Past Events

South Asian Classical Music Society of Chicago presents: Shri Kushal Das, sitar, with Ramdas Palsule, tabla

Considered by many the leading sitarist of our day but rarely heard live outside of India, Kushal Das makes his first Chicago appearance in decades. His music stunningly joines marvelous melodic approaches with wonderful rhythmic virtuosity. Admissions free; donations to SACMS encouraged.

Saturday, May 13, 2017 - 8:00pm
DePaul University Concert Hall, 800 W. Belden St.

South Asia Seminar

Sunila Kale, Associate Professor, International Studies, University of Washington

Thursday, May 11, 2017 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm
Foster 103

TAPSA: Zak leonard, PhD candidate, History

From the late 1830s onwards, Quakers, radicals, abolitionists, and free traders increasingly sought to ameliorate the condition of British subjects at home and abroad who suffered at the hands of monopolistic forces. Articulating a rights-based imperial constitutionalism that interwove a defense of English liberties and natural law, these reformers observed that Indian peasant cultivators, the British working classes, and native princes alike were degraded by forms of political, or “virtual,” slavery. Representing the economic and political monopolization of power as an intra-imperial evil provided the reformers with a unifying principle for their agitation. Moreover, it allowed them to envision a future in which India could be thoroughly integrated within the broader empire as an equal trading partner and governed as a sub-polity under metropolitan legal protection. But despite these advances, officials in the upper echelon of the East India Company bureaucracy repudiated calls for greater transparency. Institutionalized obstacles continued to obviate systematic reform and hinder the establishment of a functional imperial civil society. This paper will focus on two particular issues that precipitated debate over Indians’ subject rights: the causes of the 1837-38 Agra famine and the dethronement of Pratap Singh, the raja of the princely state of Satara, in 1839. In doing so, it will engage with recent scholarship on constitutionalism, the creation of scandal, and the revival of Burkean critiques of colonial malfeasance.

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

South Asia Seminar: “South Asia’s Coastal Frontiers”

Sunil Amrith, Professor, History, Harvard University

In the environmental history of South Asia forests, not the coasts or the seas, have provided the focus for accounts of the expansion of state power over nature. By contrast, recent writing on inter-regional mobility has tended to treat port cities in their relations with one another, but abstracted from their material environment. This talk explores the environmental history of coastal India, in an effort to address the imbalance between histories of mobility and immobile histories of power.

Thursday, April 27, 2017 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm
Foster 103

“A Meeting of Two Seas” (Hindu-Muslim Concert)

A concert celebrating the joint contributions of Hindus and Muslims to the artistic traditions of South Asia, followed by a catered dinner.
Sponsors: Hindu Student Sangam, Muslim Students Association, Office of Spiritual Life, South Asian Students Association
This event is the first collaboration between the Hindu Student Sangam and the Muslim Students Association in over a decade!

Saturday, April 22, 2017 - 6:00pm to 8:30pm
Rockefeller Memorial Chapel

TAPSA: “We Can’t Afford to Be Ethical: Professional Aspirations and its Limits in Pakistani News Media”

Ayesha Mulla, PhD Candidate, Anthropology

In 2013, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists surmised that at least 18,000 new journalists had entered the workforce, where almost 70% of these recruits had no formal training in journalism and less than 5% of which were women. Drawing on recent ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Karachi and in-depth interviews with a range of broadcast news journalists – from reporters and producers to executive producers – this paper traces how the professional aspirations of journalists turn on the ambiguous and volatile boundaries of sensationalist television news in Pakistan.
Among the frequent critiques levied at private news channels, the trope of the untrained reporter, dispatched to cover breaking news events, continues to feature regularly in liberal elite commentary. Invariably described as contaminating crime scenes, entering victims’ residences, shoving cameras and microphones into grieving family members faces and asking them inane questions in between their wails, these “unprofessional” and “unethical” reporters often find themselves in precarious dilemmas. Caught between the ratings-race to deliver breaking news footage to their respective newsrooms and simultaneously scapegoated by their corporate management when they step out of bounds, how do employees in the television news industry negotiate their journalistic ethics while operating in a climate of uncertainty that has both fed and threatened their daily work? Tracing these conflicting tensions, this paper will show how the prevailing discourse on the ethics of journalism (as aspirational and yet inadequate), becomes a site through which vulnerable labor in the Pakistani news media industry emerges as most apparent.

Thursday, April 20, 2017 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm
Foster 103

"Music and Moral Being in South and Central Asia"

Questions of music's relation to the moral being of those who make and hear it have occupied the minds of philosophers, theologians, bards, and ordinary listeners since classical antiquity. Richard Wolf will explore these questions in light of the lives, the poetry, and the music of bards and drummers of Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India. The presentation is based on approximately 8 years of fieldwork in these countries, drawing texts and interviews in Persian, Tajik, Urdu, Tamil, Kota, and Wakhi languages.
Reception to follow.

Friday, April 14, 2017 - 4:30pm
Saieh Hall for Economics 146

Hereditary Musicians in India and Europe: How to Create Music Exceptionalism

Daniel Neuman, Professor, Ethnomusicology, Mohindar Brar Sambhi Chair of Indian Music, and Interim Director, UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music

As with many other specialist occupations — think of the guilds of medieval Europe or even the family kinship connected trade crafts of organized unions in the United States — music as a profession was often inherited and in North India, this was commonly the case until well into the middle of the 20th century. I want to consider the case of North India in a bit of detail today, not so much as a presumed model of what might have been the case in Europe three centuries back, but as a study of the intersection of musical pedigree with biography, history and what we will sometimes refer to as genius.

Friday, April 7, 2017 - 3:30pm
Fulton Recital Hall in Goodspeed Hall

TAPSA: “Reading the Landscape: Systematic Geography and Disputed Territory”

Kyle Gardner, PhD Candidate, History

This paper focuses on two different colonial approaches to “reading” the northwestern Himalaya and the broader imperial periphery. The first, a top-down approach centered on constructing a bordered territory, is reflected in the development and organization of gazetteers and other manuals of governance. This increasingly technocratic mode of seeing territory built off of earlier surveys that crafted a unified spatial image India. But this image of bounded territory belied deeper uncertainties in frontier locales. The second half of the paper is devoted to case studies that challenge the top-down reading of imperial territory. These include debates over the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir’s jāgīr (rent-free estate) in Tibet, concerns over the triennial Ladakhi “tribute” mission to Lhasa (the lo.phyag), the apparent abduction of a Ladakhi trader by Tibetan authorities, and ongoing debates between Tibetan, Kashmiri, and British officials over where semi-nomadic pastoralists ( were to pay taxes. These examples offer an alternative reading of the landscape, one that is much less legible to colonial administrators and casts doubt on the top-down definition of boundaries assumed in the geographical episteme of the gazetteers and other administrative manuals.

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

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

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