Past Events

The Modern Spirit of Asia: Comparing Indian and Chinese Spiritual Nationalism

Annual Vivekananda Lecture by Professor Peter van der Veer, Director at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity

Peter van der Veer is Director of the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity at Göttingen and is currently a Visiting Professor in the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations. He served as Dean of the Social Science Faculty and as Dean of the Amsterdam School for Social Science Research at Amsterdam, and as Director of the International Institute for the Study of Islam and Chairman of the Board of the International Institute for Asian Studies, both in Leiden. Van der Veer works on religion and nationalism in Asia and Europe. He published a monograph on the comparative study of religion and nationalism in India and China, entitled The Modern Spirit of Asia. The Spiritual and the Secular in China and India (Princeton University Press, 2013) Among his other major publications are Gods on Earth (LSE Monographs, 1988), Religious Nationalism (University of California Press, 1994), and Imperial Encounters (Princeton University Press, 2001). Most recently he edited the Handbook of Religion and the Asian City. Aspiration and Urbanization in the Twenty-First Century (University of California Press) Professor van der Veer serves on the Advisory Board of China in Comparative Perspective, Political Theology, and the Journal of Religious and Political Practice. He has just started a new journal: Cultural Diversity in China.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019 - 6:30pm
Social Sciences 122

UChicago Presents: Rahim AlHaj

Sunday, May 5: Rahim AlHaj (location: Logan Center)
• 2 pm – pre-concert lecture with Rahim AlHaj and Philip Bohlman
• 3 pm – Rahim AlHaj performance: “Letters from Iraq”
• Post-concert reception

Monday, May 6: continued performances by Rahim AlHaj
• Two school visits with performances (location: Logan Center)

Sunday, May 5, 2019 - 2:00pm to Monday, May 6, 2019 - 12:00am
Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts

“The Sun in the Belly: Indian Artist-Bureaucrat S.N.S. Sastry”

One of the key figures of documentary and short film practice in India, S.N.S. Sastry was a bureaucrat making state-sponsored films for the Indian government’s Films Division. Most government films were considered boring, but Sastry developed a nervous, flashy, and humorous style to catch audience attention, leavening serious topics with humor, self-reflexivity, and irony. Even during the period of the Emergency, when state-sponsored films were heavy-handed propaganda, Sastry used images and sounds in ways that evades fixed meanings—including an eclectic style of montage, dissonant sound, and “remix”—demonstrating the possibilities of subversion against state mandates. Titles include And I Make Short Films (1968), Our Indira (1973), and This Bit of That India (1972).
(India, 1967-1973, 100 min., digital video, courtesy of Films Division of India)
Curated by Ritika Kaushik (CMS) as part of the Film Studies Center’s Graduate Student Curatorial Program.

Friday, May 3, 2019 - 7:00pm
Logan Screening Room

Technologies of Sexuality in Tibetan Buddhism

South Asia Seminar: Sarah Jacoby, Department of Religious Studies, Northwestern University

In the past year, sex abuse allegations have scandalized some of the most prominent global Tibetan Buddhist communities, raising pressing questions about the role of sexuality in Tibetan Buddhist practice. As a way of shedding light on this too often secretive subject, this talk will examine key Tibetan autobiographical narratives as lenses for better understanding how historical Tibetan figures, namely Sera Khandro Dewé Dorjé (1892-1940) and Lelung Zhedpai Dorjé (1697-1740), negotiated between the at times competing religious dictums of celibacy and ritualized forms of sexuality in Tibetan Buddhism.

Thursday, May 2, 2019 - 5:00pm
Foster 103

Mollywood at the Borderlands: A Song of South Indian Solidarity with Latinidad

According to the 12th-century BCE Rig Veda, sound and image were shaped from the materials of the earth and woven across the cosmos like the sounds and patterns of the weaver’s shuttle. In this cosmic image, the generative force that forms the intelligible world transforms what is invisible into that which is material, and back again, by turns weaving and unraveling the world. This series of conversations, sponsored by the Interwoven project at the Neubauer Collegium, will explore case studies from several religious-cultural traditions as methodologies upon which to found an understanding of the dynamic acoustic and visual cultures that define the region of South Asia and the Indian Ocean across the longue durée.

Thursday, May 2, 2019 - 5:00pm
Rosenwald Hall, Room 301

The Big City

Doc Films Screening: The Big City

7pm & 9:30pm

Wednesday, May 1, 2019 - 7:00pm
Doc films 1212 E 59th St # 3, Chicago, IL 60637

A Meeting of Two Seas: 3.0 Migration Stories

Following the groundbreaking performances of music of South Asia offered these past two years at Rockefeller Chapel by a coalition of Hindu and Muslim students working to create a "meeting of two seas," this year's concert takes a new direction: celebrating the performance traditions that emerged from the movement and migration of diverse spiritual communities across South Asia, the Middle East, and Andalusia. Refreshments afterward.

Sunday, April 28, 2019 - 3:00pm
Rockefeller Memorial Chapel

Between the Many and the One: Anticolonial Federalism and Popular Sovereignty

TAPSA: Nazmul Sultan, University of Chicago Department of Political Science

This paper explores Indian anticolonial federalist attempts to theorize popular sovereignty against the grain of its traditional attachment to a concept of one-and-undivided peoplehood. Early twentieth-century federalist thinkers (Seal, Mukerjee, Das) claimed the very ideal of representative self-government is tethered to a philosophy of history that weds the image of one-and-undivided peoplehood with a project of European colonialism. What form of government was to be fit for Indians—and which one would truly enable self-rule—increasingly became a matter of creative speculation. The federalist turn in anticolonial Indian political thought emerged out of a sustained engagement with—and a critique of – British pluralism and American Progressive thought, and was marked by a keen engagement with the problem of collective will. Questioning the hitherto taken-for-granted assumption that the people is a one-and-undivided category, federalist thinkers such as B.N. Seal, C.R. Das, and Radhakamal Mukerjee fashioned an account of self-rule rooted in an image of “many peoples.” The paper concludes by arguing the federalist commitment to a vision of dispersed peoplehood contradicted its quest for popular authorization and ultimately brought it to an abrupt end in the 1920s (as the age of national self-determination began).

Thursday, April 25, 2019 - 5:00pm
Foster 103


Doc Films Screening: Devi

7pm & 9:30pm

Wednesday, April 24, 2019 - 7:00pm
Doc films 1212 E 59th St # 3, Chicago, IL 60637

“Popular Islam in South Asian Visual Culture,” lecture by renowned filmmaker Yousuf Saeed

Among the vibrant examples of public art found in Indian towns and villages, the most popular are religious posters and calendars depicting deities, saints, and places of worship. Besides iconography of Hindu deities, a large number of Islamic posters portraying the shrines at Mecca and Medina, or the Quranic verses in calligraphy are also available, besides the portraits of local Sufi saints, their tombs, miracles, and other folklore, represented as vividly as in a Hindu mythological scene. Unhindered depiction of Sufi portraits in this popular culture often disrupts the stereotype of Islam’s image of iconoclasm and reveals the sentiments of popular Muslim piety. These popular portraits and media also help attract the devotees to their shrines, despite the fact that such hybrid culture is increasingly frowned upon by many Muslims affected by the puritanical Wahhabi ideology. Interestingly, Muslim artists or publishers do not necessarily produce all these Islamic images – the industry doesn’t distinguish between the identities of producers and consumers of these images, and continues to remain largely syncretic. This presentation features examples of popular visuality and rituals associated with Sufis and their shrines through images and videos. Short documentary films, Basant (12 mins), Sufi Sama (12 mins) and Jannat ki Rail (7 mins) will be shown in the presentation.

About presenter:
Yousuf Saeed is a Delhi-based independent filmmaker and writer, currently managing the Tasveer Ghar archive of popular art. Having worked at organizations like the Times of India and Encyclopedia Britannica, Yousuf has produced TV programmes (like Turning Point on Doordarshan) and documentary films like Basant, Khayal Darpan, Jannat ki Rail, Khusrau Darya Prem ka, and Campus Rising, besides writing in the Times of India, Marg, and other periodicals. He has researched on and documented south Asia’s popular Islamic art and heritage, authoring a richly illustrated volume Muslim Devotional Art in India (Routledge, 2018) and a small visual catalogue South Asia’s Islamic Popular Art (2019).

More details about the presenter:

Monday, April 22, 2019 - 12:30pm
Foster 103