Past Events

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.

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

"Visual Amplification and the Remaking of Alandi’s Sacred Skyline"

South Asia Seminar: Anna Schultz, Department of Music, University of Chicago

Every year, hundreds of thousands of varkaris travel to Alandi to visit Sant Dnyaneshwar’s samadhi and listen to devotional songs. For several decades, these songs have been sonically amplified by sound systems, but more recently they have also been visually amplified by an enormous projection screen that transforms one bank of the Indrayani River into a stage for those seated on the other side. This talk addresses how the massive audio-visual structure has reshaped Alandi’s sacred skyline and produced new forms of listening.

Dates: 
Thursday, January 10, 2019 - 5:00pm
Foster 103

Measuring Futures: Expertise and Postcolonial Politics in Asia

Measuring Futures will comparatively examine the rise and impact of postwar data and planning sciences on development policies, democratic change and political infrastructures in a number of Asian countries, including India, China, Japan, Singapore and Malaysia. This effort is part of a longer series of events at the University of Chicago (under the title New Nations/New Sciences: Cybernetic States), that aimed to revisit historical and anthropological insights on the politics of expertise, to centrally examine the tensions between technocracy and democratic aspirations in the Asian context.

Dates: 
Monday, December 10, 2018 (All day) to Tuesday, December 11, 2018 (All day)

Regional Societies and Frames of Memory in British India: East, West and North

South Asia Seminar: Sumit Guha, University of Texas at Austin

Social memory is defined by its public and societally monitored character. It is made and reproduced within a framework of social and political relations that create and bound a community of thought. I will outline the forms these narratives took and the structuring forces that shaped them by surveying three major regions of British India.

Dates: 
Thursday, December 6, 2018 - 5:00pm
Foster 103

The Founding of Bhutan in the Context of Tibet’s Seventeenth Century

TAPSA: Jetsun Deleplanque, Divinity School

This paper focuses on the theoretical foundations of the Bhutanese state founded by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel (1594-1651) in the seventeenth century by paying attention to larger political developments taking place on the Tibetan plateau. Taking as its primary source the works of Tsang Khenchen Palden Gyatso (1610-84), the political refugee and famed biographer of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, my paper argues that the theocracy of Ngawang Namgyel was established and further consolidated within the confines of a specific environment which represents the culmination of a number of social and political developments taking place in Tibet during the period. Crucial among these were the momentous events that the led to the toppling of the little-studied Tsangpa hegemony of western Tibet and the establishment of the Ganden Phodrang government of the Dalai Lamas.

Dates: 
Thursday, November 29, 2018 - 5:00pm
Foster 103

Book Launch and Reading: The Tale of the Missing Man

Join Jason Grunebaum and Ulrike Stark for their reading of their English translation of Manzoor Ahtesham's The Tale of the Missing Man, published by Northwestern University Press, and winner of the inaugural Global Humanities Translation Prize.

Dates: 
Friday, November 16, 2018 - 6:00pm
Seminary Co-Op

South Asia Seminar: Charlie Hallisey, Harvard Divinity School

South Asia Seminar: Charlie Hallisey, Harvard Divinity School

Dates: 
Thursday, November 15, 2018 - 5:00pm
Foster 103

Buddhism, Thought, and Civilization: A Memorial Symposium for Steven Collins

Thursday: Swift Lecture Hall, 2:45pm-7pm
Friday: Franke Institute, 8:30am-1:30pm; Foster Hall 103, 3pm
Please see the uchicago voices event page for a schedule and other details.

Dates: 
Thursday, November 15, 2018 (All day) to Friday, November 16, 2018 (All day)

The Celebration and Preservation of Urdu: A Talk by Sanjiv Saraf

Lunch in honor of Sanjiv Saraf, the main inspiration behind the Urdu festival, Jashn-e-Rekhta. Organized and hosted by Muzaffar Alam, Dipesh Charkabarty, and Elena Bashir.

Dates: 
Friday, November 9, 2018 - 12:30pm
Foster 103

An Archaeology of the Virtues: Conversion and the History of the Khanzada of Mewat

TAPSA: Mudit Trivedi, doctoral candidate in Anthropology

A short distance south of Delhi, nestled in the Mewat hills are the remains of the fort-city of Indor. This city was founded in the fourteenth century CE by a lineage who came to call themselves the Khanzada of Mewat after their conversion to Islam . This talk presents some selected results of an extended multi-year project of architectural documentation, archaeological survey and excavations at this site. Through engagement with these material and spatial data, as well as recent debates over the history of the region of Mewat this talk outlines what an archaeology of conversion may have to contribute to the study of medieval India and Islam. Such an approach, arguably, affords the possibility of not explaining conversion nor inquiring into its motives; but rather of providing an account of the world a convert community enters into and the way of life it fosters and aims to secure. In doing so, the talk shall ground a series of archaeological analyses within an appraisal of the salience of the virtues in Islam to the Khanzada. Towards this end, the talk presents two sets of analysis, of glass ornaments and that of mortuary assemblages. Through these examples, the talk provides two accounts of the world the Khanzada crafted at Indor and how these were both articulated and evaluated in light of continuing arguments about virtue, rank and descent in south Asian Islam.

Dates: 
Thursday, November 8, 2018 - 5:00pm
Foster 103

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