Plenary

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 and The New Republic.Her latest book is a Festschrift for Ashis Nandy, A Life in Dissent, co-edited with Ramin Jahanbegloo and published by Oxford University Press (2018). She is working on an intellectual biography of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar.

She was educated at Jawaharlal Nehru University; Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, and the University of Chicago, where she earned her PhD in South Asian Languages and Civilizations. She has taught at the School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University; the History Department of the University of Massachusetts (Boston) and in South Asian Studies at the Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Italy.

She has been a Kluge Fellow at the John W. Kluge Centre in the Library of Congress, a Global Ethics Fellow with the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, New York and a Charles Wallace Fellow at CRASSH, Cambridge University (2017-18). She writes regularly for The Hindu newspaper, and occasionally for Foreign Affairs, World Policy Journal and the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Iftikhar Dadi is Associate Professor of History of Art, and Director of the South Asia Program at Cornell University. He is also co-director of Cornell’s Institute for Comparative Modernities and has served as Chair of Cornell’s Department of Art (2010-2014.

Dadi teaches and researches modern and contemporary art from a global and transnational perspective, with emphasis on questions of methodology and intellectual history. His writings have focused on modernism and contemporary practice of Asia, the Middle East and their diasporas.  Another research interest examines the film, media, and popular cultures of South Asia.

His publications include Modernism and the Art of Muslim South Asia (2010), which received the 2010 Book Prize from the American Institute of Pakistan Studies. Informed by postcolonial theory and globalization studies, the work traces the emergence of modernism by selected artists from South Asia over the course of the twentieth century. Other publications include the edited monograph Anwar Jalal Shemza (2015), the co-edited catalog Lines of Control (2012), and the co-edited reader Unpacking Europe (2001).

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. Co-curated exhibitions include Lines of Control on partitions and borders (Herbert F. Johnson Museum, 2012 and Nasher Museum, 2013). Iftikhar Dadi received his PhD in history of art at Cornell University.