Upcoming TAPSA Talks

Theory and Practice in South Asia (TAPSA)

The workshop is designed to keep faculty and graduate students of social science and humanistic disciplines concerned with South Asia in touch with new directions in the field by providing interdisciplinary models of methodological and substantive approaches. The Workshop makes a special point of crossing the boundary between the humanities and social sciences. It collaborates with the South Asia Seminar, one dedicated to graduate student presentations, the other to presentations by in-resident or visiting scholars and faculty. The South Asia Seminar series and the TAPSA Workshop bring together not only scholars from various disciplines, but make a special point of attracting scholars from South Asia. Their visits are designed to promote continuing exchanges with recent work on the sub-continent and to introduce graduate students to future colleagues in South Asia.

For more information about TAPSA, please visit the TAPSA blog.

All events are open to the public.

The South Asia Seminar Series and TAPSA Talks meet on alternating Thursdays at 4:30PM-6:00PM in Foster 103 (1130 East 59th Street).

TAPSA: “Negotiating ‘Green’ Citizenship in North-east India: Of Native Peacocks and Non-Native Nepalis”

Suchismita Das, doctoral candidate in the Department of Anthropology

This paper is an interrogation of the “cross-pollination” of political and ecological discourses about belonging – specifically the linkages between the value placed on nativism of species in ecology and on autochthony in ethnopolitics. The ethnography traces the declaration of a Bird Sanctuary near Kitam, a predominantly Nepali village in Sikkim. The Nepali community, despite more than two centuries of presence in the Indian landscape faces a deficit of belonging, as a group whose name itself indexes foreignness. The peacock is the flagship species of the protected area, around whose protection the demand for the sanctuary revolved. How is the belonging of this multi-species knot, of the Nepali community and the peacocks, recognized under the ecological gaze of the forest department, environmental NGOs and national ecotourists visiting the sanctuary? How do the two distinct parameters of valuation of diversity – “unity in diversity” as a motto of multicultural inclusion, and biodiversity as a central tenet of ecological conservation – intersect in constituting an emergent regime of recognition of ethnic diversity and of belonging on the frontier? What are the limits in the strategic mobilization of environmental stewardship as a claim towards “green” citizenship? The paper aims to speak both to this particular moment of ethnopolitics and the larger question of the influence of moral philosophies of nature on principles of political belonging, inclusion and exclusion.

Thursday, May 3, 2018 - 12:45pm
Foster 103

TAPSA: "Dancing Corporate: Shifting Transnational Patronage in Indian Contemporary Art Worlds”

Ameera Nimjee, doctoral candidate in the Department of Music (Ethnomusicology)

This paper explores the patronage of Indian dance by multinational "corporate houses" and virtual communities, underscored by the transnational travel of capital in and beyond South Asia. This paper explores how technological and telecommunications companies such as Nokia, NASSCOM, and IBM negotiate contracts with artists to perform and produce affective capital at events, product launches, and through media platforms. The paper focuses on Indian contemporary dance as a case study in the investigation of transnational corporate patronage. Practitioners define the form as one of high art that is visually similar to world traditions of modern dance, in which they draw on abstract movement vocabularies to express responses to issues. Also explored are the aesthetic, kinesthetic, and fiscal mobilities of practitioners within the confines of corporate contracts, and how these contracts challenge national and transnational notions of citizenship in the patronage of Indian art worlds at large.

Thursday, May 17, 2018 - 5:00pm
Foster 103

TAPSA: “‘Marwa Na Dena’: Reporting Between the Marginal and the Military”

Ayesha Mullah, doctoral candidate in the Department of Anthropology

Limited critical scholarship on the Pakistani military establishment has documented its penetration into virtually every sphere of public life, including the bureaucracy and the media, showing how through its allies, with both direct and indirect decision making, the military effectively dominates Pakistani society (Siddiqa 2007). This paper analyzes the ways in which the shadow of the deep state featured in my dissertation fieldwork among news media professionals in Karachi and Islamabad. The paper focuses on the shifts in tone, the anxious laughter and the lengthy pauses that verbose journalists adopted when they would perform an inarticulate critique of the military. Such enactments rest upon the very real dangers of straying past the limits of investigative inquiry in Pakistan, particularly when presented with the fate of their colleagues pursuing critical leads on military activities. How then do Pakistani news media journalists, occupying diverse class positions in professional hierarchies, negotiate their journalistic ethics while operating in a climate of uncertainty that has both fed and threatened their daily work? Based on a series of in-depth interviews, this paper will analyze the politics of producing sensationalist news and the subsequent self-regulation that media professionals must practice in a volatile sociopolitical environment.

Thursday, May 31, 2018 - 5:00pm
Foster 103