Joseph W. Elder Keynote Lecture

Each year, the conference chair invites a distinguished scholar or expert on topics related to South Asia to attend the Annual Conference on South Asia and deliver the keynote lecture on Friday night.

Previous Joseph W. Elder Keynote Lecturers here.

We are proud to welcome Ayesha Jalal as the Keynote Speaker for the 46th Annual Conference on South Asia.

"Fault Lines of Freedom"

Friday, October 27th
Wisconsin Ballroom
6:30 - 7:30 pm

Please note that a cash bar reception will be held before the Keynote Lecture at 5:30pm outside of the Wisconsin Ballroom. The All-Conference Dinner will follow at 7:45 pm in the Capitol Ballroom.

Ayesha Jalal PhD is a Pakistani-American historian who serves as the Mary Richardson Professor of History at Tufts University. She was the recipient of the 1998 MacArthur Fellow.

Born in Lahore, Jalal studied at Wellesley College before moving to Trinity College, Cambridge, where she received her doctorate. She staying in Cambridge until 1987, working as a fellow of Trinity College and later as a Leverhulme Fellow. She moved to Washington, D.C. in 1985 to work as a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center and later moved to academy scholar at the Harvard Academy until 1990.

In 1999, she joined Tufts University as a tenured professor. The bulk of her work deals with the creation of Muslim identities in modern South Asia.


Wendy Doniger

Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religions

University of Chicago



The Kautilyan Kamasutra:
Sex and Politics in Ancient India

The influence of the textbook of politics (the Arthashastra) on the textbook of sexuality (the Kamasutra) is deep and pervasive, most evident in the high incidence of distrust, betrayal and force in sexual relationships. And the subsequent influence of the Kamasutra upon not only the erotic literary traditions of India but the eroticism of the bhakti tradition accounts in part for the darkness of that tradition, its emphasis on divine abandonment, betrayal, and even violence.


About the Speaker

Wendy Doniger (Ph. D., Harvard University; D. Phil., Oxford University) is the Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religions at the University of Chicago and the author of forty books, most recently The Woman Who Pretended to Be Who She Was, The Hindus:  An Alternative History, On Hinduism, and Hinduism in the Norton Anthology of World Religions.