South Asia Seminar Series

South Asia Seminar - Adam Auerbach: Clients and Communities: The Political Economy of Party Network Organization and Development in India’s Urban Slums

Adam Auerbach
Assistant Professor, School of International Service, American University

Clients and Communities: The Political Economy of Party Network Organization and Development in India’s Urban Slums

India’s urban slums exhibit dramatic variation in their levels of infrastructural development and access to public services. Why are some vulnerable communities able to demand and secure development from the state while others fail? Based on ethnographic fieldwork and original household survey data, Auerbach finds that party networks significantly influence the ability of poor urban communities to organize and demand development. In slums with dense party networks, competition among party workers generates a degree of accountability in local patron-client hierarchies that strengthens organizational capacity and encourages development. Dense party networks also provide settlements with a critical degree of political connectivity. The study contributes to research on distributive politics, the political economy of development, and urban governance in India.

Dates: 
Thursday, January 29, 2015 - 4:30pm
Foster 103

South Asia Seminar - Roundtable Discussion: India and Indonesia: Elections and Aftermath

Sana Jaffrey

PhD Student, Department of Political Science, University of Chicago

Dan Slater

Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Chicago

Tariq Thachil

Assistant Professor of Political Science, Yale University

Maya Tudor

Associate Professor of Government and Public Policy, Blavatnik School of Government, St. Hilda’s College, University of Oxford

Dates: 
Thursday, January 15, 2015 - 4:30pm
Foster 103

South Asia Seminar - Yael Rice"e Emperor’s Dreams and the Painter’s Brush: Artists and Agency at Jahangir’s Court"

This talk will consider the unusually agentive status that early seventeenth centuryMughal painters enjoyed as the depicters—as opposed to inventors—of the Mughal emperor Jahangir’s oneiric experiences. In doing so, it argues that Mughal artists, among other makers of the book (calligraphers, binders, illuminators), played an integral and hitherto under appreciated role as producers of and participants in the imperial aura.

Dates: 
Thursday, November 20, 2014 - 4:30pm
Foster 103 (1130 East 59th Street)

South Asia Seminar - Davesh Soneji "Tukaram in the Tamil Country: Marathi Kirtan, Multilingualism, and the Making of South Indian Musical Tradition"

Marathi Varkari and Ramdasi kirtan was brought to Tamil-speaking South India during the earliest phases of the establishment of Maratha power in Thanjavur at the end of the seventeenth century. These practices survived largely through institutions known as Ramdasimaths in Thanjavur city and nearby Mannargudi, which received patronage from Marathi-speaking desastha Brahmins in the region and also from the Thanjavur court itself. In this presentation, I consider the process by which Marathi kirtan was “indigenized” by the Tamil smarta Brahmin community in Thanjavur by focusing on the development of a uniquely cosmopolitan practice that today is known as “bhajana sampradaya.” e codication of this multilingual, hybrid musical practice was no doubt a mirroring of the Thanjavur court’s own culture of literary polyglossia. e poems of Namdev, Chokhamela, Tukaram, Janabai, Samarth Ramdas and others are brought into a world of not only uniquely “South Indian” ragas and singing-styles, but also into a the distinct ritual and mnemonic culture of Tamil Brahmins that includes life-cycle events, temple-style domestic puja, purity laws, and contemporary identity politics. Today, the memory of Marathi kirtan is put to the service of the public identity of segments of the Tamil Brahmin community, largely through one of the community’s most cherished expressive forms, namely “classical Karnatak” music, fully inected with all its nationalist socio-historical resonances. I argue that the making of modern Karnatak music and the caste-based aesthetic it engenders cannot be disassociated from its Marathi kirtan and bhajana roots. I propose a complex genealogy for Karnatak music that foregrounds the co-opting of Marathi musical and literary traditions and takes seriously the powers of polyglossia in the world of music.

Dates: 
Thursday, November 6, 2014 - 4:30pm
Foster 103 (1130 East 59th Street)

South Asia Seminar - Rebecca M. Brown "Durations and Interruptions: People, Process, and Art at the 1985–86 Festival of India"

In the hot summer of 1985 in Washington DC, after opening the gallery each morning with a puja, forty artists and performers from India took their places on platforms marked with their names, crafts, and region, and proceeded to sew, mold, carve, paint, dance, sing, and play for the thousands of visitors who snaked through the National Museum of Natural History. The exhibition, entitled Aditi: A Celebration of Life, was one of over 70 art shows that took place as part of the Festival of India in the US, a series of international collaborations and contestations that presented a range of Indias to a range of audiences across the country. Aditi, an exhibition highlighting handicraft through an imagined ideal Indian village, builds on longstanding modes of conceiving India through craft, alongside nineteenth-century exhibitionary practices of putting people on display. Yet, the exhibition, in its broader frame as part of the Festival, and in the intimate durations and day-to-day relations among people, objects, sounds, and smells, presents an opportunity to think dierently about objects and agency, objectication and animation to get at the small scale durations and temporal irruptions that contributed to a dynamic,challenging, and ever-shifting presentation of India in the gallery.

Dates: 
Thursday, October 23, 2014 - 4:30pm
Foster 103 (1130 East 59th Street)

South Asia Seminar - Kaley Mason "Enterprising Performers, Worldly Ethnopreneurs: Ritual Artistry out of Hereditary Servitude in Malabar"

Kerala is one of India’s premiere destinations for leisure travelers. Aggressively promoted as “God’s Own Country” since the early 1990s, the state’s robust tourism industry has benetted from an educated workforce, tropical scenery, Ayurvedic treatment facilities, and distinctive performing arts, including classical dance-dramas like Kathakali and visually stunning rituals like eyyam in Malabar. While many studies have examined touristic encounters with stationary hosts, few have explored the mobility of the “toured.” In this paper I trace the passage of Malayan eyyam spirit-medium performers from ritual servants in communities of worship, to artists on proscenium stages in destination branding strategies of corporate Kerala. Drawing on conversations with diverse actors in the industry, including a double-reed player and his high-caste impresario, I examine how global tourism opened new avenues for cultural mobility, as well as how subaltern performers adapted their craft accordingly. At the same time, I also reect on the ways in which these avenues were contingent on ethnicizing caste identity and forging inter-caste alliances, strategies that would appear to run against the grain of socialist Kerala’s sublimation of caste in favor of class.

Dates: 
Thursday, October 2, 2014 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm
Foster 103 (1130 East 59th Street)

South Asia Seminar - Margaret Cone

Margaret Cone is a Fellow Emerita of Darwin College, Cambridge.

Dates: 
Thursday, May 15, 2014 - 11:00am
Foster 103 (1130 East 59th Street)

South Asia Seminar - Peter Khoroche

Dates: 
Tuesday, May 13, 2014 - 4:30pm
Foster 103 (1130 East 59th Street)

South Asia Seminar - Llerena Searle

Dates: 
Thursday, May 1, 2014 - 4:30pm
Foster 103 (1130 East 59th Street)

South Asia Seminar - Kapil Raj

"Making a Portuguese-Language Herbal Speak: 'Local' Knowledge and the East India Company on the Malabar Coast in the 18th Century"

European knowledge, especially medicine, is usually presented as being "scientific" as opposed to the "empirical", non-theorised, "local" practices of non-European peoples. It is thus a commonplace amongst historians to consider that the former displaced the latter if not into total oblivion at least into marginality during the course of European expansion and colonisation. Preliminary research on a mid-18th Portuguese-language century herbal and pharmacopeia from the Malabar coast allows us to examine this widely-held assumption and helps throw new light on the interaction between European and "local" medical practices as well as on the languages through which they they circulated and interacted with each other. Finally, this research also contributes significantly to our understanding of the commercial, administrative and diplomatic practices of the English and other European East India Companies on the Malabar coast during this period.

Dates: 
Thursday, April 24, 2014 - 4:30pm
Foster 103 (1130 East 59th Street)

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