Past Events

Orders of Time, Limits of History: Propositions from South Asian Studies

What can poet Nīlakaṇṭha Dīkṣita’s constant preoccupation with the Kaliyuga tell us about his reflections on time? On what increasingly impossible “naturalism of historical time” was Bengali nineteenth century encyclopedist’s Nagendranath Basu’s confrontation with the ruins of Kamrup predicated, and what did it obscure? Is it possible that a fundamental disaggregation of the temporal terrain of Bengali Muslim literary history is indexed by the contending efforts of Bangladeshi historians? These three questions in South Asian studies all demand, in the words of François Hartog’s Regimes of Historicity, that time be made thinkable.

Join us in thinking about the temporalities that ground past phenomena, the limits intrinsic to the recovery of past articulations of time, and the silent pervasiveness of temporal commitments as we offer short presentations of our work. Our short presentations will be followed by reflections on history and its time by prof. Dipesh Chakrabarty and prof. François Hartog.
Eduardo Acosta, “Twilight Medievalism”
Talia Ariav, “Nīlakaṇṭha Dīkṣita’s Kaliyuga”
Thomas Newbold, “The Brahmin at Karbala”
Reflections by Dipesh Chakraborty, Lawrence A. Kimpton Distinguished Service Professor, UChicago, and Francois Hartog, Directeur d'Etudes & Chaire d'Historiographie Ancienne et Moderne, EHESS.

Thursday, May 3, 2018 - 12:30pm to 2:00pm
Foster 103

"A Meeting of Two Seas"

"A Meeting of Two Seas": For the second year in a row, UChicago's Hindu Student Sangam and Muslim Students Association present "A Meeting of Two Seas"! This year's concert celebrates the diverse performing arts traditions of South Asia, with a focus on the Hindu, Muslim, and Sikh mystic poets of Central and South Asia who spoke out against orthodoxy, fundamentalism, and injustice. Featuring opening acts of dance, music, and poetry, with a main performance by special guests Riyaaz Qawwali. Light refreshments will follow. Free and open to all! (7:30-9:30 pm, Rockefeller Memorial Chapel)
RSVP to the Facebook event here:

Sponsored by the Hindu Student Sangam, Muslim Students Association, Sikh Student Association, Spiritual Life Office, South Asian Students Association, Sadhana: Coalition of Progressive Hindus, and Rockefeller Memorial Chapel.

Saturday, April 28, 2018 - 7:30pm
Rockefeller Memorial Chapel

“Diplomatic Encounters Series: An Overview of Pakistan-US Relations by The Ambassador of Pakistan to the US Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry”

This event is co-sponsored by International House at The University of Chicago, Committee on Southern Asian Studies and The Consulate General of Pakistan in Chicago. A reception will follow formal remarks. This event is free and open to the public.

Saturday, April 28, 2018 - 2:00pm
International House Assembly Hall

South Asia Seminar: "Strivers and Seekers in 17th century Lahore"

Purnima Dhawan, Associate Professor at the Department of History, Director of Graduate Studies, Howard and Frances Keller Endowed Professor, University of Washington

By the seventeenth century a proliferation of individuals and communities in the Mughal province of Lahore began to articulate their search for new ethical norms in a variety of texts. Situated both in elite, courtly circles as well as humbler vernacular contexts, this phenomenon has generally been studied through the lens of religious expression and reform. By placing these texts within the dramatically changing demographic profile of the province, this paper argues that such texts should also be viewed as articulations of new social personas and ethical codes that give us an exciting glimpse of the rapidly changing nature of Lahore’s communities.

Thursday, April 26, 2018 - 5:00pm
Foster 103

TAPSA: “The Role of Human and Animal Diets in the Socioeconomic Organization of Neolithic, Iron Age, and Early Historic South India: A Zooarchaeological and Dental Microwear Study”

Kelly Wilcox, doctoral candidate in the Department of Anthropology

This paper examines faunal remains from the site Kadebakele (Karnataka) in order to explore how human-animal relationships and animal-based subsistence practices changed throughout the Neolithic (3000-1200 BCE), Iron Age (1200BCE-300BCE), and Early Historic (300BCE-500CE) periods in South India. In addition, the paper includes recent analyses of dental microwear data and its usefulness in reconstructing changes in herd animal diets and for determining if shifts in animal management practices coincided with periods of overgrazing. Using the results of these analyses, this paper explores how human and animal diets both played an important role in shaping broader changes in socioeconomic organization and land-use choices.

Thursday, April 19, 2018 - 5:00pm
Foster 103

Women in the Mahabharata: Featuring Amruta Patil

Join COSAS for a weekend of talks on Amruta Patil’s recent rendering of the Mahabharata as a trilogy of graphic novels. Patil published the first volume, Adi Parva, with Harper Collins India in 2012, and she released the second volume, Sauptik in 2016. Patil has an MFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Her first graphic novel, Kari, is about a gay woman and her superhero alter-ego in Bombay, and was published in English, French, and Italian.

Patil’s work engages with the Sanskrit epic the Mahabharata, bringing stories and lessons from it into the 21st-century, but it is in no way a simplification or glorification of the past. She struggles with the tradition she invokes, pushing back against expected interpretations, and engaging with minor characters and tropes that are not usually brought to the fore. She brashly inserts herself into a sacred tradition, living within it, drawing on the scholarship of Chicagoans such as Wendy Doniger and the late A.K. Ramanujan, talking openly and sincerely about sex and gender, and not stopping there—getting away with it—beautifully.

Thursday, April 12th
Discussion with Amruta Patil (6:30pm-7:30pm, Seminary Co-op Bookstore)
Light refreshments will be served.

Friday, April 13th
“Forests of Learning” talk by Amruta Patil, in conversation with Prof. Wendy Doniger (4pm-5:45pm, Third Floor Lecture Hall, Swift Hall)
Light refreshments will be served.

Thursday, April 12, 2018 - 6:30pm to Friday, April 13, 2018 - 5:45pm

South Asia Seminar: “Indo-Humanism and Brahmin Identity in Early Modern Goa”

Stuart McManus, Postdoctoral Fellow, Stevanovich Institute on the Formation of Knowledge, University of Chicago

In early modern Goa, Jesuit missionaries in collaboration with local high-caste Christians codified Konkani grammar and collected vernacular versions of canonical South Asian texts. This led to the creation of a scholarly culture of "Indo-Humanism", which channeled local rhetorical and philosophical traditions within a Neo-Roman humanist framework. This paper addresses the particular caste valency of Indo-Humanism, taking as a starting point the Konkani sermons of the Jesuit missionary, Miguel de Almeida.

Thursday, April 12, 2018 - 5:00pm
Foster 103

Tea Time Concert: South Asian Music Ensemble

The weekly Tea Time Concert Series includes a wide variety of musical genres, instruments and repertoire selections featuring both student and faculty performers from the University of Chicago as well as professional musicians from the Chicagoland area.
Admission is free! Complimentary tea and cookies are served.

Thursday, April 12, 2018 - 4:30pm
Fulton Recital Hall

“A Brief Look at the Linguistic, Cultural, and Strategic Significance of Nuristan”

Lecture by Richard Strand, a leading scholar on the languages and societies of Nuristan, having spent over nine years as a linguistic and ethnographic researcher in eastern Afghanistan and northern Pakistan. He has worked variously in linguistic field research, directing NGO work in Afghanistan, and consulting on Afghanistan-related questions. Since 2013 he has been retired, but continues the ongoing publication of his linguistic research, much of which appears on his website at

The remote mountainous region of Nuristan in northeastern Afghanistan is home to fifteen tribal societies that speak the five languages of the Nuristani subgroup of the Indo-Iranian languages. Richard Strand will discuss some unique linguistic features of these languages, in their historical and cultural context, with further remarks on the role the Nuristanis have played in the on-going regional conflict.

This talk is of potential interest to linguists, anthropologists, sociologists, and political scientists.

Thursday, April 12, 2018 - 3:30pm
Stuart 104