All events will take place on Thursday, October 11th at the conference venue unless otherwise noted.

Dandin in the World

Time: 9:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Location: Parlor Room 611, Madison Concourse Hotel
Organizer:Yigal Bronner

The Mirror of Poetry (Kavyadarsa) by Dandin (c. 700, Kanchipuram) is one of the most influential treatises ever produced in South Asia. This essay on poetic language was translated and adapted into a variety of languages in the south (Kannada, Sinhala, Pali, and Tamil), traveled to Southeast Asia (it survived in Burma, and there is reason to believe that it played a role in literary production in Old Javanese), was translated into Tibetan (where it became a foundational text, repeatedly commented on), and may even have exercised influence on the formation of Recent Style poetry in China.  The work also attracted a large following within the Sanskrit tradition, where it inspired thinkers as late as King Bhoja of Dhar (r. 1011–1055) and Appayya Diksita (1520–1592). Even in the valley of Kashmir, which later fashioned itself as the hub of Sanskrit literary theory and snubbed texts from the south, the Mirror was widely read. Indeed, “Measured by the crudest quantitative standards—miles travelled, size of readership, kinds of language traditions influenced, numbers of translations and adaptations and borrowings—Dandin’s . . . [work] can safely be adjudged the most important work on literary theory and practice in Asian history, and, in world history, a close second to Aristotle’s Poetics: (Pollock 1995:637).

Yet shockingly, the unparalleled success of Dandin’s treatise has never been studied, and the most basic questions about the “Dandin phenomenon” have never been asked. What made the Mirror such a popular text in the first place? Why and under what circumstances was it incorporated by so many literary cultures? What happened to it when it was transmitted, translated, and reworked in different localities? What, for example, was the relationship between Dandin’s Sanskrit kit of ornamental tools and the examples elicited from vernacular literatures? This is only a sample of questions we hope to address.

The preconference will, for the first time, bring experts working on Dandin’s text and place in the Sanskrit tradition together with scholars familiar with his presence and impact in a variety of literary cultures, including Kannada, Sinhala, Pali, Tamil, and Tibetan. Obviously, we will not be able to answer all our questions in one sitting, nor is this the purpose. Rather, we hope that this day of collective brainstorming will initiate a longitudinal collaborative project that will eventually lead to a better understanding of Dandin and his impact on the world.


Yigal Bronner (Hebrew University)
Jennifer Clare (Colorado College)
Whitney Cox (SOAS)
Thibaut d'Hubert (University of Chicago)
Dragomir Dimitrov (University of Marburg)
Jonathan Gold (Princeton University)
Charles Hallisey (Harvard University)
Tom Hunter (University of British Columbia)
Lawrence McCrea (Cornell University)
Anne Monius (Harvard University)
David Shulman (Hebrew University)
R.V.S. Sundaram (University of Pennsylvania)

Sri Lankan Cinema and Its Diaspora

Time: 1:00 – 6:30 p.m.
Location: University Room, Madison Concourse Hotel
Organizer: Nalin Jayasena

Sponsored by the American Institute for Sri Lankan Studies, this preconference calls attention to a group of films largely concerned with the Sri Lankan armed conflict. This event will feature the most recent manifestations of a film movement called the "third revolution," whose concerns have revolved around the socio-political transformations brought about by three decades of civil war. Together this new wave of filmmakers represented by Pradeepan Raveendran, Suba Sivakumaran, and Sanjeewa Pushpakumara capture a complex profile of contemporary cinema from Sri Lanka and the diaspora.

Tentative Schedule
1:00-1:05 Introduction by Jeanne Marecek (Swarthmore College)
1:05-1:20 Opening Remarks by Nalin Jayasena (Miami University)
1:20-1:35 Pradeepan Raveendra, A Mango Tree in the Front Yard (11 min).

Set in war-ravaged Sri Lanka and filmed in South India, this short film centers on a group of Tamil schoolchildren for whom violence is an everyday reality.

1:35-1:45 Preaddepan Raveendran, Shadows of Silence (11 min.)

A middle-aged Tamil man living in exile with his young family contemplates numerous ways to commit suicide.

1:45-2:00 Suba Sivakumaran, I Too Have a Name (12 min.)

A Tamil woman, living with the memory of pain, goes about her daily existence as a nun in the ravaged northeast of Sri Lanka at a time when her country is slipping in and out of war. As the world around her continues to be made and unmade by violence, she carves out a small space to breathe and to find power and meaning in her life.

2:00-2:30 A conversation with Suba Sivakumaran

2:30-3:00 Tea Break

3:00-5:10 Sanjeewa Pushpakumara, Flying Fish (125 min.)

Shot in a seemingly idyllic village by the first-time director Sanjeewa Pushpakumara, this startlingly assured film follows three interwoven stories (two Sinhala and one Tamil) involving forbidden love and ethnic tension. The languid pace of the villagers belies the hostility that has built over quarter century of warfare.

5:15-6:30 Roundtable discussion (Neloufer de Mel, Suba Sivakumaran, and Nalin Jayasena)

The Sixth Annual South Asia Legal Studies Pre-Conference Workshop

Time: 2:00-6:30 p.m.
Location: Lubar Commons (7200 Law), University of Wisconsin Law School

It will feature two plenary sessions. "Alternatives to the State: Dispute Processing, Justice and Minority Communities in India," chaired by Marc Galanter, will feature Erin P. Moore, Mengia Hong-Tschalär, Jeff Redding, Haley Duschinski and Bruce Hoffman as panelists. "The Politics and Poetics of Islamic Law in Contemporary South Asia" will be convened by David Gilmartin and will include Ebrahim Moosa, Ali Altaf Mian, SherAli Tareen and Tiffany Hodge as speakers.

The full program is available here.

Sumudu Atapattu (University of Wisconsin Law School)
Mitra Sharafi (University of Wisconsin Law School)

Sponsored by the UW Global Legal Studies Center

Feminist South Asia Pre-Conference

Time: 8:45 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Location: Wisconsin Ballroom, Madison Concourse Hotel

Srimati Basu (University of Kentucky)
Indrani Chatterjee (Rutgers University)

This conference is focused on Location as a temporal and spatial category. It hopes to generate a vigorous international and interdisciplinary discussion on issues to do with he body, governance, traffics, representation. Abstracts can be found here.

8:45am Opening Remarks from Coordinators Srimati Basu and Indrani Chatterjee

9am The Body as Site, Object and Subject
Kumkum Roy
Daud Ali
Lucina Ramberg
Jessica Birkenholtz
Discussant & Chair: Anjali Arondekar

10am Dislocation and Violence
Poulami Roychowdhury
Catherine Warner
Inderpal Grewal
Discussant & Chair: Sukanya Banerjee

Coffee Break

11:15am Gender, Time and Action
Rochisha Narayan
Uditi Sen
Wendy Singer
Poulami Saha
Discussant & Chair: Rina Williams


2pm Enclosures and Beyond
Nethra Samarsinghe
Janaki Abraham
Hafsa Kanjal
Discussant & Chair: Kamran Ali


3:30pm Government by Abstraction

Geeta Patel and Elida Jacobsen
Jyoti Puri
Debarati Sen and Sarasij Majumdar
Shubhra Guruani
Discussant & Chair: Mrinalini Sinha

5-5:30pm Concluding Remarks by Srimati Basu and Indrani Chatterjee

AIIS Workshop: Turning Dissertation in Book - this event is closed to invited participants

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012
Time: 7:45 p.m.
Location: Senater Room, Madison Concourse Hotel

Thursday, October 11th, 2012
Time: 7:45 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Location: Senate Room A&B, Madison Concourse Hotel

Organizer: Susan S. Wadley, Syracuse University

Sponsors: American Institute of Indian Studies, American Institute of Sri Lankan Studies

7th Annual Himalayan Policy Research Conference

Time: 8:45 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
Location: Capitol Ballroom A/B, Madison Concourse Hotel

Alok K. Bohara, University of New Mexico and Nepal Study Center
Mukti K. Upadhyay, Eastern Illinois University
Vijaya R. Sharma, University of Colorado-Boulder
Jeffrey Drope, Marquette University

For the full schedule, see program here.

Workshop: Reading the Revolutionaries

Time: 2:00-6:00 p.m.
Location: Parlor Room 638, Madison Concourse Hotel

This workshop (which complements the Annual Conference on South Asia double-panel the following day) argues for a fresh and sustained analysis of Indian radical anticolonial thought and action during the global interwar period. Diverging significantly from mainstream anticolonial organisation in several key aspects, the activists grouped together under the rubric of ‘revolutionary’ – ranging from the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA) in Lahore, to the Ghadr party in San Francisco – have been, until recently, marginalised in historical and literary accounts of the Indian independence movement.

By bringing together scholars from the fields of history and literary analysis, this workshop emphasises the common lineaments of the two frequently disparate fields in the focused context of radical Indian anticolonial thought and agitation. As such, the workshop aims to create new analytic grounds on which a rich understanding of the interwar anticolonial moment can be created. Consequently, this workshop begins by returning to this moment in order to ‘read the revolutionaries’. On one hand, this workshop allows us new resources towards conceptualising the historiography of Indian nationalism, and thus complicating the simple teleological narratives of Indian independence. On the other hand, this workshop allows us to highlight the dispersed genealogy of modern literary and philosophical thought, which allows us new resources towards re-conceiving ethical, political, and aesthetic practices.

In the context of their own work and particular ‘case studies’, participants are invited to address some of the following questions:

How do we define the terms ‘radical’, ‘anticolonial’, and ‘text’ in the South Asian interwar/imperial context?

What are the protocols for reading revolutionary texts?

What are we looking for in radical Indian anticolonial texts when we read them?

The workshop is co-organised by Kama Maclean (University of New South Wales) and Daniel Elam (Northwestern University). For an extended concept note or more information, please email Daniel Elam at