Plenary Address

The conference chair organizes a special session on Saturday afternoon and invites several speakers to attend the conference and present on an issue related to South Asian studies in connection with the year’s theme.

Previous Plenary Addresses here.

Ananya Vajpeyi & Iftikhar Dadi

The Artistry of Free Speech in South Asia and South Asian Studies

Saturday, October 19
1:45 – 3:30 pm
Wisconsin Ballroom

Ananya Vajpeyi is a Fellow and Associate Professor at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, New Delhi. She works at the intersection of intellectual history, political theory and critical philology. 
Her book, Righteous Republic: The Political Foundations of Modern India (2012) won the 41st Thomas J. Wilson Memorial Prize from Harvard University Press, the Crossword Award for Non-Fiction (2013) and the Tata First Book Prize for Non-Fiction (2013). It was listed as a ‘Book of the Year’ (2012) by The Guardian, The New Republic and numerous Indian publications. 
She was educated at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, and the University of Chicago, where she earned her PhD in South Asian Languages and Civilisations. She has taught at the School of International and Public Affairs of Columbia University in New York, the History Department of the University of Massachusetts (Boston) and the Asian and African Studies Department at the Ca’ Foscari University of Venice in Italy. She has been a Kluge Fellow at the John W. Kluge Centre in the Library of Congress, Washington DC (2013-14), a Global Ethics Fellow with the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, New York (2014-17) and most recently a Charles Wallace Fellow at CRASSH, Cambridge University (2017-18). 
Her latest book in a Festschrift for Ashis Nandy, A Life in Dissent, co-edited with Ramin Jahanbegloo and published by Oxford University Press (2018). She is currently working on an intellectual biography of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar (1891-1956), a great Dalit leader, a “maker of modern India” and the father of independent India’s secular Constitution of 1950. She writes about ideas, politics and the arts regularly for The Hindu newspaper in India, and occasionally for Foreign Affairs, World Policy Journal and the Los Angeles Review of Books. She has published in the New York Times, the New Republic, the New Statesman and the National, and extensively in almost all major Indian newspapers and magazines, including the Indian Express, the Calcutta Telegraph, Outlook Magazine and Caravan Magazine.


Iftikhar Dadi is Associate Professor of History of Art and Director of the South Asia Program of Cornell University. Dadi teaches modern and contemporary art from a global and transnational perspective. His writings focus on modernism and contemporary practice of Asia, the Middle East and their diasporas. Dadi currently serves on the editorial and advisory boards of Archives of Asian Art and Bio-Scope: South Asian Screen Studies, and was member of the editorial board of Art Journal (2007-11).  He is advisor to the Hong Kong based research organization Asia Art Archive. Iftikhar Dadi received his PhD in history of art at Cornell University.