Past Conferences and Workshops

South Asia Graduate Student Conference: "South Asia and the Limits of Humanistic Inquiry"

Keynote Speakers: Lorraine Daston (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, The University of Chicago); Mahesh Rangarajan (Ashoka University)
"South Asia and the Limits of Humanistic Inquiry"

Humanistic inquiry has played an important role in shaping South Asia, and South Asia has played an important role in shaping humanistic inquiry. But how far back into the past and how far into the future does this hold true? The fifteenth annual South Asia Graduate Student Conference at the University of Chicago invites papers that address the limits—whether temporal, institutional or conceptual—of humanistic inquiry. The question we pose is a simple one: Why should scholarship on South Asia lead academic discussions that invest new agency in the environment and other non-human entities?

Often unacknowledged in discussions of humanistic practices, South Asia has been the site of disciplinary regimes where distinctions of the human and non-human were instituted for the first time or at an unprecedented scale. The conference hopes to foreground South Asia as the site of a double exclusion: certain practices of knowledge were excluded from scholarly inquiry at the same time as animals, mountains, rivers and other non-human agents were written out of humanistic concerns. By bringing this double exclusion into view, we can see how the limiting of inquiry and the limitations of inquiry are distinct, yet related phenomena.

Practices such as philological close-reading, the collection of big data, and ethnographic fieldwork have determined the scales and working objects of scholarship in subtle, yet powerful ways, and we solicit papers that explore the limits of such practices. How might we learn from different epistemologies of precolonial South Asia and how they divide the phenomena of the world? What can we gain by returning to moments when current divisions were not presumed to be inevitable or obvious? How have institutional changes in South Asia—whether enacted by political interests or techno-developmentalist visions—enforced disciplinary divisions and values?

These questions are urgent as South Asia today also serves as a reminder that we can no longer afford to leave the agency of nonhumans out from our analyses. Catastrophes that have been put off by massive investments in engineering projects in the Global North have a much more immediate presence in South Asia.

Organizing Committee:
Anna Lee White, Divinity School
Eric Gurevitch, South Asian Languages and Civilizations
Joya John, South Asian Languages and Civilizations
Faculty Advisor: Constantine V. Nakassis, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology

Dates: 
Thursday, March 1, 2018 (All day) to Friday, March 2, 2018 (All day)

Chicago Tamil Workshop

The Chicago Tamil Forum is workshop for scholars working on modern Tamilagam to share their ongoing, unpublished work. Begun in May 2014, the three-day workshop meets annually at the University of Chicago in Chicago, IL USA.

Working papers of the Chicago Tamil Forum, earlier presented in the workshops, are put online here.

Contact: Constantine V. Nakassis (cnakassi@uchicago.edu)

Dates: 
Thursday, May 25, 2017 - 4:30pm to Saturday, May 27, 2017 - 7:00pm
Department of Anthropology, Haskell

Chicago Tamil Forum

Thursday: Keynote speaker Michael Silverstein
The theme of this year's workshop is Poesis/Politics of Language and Place in Tamilagam, which is devoted to, and emerges out of conversation with, the work of the late Barney Bate, who was a central member of the group.
Friday and Saturday: Paper workshopping. Participants pre-circulate scholarly works-in-progress (two to three weeks in advance) that take the major themes/works of Barney's research as a departure point.

Dates: 
Thursday, May 25, 2017 (All day) to Saturday, May 27, 2017 (All day)

Vivekananda Lecture

Speaker: David Shulman

Dates: 
Tuesday, May 16, 2017 - 5:30pm
International House Assembly Hall

Chicago Quarterly Review Literary Reading: The South Asian American Issue

Featuring Award Winning Authors: S. Afzal Haidar, Faisal Mohyuddin, Dipika Mukherjee, Toni Nealie, Ravibala Shenoy, Sachin Waikar, Moderated by Elizabeth McKenzie

Dates: 
Tuesday, April 4, 2017 - 6:30pm to 8:30pm
International House Coulter Lounge

"Relief after Hardship: The Turkish Ottoman Model for the Thousand and One Day"

A lecture by Prof. Marzolph.

In his talk, Prof. Marzolph will discuss the complicated relation between the early eighteenth-century French Mille et un Jours (The Thousand and one Days), the fourteenth century Ottoman Ferec baʿd eş-şidde (Relief after Hardship), and a genre of Persian literature that is known as Jâmeʿ al-hekâyât (Compilation of Tales). Since Ottoman Turkish literature proves to be a suitable candidate for the transmission of tales from East to West long before the European translation of The Thousand and One Nights, Prof. Marzolph contends that the early reception of these tales from Muslim narrative tradition might well have had an inspiring impact on the nascent genre of the European fairy tale that has come to know international success today.

Dates: 
Tuesday, April 4, 2017 - 4:30pm
Swift, Lecture Hall, 3rd floor

"Traveling Tales: The Muslim World's Contribution to World Narrative Lore”

A discussion of two tale types which occur in Sanskrit, Persian, Arabic, Ottoman and modern European languages. If you would like to attend, please email avhoffmann@uchicago.edu.

Dates: 
Monday, April 3, 2017 - 2:30pm to 4:00pm
Foster 103

Contemporary China Speakers Series: “India’s China Policy and Where the U.S. Fits In”

The Paulson Institute, Chicago Harris, and the Committee on Southern Asian Studies invite you to join our lecture and discussion series on contemporary China.
Featuring: Tanvi Madan, Fellow, Project on International Order and Strategy in the Foreign Policy Program, Brookings Institution, Director of The India Project
For more information, visit: http://www.paulsoninstitute.org/events/2017/03/10/contemporary-china-spe...

Dates: 
Wednesday, March 29, 2017 - 12:00pm to 1:15pm
The Quadrangle Club, Solarium

Materials in Focus: Working across Media and Methods in South Asia

The South Asia Graduate Student Conference at the University of Chicago is known for bringing together graduate students working on the Indian Subcontinent across disciplines, time periods and regions of interest from campuses within and outside the United States. The conference offers a unique opportunity for graduate students working on southern Asia to engage with the research of their peers.

How can a more rigorous intellectual engagement with materials open up how we conceptualise cultural constructs and emergent political formations? What are affordances and resistance of the materials we engage with to study South Asia? How do we mobilize these beyond their functional purpose as ‘sources’, grappling instead with the very processes of their fabrication, preservation (or destruction) and place in the historical record? The diverse range of materials – archival, epigraphic, archaeological, art historical, performative, ethnographic among others shape our methodological choices and the media in which we make and circulate our work.

We invite methodologically self-reflexive papers that foreground questions of materials and materiality in South Asian studies. Possible themes include but are not limited to: material culture, archives and ‘museification’, oral narratives and histories, the making and circulation of art, performance and theatre, film and new media. Presentations may take several forms, including seminar papers, collaborative projects and performances.

Please send a title and abstract (250-300 words) to sagsc2017.uchicago@gmail.com by 5 pm on 29th December 2016.

Abstracts should include name, e-mail address and institutional affiliation.

Selected participants will be informed by 5th January 2017.

Dates: 
Thursday, February 23, 2017 - 9:00am to Friday, February 24, 2017 - 8:00pm
Classics 110

"Inhabiting the Past in Twentieth-Century South Asia"

On November 4, 2016, Faridah Zaman, Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Research Fellow in History, and Daniel Morgan, doctoral candidate in South Asian Languages and Civilizations, will co-host a workshop to discuss issues broadly relating to historical writing, memory, myth and oral traditions, the construction of intellectual and cultural narratives of origin and belonging, and the making of "usable pasts" for purposes that are political or otherwise in twentieth-century South Asia. The workshop will be in Social Sciences Research Building, room 401, from 9 AM to 6 PM.

Dates: 
Friday, November 4, 2016 - 9:00am
Social Sciences Research Building Room 401

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