North India”, “The Languages of Political Islam in India: c. 1200-1800”, (both included in the Indian History classics). Among his several other books that he jointly authored are   “A European Experience of the Mughal Orient”( with Seema Alavi), “The Mughal State 1526-1750”,  Writing the Mughal World, and “Indo-Persian Travels in the Age of Discovery: 1400-1800” (with Sanjay Subrahmanyam).

Avik Chanda

Avik Chanda is a bestselling author, columnist, business advisor, educationist and entrepreneur. He is the Founder and CEO of NUVAH ELINT LLP, a NASSCOM 10,000 incubated startup, and is also a visiting faculty at IIT-Delhi and XLRI. A prolific columnist, his bylines appear regularly in The Economic Times, Scroll, FirstPost, Quartz, Harvard Business Review, and other publications. Chanda’s previous books include a collection of poetry, Footnotes (Shearsman, 2008) and a novel, Anchor (HarperCollins, 2014). His business book, “From Command To Empathy: Using EQ in the Age of Disruption” (HarperCollins, 2017), was featured in Amazon India’s Best Reads under Business, Strategy and Management. Chanda’s latest book, “Dara Shukoh: The Man Who Would Be King” (HarperCollins, 2019), was on the National Non-Fiction Top 10 Bestsellers List for 10 consecutive weeks, garnered huge critical success, and has been released as an audiobook by Audible.


Saturday, October 17, 2020 - 9:30am
Streaming on Facebook Live at @uchicagodelhi

Chicago Tamil Forum: Tamil Images

Makeup date for Spring 2020 forum 

Participants include: Swarnavel Eswaran, Lalitha Gopalan, Zoé Headley, Lisa Owen, Indira Peterson, and Anna Seastrand. 

More information can be found at:


Friday, October 9, 2020 - 9:00am to Saturday, October 10, 2020 - 5:00pm

Doing Research during the Pandemic: Resources for South Asian Studies

This workshop will provide an overview of the Library tools and resources available for online or remote research in South Asian studies. We’ll share strategies for identifying and using remote resources, and we’ll discuss ways in which COSAS and the Library may assist in accessing digital collections.

The workshop is open to University of Chicago faculty and graduate students. Additional dates/sessions will be added as needed. 

The workshop will be held via Zoom. 

Zoom link:



Tuesday, October 6, 2020 - 3:00pm
Zoom link in event description

Webinar: Preserving Democracy during the Pandemic

A discussion between regional experts about the state of democracy around the world during the Covid-19 pandemic, and how it can be strengthened. Conversation topics might include: In what ways have authoritarian leaders used the pandemic to strengthen their grip on power? Will the measures we have seen in established democracies lead to democratic erosion after the crisis is over? What differences do we see across countries? What are some key actions to maintain and strengthen democratic institutions during and after the crisis?

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Sponsored by the Chicago Center on Democracy

Friday, April 17, 2020 - 11:00am
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South Asian Music Ensemble Performance

Please join the South Asian Music Ensemble for an afternoon of music featuring a variety of forms and genres encompassing both North and South Indian classical traditions, including bandish, kriti, tarana, thiruppavai, and tillana. The performance will also showcase a suite of performances set in Raga Bihaag, as well as a variety of solo vocal and instrumental acts.

The University of Chicago’s South Asian Music Ensemble in the Department of Music features a twenty-five member troupe accompanied by tabla, mridangam, harmonium, bamboo flute, lap steel guitar, sitar, violin, and more. The group explores a variety of classical, vernacular, and popular music traditions broadly situated in South Asia.

Free admission, reception will follow.

Sunday, March 8, 2020 - 2:00pm
International House, Assembly Hall

Letters from the Local Bazaar: Scraps and Scrolls of Mobility in the Global Eras of Art History

Lecture by Dipti Khera, Assistant Professor of Art History, New York University

Northern and western India’s well-traveled Jain merchants commissioned numerous letters between 1400 and 1900 to invite eminent monks to their towns. They sought to entice recipients with pictures of urban places and completed journeys. In a letter sent from the port of Diu, ca. 1666, painters and scribes juxtaposed the vignette of Jain monks and nuns who would walk long tracts of land on foot with the image of Portuguese merchants who had crossed the vast expanse of sea on ships. How do the projects of globalizing and decolonizing art history address these kinds of scrolls and scraps, and their marked wear and tear? What types of objects do we privilege in writing the history of peregrination? How do the perspectives of local bazaars and transregional journeys on inland frontiers feature in the discussions of early modern oceanic travels?

This event is co-sponsored by the Interwoven project at the Neubauer Collegium and the Art History Department at the University of Chicago.

Friday, March 6, 2020 - 1:00pm
Neubauer Collegium