Past Events

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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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:

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

Thursday, October 29, 2020 - 5:00pm
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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:

If you require assistance to attend, please email

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.


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

TAPSA: Many Tongues, Many Voices: The Multilingual World of the Indian Press (1900–1915)

Sanjukta Poddar, doctoral candidate in South Asian Languages and Civilizations

At the turn of the twentieth century, the city of Allahabad emerged as a significant site of efflorescence in print culture. The city’s most prolific publishing house during this period, the Indian Press (est. 1884) and its founder, the enterprising print capitalist, Chintamoni Ghosh (1844 –1928), are today remembered as champions of Hindi, and the city is similarly viewed as the center of Hindi culture and Hindu sacred geography. Through an analysis of the Indian Press and through a brief reading of select journals in Hindi, Bangla, English, Urdu, this presentation demonstrates the existence of heterogenous print culture in the city and explores the meaning of multilingualism in this period. What was the role played by middle-class educated and professional migrants in shaping the city’s culture? Was the modern instantiation of multilingualism in Allahabad the same as its pre-colonial counterpart? In tracking opinion-building in journals of this multilingual milieu, what do we learn about the contestation of ideas and values in the public sphere of this period?

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 to be added to our listserv. 

Thursday, October 22, 2020 - 5:00pm
Please see event description for Zoom details

“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

South Asia Seminar: Gendering Jajmani, Caste-ing Monastic Governmentality and Capital

Indrani Chatterjee, University of Texas at Austin, Department of History

In 1855, Rashmoni, a widow of the caste of fishermen, built a large temple on the bank of the Ganges. Then she employed three very poor rural Brahmin men to serve as priests, paying each a small cash-salary, supplemented with annuals gifts of cloth, grain and fuel. Historians of medieval India have long characterized such temple- construction as royal activity, capping their status of yajamans (colloquially jajman) or patrons of ritual (yajna). By this reckoning, Rashmoni's actions should have also qualified her as a royal yajaman. Yet neither postcolonial nor feminist historians of South Asia have written of these lower-caste widows as royal patrons. What explains their silence? This talk aims to open up the intersections of gender, governmentality and capital through the peculiar relationship identified in jajmani in the records of the first half of the nineteenth century in eastern South Asia.

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 to be added to our listserv. 

Thursday, October 8, 2020 - 5:00pm
Please see event description for Zoom details

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

Chicago Dialogues: Episode 1-The Ray Less Traveled

The inaugural episode of Chicago Dialogues sheds fresh light on some of the lesser known contours in the work and genius of the auteur, Satyajit Ray, including the film-makers who left a deep impact on him, the subtle political undertones in his films, the eternal present-ness of the Calcutta Trilogy, the selective use of leitmotifs, and the uniqueness of his music.  The series of Chicago Dialogues is being hosted by UChicago Center in Delhi in association with
  • Barun Chanda: Actor, Author, Advertising Professional
  • Dr. Rochona Majumdar: Associate Professor, South Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago
  • Avik Chanda: Bestselling Author, Columnist, Entrepreneur
Date: Saturday, September 19, 2020
Time: 8:00 - 9:00 PM India Time / 9:30 - 10:30 AM US Central TIme (Chicago)

Join live on: Facebook @UChicagodelhi /

Saturday, September 19, 2020 - 9:30am to 10:30am
Streaming on Facebook Live at @uchicagodelhi