Past Events

TAPSA: "Style, Voice and Philosophy: A Study of Ratnākaraśānti’s and Jñānaśrīmitra’s Introductory Verses"

David Tomlinson

Does our appreciation of a philosopher’s style and voice affect effect our reading of his or her arguments? And if it does, is there any way that this might be admissible as evidence in our discussion of those arguments? By looking at their ornate introductory verses, I will explore these questions by considering the contrasting voices and philosophical, religious, and pedagogical interests of the eleventh-century Indian Buddhist philosophers Ratnākaraśānti and Jñānaśrīmitra.

Thursday, October 19, 2017 - 5:00pm
Foster 103


A digital humanities project launch hosted by Ulrike Stark

Wednesday, October 18, 2017 - 12:30pm
Foster 103

South Asia Seminar: "Love Jihad: Pasts and Presents of Communal Fantasies and Moral Panic”

Charu Gupta, Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Delhi

This talk will juxtapose disjunctive invocations of Hindu male prowess and constructions of ‘licentious’ and sexually ‘ferocious’ Muslim male on the one hand, and assertions of recalcitrant female desire on the other, in modern India. Taking at its cue manufactured campaigns by hegemonic-homogenized Hindu identities and patriarchies around ‘abductions’ and conversions of Hindu women by Muslim men in early twentieth century colonial north India and in present-day India under the supposed threat of ‘love jihad’, the talk will probe intersections between sexualities, religious identities, intimate lives and political articulations.

The talk will reflect on how the arc of Hindu female desire for men outside the community, even while reifying heteronormativity, means that such desire is visceral and tactile, though it can only be acknowledged when it is being regulated as transgression, producing moral disciplining and everyday violence along the alliance model of sexuality, where through the arrangement of marriages, relations and boundaries of religion are policed.

Thursday, October 12, 2017 - 5:00pm
Foster 103

TAPSA: "Defining Slavery through Tamil and Malayalam Texts"

Malarvizhi Jayanth

Comparisons between West Indian and South Asian forms of slavery marked the unprecedented scrutiny of the enslaved in nineteenth-century southern India during the East India Company’s attempts to abolish slavery. Taking the question posed by abolitionism to an assortment of Tamil and Malayāḷam texts ranging from the ancient through the modern, this talk presents some indigenous definitions of slavery. While elite texts posit caste difference as cause for enslavement and place the enslaved outside history altogether, subaltern rituals and texts question the hierarchy and insist on the historical agency of the enslaved.

Thursday, October 5, 2017 - 5:00pm
Foster 103

South Asia Seminar: "Role of Parks and Sanctuaries in the Conservation of India’s Biodiversity"

Trevor Price, Professor of Biology, Department of Ecology and Evolution, Chair of COSAS

Remarkably, India has lost few animals and plants over the past 100 years, but many populations are now low, and rapid development is increasing threats on nature. Development is also creating opportunities for conservation, especially through eco-tourism. This talk will focus on the history and prospects for nature conservation in India through the maintenance of wildlife parks and sanctuaries.

Thursday, September 28, 2017 - 5:00pm
Foster 103

TAPSA: “The Reluctant Bureaucrat: the Ethical and the Everyday in Punjab’s Irrigation bureaucracy”

Maira Hayat

This paper explores the Irrigation bureaucracy in Pakistan’s Punjab province, and pursues two nodes as limits to the bureaucratic self: friendship and corruption. It brings into conversation literature on bureaucracies, states, and the ethical and everyday. The paper is a part of a dissertation chapter I am currently working on. My dissertation is titled, Ecologies of Water Governance in Pakistan: The Colony, the Corporation and the Contemporary.

Thursday, June 1, 2017 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm
Foster 103

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 (

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.

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

TAPSA: “Of Parrots and Crows: Bīdel and Ḥazīn in their Own Words”

Jane Mikkelson, PhD candidate, SALC and NELC

Was there a historically identifiable “Indian style” of early modern Persian poetry, or is this a term that has been merely invented (as some have argued) by modern scholarship? If there was indeed an emic conception of an Indian style of Persian verse, in what did this style consist, and by whom was it defined? Finally, what is the value of thinking with this category today? This talk will attempt to address these questions in two ways. First, key examples drawn from the early modern Persian literary critical tradition will be presented, with particular attention to how certain figurations – including ambiguity (īhām), metaphor (esteʿāre), and what is imagined (khayāl) – were identified by early modern Persian-language critics as being constitutive of an Indian style. These first steps towards reconstructing the complex history of the very idea of an Indian style lead to the second angle of approach: allowing the poets to speak for themselves. To this end, the talk will examine three early modern Persian lyric poems on the theme of geography, homeland, and exile: a ghazal by Ṣāʾeb Tabrīzī (d.1676), and two response-poems (javābs) by Bīdel Dehlavī (d.1721) and Ḥazīn Lāhījī (d.1766), close reading of which will be informed by categories, values, and orientations recovered from the early modern critical tradition. Building on the rich range of specific meanings and values that analysis of these three poems brings to light, it will also be argued more generally that attending to the Persian lyric tradition must be regarded as vital – even central – to investigating matters of style, geography, and belonging in the early modern Persianate world.

Thursday, May 18, 2017 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm
Foster 103

Vivekananda Lecture

Speaker: David Shulman

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