University of Wisconsin–Madison

Symposium – Thursday, October 11th

The Annual Conference on South Asia’s Symposia (formerly known as PreConference) offers half and full-day time slots during which presenters and participants can actively discuss more complex topics that would not be suitable to our shorter 105-minute panel format.

Half Day Symposia run from either 8:30am – 12:15pm or 1:45 – 5:30pm.
Full Day Symposia run from 8:30am – 5:30pm.

Your Symposium schedule must work with our all-conference breaks (7:30-8:30am, 10:15-10:30am, 3:30-3:45pm) and lunch (12:15-1:45pm).

Please note that your Symposium participants must register and submit payment upon your Symposium being accepted.

Please see our Conference Deadlines page for detailed information on important cutoff dates.

  • Across the Himalayas

    Half Day Symposium, 8:30 am – 12:15 pm
    Conference Room 4

    Organizer: Jana Fortier (


    Many social concerns and environmental problems of South Asian highland communities transcend state and political borders. In addition to border disputes, highland communities often face problems related to global change, forced emigration, exploitation of natural resources, minority language suppression, cultural rights abuses, and other challenges. This symposium brings together scholars to discuss how working ‘Across the Himalayas’ creates particular challenges, and occasionally opportunities, for South Asia’s highland communities and for ourselves as areal scholars. In this symposium, speakers will address not only physical borders, but speak to some of the political, geographic, social, religious, or linguistic boundaries that we have encountered.  In discussion, speakers will present their own standpoint concerning the Foucaudian power struggles that border/boundary disputes entail, whether these be about boundaries of ethnicity, religion, language, politics, property or physical borders. The colloquium will give each participant a short time to share their recent research work and news concerning problems and opportunities with working across borders. As we will collectively explore what problems and opportunities these borders present, colloquium attendees will also respond to each speaker with questions and insights into the various borderland dilemmas. One goal of our sponsor, The Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies (ANHS) is to help the Himalayan highlands scholarly community gain a deeper understanding of the diversity of Himalayan areal studies. As such, we hope that the meeting will result in a new sense of shared appreciation of the nature of struggles across and between borders and of the challenges faced while conducting field research across state borders, among multiple language communities, and navigating the demands of multiple state bureaucracies.

  • Aesthetics, Power, and Political Economy in Modern South Asia

    Half Day Symposium, 8:30 am – 12:15 pm
    Conference Room 5

    Organizer: Namita Dharia ( & Liza Oliver (

    Abstract: From the sensoriums of streets to the production of fine arts to the tracing of ephemera that circulated spaces, aesthetic production in South Asia has historically formed and framed the modes through which the subcontinent is imagined and experienced. Beginning in the colonial legacies of Indian and English aesthetic production and tracing these legacies into the present, this symposium aims to engage with the role aesthetics play in constructions of political and political economic power in South Asia. We seek to interrogate artistic practices through their role in transnational relations, industrial and urban development, governmentality, and political subject formation. As such, we will address a diverse range of aesthetic categories, from photography, reproductive prints and film to textiles, architecture, mapping, and urban space in the shaping of modern South Asia’s political economy. The one day symposium aims to closely interrogate, through interdisciplinary engagements in architecture, art history, and anthropology (among others), the powerful role aesthetics has played and continues to play in the subcontinent. Together we hope to debate the historical transformations and genealogies of aesthetics in India, think through their socio-cultural importance, and envision the role they might play in contemporary and future South Asian societies.

  • Annual South Asia Legal Studies Workshop
    The Annual South Asia Legal Studies Workshop is not an official symposium of the Annual Conference and continues to be held at the UW Law School.
    For more information on this event, please visit:



  • Art For Our Sake: The Aesthetics of Decolonization in Postcolonial South Asia

    Half Day Symposium, 1:45 pm – 5:30 pm
    Conference Room 5

    Organizer: Paromita Chakrabarti (University of Mumbai), Felix Fuchs (McGill University), Suvij Sudershan (McGill University), & Henry Schwarz (Georgetown)

    Abstract: For Amilcar Cabral, national liberation and anti-colonial praxis remain hollow “unless they can be translated into a real improvement of living conditions.” Despite the emergence of supposedly postcolonial societies, the relentless drive of neoliberal capital coopts modes of domination left behind by colonialism, continuously reshaping these to suit the present. Yet, these forces are confronted by people organized along the lines of religion, region, language, class, caste, gender, race, and—most often—at the intersections of these identities. This symposium will examine the constitution of the aesthetic politics of such resistant bodies and groups. We will explore how struggles in the field of cultural production do not simply mirror, but rather actively shape civil society. Given the multiplicity of resistance, the range of our questions is similarly diverse: how are Dalit and Muslim activists continuing their fight for representation and acceptance in an increasingly upper-caste, Hindutva-izing society? How do criminal tribes resist their stigmatization through theatrical performance? How are South Asian women and non-binary activists responding to the persistence of sexist, classist, and caste-ist forms of domination, and what is the role of student activism and global socio-cultural movements such as #MeToo in this struggle? How are farmers and indigenous peoples dealing with neoliberal expropriation? In what ways are the urban poor resisting the massive gentrification and urbanization projects in cities like Mumbai? Finally: how are resistant communities, situated antagonistically in relation to the neocolonial state, challenging its ideological and repressive apparatuses? Overall, this panel addresses questions that challenge normative interpretations of postcolonial South Asia. We will focus on how diverse struggles are waged, tracing the historical development of current forms of resistance to explore the continuing importance of culture in these unfinished contestations for liberation.


    1:45 – 2:35 pm: Session I
    Chair: Felix Fuchs, McGill University

    Patañjali’s Yoga Sūtra and the Legacies of Colonial Translation
    Peter Valdina, Albion College

    The Concept of ‘the Coolie’ in Postcolonial South Asia
    Yoshina Hurgobin, Kennesaw State University

    2:40 – 3:30 pm: Session II
    Chair: Sabeena Shaikh, McGill University

    Ghatak, Sen, Ray: Three Lenses for Bengal
    Suvij Sudershan, McGill University

    Sooraj Barjatya’s ‘Family Films’: The Joint Family’s Tryst with Neoliberal Capitalism
    Muskan Sandhu, McGill University

    Naxalbari at 50: Representing Revolution in 2017
    Meghan Gorman-DaRif, University of Texas at Austin

    3:30 – 3:45 pm: Break

    3:45 – 4:35 pm: Session III

    Chair: Suvij Sudershan, McGill University

    A Tale of Two Cities: Urdu, English, and the Struggle to Represent Lahore in World Literature
    Zain Rashid Mian, University of Pennsylvania

    Passionate Thinking and the Symbols of Resistance in the Modern Urdu Novel
    Aqsa Ijaz, McGill University

    Poetics of Performance: Urdu lyrics for a Consumer Audience
    Sabeena Shaikh, McGill University

    4:40 – 5:30 pm: Session IV
    Chair: TBD

    Amongst Letters I am the Vowel A: Draupadi and Dopdi
    Namita Goswami, Indiana State University

    Narratives of Internal Migrants: Kolkata’s Deterritorialized Hindi Legacy
    Rahul Parson, University of Colorado at Boulder

  • After the Śaiva Age: Transformation and Continuity in the Regional Saivisms of South India

    Half Day Symposium, 1:45 pm – 5:30 pm
    Conference Room 4

    Organizer: Elaine Fisher (

    Abstract: As Alexis Sanderson has argued in his magnum opus, “The Śaiva Age,” between the sixth and thirteenth centuries, Śaivism became the site for a host of developments that fundamentally transformed the religious landscape of the Indian subcontinent. Over the past two decades, Sanderson and his students have demonstrated on philological grounds that the vocabulary of the Śaiva Mantramārga, or Śaiva Tantrism, provided a model through which doctrinal and ritual innovation crossed religious boundaries. Kindred currents of Buddhism, Jainism, and Vaiṣṇavism came to share a common ritual syntax, and strategic modes of engaging with royal polities. Where this narrative leaves off, however—and what follows in its wake—inspires as many questions as answers. By reframing both the ruptures and continuities heralded by the demise of the Śaiva Age, this symposium draws together the latest currents of research in south Indian Śaivism. In our classical narrative of Indian religions, for instance, the thirteenth century—the end of the Śaiva age—dovetails neatly with the transregional expansion of the bhakti movement, a form of religiosity often framed in opposition to the traditional values of Sanskrit textuality. As genre boundaries are rendered increasingly permeable with the spread of vernacularization, the many Śaivisms of south India, as entextualized in Tamil, Kannada, Telugu, and Malayalam, inherit formative features of the earlier canon while speaking in a new idiom to local audiences. Śaiva institutions, such as the temple complex and monastery, established a framework for the efflorescence of new communities and publics, which engaged strategically with shifting social fabric of south India across regions. In drawing attention to key examples of rupture and continuity in the post-Śaiva age, each of the papers in this Symposium works in concert to rethink our inherited narratives about the history of religions in south India.

  • AIIS Transforming Your Dissertation Into A Book Workshop

    Full Day Symposium, 8:30 am – 5:30 pm
    Capitol Ballroom B

    Organizer: Susan Wadley (

    Abstract: Sponsored by the several organizations devoted to the study of South Asia, this workshop aims to help a select number of recent PhDs re-vision their doctoral dissertations as books, with discussion amongst themselves and with senior mentors. Applications to participate are due by July 30, 2018, emailed to Susan S. Wadley, The application email should contain a current cv; the dissertation abstract, its table of contents, and either the introduction or the first content chapter (whichever best explains the dissertation focus and content) plus a book prospectus. These should all be in ONE PDF file. The workshop will begin at 7 pm Wednesday evening, Oct. 10 , and all participants are expected to be present at this time. Thursday’s sessions (in groups of about 10 juniors scholars and three senior mentors) run from 8 to approximately 5:30. We will conclude with dinner at Maharani Restaurant on Thursday evening.

  • Contemporary Bhakti Encounters: Devotionalism in Ethnographic and Ethical Perspective

    Full Day Symposium, 8:30 am – 5:30 pm
    Capitol Ballroom A

    Organizer: Hanna Kim (

    Abstract: For the 5th annual symposium of the Regional Bhakti Scholars Network (RSBN), we propose to focus on ethnographic approaches to the study of bhakti. The aim is to balance the textual and broadly historical emphases of previous RSBN symposia. We anticipate that ethnographic perspectives will suggest approaches and raise questions for those who work on textual and archeological materials pertaining to bhakti. We also expect to address ethical issues arising from fieldwork with living communities. This symposium encourages presenters to share new or ongoing fieldwork that contributes to our understanding of living bhakti and its multiple expressions in the contemporary world of South Asia. This includes both communities grounded on medieval bhakti traditions and new forms of devotional expression and community arising in colonial and post-colonial South Asia. How do today’s communities offer strategies for living in the fast-changing nations of southern Asia? In what ways does participation in a bhakti community offer ways of reframing citizenship and the relationship of individual and society? How do modern phenomena of mobility and national (and international) media affect questions of regionality and vernacularism in contemporary bhakti? In what ways are devotional performative traditions changing in contemporary settings? Are there changes in aesthetic understandings of bhakti arts? The symposium theme also acknowledges the challenges that scholars working with contemporary bhakti communities encounter with respect to questions of authority, power, and ethics. We encourage discussion on a range of ethical issues and real-time concerns that affect research with people whose practices and ideals have repercussions on bhakti research. What ethical concerns arise when the field researcher establishes trust and is given access to data whose publication could bring harm to the informant or community?


    8:30 – 8:45 am: Welcome and Opening Comments
    RBSN Chair: Gil Ben-Herut
    Symposium Convenors: Hanna H. Kim & Richard Davis

    8:45 – 10:15 am: Session I – Reframing the Bhakti Past through the Ethnographic Present

    Trance Encounters with Mirabai: Experiencing Presence in a Bhakti Milieu
    Nancy M. Martin

    The Rise of the Domestic: Reclamation of New Bhakti Domains in Gangakhed and Alandi
    Irina Glushkova

    Devotion and the Performance of Belonging: Lineage Strategies Among the Descendants of Sant Śekh Mahaṃmad Śrīgondekar
    Dušan Deák

    Ancient Texts. Modern Contexts: Ethnographical Cues for Reading Premodern Bhakti Literature in Kannada
    Gil Ben-Herut

    10:15 – 10:30 am: Tea Break

    10:30 am – 12:15 pm: Session II – Encountering Devotionalism and its Transnational and Performative Mediations

    Indo-Caribbean Bhakti: Devotional Protests in the Contemporary South Asian Diaspora
    Sutopa Dasgupta

    A Return to a Place One Has Not Been: ISKCON and the Rhetoric of Bhakti Revivalism in Mumbai
    Claire C. Robison

    Aural Devotion and Ethical Formation: The Practice of Śravaṇa-bhakti in BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha
    Kalpesh Bhatt

    Renovating the Akshar Deri: A Case Study in Contemporary BAPS “Bhakti Visuality”
    Cynthia Packert

    12:15 – 1:45 pm: Lunch

    1:45 – 3 pm: Session III – RoundTable Conversation

    Fieldwork Ethics in Research on Contemporary Bhakti Communities
    Emilia Bachrach (Moderator)
    Andrew Kunze
    Aalekhya Malladi
    Jennifer D. Ortegren
    Shandip Saha

    3 – 3:30 pm: Session IV – Transmitting Bhakti Through Performance

    Electronic Bhakti Music: Contemporizing North Indian Devotional Poetry
    Aks and Lakshmi

    3:30 – 3:45 pm: Tea Break

    3:45 – 5:15 pm: Session V – Critiquing Critical Bhakti Scholarship and Addressing its Ethical Challenges

    The Inoperativity of Sacrifice, The Commandment of Bhakti
    Swayam Bagaria

    Ethical Manoeuvres and Ethnographic Consequences in Swaminarayan Research
    Hanna H. Kim

    The Theme-Parking of Vrindavan
    John S. Hawley

    5:15 – 5:30 pm: Closing Comments
    Convenor: Richard Davis

    6:15 – 7:15 pm: Informal Symposium Dinner
    Mirch Masala
    449 State Street, Madison WI 53703 (~0.4 miles from the conference)

  • Cross Border Entanglements in Eastern South Asia

    Full Day Symposium, 8:30am – 3 pm
    Wisconsin Ballroom

    Organizer: Mathbor Golam (Monmouth)

    Abstract: Ethnic cleansing in Myanmar prompts a massive displacement of 700,000 Rohingya refugees into Bangladesh, radically re-configuring demography, ecology, and politics along the border. China’s One-Belt-One-Road program prompts massive new infrastructure projects linking South Western China and Southeast Asia to Bangladesh and to India through the sensitive Northeast. The imperatives of preparing for climate change reconfigure the Sundarbans region, highlighting the disastrous consequences of imagining the forest as neatly divided by a border. Realities and perceptions of migration from Bangladesh into Assam lead to waves of violence and a resurgence of ethno-nationalist politics. Calls for self-governance in Darjeeling and a redrawing of the internal boundaries of West Bengal prompt state blockades and media blackouts. As these examples suggest, Eastern South Asia’s borders—internal and external—are in a moment of tremendous flux. How do these separate issues articulate with one another? What kind of new connections, flows, and politics emerge through and around them? How do these headline grabbing issues mask other, more everyday strategies of border navigation? In what ways do these shifts interact with longstanding cultural, religious, and ethnic practices and linkages across borders? And what are the longer histories that animate contemporary challenges to these comparatively recent border configurations? The symposium seeks to bring together scholars working across social science, humanities, and policy arenas to raise new questions about the current moment and to link it to longer trajectories and processes of making and unmaking borders in Eastern South Asia. By bringing together scholars working in India’s Northeast, Bangladesh, and West Bengal, we hope to contextualize these contemporary crises as part of a broader regional transformation. In doing so, we seek to connect past to present in a critical region where the future hangs in the balance.


    8:30 – 9 am: Opening Remarks
    Golam Mathbor

    9 – 10:15 am: Session 1 – Cross-Border Drifts
    Chair/Discussant: Sufia Uddin

    Notes on the “Bangladeshi” Issue in Assam
    Yasmin Saikia

    Into the Unbearable Remoteness of the Rangpur Road
    Shana Ghosh

    Matua, Hindu, or Foreigner? Shifting Identities in Bengali-Speaking Borderlands
    Carola Lorea

    10:15 – 10:30 am: Coffee Break

    10:30 am – 12:15 pm: Session 2 – Border Environments

    Chair/Discussant: Jason Cons

    Forested Borders, Fluid Movements: Imagining and Negotiating Borders in the Indian Sundarbans
    Amites Mukhopadhyay

    Atmospheric Imaging, Atmospheric Imagining: Weather Prediction across Borderlines in Bengal
    Dilshanie Perera

    Tides and Almanac: Rethinking Land, Water and Law in the Bengal Delta
    Debjani Bhattacharyya

    12:15 – 1:45 pm: Lunch

    1:45 – 3 pm: Rohingya Movements
    Chair/Discussant: Sanchita Saxena

    The Forsaken Victims of Slow Burning Genocide: International Response to the Rohingya Crisis
    CR Abrar

    Development for the Stateless: The Rohingya Case
    Samira Siddique

    (Un)Wanted: Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh
    Misha Quill

  • Himalayan Policy Research Conference

    Full Day Symposium, 8:30 am – 5:30 pm
    Madison College Room D240-1

    Organizer: Alok Bohara (

    Abstract: The Nepal Study Center (NSC) at the University of New Mexico, its members and affiliated scholars request letting us organize the Annual Himalayan Policy Research Conference, the 13th in our series at the symposium of the University of Wisconsin’s 47th Annual Conference on South Asia (October 11-14, 2018). We have had grand successes over the years in providing this platform to attract scholars from all over the world. The purpose of the event continues to be to promote scholarly interactions among the scholars with policy research interest on the Himalayan region and the countries in South Asia. We have had highly successful conferences in the past –2006 through 2017 — at your venue where scholars came to participate from several countries such as the US, Canada, Europe, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, and Japan. We even did a live internet broadcast of the event in 2010.

  • Impersonation in South Asia

    Full Day Symposium, 8:30 am – 5:30 pm
    Private Dining Room

    Organizer: Pam Lothspeich (UNC-Chapel Hill) & Harshita Mruthinti Kamath (Emory University)

    Abstract: This symposium will bring together seventeen scholars from a variety of ranks, disciplines and countries doing groundbreaking work on the subject of impersonation/guising/embodiment in modern and early modern South Asia. The expected outcome of the symposium is an edited volume on Impersonation in South Asia, which will be the first scholarly source to examine impersonation both in contemporary performative and quotidian contexts across South Asia. We understand impersonation as the temporary assumption of an identity or guise of a group that is not one’s own in social and aesthetic performative contexts, including the same as expressed in literature. Our broad reading of this term allows us to investigate ways in which people have sought to affectively perform/assume different identities across a representative selection of media and cultural forms in South Asia. Subjects explored range from the impersonation of real people (cultural icons) and fantasy beings (comic book characters) to more diffuse and overdetermined forms of impersonation entangled with issues of race, gender, social station, the supernatural and the divine. An important contribution of this symposium is that it will reflect on the material conditions under which these identities are socially constructed, and interrogate sites of hegemonic control relating to gender, sexuality, white race capital, and the North-South divide, taking into account entrenched social inequities, globalization, neoliberalism, and postcolonialism. Our collective work will expand on the term ‘impersonation’ by positing vernacular categories and examples from South Asia, ones that encapsulate and expand upon our understanding of guising which has so far been mostly situated in Euro-American contexts. This symposium will also work to break down the presumed innate dichotomy between social performance of the everyday and aesthetic performance on stage. Our project requires sustained collaboration and discussion especially on the theoretical framework for the volume, thus a full-day symposium is warranted.


    8:30 – 8:45 am: Introductions
    Pamela Lothspeich, UNC-Chapel Hill & Harshita Mruthinti Kamath, Emory University

    8:45 – 9:45 am: Part I – Cultural Icons

    (Dis)Guising Gandhi
    Janice Glowski, Otterbein University
    Sumathi Ramaswamy, Duke University

    “What is a Yogi? The Reinvention and Mimicry of a Spiritual Trope
    Shehzad Nadeem, Lehman College, CUNY

    Impersonation as Political Androgyny: Jayalalitha’s Sacred Identity in Tamil Fan Imagery
    Amy-Ruth Holt, Independent Scholar

    9:45 – 11 am: Part II – Gender

    The Freedom to Dance: Performance and Impersonation in Lagan
    Aniruddha Dutta, University of Iowa

    Beyond Imperso“nation”: Understanding the Popularity of “Female Artists” in Contemporary Kerala
    Shilpa Menon, University of Illinois at Chicago

    10:45 – 11:15 am: Coffee Break

    “Khwaja sira or bahurupiya”?: The Discursive Limits of Gender Performance
    Claire Pamment, College of William and Mary

    11 am – 12 pm: Part III – Race and Ethnicity

    Racial Impressions, Capital Characters, and Inimitable Whiteness: Dave Carson Brownfaces the Empire
    Kellen Hoxworth, Dartmouth University

    Remembering the Hunterwali’s Whip
    Rosie Thomas, University of Westminster

    Cosplay, Fandom, and the Fashioning of Identities at Comic Con India
    Sailaja Krishnamurti, Saint Mary’s University

    12 – 2 pm: Lunch

    2 – 3:30 pm: Part IV – Performance and Ritual

    The Affective Work of Performing Divinity in the Theatre of Ramlila
    Pamela Lothspeich, UNC-Chapel Hill

    Technologies of Power: Constructing Hegemonic Brahmin Masculinity in Kuchipudi Dance
    Harshita Mruthinti Kamath, Emory University

    Pervading Persons: Priestly Possession in Malabar
    Rich Freeman, Duke University

    Bonds of Love: Brides, Demons, and Human-Divine Impersonation in North India
    Aftab Jassal, University of California, San Diego

    3:30 – 3:45 pm: Coffee Break

    3:45 – 5 pm: Part V – Social Protest

    Performing Impersonation: Subversion in the ‘Theatre of the Earth’
    Sumitra Thoidingjam, Jamia Millia Islamia University, New Delhi

    Personal Impersonators: The Power of Mimicry in the Process of Vernacularization
    Christian Novetzke, University of Washington

    7:30 pm: Informal Dinner to follow the All-Conference Reception (6 – 7:30 pm)

  • Junior Scholar's Conference on Pakistan Studies - AIPS

    Full Day Symposium, 8:30 am – 5:30 pm
    Parlor Room 638

    Organizer: Laura Hammond (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

    Abstract: The American Institute of Pakistan Studies (AIPS) is proposing a Junior Scholars’ Conference intended to mentor junior scholars working on Pakistan. This one-day conference will showcase the research being done by junior scholars in the field of Pakistan Studies. AIPS will hold an open call for applications, which is widely advertised throughout the AIPS member institutions (36 institutions) and beyond. We encourage abstracts from disciplines such as anthropology, sociology, political science, history, literature, religious studies, art history, music, women studies, film and communications studies, etc. AIPS has identified senior scholars who will read the papers, provide feedback, mentorship, and focused discussion. This event will utilize a full day and is therefore larger than a traditional conference panel. This Junior Scholars’ conference will be central in enabling emerging scholars to network with others in their field and be exposed to senior scholars who can act as additional advisors/mentors. Other past conferences held at the Annual Conference have been instrumental in creating a nation-wide dialogue between junior and senior scholars. There have been significant outcomes of the past conferences, including multiple projects started, mentorships forged, articles written, and dissertations revised, edited and completed that have sprung from this intensive one-day conference. Program will be similar to 2016 program (attached). Discussants include: 1) Farhat Haq, Professor, Political Science, Monmouth College 2) Matthew Cook, Professor, Postcolonial & South Asian Studies, North Carolina Central University 3) Frank Korom, Professor, Religion and Anthropology, BU 4) Yasmin Saikia, Hardt-Nickachos Chair in Peace Studies, Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict, Arizona State University 5) Iftikhar Dadi, Associate Professor, History of Art & Visual Studies, Cornell 6) Shahnaz Rouse, Professor, Sociology, Sarah Lawrence College 7) Cabeiri Robinson, Associate Professor, International Studies, Comparative Religions, and South Asian Studies, UW-Seattle 8) Iqbal Sevea Singh, Associate Professor, History, UNC


    8:25 – 8:30 am: Welcome & Introduction by AIPS President, Dr. Farhat Haq

    8:30 – 10:15 am: Session 1
    Chair: Dr. Matthew A. Cook

    Saving Sindhu: River Defense Movements Along the Indus River in Pakistan
    Ahsan Kamal, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

    Co-Operatives and Contraceptives: Family Planning and Theories of Rural Development in Comilla, East Pakistan
    Amna Qayyum, Princeton University

    What Makes a Hanafi? The Juristic Boundaries of the Hanafi School of Law across Thatta and Medina in the 18th Century
    Sohaib Baig, University of California, Los Angeles

    10:15 – 10:30 am: Break

    10:30 am – 12:15 pm: Session 2

    Chair: Dr. Farhat Haq

    Inside the Nuclear Labyrinth: Understanding the Consequences of Nuclear Weapons Development in Pakistan, 1972-1998
    Michelle Grisé, RAND Corporation

    Political Violence and Ethnocentric Trust in Multiethnic Megacities: The Case of Karachi
    Mashail Malik, Stanford University

    Lord of the District and next to God: Policing and Governance in the Punjab
    Neelum Sohail, Tufts University

    12:15 – 1:45 pm: Lunch

    1:45 – 3:05 pm: Session 3

    Chair: Dr. Iftikhar Dadi

    Gender and Sexuality of the Other: Under the Gaze of Transnational Documentary
    Shehram Mokhtar, University of Oregon

    Women’s Work: Ethnography of a Pakistani Vocational Center
    Ghazal Asif, Johns Hopkins University

    3:05 – 3:15 pm: Wrap-Up by AIPS President, Dr. Farhat Haq

  • Land Questions - Agrarian and Material South Asia

    Full Day Symposium, 8:30 am – 5:30 pm
    Madison College Room D240-2

    Organizer: Matthew Shutzer (New York University) & Meghna Chaudhuri (New York University)

    Abstract: The place of the agrarian has been a persistent question for the social sciences going back to the late-nineteenth century. The emergence of modern social scientific disciplines itself was concurrent with intensified commodification and the locking into place of a new global structural hierarchy. The ‘agrarian question’ was a real problem of economic policy as it was one at the heart of the provenance, chronology and possibilities of capitalism as objects of enquiry through to the mid-twentieth century.

    Scholars of South Asia have paid particular attention to the agrarian for most of the twentieth century. As scholarly interest came to focus on urban spaces, global networks and elite and subaltern cultural production, the agrarian question receded to the background in an era when metropolitan globalization appeared to be the inescapable reality. Even as the agrarian receded as the object of study, it continued to form the bedrock of enquiries amongst students of South Asia through, for example, a renewed focus on law in its normative aspects, as well as a more fluid socio-economic history of legal forms and the politics of Dalit and lower-caste labor.

    How do we make sense of the patterns of accumulation and forms of distributional conflict that characterize South Asia’s political economy in the present? In what ways do debates over spatial transformation, environmental degradation, and caste and gender hierarchies challenge our understanding of the current intersections between economic inequality, democratic crisis, and an emergent politics surrounding climate change? This interdisciplinary panel brings together emerging and senior researchers to reflect upon the ways in which these issues have returned scholars to the sources that used to form the subject of an older tradition of agrarian history in an attempt to bring questions of materiality and economy to bear on the urgent political changes of our time.


    8:30 – 9 am: Opening Remarks

    The Agrarian Question: Legacy and Relevance
    Michael Levien, Johns Hopkins

    9 – 10:15 am: Ecologies of Energy and Waste
    Commentator: Nusrat Chowdhurty, Amherst

    Future Imaginaries Of Gwadar’s Port Terminal: Mediating Trans-regional Encounters Along The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor
    Ayesha Omer, New York University

    Hydro-economy in Colonial and Postcolonial South India
    Aditya Ramesh, SOAS

    ‘Land-use’ and Its Adjudication: Pollution, Relocation, and Doing Business in an Urban Scrap Market’
    Ishani Saraf, UC Davis

    10:15 – 10:30 am: Coffee Break

    10:30 am – 12 pm: Agrarian Capitalism: New Genealogies

    Commentator: Vinay Gidwani, Minnesota

    Banking on the Countryside: Historicising the Agrarian in South Asian History
    Meghna Chaudhuri, New York University

    Streams of Value: Water in Nineteenth Century Malwa
    Shatam Ram, Emory University

    Property, Nature, and Fossil Fuels: Subsoil Histories of Indian Democracy
    Matthew Shutzer, New York University

    Diagnosing a Feudal Past to Chart an Agrarian Future: Nepal’s 1964 Land Reform
    Jacob Rinck, Yale

    12 – 1:45 pm: Lunch

    1:45 – 3:15 pm: Laboring Lives and Labored Spaces

    Commentator: Rupa Viswanath

    Dispossession and Employment: Politics, Job Brokerage and the Limits of Protest in an Adivasi Village
    Itay Noy, London School of Economics

    The Peasant and the Slaveholder: Land, Indigo, and Transformations in U.S. Slavery
    Zach Sell, Brown

    Anti-Caste Critique and Its Engagement with Religious Texts: A Focus on Nineteenth Century Western India
    Ketaki Jaywant, University of Minnesota

    A Command of Labor and a Labor of Command: The Juridical Economy of Peasant in Colonial Panjab
    Navyug Gill, William Paterson

    3:15 – 3:30 pm: Coffee Break

    3:30 – 4:45 pm: Spaces of Accumulation

    Commentator: Sarah Besky

    Ecologies of Distance: Autorickshaws, Taxis and Topologies of Price in Delhi
    William Stafford, University of California-Berkeley

    The Making of Frontier Space in India’s Northeast
    Anandaroop Sen, University of Cape Town

    Salvage Accumulation: The Reproduction of Ownership and Capital Circulation on the Brahmaputra Chars in Kurigram, Bangladesh
    Saad Quasem, University of Virginia

    5 – 6 pm: Book RoundTable
    Commentator: Meghna Chaudhuri & Matt Shutzer, New York University

    A Local History of Global Capital: Jute and Peasant Life in the Bengal Delta (2018)
    Tariq Omar Ali

    Empire and Ecology in the Bengal Delta: The Making of Calcutta (2018)
    Debjani Bhattacharyya

  • New Directions in South Asian 'Ulama' Studies

    Half Day Symposium, 8:30 am – 12:15 pm
    Conference Room 1

    Organizer: SherAli Tareen

    Abstract: Important and far-reaching debates on current issues in Islamic law are taking place in Muslim traditionalist circles in South Asia. In India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, traditionally educated Muslim scholars (known as the ‘ulama’) of varying ideological stripes are participating in public debates on highly charged and divisive matters. For instances, issues such as blasphemy, women’s rights, defining rape, the normative status of modern technology in the shari‘a etc. are vigorously argued by ‘ulama’ in South Asia. These are significant internal debates that do not make it to morning headlines of newspapers. However, grasping the internal logics and aspirations of such debates is critical to developing a richer and more nuanced narrative of the Islamic legal tradition in South Asia. This symposium attempts this task. It explores the competing ways in which South Asian ‘ulama’ put the canonical tradition of Islamic law to work in modern contexts. The central question this symposium addresses is this: how do Muslim religious thinkers in modern South Asia deal with the historical legacy of norms and values in encounters with new conditions? The short answer is: eagerly, unevenly, and in a messy manner. For some, the virtues, predispositions, and models of the good as elaborated in their instruction manuals and as articulated by the ancient authorities remain the ideal. For others, the entire system of norms and virtues has to be rethought and overhauled. And then, there is a spectrum of scholars who find themselves in between these two polarities. The objective of this symposium is to illumine the varieties of interpretive norms, temperaments, and aesthetics that populate the Muslim legal tradition in South Asia. It does so by presenting specific illustrations of the multiple and often conflicting ways in which the limits of law and tradition are contested by contemporary South Asian ‘ulama.’


    8:30-8:45 am: Introductions

    Outline of Symposium Themes and Aspirations
    SherAli Tareen

    8:45 – 10:15 am: Panel 1 “The Agonistics of ‘Ulama’ Authority”

    Questioning the Reformist Label as Applied to Deobandi and Barelwi ‘Ulama’
    Fareeha Khan

    Who speaks for Islam? Thanvi on the Authority of the ‘Ulama in the Modern Era
    Fuad Naeem

    Made to Love: Theorizing Female Affection at the Intersection of Custom and Islamic Law
    Darakhshan Khan


    10:15 – 10:30 am: Break


    10:30 am-12:15 pm: Panel 2 “The Ethical and Political in ‘Ulama’ Thought”

    “Let the Beard Grow and Trim the Mustache”: Muslim Ethics between Mimesis and Embodiment
    Sohaib Khan

    Method and Contestation: Azad and the Islamic Case for Pluralism
    Shaunna Rodrigues

    Late 20th Century Da‘wa and The Da‘waology of Sayyid Abu’l-Ḥasan ‘Alī Nadwī
    Matthew Kuiper

    Islamic History between the Ethical and the Mytho-theological: A Contemporary Retelling of Islam’s Sacred Story
    Rizwan Zamir

  • Pakistani Cinema: New Theoretical and Methodological Ground

    Half Day Symposium, 1:45 pm – 5:30 pm
    Conference Room 2

    Organizer: Gwendolyn Kirk (

    Abstract: This symposium will bring together scholars from the US, the UK, and Pakistan to discuss recent developments and innovations relating to the study of Pakistani cinema. Although long overshadowed by the study of Hindi popular cinema, or Bollywood, the study of South Asian cinema has become increasingly broad in recent years. As little as ten years ago scholarly work on the films and filmmakers of Pakistan simply did not exist; now a small but growing group of scholars are dedicated to its study. Pakistani cinema is distinct from other South Asian cinemas, and itself comprises multiple languages and genres. It also has historically had very different relationships with the Pakistani nation-state and with religious nationalism than is found in the context of India. Although cinema industries in the two nations share commonalities of history and style, they have developed into strikingly different entities. A focus on Pakistani cinema thus decentralizes Hindi cinema, and also allows for a greater focus on subnational or regional cinemas. Accordingly, scholars working on Pakistani film are also making theoretical and methodological interventions, paying attention not only to the filmic text, but also to production, circulation, and reception. These scholars come from different disciplines, such as art history, comparative literature, and linguistic anthropology, and as such bring different theoretical and methodological traditions to the table. This symposium will include both the standard format of individual presentations followed by Q&A, and also a roundtable discussion on the present state and future directions of Pakistan cinema studies. Our goal is to foster an interactive and ongoing dialogue as this is a small, but exciting, field. Having a symposium rather than a panel will allow us the freedom not only to share scholarship but to collectively explore issues that speak to all of our research in much greater depth.

  • Performance Studies In And From South Asia: An Interdisciplinary Symposium

    Half Day Symposium, 1:45 pm – 5:30 pm
    Conference Room 3

    Organizer: Sharvari Sastry (University of Chicago), Arnab Banerji (Loyola Marymount), & Kat Leider (UW-Madison)

    Abstract: The aim of this symposium is to facilitate a dialogue between the fields of South Asian Studies and Performance Studies, by bringing together scholars and artists who work at the intersection of these two disciplines. In so doing, it addresses two major lacunae: The under-representation of performance as a tool and an object of analysis in the study of South Asia; and the dominant Euro-American-centrism of the discourse of Performance Studies. Performance Studies’ origins as a field can be found in works such as Richard Schechner’s and Victor Turner’s, which combined anthropology and performance in order to examine cultural ritual in India. This symposium will give a new generation of scholars the chance to build on and update the relationship between South Asia and Performance Studies, insisting on a decolonial lens that honors the work emerging from South Asia as critical to investigating what Performance Studies has to offer as a relatively new discipline. This year, we will focus on how performative analysis might generate new understandings of subjects as diverse as the neoliberal Indian city or the staging of Sanskrit epics. The performance pre-conference in 2017 hosted presentations on a range of topics, including diasporic audiobook performance, meditative practices in Sri Lanka, clubs in colonial Calcutta, and contemporary Tamil Dance championships. We look forward to continuing the discussions that started there, as well as developing the papers we receive this year for an edited volume, the first of its kind to use a Performance Studies methodology, as opposed to a theatre or dance-oriented approach, to explore the rich cultures of South Asia. Our speakers will include both established and emerging scholars and artists of South Asian theatre, dance, and ritual. We aim to include voices who blur disciplinary boundaries by using performance as a lens to study the world.


    1:45 – 2 pm: Opening Remarks

    2 – 3 pm: Keynote Panel
    Davesh Soneji & Shayoni Mitra

    3 – 3:30 pm: Presentation Panel 1

    Performing Hindu Womanhood: Corporate Theatre in Global India
    Sarah Saddler, University of Minnesota

    Repurposed Advaita: A Performance Historiography of Narayana Guru’s Political Praxis and Philosophical Writings that Identifies One Route for the Concept of Equality in Colonial Kerala
    Vivek Narayan, Stanford University

    3:30 – 3:45 pm: Coffee Break

    3:45 – 4:30 pm: Presentation Panel 2

    Performance as a Heretic Act in the Discourse of Religion and Secular in South India: a Case of Kuth Ratheeb
    Mohammed Shah Shahjahan, University of Hyderabad

    Foreigners’ Acts and State Spectacles: Small-scale State Performances and the Fostering of Hope Among Pakistani Hindu Refugee-Migrants in India
    Natasha Raheja, Cornell University

    Orissan Architecture and Regionalism: Thinking through Dance
    Sinjini Chatterjee, SOAS London

    Fire-Walking in La Réunion, a Performative Approach
    Loreley Franchina, University of Strasbourg

    Interpreting the Manipuri Rāsalīlas: A Sociopolitical Contextualization
    Rodney Sebastian, University of Florida

    4:30 – 5:10 pm: Presentation Panel 3

    Performing Things, Performing Kingship
    Deepthi Murali, UIC

    Forest Tales: Sita as Method
    Anuj Vaidya, UC Davis

    “Classical,” “Semi-Classical” or “Folk”: Discursive Representations of Purulia Chhau
    Pratichi Priyambada, UC Irvine

    How to Uphold a Goddess: Theatrical Motifs From Sanskrit Drama
    Swayam Bagaria

    5:10 – 5:30 pm: RoundTable
    Sharvari Sastry, Arnab Banerji, & Jaclyn Michael
    Respondents: Shayoni Mitra & Davesh Soneji

  • Practices of Border Making in South Asia: From Durand to Doklam

    Half Day Symposium, 1:45 pm – 5:30 pm
    Conference Room 1

    Organizer: Swati Chawla (University of Virigina) & Kyle Gardner (University of Chicago)

    Abstract: In the summer of 2017, a months-long standoff between India and China once again brought to the world stage the disputed borders between the world’s two most populous countries. While political commentators were quick to point to nationalist sabre-rattling as a prime factor, a growing number of scholars have begun to explore the deeper histories of South Asia’s numerous disputed borders; Willem van Schendel’s categorization of the legacies of Radcliffean, McMahonian, and Kashmirian “border issues” being among the more recent (2013). At the heart of these analyses lies the emergence of new conceptions of sovereignty, territoriality, and legitimacy in the modern world, that came to be positioned against older ways of organizing national life. Examining this complex and temporally uneven process in turn raises a series of questions that this symposium seeks to answer: How do changes and continuities in conceptions of sovereignties (both multi-layered and absolute) reflect the transition to postcolonial nation-states? To what extent are the cartographic anxieties of today’s nation-states inheritances of the ideologies and technologies of governance deployed by erstwhile colonial states? And how can historians divided by area studies boundaries, such as East, Central, and South Asia, collectively imagine innovative ways of understanding problems that traverse national borders? Finally, how can we move beyond statist frameworks to explore how the peoples of Asia have creatively accommodated cultural, political, religious, and environmental difference?

    This symposium also contributes to the work on the “re-regionalisation” of Asia by placing processes of border-making outside of rigid area studies’ grids of South-, Central- and East Asia, and gestures towards a conception of region that is independent of contemporary national borders. In their own work, both organizers stress the connections between Sikkim, Bhutan, Tibet, and parts of northern and north-eastern India (Ladakh and Tawang, for example) that predated the establishment of independent India and People’s Republic of China as modern nation states. Other historians in the symposium read colonial and postcolonial archives against the grain that privileges the modern state as the telos of nationalist becoming. We analyze the technologies through which borders have been imagined and administered, such as surveying, cartography, and environmentalism. Finally, the symposium reminds us of conceptions of borders arising out of the often overlapping theological and cosmological worlds of Tibetan Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam in South Asia. Collectively, we work not just across the Indian subcontinent from Sindh to Chittagong, but also in Tibet and China, and the Central Asian regions beyond Afghanistan.

    The half-day symposium comprises two thematic panels and a concluding roundtable. A list of panel titles, thematic concerns, and speakers is provided below. The symposium delivers on our promise of building on the rich and productive discussion from last year’s preconference on Colonial and Postcolonial Borderlands, and is in turn conceptualized as the beginning of a larger conversation, which will be continued in other media and at multiple venues. We are considering a state-of-the-field review essay arising out the day’s deliberations, in particular, the roundtable discussion at the end. We will reconvene in other conferences to dialogue with colleagues studying other parts of the world, such as East Asia, the Middle East or Inner Asia, and are already presenting a poster and panel at the American Historical Association’s Annual Conference in 2019.


    1:45 – 2 pm: Introductions and Welcome

    2 – 3:30 pm: Panel I – The Many Geneses of Contemporary Borders

    A Late-Mughal Westphalia? Provincial Borders, Regional Sovereignty, and the 1765 Treaties of Allahabad
    Nicholas J. Abbott, Old Dominion University

    South Asia’s Global Frontiers: A Comparative Consideration of Frontier Rule
    Benjamin D. Hopkins, George Washington University

    Himalayan Border Experts and the Birth of Geopolitics
    Kyle Gardner, University of Chicago

    3:30 – 3:45 pm: Tea/Coffee

    3:45 – 5 pm: Panel II – “Natural” Barriers Versus National Borders

    Bordering Disaster: Earthquakes on South Asian Frontiers
    Daniel Haines, University of Bristol

    Standing Guard for the Nation: The ‘Natural’ Himalayan Border in the Postcolonial Indian Imaginary
    Swati Chawla, University of Virginia

    5:15 – 6 pm: RoundTable Discussion
    Facilitators: Swati Chawla & Kyle Gardner

  • Queer Symposium: Un/Desirable Encounters at the Intersections of Race, Class, and Caste

    Full Day Symposium, 8:30 am – 5:30 pm
    University A/B

    Organizer: Jeff Roy (University of California, Los Angeles) & Pavithra Prasad (California State University, Northridge)

    Abstract: Recent scholarship on South Asia has called for renewed attention to the intersections of queerness, race, class and caste under the contexts of globalization, neoliberalism, and the fraying of cultural and ideological borders (Gopinath 2005, Prasad 2017). In this symposium, we would like to draw attention to the journeys of queer, trans, hijra and gender nonconforming subjects and scholars working in and around South Asia in order to highlight the ways in which race, class, and caste frame relationships, studies and engagements in the field. We ask: How do queer, trans, hijra, and gender nonconforming people engage the narrative, performative, and embodied aspects of race, class, and caste while navigating around and through the inevitable presence of the Western academy? How do race, class, and caste frame our desires for, experiences of, and relationships with neoliberal spectres that infiltrate the intimate spaces of fieldwork? What strategies do queer, trans, hijra and gender nonconforming people employ to adapt to, adopt, subvert, or resist the hierarchies of authority produced by race, class, caste, religion, nationality, and institutional access? And in particular, how do queer subjects, Dalit activists, and black South Asians subvert the homogenizing implication of “people of color” taxonomy by visioning intersectional, racialized, and decolonial coalitions across the global color line? In addressing the connections that bind our respective fields of academic and artistic practice––and our ability to access modes of inquiry based on our varying privilege(s) as ethnographers, artists, or teachers––we further consider, self-reflexively, how these privileges are exercised through epistemic and institutional power.

    Statement of Justification: This symposium aims to bring together scholars of different disciplines and backgrounds to illuminate ethnographic, archival, and autoethnographic opacities that exist between researcher and interlocutor. Foregrounding performative and narrative modes of reflexivity, scholars and artists will explore the unspoken ways in which race, class, and caste cultivate specific relationships, studies, and engagements in the field and in academic institutionality. We intend to use this time as an opportunity to generate responsive and dialogic critiques through a range of formats, including panels, roundtable discussions, and informal conversations in a safe, supportive, LGBTQIA+ affirmative environment. This Queer Symposium will precede the publication of a special forum for the Fall 2018 issue of QED: A Journal in GLBTQ Worldmaking, which will feature a diverse collection of papers from participants in the Queer Pre-conferences held in 2016 and 2017 at the Annual Conference on South Asia. We intend for this year’s Queer Symposium to be just as fruitful, bringing another opportunity for us to assemble contemporary thought and work in and around issues that critical to queer South Asian scholarship.


    8:30 – 8:45 am: Welcome
    Co-Organizers: Pavithra Prasad and Jeff Roy

    8:45 – 10:15 am: Intimacies of Caste and Gender in South India
    Moderator: Lavanya Knott

    Queer Dalit Representation in the Media
    Hanna Santanam

    Drumming Dalit Female Masculinity: Queering Gender in South Asia
    Zoe Sherinian

    Queer Loves Dalit: Understanding Complicated Relationship(s) with Oppression
    Akhil Kang

    10:15 – 10:30 am: Break

    10:30 am – 12:15 pm: Trans-Versing Hijra Ethnoscapes

    Moderator: Faris Khan

    Caste and Class Among Tamil Thirunangais
    Elaine Craddock

    Hijra vs. Trans: Intersections of Gender and Class
    Aqib Ali

    An Ethnographer of Ethnographers: Contesting Anthropological Narratives in the Field
    Shakthi Nataraj

    EthnoVlogs: New Modes of Ethnography and Trans Becoming in Pakistan
    Faris Khan

    12:15 – 1:45 pm: Lunch and Film Screening

    1:45 – 3:30 pm: Sensoria of Race and Desire from the Field

    Moderator: Brian Horton

    ‘I’d Never Sleep With One, They Smell Like Meat’ and Other Tall Tales: Imagining the Black Body as a Queer Body in South Asia
    Brian Horton

    Race, Preference and Partner Selection: A Study of Perceptions and Stereotypes in Delhi’s Queer Cyberspace
    Tiayangru Imchen

    Diasporic or Transnational? A Critical Race Approach to South Asia
    Rumya Putcha

    3:30 – 3:45: Break

    3:45 – 4:45 pm: Queer Circumambulations in Performance

    Moderator: Pavithra Prasad

    MeenaDanda: Curvilinear Queering
    Kaustavi Sarkar

    4:45 – 5:30 pm: Symposium Wrap-Up Session
    Moderators: Pavithra Prasad and Jeff Roy

    7:45 – 9 pm: “Lessons in Drag” with LaWhore Vagistan, a Special Performance at Plan B

  • Rethinking Folk Culture in South Asia

    Half Day Symposium, 8:30 am – 12:15 pm
    University C/D

    Organizer: Priyanka Basu (The British Library) & Aniket De (Harvard)

    Abstract: South Asia is a vast repertoire of stories, objects and performances. Scholars and storytellers, from Mary Frere (1868) to the unparalleled A.K. Ramanujan (1986), have long understood the crucial role of popular cultures in shaping complex historical experiences in the subcontinent. Yet the academic study of South Asian folk culture has somewhat declined since its Golden Age in the late 20th century. Anthropologists, increasingly skeptical of reifying and romanticizing native cultures, have moved from myths and rituals to more complex questions of modernity. But critiquing the analytical concept of folk culture cannot simply mean overlooking how the bulk of South Asia’s 1.7 billion peoples imagine and express themselves, often against the forces of power. We therefore need new comparative and interdisciplinary methods to explore how people think and create every day. In this regard, there has never been a more critical time for rethinking folk culture in South Asia. We aim to expand the study of folk cultures beyond the narrow conceptual confines of the term ‘folk’: what can this vast archive of objects, texts and performances tell us about the everyday lives and thoughts of South Asians? How have people expressed new ideas with changing historical circumstances? How have texts, performances and histories been connected to produce new forms of identity? Given the breadth, diversity and richness of these questions, we propose a full-day symposium rather than a single panel discussion. This symposium crosses boundaries of disciplines, regions and generations. Historians, anthropologists and literary scholars collectively reflect on innovative approaches to folk cultures- entanglements between texts and performances, borders, representations and identity formations. Our participants work not only all over South Asia, from Punjab to Manipur, but also in Burma and Singapore. A range of tenure-track , senior faculty, and doctoral students from three continents share insights.


    8:30 – 8:45 am: Welcome Remarks by Priyanka Basu

    8:45 – 10:15 am: Panel I – Texts and Contexts
    Chair/Discussant: Frank Korom, Boston University

    Nabīra Pāñcālī: Performance, Pedagogy, and the Making of Islamic Community
    Ayesha A. Irani, University of Massachusetts Boston

    The Art of Being in Exile: The Antecedents of Folk Literature of the Rohingyas in Arakan Court
    Tathagata Dutta, Tufts University

    Vestigial Performances? Fairs & Festivals as Spaces of Redefining ‘Folk’ Practices
    Priyanka Basu, The British Library

    Murshidabad, Monsoon, Malhar: Accessing Folklore through a ‘Classical’ Tradition
    Ahona Palchoudhuri, Brown University

    10:15 – 10:30 am: Tea/Coffee

    10:30 am – 12:15 pm: Panel II – Performative Boundaries

    Chair/Discussant: Philip Lutgendorf, University of Iowa

    The Boundary of Laughter: Nation and Performance at the Indo-Bangladesh Borderland
    Aniket De, Harvard University

    Our Drama, Our Food: Distinguishing “Special” Practices in Tamil Nadu
    Susan Seizer, Indiana University Bloomington
    Madeline Chera, Indiana University Bloomington

    Folklore or Unnecessary Noise? Interrogating Matua Soundscapes and the Exclusionary Politicsof what is ‘Folk’
    Carola Erika Lorea, University of Heidelberg

    Indian and Chinese Musical Relations in Singapore: The Sonic Politics of Sameness/Difference
    Jim Sykes, University of Pennsylvania

  • Rethinking World War II in South Asia

    Full Day Symposium, 8:30 am – 5:30 pm
    Parlor Room 629

    Organizer: Andrew Amstutz (University of Wisconsin-Madison), Isabel Huacuja Alonso (California State University, San Bernardino), & Rotem Geva (Hebrew University)

    Abstract: For far too long, World War II has remained on the margins of South Asian historiography and public memory. Independence and the partition of the subcontinent in 1947 have dominated both the popular imagination and the historiography, repressing the historical significance of the war years. Yet, during World War II, India functioned as a military, industrial, and logistical base for Allied operations. The British government mobilized India’s resources to pay for the war effort, and the Indian army expanded dramatically with Indian troops fighting around the world. Despite its relative neglect in the scholarship, the war’s impact on South Asia in terms of law, economics, and technologies, was significant and long lasting.

    This symposium analyzes the influence of World War II in South Asia from a multi-disciplinary perspective. Presentations will consider the economic repercussions of the war, as well as the war’s influence on legal, medical, scientific, and pedagogical discourses. We will also analyze literary, cinematic, and journalistic representations of this conflict in a range of South Asian languages. While the focus is on South Asia, many presenters also consider the global impact of South Asians’ involvement in the war, including the Indian National Army (INA) trials in Singapore, as well as the global opium trade. Drawing together media studies’ scholars, literary scholars, anthropologists, and historians of South Asia, the symposium not only challenges Euro-centric understandings of World War II, but also unsettles political assumptions about the 1940s in South Asia.


    8:30 – 8:45 am: Greetings & Opening Remarks

    8:45 – 10 am: Panel I – Food and Drugs

    Famine and Social Balance in the ‘Medical Mulk of Bengal,’ 1943-1945
    Andrew Amstutz, UW-Madison

    Race, Drugs, and Spies in the China Burma India Theater: World War II and the Rebirth of the Indian Opium Trade
    Benjamin Siegel, Boston University

    India’s Wartime Food Emergency: Hoarders, Speculators, and Black Marketers
    Samantha Iyer, Fordham University

    10 – 10:30 am: Coffee Break

    10:30 am – 12:10 pm:
    Panel II – Law, Education, and Economies

    Madras 1942: The Lives and Times of the Law during World War II
    Kalyani Ramnath, Princeton University

    The INA Trials in Singapore
    Rohit De, Yale University

    The Bad Stock”: Nazi Eugenics and the Growth of Anthropology in Delhi
    Hoda Bandeh-Ahmadi, University of Michigan

    The Forgotten Strike: August 1942 in Jamshedpur and the Transformation of Indian Capitalism
    Mircea Raianu, University of Maryland

    12:10 – 1:45 pm: Lunch

    1:45 – 3:25 pm: Panel III – War Prose

    A Women’s War? The Second World War in Urdu Women’s Press
    Asiya Alam, Louisiana State University

    ʻAzīz Aḥmad: Urdu Translator in the Era of the Second World War
    Bilal Hashmi, University of Virginia

    Chongqing – Bengal – Bergen Belsen: WWII through Indian Eyes
    Rotem Geva, Hebrew University

    A Language Of Hunger: Representing World War II and the Bengal Famine
    Ahona Panda, University of Chicago

    3:25 – 3:45 pm: Coffee Break

    3:45 – 5 pm: Panel IV – Seeing and Listening

    ‘Quisling Radio’: Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and Axis Broadcast Propaganda
    Isabel Huacuja Alonso, California State University San Bernadino

    Colonial Collaborators? Bombay Film Studios and 1940s British War Propaganda
    Debashree Mukherjee, Columbia University

    Significant Bodies: Memorializing Muslims in British India during the 1940s
    Kelsey Utne, Cornell University

    5 – 6 pm: RoundTable Discussion

  • South Asian Muslim Studies Association Symposium: Insider/Outsider Perspectives in South Asian Muslim Studies

    Half Day Symposium, 1:45 pm – 5:30 pm
    University C/D

    Organizer: Roger Long (Eastern Michigan University)

    Abstract: The preoccupation with authenticity that has characterized social science research since the turn of the century has inevitably led to giving ever more attention to the boundaries defining insider/outsider status in a number of categories. Thus, issues of identity in reference to generational, gender-specific, socio-economic, ethno-racial, regional, religious, ideological, and intellectual membership have increasingly become the focus of both analysis and debate. But the effort at avoiding “othering” any particular group has concealed the value inherent in exploring the differences between insider and outsider perspectives on any issues for which membership defines identity. The 2018 SAMSA Symposium invites contributions addressing the tension between insider and outsider interpretations in South Asian Muslim history, politics, and intellectual/ideological expressions of all kinds. Contrasting and comparing various approaches to one issue, or focusing instead on the process by which boundaries emerge, or one particular perspective gets privileged, are all equally valuable, and are welcome. These can include such issues as modernity and tradition, including the conflict between colonial modernity and tradition, the concept of the singular nation-state in India that seeks to place Muslims as a national minority, the clash between rival interpretations of Islamic law and practice, the role of women in the family and society, the debate among educationists over curriculum, Middle Eastern and South Asian concepts of religious practice, electoral and political behavior, and regional variations in social and religious practices. List of speakers: Laura Dudley, Jenkins, Yasmin Saikia, Roger D. Long, M. Raisur Rahman, Taj Hashmi, Sana Haroon, Mehr Farooqi, Usha Sanyal, Sanaa Riaz, Jenniferr Dubrow Justification: The richness of the subject of the “other” in South Asian Muslim history means that a number of scholars will be able to share their research with their colleagues. Preliminary schedule: 2 morning panels, 2 afternoon panels, and a Symposium Dinner with invited speaker.


    2 pm: Welcome
    Roger D. Long, Eastern Michigan University

    2 – 3:30 pm: Panel – “Constructions of Law, Authenticity, and Identity of South Asian Muslims”
    Chair: M. Raisur Rahman, Wake Forest University

    Upholding the Rule of Law? The Lahore High Court in Pakistan
    Yaqoob Bangash, Information Technology University, Lahore

    Authenticity and the Question of Belonging: Debating the Limits of Deobandism in Contemporary Pakistan
    Mashal Saif, Clemson University

    Representation of Many Muslim Partitions in Garm Hava
    Jaclyn A. Michael, St. Lawrence University

    Debating the Cow in Colonial Muslim India
    SherAli Tareen, Franklin & Marshall College

    3:30 – 3:45 pm: Coffee Break

    3:45 – 5:30 pm: RoundTable – “Insiders, Outsiders and Teaching South Asian Muslim Studies”

    Chair: Laura Dudley Jenkins, University of Cincinnati

    Mujeeb Ahmad, International Islamic University, Islamabad
    Qudsiya Ahmed, Cambridge University Press
    Roger D. Long, Eastern Michigan University
    Raisur Rahman, Wake Forest University
    Yasmin Saikia, University of Arizona
    SherAli Tareen, Franklin and Marshall College

    6 pm: Symposium Dinner

    An Inclusive Politics: Sir Syed and the Other
    Yasmin Saikia, University of Arizona

  • Science, Technology, and Medicine (STM) in South Asia Symposium - Medicine and Memory: Temporal Aspirations, Continuities, Ruptures and the Now

    Full Day Symposium, 8:30 am – 5:30 pm
    Parlor Room 627

    Organizer: Lisa Brooks (, Shireen Hamza (, & Victoria Sheldon (

    Abstract: We propose to organize the third annual “Science, Technology, and Medicine (STM) in South Asia Symposium,” around the theme “Medicine and Memory: Temporal Aspirations, Continuities, Ruptures and the Now Across Medical Traditions.” This symposium will engage issues of temporality, periodization and engagements with the past and future, from historiographic, ethnographic and philological perspectives. We envision bringing together scholars working across South Asian medical traditions, including biomedicine, Naturopathy, Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha, and Sowa Rigpa medicines. We also plan to include an equal number of graduate students and faculty members to stimulate creative discussion, encourage mentorship, and facilitate future collaborations. Invited scholars work across time periods in a range of fields including anthropology, history, philology, feminist and gender studies, science studies, post-colonial theory, media studies, and literary studies in Sanskrit, Malayalam, Urdu, Persian, Arabic, Bengali and other languages. The stakes of authority, authenticity, and efficacy in medical traditions often rely upon claims made upon the past, in the form of treatises, historical or imagined personages, and narratives of continuity or rupture. In this symposium we are particularly interested in considering temporal engagements reflected in the often-intersecting and interacting medical traditions that we study. This is particularly urgent in a moment of rising ethnocentric nationalisms across the region. With attention to the coexistence of plural medical systems, this symposium is underpinned by an interest in the hybrid modes of historical sensibility through which medical practices transform. Ranging from pre-colonial narratives of cosmic and mythic time to more recent manifestations that celebrate developmental progress as essential modalities of the nation-state, this symposium seeks to examine how South Asian medical traditions are not static and unchanging, but transform alongside their associated temporal imaginations.


    7:30 – 8:30 am: Tea/Coffee and Fruit

    8:30 – 8:40 am: Welcome and Introductory Remarks

    8:40 – 9:45 am: Session 1 – Ontologies and Bodies (30 min), Session 1 Discussion (35 min)

    Lawrence Cohen
    Kathleen Longwaters
    Kalpana Ram
    Joseph Alter (Moderator)

    9:45- 10:15 am: Session 2 – Practitioner Concerns and Narratives (30 min)

    Sree Padma
    Frederick Smith
    Wajida Syed
    Martha Selby (Moderator)

    10:15 – 10:30 am: Tea/Coffee Break

    10:35 – 11:10 am: Session 2 – Discussion (35 min)

    11:10 am -12:15 pm: Session 3 – Materials of Medicine (30 min), Session 3 Discussion (35 min)

    Ron Barrett
    Shireen Hamza
    Deborah Schlein
    Anthony Cerulli (Moderator)

    12:15 – 2:00 pm: Lunch

    2:00 – 3:30 pm: Session 4 – Nostalgia and Imagination (40 min), Session 4 Discussion (50 min)

    Joseph Alter
    Anthony Cerulli
    Sabrina Datoo
    Victoria Sheldon
    Lawrence Cohen (Moderator)

    3:30 – 3:45 pm: Tea/Coffee Break

    3:45 – 4:50 pm: Session 5 – Time and Method (30 minutes), Session 5 Discussion (35 Minutes)

    Lisa Brooks
    Mauricio Navarro
    Martha Selby
    Frederick Smith (Moderator)

    4:50 – 5:45 pm: Themed Collaborative Discussion – Temporal Methodologies (60 Minutes)

    Lisa Brooks
    Shireen Hamza
    Victoria Sheldon

    7:00 pm: STM Group Dinner (by Invitation)

  • "The Fix" in South Asia

    Full Day Symposium, 8:30 am – 5:30 pm
    Assembly Room

    Organizer: Michele Friedner (UChicago), Tarini Bedi, & Rashmi Sadana

    Abstract: “Fixing” has various definitions associated with curing, repairing, treating, making steady, and maintaining, among others. How might we approach relationships between a diverse set of actors that lead to or involve “a fix?” Changes to infrastructure, bodies, and policies are often framed in terms of development, improvement, and innovation. In this symposium, participants work through “the fix” as a means of interrupting grand and teleological notions of development in order to consider what might occur between the poles of failure and progress, brokenness and wholeness, cure and disability, and decay and generation. “The fix” includes both pragmatic and creative modes of engagement as diverse actors attempt to make do, maintain and adjust. We intend “the fix” to function in multiple registers involving different kinds of valuation; “the fix” can also be nefarious at the same time that it is ingenious. “The fix” is good enough or sometimes not enough; the concept of “jugaad” serves as an example of this ambivalence in the ways that it is both scorned and embraced as a value and mode of living. “The fix” is also a play on questions of mobility and immobility in that while the state and corporate actors attempt to fix bodies and capital in place (and yet keep them flexible as their needs require), we look at different forms of unfixing that happen. “The fix” has temporal aspects as well: there can be short-term, mid-range, and long-term fixes, each with its own stakes. “Fixing” can also create new side narratives that chip away, stain, or otherwise compromise grander narratives.


    8:30 – 8:45 am: Introductions
    Michele Friedner, Tarini Bedi, & Rashmi Sadana

    8:45 – 10:15 am: RoundTable One – Fixing Infrastructure

    Following the Fix: Jugaad vs. Innovation in an Aadhaar-Enabled India
    Vijayanka Nair

    What Has The Delhi Metro Fixed?
    Rashmi Sadana

    Building Capacity Not Infrastructure: Lessons from Hydropower Development in Nepal
    Mark Liechty

    Cars, Tinkering, and the Embodied Labors of Care and dekh-bhal in Mumbai’s Taxi Trade
    Tarini Bedi

    10:15 – 10:30 am: Tea Break

    10:30 am – 12:15 pm: RoundTable Two – Fixing Time and Space

    Can the Fish of Politics be Fried in the Oil of Religion? Fixing and Unfixing Meaning in a Dubbing Studio in Mumbai
    Tejaswini Ganti

    City Out Of Time: Living Between the Industrial and the Postindustrial in Mumbai “Chawl Time”
    Maura Finkelstein

    Watering the In-transit City
    Lisa Björkman

    Fixing the Plantation
    Sarah Besky

    Fixers and Interpreters: Cultural Translation as ‘The Fix’
    Laura Kunreuther

    12:15 – 1:45 pm: Lunch

    2 – 3:30 pm: RoundTable Three – Fixing Bodies and Relations

    From Cure to Regeneration
    Bharat Venkat

    Fixing to Maintain: The case of cochlear implants in India
    Michele Friedner

    We Will Adjust’: Reconciling NGO Intentions and Recipient Needs in a South Indian Leprosy Colony
    James Staples

    The (Im)Possibilities of a Fix: Gender, Sexuality and the Nation State
    Sayan Bhattacharya

    Fixing Kinship, Fixing Gender, Fixing Rights Expertise
    Julia Kowalski

    3:30 – 3:45 pm: Tea Break

    3:45 – 5 pm: Wrap-Up and Discussion

    William Mazzarella

  • The Politics and Poetics of South Asian Modernism

    Full Day Symposium, 8:30 am – 5:30 pm
    Senate Room B

    Organizer: Preetha Mani (Rutgers), Snehal Shingavi (UT Austin), Robert Phillips (Princeton), & Jennifer Dubrow (University of Washington)

    Abstract: While part of a shared literary milieu, modernist literary trends in Hindi and Urdu also began to bifurcate in the decades leading up to and following Indian and Pakistani Independence. Partly, this division was a result of the establishment of separate literary institutions for each language (such as journals, publishing houses, and literary coteries) and the ensuing development of different literary sensibilities. But partly, the rift was due to the politicization of language and the rise of right-wing nationalist formations that sought to make Hindi and Urdu national languages. In India, Hindi was increasingly Sanskritized, and in Pakistan, Urdu became more Arabicized. This symposium seeks to understand the continued relationships between the two literatures through a consideration of the fiction and critical debates that shaped modernism in Hindi and Urdu during and after the transition to Independence. Of what literary lineages did Hindi and Urdu writers consider their work a part? How did they define the political and aesthetic functions of modernist literature? What kinds of readerships did Hindi and Urdu writers aim to create? And, how did they draw from and expand upon, as well as contest and diverge from other modernist literatures across the subcontinent and abroad? While recent scholarship has been interested in explaining the contours of Hindi and Urdu modernist fiction and criticism, none have considered the two streams in concert. The symposium brings together scholars who can explore the overlaps and divergences between Hindi and Urdu modernism and foreground thinkers who have grappled with the violence of subcontinental decolonization and national growth and change.


    8:30 – 8:45 am: Opening Remarks
    Preetha Mani, Snehal Shingavi, Robert Phillips, Jennifer Dubrow

    8:45 – 10:15 am: Panel 1 – Politics and Poetics of Modernism
    Discussant: Vinay Dharwadker

    Leninvā kā nām, bhaiyā! Leninvā kā nām!’ Genesis of an IPTA Ballad, circa 1943
    Bilal Hashmi

    Art with a Social Conscience against Art for Art’s Sake: Hindi Literature in the Throes of Modernity

    Story on top of Story: The Politics and Poetics of Ramesh Bakshi’s (Meta)Fictions
    Robert Phillips

    The Marxists and the Modernists: the Nayi Kahani/Naya Afsana Movement
    Snehal Shingavi

    10:30 am – 12:15 pm: Panel 2 – Family, Gender, and Sexuality
    Discussant: Geeta Patel

    Whither the “Normative” or “Where Have All the Mothers Gone?”: Adulterous Husbands and Strong Wives in the Hindi Short Story
    Shobna Nijhawan

    A Bihari View of 1960s Cosmopolitan Calcutta
    Rahul Parson

    The Feminine Voice in Miraji’s Poetry
    Krupa Shandilya

    ‘The Story of a Weak Girl’: Women (Under)Write Hindi Modernism
    Preetha Mani

    12:15 – 2 pm: Lunch

    2 – 3:30 pm: Panel 3 – Networks of Modernism
    Discussant: Aparna Dhawadker

    Regionalism and the New Story Movement in Hindi: Criticism and Response
    Sujata Mody

    London Yatra: Towards a Vernacular Syllabary of Global Travel
    Smita Gandotra

    Middlebrow Cosmopolitanisms: Dharmayug in the 1950s and 60s
    Aakriti Mandhwani

    Agyeya’s Stranger: Existentialism in the Postcolony
    Toral Gajarawala

    3:30 – 3:45 pm: Coffee Break

    3:45 – 5:15 pm: Panel 4 – Shared Hindi-Urdu Lineages
    Discussant:Mehr Farooqi

    Humor’s Inclusive Laugh: Yousufi and Shukla on the UP Countryside
    Matt Reeck

    Miraji and the Politics of Sound in Modernist Urdu-Hindi Poetry
    Sean Pue

    The Aesthetics and Politics in Krishan Chander’s Social(ist) Fiction: A Reading
    Madhu Singh

    Manto’s Modernism
    Jennifer Dubrow

  • Tombs, Shrines, Samadhis and Relics

    Full Day Symposium, 8:30 am – 5:30 pm
    Parlor Room 634

    Organizer: Brian Hatcher (Tufts), Mark McLaughlin (College of William and Mary), & Abhishek S. Amar (Hamilton College)

    Abstract: This one-day symposium offers a comparative thematic investigation of textual traditions, rituals, architecture forms, and lived practices associated with tombs, shrines, samadhis, relics and related built environments in South Asian religions. Central questions for the symposium include: What theological and ritual precepts inform the practice of burial around holy figures, saints and gurus? Can we identify cross-regional or cross-communal patterns for such practice while remaining sensitive to the development of local, vernacular and sectarian articulations? How have samadhis, tombs and dargahs been used to expand and perpetuate the presence/control of religious institutions within (or across) regions? What has been the role of devotional and other initiatory movements (sampradays) in propagating the cult of deceased leaders? Conversely, how has the spread of built memorials helped in the emplacement and sacralization of new territory? Finally, how do people today interact with, live around, transform or engage such built environments across the subcontinent? Through these questions, this symposium will facilitate productive give-and-take between the particular and the general, the local and the trans-local, the bounded and unbounded play of community formation and lived religious practice in South and Southeast Asia. The panel organizers share disciplinary training in religious studies, with particular regional engagements in western, northern and eastern South Asia. With this symposium they aim to promote cross-disciplinary and cross-regional conversation around the spatial and historical manifestations of various tradition-based responses to death, interment, memorialization, pilgrimage and architecture. Participants in the symposium thus include specialists in archaeology, art history, religious studies and history and employ related methods for interrogating a range of spatial practices, ritual environments, gender roles, and aesthetic traditions. Our goal is to foster not only in-depth study of particular sites, ritual complexes and built structures but also comparison around the role of these elements throughout South Asian history.


    7:30 – 8:30 am: Arrival and Coffee

    8:30 – 8:45 am: Welcome

    8:45 – 10:15 am: Panel 1 – Death, Burial and Worship
    Respondent: Valerie Stoker

    Burial Monuments for the Jain Bhattarakas in the Deccan
    Sarah Taylor

    Dasnami Samadhis in West Bengal: Some Preliminary Observations
    Brian Hatcher

    Parsing Samādhi Burial and Samādhi Worship through the Samādhi Compound of Jñāneśvar Mahārāj
    Mark McLaughlin

    Mysore’s Madhuvana: Royal Śrīvaiṣṇava Burial Practices, Vīraśaiva Caretakers, and the Creation of Big Tent Hindu Practice
    Caleb Simmons

    10:15 – 10:30 am: Coffee Break

    10:30 am – 12:15 pm: Panel 2 – Monastic Spaces and Memorialization

    The Bodhgaya Mahanths and Their Samadhis in the Bodhgaya Region
    Abhishek Amar

    Missing the Matrons for the Monks: Glimpses from eastern India
    Indrani Chatterjee

    Tradition and Innovation: The Samādhi of Naraharināth Yogī in Mṛgasthalī (Nepal) in Historical Context
    Gudrun Bühnemann

    Spaces of Life and Death: Mapping Cremation Practices in Precolonial India
    Tamara Sears

    12:15 – 1:45 pm: Lunch

    1:45 – 3:30 pm: Panel 3 – Temples, Shrines and Landscapes

    Why People Matter: Past and Present in Religious Landscapes
    Uthara Suvrathans

    Hindu Spaces in Bangladesh and Southeast Asia
    Ben Fleming

    Carved Landscapes: Imagery as Place in Medieval Southern India
    Lisa Owen

    Maṇḍlśvara, Muṇḍeśvarī: The ‘Oldest’ Living Hindu Temple
    Shaashi Ahlawat

    Ikaḍe-Tikaḍe: Omnipresent Sacredness. The Defiant Wayside Shrines of Pune
    Borayin Larios

    3:30 – 3:45 pm: Coffee Break

    3:45 – 5 pm: Panel 4 – Commemorative Space and Ritual Practice

    Respondent: Peter Gottschalk

    The Secret Shrines of Jain Diwali Celebrations
    Ellen Gough

    Between Religious Contestations and Accommodations: Sufi Shrines in Post-War Sri Lanka
    Shobhana Xavire

    Ephemeral Ephemerality: Missing Bodies and Omnipresent Smartphones in Contemporary Sufi Saint Shrine Culture
    Carla Bellamy

    Flying and Settling on Malay Soil: Sufism, Textual Traditions and Relics at the Shrines of Tamil and Gujrati Ecstatics
    Terenjit Sevea

    5 – 5:30 pm: Concluding Plenary

  • Translation

    Full Day Symposium, 8:30 am – 5:30 pm
    Caucus Room

    Organizers: Daisy Rockwell & Archana Venkatesan (UC Davis)

    Abstract: This year’s translation symposium builds on our first meeting last year that focused on issues of translation praxis. Emerging from that discussion, our emphasis is on the notion of the untranslatable. The notion of the untranslatable and the ways in which it may limit or circumscribe the category of World Literature, has been discussed at length in translation studies, most recently by Emily Apter (2013). However, much of this work has centred on Euro-American literature, on text-based translations, and those literatures we encounter primarily in and through translation into English. Our symposium centres itself in multi-lingual South Asia, and considers the process of translation that occurs across regions, religions, media and languages. Our symposium invites translators from and to South Asian languages across a wide swath of disciplines and practices to engage in questions of untranslatability as part of an all-day conversation. As translators, we are interested in questions of practice: we will discuss, dispute and detail idiosyncratic problems, dramatic successes, insurmountable barriers, and missed opportunities. What do we mean when we say a text, word, or emotion is untranslatable? How does translatability change according to context and medium? A text that is not considered translatable into English prose or poetry might be translatable into a visual or performance medium, for example. Or a poem that can be translated from Tamil into Italian is for some reason untranslatable into English. Translatability shifts according to context, medium, language, historical era, and even from translator to translator. One woman’s untranslatable story is another’s most finely crafted rendering. The day will close with a dinner and mehfil—an evening of readings, recitations and performances drawn from the participants’ own work.


    8:30 – 8:35 am: Welcome and Opening Remarks
    Daisy Rockwell & Archana Venkatesan

    8:40 – 10:15 am: Session 1
    Moderator: Archana Venkatesan

    Non-Translation in Bene Israel Kirtan
    Anna Schultz

    Like a Flame or a Caress: Thoughts on Literary Translation
    Steven Hopkins

    13 Ways of Looking at Untranslatability
    Linda Hess

    10:15 – 10:30 am: Break

    10:30 am – 12:15 pm: Session 2

    Moderator: Daisy Rockwell

    Untranslatability and the Metaphysics of Classical Telugu
    Jamal Jones

    Translating Unimaginable Love in Hindi Sant Verse
    Dan Gold

    Tools of the translator, c.1980
    Ann Gold

    Translation as Proliferation: Thirunangai Transwomen and Styles of Self-Presentation
    Aniruddhan Vasudevan

    12:15 – 1:45 pm: Lunch

    1:45 – 3:30 pm: Session 3

    Moderator: Archana Venkatesan

    Translating Ornaments
    Yigal Bronner

    Translating the Untranslatable
    Mehr Farooqi

    Translating Detha
    Mrinalini Watson

    On Translating a Pre-modern Kannada Classic into English
    Vanamala Viswanatha

    3:30 – 3:45 pm: Break

    3:45 – 5:30 pm: Session 4

    Moderator: Daisy Rockwell

    The Politics of Literacy Across Languages
    Christi Merrill

    Translating Multilingualism: The Case of Kerala Maṇipravāḷam
    Sivan Goren Arzony

    The (Un)translatables of Crime and Punishment
    John Vater

    Resources for Translators of South Asian Materials
    Jason Grunebaum

    7 pm: Mehfil

  • Urdu Keywords

    Full Day Symposium, 8:30 am – 5:30 pm
    Senate Room A

    Organizer: Walter Hakala (University at Buffalo, SUNY)

    Abstract: Urdu has developed a rich and evolving terminology in parallel with its long tradition of literary criticism. The 2018 Urdu Symposium seeks to continue and expand upon the 2017 Preconference, “How (Not) to Write the History of Urdu Literature,” by examining a set of key terms central to literary production and critical reception. By tracing changes in the signification and cultural associations of these key terms, participants aim to emulate the example of Raymond Williams’ influential Keywords (1976) in order to establish a shared framework for future studies of Urdu literary history. Questions that the papers may address include How do Urdu literary terms and critical approaches mediate authority in specific historical, cultural, and geographic settings? In what hierarchical ways do aesthetic, institutional, and critical terms mark boundaries or bridge connections among authors, critics, and audiences? What does the adaptation of Arabic, Persian, Sanskrit, English, and other terminologies in the Urdu critical tradition reveal about the limits of translation? What’s at stake when Urdu sources are analyzed in English, Persian, etc.? What are the primary sources through which the genealogies of specific terms might be established? How might we expand this list to include other media and the contributions of underrepresented communities? How might one conduct research on language and concepts without reifying the very categories that are being described? Can Urdu’s plurality and complicated interactions with other literatures be recognized while maintaining shared intelligibility? Symposium participants will be required to precirculate draft entries so that we may devote the daylong event to giving brief (approximately 5-minute) presentations followed by more substantial discussions of methods and sources. Participants will have the option of publishing their work immediately as part of Professor Frances Pritchett’s website or other future collaborations (e.g., through an edited volume or special issue of a journal).


    8:30 – 10:15 am: Session 1 – Usul (Principles)

    Imla (Orthography)
    Walter Hakala, University at Buffalo, SUNY

    Jins/Jinsi (Gender)
    Krupa Shandilya, Amherst College

    Ma’ni-Afirini (Meaning Creation)
    Fran Pritchett, Columbia University

    10:15 – 10:30 am: Break

    10:30 am – 12:15 pm: Session 2 -Balaghat (Rhetoric)

    Muwazanah (Comparison)
    Gregory Maxwell Bruce, University of California, Berkeley

    Mubalaghah (Hyperbole, Exaggeration)
    Pasha M. Khan, McGill University

    Twarud/Sariqah (Inadvertent and Purposeful Plagiarism)
    Nathan Tabor, Western Michigan University

    12:15 – 1:45 pm: Lunch

    1:45 – 3:30 pm: Session 3 – Mahaul (Context)

    Namrata B. Kanchan, University of Texas, Austin

    Noor Habib, University of Massachusetts Amherst

    Christopher Lee, Canisius College

    3:30 – 3:35 pm: Break

    3:45 – 5:30 pm: RoundTable Discussion

  • Zones of Occupation, Abandonment and Exception in South Asia/Provisionality and Vulnerabilities in South Asia

    Full Day Symposium, 8:30 am – 5:30 pm
    Madison College Meeting Room 1

    Organizers: Amit Baishya (University of Oklahoma), Ather Zia (University of Northern Colorado), and the Critical Kashmir Studies (CKS) Collective

    Abstract: In The Right to Maim, Jasbir Puar identifies a complementary logic to the sovereign right to kill. She calls this complementary logic the “right to maim”—that of “creating injury and maintaining…populations as perpetually debilitated, yet alive, in order to control them.” This logic can also be applied to the larger South Asian context, especially for zones that live under the shadow of militarized forms of rule, like Kashmir and Northeast India. Consider two recent instances here. First, is the use of pellet guns and the incidents of what has been termed as mass blindings in Kashmir increasingly since 2016. Second, the instances of police shooting as a form of “crowd control” in the Northeast Indian state of Assam. As Ankur Tamuli Phukan says: “The Assam police assumed this trigger-happy character in the 1990s by trying to emulate the Indian Army alongside which it was engaged to combat the ULFA…So now the police deal with protesters like they would with hardened insurgents, by shooting to kill.” This symposium seeks to untangle the complementary logics of the right to kill and the right to maim in multiple zones of occupation and abandonment in South Asia. By paying attention to cultural production, we ask what forms of life, modes of death and capacities for survival and endurance are engendered in such exceptional zones where the right to kill and the right to maim shadow and complement each other? What constitutes “life” and “living” and what falls into the realm of “nonlife” or lack of animacy in militarized locales?  We want to explore the nature of relation that emerges between the citizens and the regimes through the optics of maiming. What forms of ability, disability and debility do we encounter if we take such issues into consideration? Besides the exploration of necropolitical topographies, we are also interested in probing temporal experiences—how are conjunctions between “sudden” and “slow” scales of death manifested in such zones of occupation and/or abandonment, for instance? We welcome presentations from all disciplines in the social sciences and humanities to build up a broad dialogue about life, living and dying in such exceptionalized spaces. The endeavor of this symposium is to build new solidarities across networks of scholars working in different regions of South Asia.


    9 – 9:15am: Opening Remarks

    9:15 – 10:15 am: Panel 1, Zone I, Northeast India

    “Submission without rights” and Incomplete Citizenship: Comparative Occupations in Postcolonial Democracies and the Modes of Inclusive-Exclusion
    Papori Bora, Centre for Women’s Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University

    The Violence of Being and the Precarity of Belongingness in Post-conflict Assam
    Amrapali Basumatary, Kirori Mal College, New Delhi

    Mihat Phajade: What is the right way to kill?
    Haripriya Soibam, IIAS Fellow

    10:15 – 10:30 am: Break

    10:30 am – 12:00 pm: Panel 2, Zone II, Kashmir

    Kashmiri Pasts, Kashmiri Futures: Youth, Debility and Time in Kashmir
    Deepti Misri, University of Colorado-Boulder

    Humane Violence and Necessary Evils:  Examining Debates on the Use of Pellet Guns in Indian-Occupied Kashmir
    Reema Cherian, UC-Davis

    Ventriloquism and Violence: Ontology of Death in Agha Shahid Ali’s Poetry
    Suvadip Sinha, University of Minnesota

    The Roar on the Other Side of Silence
    Suvir Kaul, University of Pennsylvania

    12:15 – 1:45 pm: Lunch

    1:45 – 2:45 pm: Panel 3, Zones of Exception in South Asia

    Beef Lynchings, the Unnao and Kathua Rapes, and Protest Poetry in India
    Sreyoshi Sarkar, Ball State University

    Caste Wars and the Politics of Maiming and Killing: Insights from Armed and ‘Peaceful’ Land Struggles in Bihar
    Indulata Prasad, Arizona State University

    Exception or Norm?: Patterns of Violence in Mainstream India
    Ania Loomba, University of Pennsylvania

    3:00 – 4:15 pm: Panel 4, Environmental and Legal States of Abandonment

    Felling Rebellion: Timber Exploitation in the Kashmir Valley Under Militarized Rule
    Emily Doerner, NYU

    “Blood and Water Cannot Flow Together”: The Indus Water Treaty and Zones of Abandonment in Kashmir
    Mona Bhan, DePauw University

    Legal Contestation and Social Transformation in Kashmir
    Haley Duschinski, Ohio University

    4:30 – 5:30 pm: RoundTable, Situating Solidarities

    5:45 – 6:15 pm: Poetry Session
    Ather Zia, Haripriya Soibam, Amrapali Basumatary