Past Events

The People Follow the Faith of the Ruler: Sovereignty and Popular Politics in Late Mughal Delhi

South Asia Seminar: Abhishek Kaicker, Department of History, UC Berkeley

A long-held preconception in the study of premodern South Asia has been that ordinary people were the passive objects of imperial sovereignty. By contrast, this talk will make the case that by the late seventeenth century, a distinct politics of the people in relation to kingship had become manifest in the cities of the Mughal empire, and particularly its capital Shahjahanabad. Such a popular politics, however, cannot come into view until we both rethink our conceptions of both sovereignty and politics before colonialism.

Thursday, May 16, 2019 - 5:00pm
Foster 103

Days and Nights in the Forest

Doc Films Screening: Days and Nights in the Forest

7pm & 9:30pm

Wednesday, May 15, 2019 - 7:00pm
Doc films 1212 E 59th St # 3, Chicago, IL 60637

“Tala Chakra,” the South Asian Music Ensemble’s annual Spring recital

Join us for “Tala Chakra,” the South Asian Music Ensemble’s annual Spring recital. The South Asian Music Ensemble explores a variety of song traditions and instrumental performance styles from the Indian Subcontinent, including classical, vernacular, and popular genres, and in a number of languages. Our 25-member ensemble includes vocalists, tabla, sitar, bansuri, violin, veena, mridangam, and other instruments. Admission is free, and a reception will follow.

Saturday, May 11, 2019 - 7:30pm
Logan Center Performance Penthouse

Discussion of Modern South India: A History from the 17th Century to Our Times

Discussion with author Dr. Rajmohan Gandhi

Author of more than a dozen books, Rajmohan Gandhi is a historian and biographer involved also in efforts of trust-building and reconciliation.

Professor until end-2012 with the Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, he continues to teach as visiting professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar, and at Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan.

From 1990 to 1992 he was a member of the Rajya Sabha (the upper house of the Indian Parliament). Earlier in 1990, he led the Indian delegation to the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva.

In the Indian Parliament, he was convener of the all-party joint committee of both houses addressing the condition of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

Associated from 1956 with Initiatives of Change (formerly known as Moral Re-Armament), Rajmohan Gandhi served as president of Initiatives of Change International for a two-year term, 2009-10.

Through writing, speaking, public interventions and dialogues he has been engaged for sixty years in efforts for reconciliation and democratic rights.

In the 1960s and early 1970s, he played a leading role in establishing Asia Plateau, the 68-acre centre of Initiatives of Change in the mountains of western India, which fosters dialogue, reconciliation and ethical governance, and is recognized on the Indian subcontinent for its ecological contribution.

During the 1975-77 Emergency in India, he was active for democratic rights personally and through his weekly journal Himmat, published in Bombay from 1964 to 1981.

India-Pakistan and Hindu-Muslim reconciliation have remained his goals. Since 9/11, he has also tried to address the divide between the West and the world of Islam.

Recent books by him include

Understanding the Founding Fathers: An Enquiry into the Indian Republic’s Beginnings (New Delhi: Aleph, 2016) Prince of Gujarat: The Extraordinary Story of Prince Gopaldas Desai, 1887-1951 (New Delhi: Aleph, 2014); and Punjab: A History from Aurangzeb to Mountbatten, 1707-1947 (New Delhi: Aleph, 2013). An earlier study, A Tale of Two Revolts: India 1857 & the American Civil War (published in 2009) looked at two 19th-century wars occurring in opposite parts of the world at almost the same time. A previous book by him, Mohandas: A True Story of a Man, His People and an Empire, published in India, England, France and the USA, received the Barpujari Biennial Award from the Indian History Congress in 2007.

An earlier book, The Good Boatman: A Portrait of Gandhi, was published in 2009 in a Chinese translation in Beijing.

In 2002 he received the Sahitya Akademi Award for his Rajaji: A Life, a biography of Chakravarti Rajagopalachari.

Other books by him include Patel: A Life, a biography of Sardar Vallabhbai Patel; Revenge & Reconciliation: Understanding South Asian History; Understanding the Muslim Mind; and Ghaffar Khan: Nonviolent Badshah of the Pakhtuns.

Before teaching at the University of Illinois, he served as Research Professor with the New Delhi think-tank, Centre for Policy Research. From 1985 to 1987, he edited the daily Indian Express in Madras (now Chennai), India.

Friday, May 10, 2019 - 2:00pm
Classics 110

The Mahābhārata in Double Vision

TAPSA: Nell Hawley, University of Chicago Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations

The weight of the Sanskrit epic Mahābhārata exerts a kind of gravitational pull on South Asian literature. Retellings of the Mahābhārata fill South Asia’s languages and literary genres, and each retelling answers the dark and violent world of the epic in its own way. In this presentation, I discuss one particularly unexpected response: the Sanskrit drama Pañcarātra (“The Five Nights”), attributed to the early poet Bhāsa (ca. 200 CE), which imagines a Mahābhārata in which the central characters of the Sanskrit epic actually avert the very war that is the Mahābhārata’s defining feature and live more or less happily ever after. In my reading, the play presents the epic in double vision—a feeling of construction, or integration, layered over something much more unstable.

Thursday, May 9, 2019 - 5:00pm
Foster 103


Doc Films Screening: Charulata

7pm & 9:30pm

Wednesday, May 8, 2019 - 7:00pm
Doc films 1212 E 59th St # 3, Chicago, IL 60637

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