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Videos of Past Events

During the academic year the Center for South Asian Studies (CSAS) presents a variety of lectures. Audio and/or video recordings will be posted to this site shortly after the events occur. Please check back regularly for our latest talks.

2021-22 and later videos, when available, will be linked from the semester event series pages in the menu to the left or above.

2020-21 Videos

Kavita Datla Memorial Lecture | Muslim Religious Ideas and Identities in Mughal North India

Muzaffar Alam, George V. Bobrinskoy Professor of South Asian Languages, University of Chicago
What was a Muslim’s religious identity? What were the factors that influenced and shaped the making of his identity? Immediate, pragmatic, or deep historical and ideological? In my lecture I will first mention in brief how the markers of Muslim identity underwent change in the early phases of their evolution. I will then consider in some depth the role of the religious ideas in its formation in Mughal India. The discussion will be with special reference to the debates between the two major Sufi orders of the time, the Chishti and the Naqshbandi-Mujaddidi, on some religious doctrines, ‘narrow’, sectarian or a non-sectarian and ‘pluralistic’. I will also consider some examples from the history of post-Mughal religious and political ideas. Recorded on April 16, 2021.

CSAS Thomas R. Trautmann Honorary Lecture | Time, Memory, Oblivion: Social Frames and the Production of Collective Pasts

Sumit Guha, Professor, Frances Higginbotham Nalle Centennial Professorship in History, University of Texas at Austin
Before his current position, Sumit Guha has taught at the St. Stephen’s College, Delhi, the Indian Institute of Management Kolkata, Brown University and Rutgers University. He began as an economic historian with interests in demography and agriculture. These widened into the study of environmental and ethnic histories. His first book was The Agrarian Economy of the Bombay Deccan 1818-1941 (Oxford University Press, 1985) followed by Environment and Ethnicity in India, c. 1200-1991 (Cambridge University Press, 1999) and Health and Population in South Asia from earliest times to the present (Permanent Black, and Charles Hurst & Co., 2001). This was followed by Beyond Caste: Identity and Power in South Asia, Past and Present (E.J. Brill, 2013). A corrected Indian edition appeared from Permanent Black, Ranikhet, 2016. Recorded on February 19, 2021.

Gandhi and the Claims of Indian Modernity

Akeel Bilgrami, Sidney Morgenbesser Professor of Philosophy, Columbia University
Akeel Bilgrami got a BA in English Literature from Elphinstone College, Bombay University and went to Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, where he read Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. He has a Ph.D in Philosophy from the University of Chicago. He has held the Johnsonian Professorship of Philosophy and holds the Sidney Morgenbesser Chair of Philosophy at Columbia University, where he is also a Professor on the Committee on Global Thought. He has been the Director of the Heyman Centre for the Humanities as well as the South Asian Institute at Columbia. He is the Editor of the Journal of Philosophy and also the President of its Board of Trustees. His publications include the books Belief and Meaning (1992), Self-Knowledge and Resentment (2006), and Secularism, Identity and Enchantment (2014) and over a hundred articles on topics ranging from the nature of meaning to the relation between religion and society and culture. He is due to publish two books in the near future: What is a Muslim? (Princeton University Press) and Gandhi, The Philosopher (Columbia University Press). His longer-term future work is on the relations between value, agency, and practical reason.He has held Visiting positions at Oxford University, Yale University, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Australian National University, and has received a number of awards –from the National Institute of the Humanities, the Ford Foundation, the Luce Foundation, twice from the Mellon Foundation, and the Social Scientist of the Year award in India in 2015. He has served on the Jury of the Architecture Award for the Aga Khan Foundation as well as on the Jury for the Infosys Humanities Prize for the last several years and is its current Jury Chairman. Recorded on February 12, 2021.

Reading the Americanized Joothan: The Translator’s Cringe

Arun Mukhejee, Professor Emerita, York University
Arun Mukherjee's public keynote speech, ‘Reading the Americanized Joothan: The Translator’s Cringe’, compared the Samya Press and the Columbia University Press editions of her translation of Omprakash Valmiki’s autobiography, Joothan. She reflected on the changes which took place as the translation travelled from the Indian edition to the American edition, leading her to realize the importance of guarding the beauty of the text. Recorded on November 13, 2020.

2019-20 Videos

Of Commodities and Frontiers: Looking for "Capitalism" on the Edges of Britain’s Indian Colonies

Subir Sinha, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London
In a longer project called The Postcolonial Commons, I am interested in the emergence of fluid political subjectivities around questions of defending existing commons, and creating new ones, in two regions of India: of small-scale fishers in coastal Kerala, and small farmers in the Garhwal region of present-day Uttarakhand state. I am in conversation with strands of contemporary political theory (represented, among others, by Hardt and Negri, Federici, de Angelis, Zizek, and Bauwens) that posit a future organised around ‘the commons’. However, while these writings are futuristic, I suggest that they have an underpinning narrative of the transition from the ‘pre-capitalist commons’ to the ‘commons unmade through capitalism’, which has implications for the political imaginaries outlined in their works. I challenge their orthodox account of this transition with drawing on writings on ‘postcolonial capitalism’, including my own recent work. Recorded on October 11, 2019.

Thomas R. Trautmann Honorary Lecture | Early Readers and Early Readings of the Mahābhārata

Christopher Minkowski, Boden Professor of Sanskrit at the University of Oxford.
The Sanskrit Mahābhārata did not receive a commentary until the eleventh century. Well before then, however, it had become a central feature of Indian high culture, adapted by poets and dramatists, deliberated on by philosophers and aestheticians. Over the past century scholars have usefully examined these early treatments for what they tell us about the history of the Mahābhārata’s text. The commentaries, some of which establish a version of the text, have been put to similar text-historical use. Recorded on Friday, September 20, 2019.

2018-19 Videos

2018-19 Videos

Understanding the New Credibility Regimes of Development: The Politics of Sanitary Pads as a Pro-Poor Technology in India

Shobita Parthasarathy is Professor of Public Policy and Women's Studies, and Director of the Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program, at University of Michigan. She is interested in how technological innovation, and innovation systems, can better achieve public interest and social justice goals, as well as in the politics of knowledge and expertise in science and technology policy. Her current research focuses on the politics of technology for the poor, with a focus in India. She is the author of numerous articles and two books:Patent Politics: Life Forms, Markets, and the Public Interest in the United States and Europe(University of Chicago Press, 2017) and Building Genetic Medicine: Breast Cancer, Technology, and the Comparative Politics of Health Care (MIT Press, 2007). Recorded on January 18, 2019.

CSAS Kavita S. Datla Memorial Lecture | Dark Genealogies: Ambedkar's Struggles with History

Sudipta Kaviraj is professor of Indian politics and intellectual history at Columbia University. He has taught at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, and Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, and was an Agatha Harrison Fellow at St. Antony's College, Oxford. His publications include: The Imaginary Institution of India (2010) Civil Society: History and Possibilities co-edited with Sunil Khilnani (2001), Politics in India (edited) (1999), and The Unhappy Consciousness: Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay and the Formation of Nationalist Discourse in India (1995). Recorded on November 9, 2018.

A Vigil Wasted? Notes on the Ruin-Sublime in Afghanistan

Mrinalini Chakravorty, Associate Professor of English, University of Virginia
As abandoned remnants of human activity, ruins evoke concerns about the durability of the past, a setting, and of human perception and culture. This talk explores the appearance of ruins in fiction and art set in Afghanistan. In these works syncretic colonial histories uniquely yoked to ruination (through description and setting) raise urgent questions about enduring forms of contemporary coloniality and the agency of any individual actor within a setting. This talk ultimately proposes a theory of the ‘ruin-sublime’ wherein aesthetic works join the material history of colonial desecration to psychic apprehensions to invite new ethically charged orientations towards the future. Recorded on October 26, 2018.

CSAS Thomas R. Trautmann Honorary Lecture | Conflict, Violence and Resistance in Ancient India

Upinder Singh, Professor of History, Ashoka University (Sonepat)
Our understanding of the past changes dramatically when we recognize violence as an intimate and important part of human experience that demands the historian’s attention. It is well known that the origins, sustenance and expansion of states involve the use of coercive power. This lecture looks at conflict, violence and resistance in the context of the politics of ancient India. Moving between political ideas and practice, I focus on three themes. The first is a general discussion of the relationship between the state and violence. The second extends the analysis to the social sphere, examining how theories of kingship legitimized the state’s violence against its subjects; the state’s powers to impose punishment, torture and death; and the connections between politics and sexual violence. The third part of the lecture examines the extent to which the coercive power of the state was accepted, contested or resisted by various social groups. I also ask whether the exploration of such issues that speak to our own time endows historical inquiry with a greater contemporary relevance, even urgency, or whether it threatens to destroy the objectivity that is an essential part of the historian’s craft. Recorded on October 18, 2018.

Lucknow in Letters: Endeavours, Achievements, and Tragedies

Sanjay Muttoo, Assistant Professor, Department of Journalism, Kamla Nehru College, Delhi University
"Lucknow in Letters" is a multilingual (Urdu, English and Hindi) reading of personal letters written to/from Lucknow along with some contemporary newspaper reports and essays that provides glimpses of and chronicles the lived experience of the city since the 'ghadar' (Revolt of 1857) to the present times. Accompanied by images of original manuscripts, letters and the people who wrote them, the event has been conceived of as a labour of love for the city and its syncretic culture. The letters have been sourced from family archives and published material recording memories of everyday life in the city as well as events in history and interesting intersections of the personal and the political. Recorded on October 17, 2018.

Summer in South Asia Fellowship Symposium

Ten undergraduate students were selected to be 2018 Summer in South Asia Fellows. Fellows designed, implemented, and enacted their proposals for their summers in India. At the symposium, students will share their experiences in India, drawing from their internships, research, and interactions with the culture. Recorded on October 5, 2018.

Meet the fellows here.

Decasticization,"Dirty Work" and Dignity: A Case Study of Arunthathiyars in Tamil Nadu

Ram Mahalingam, Professor, Department of Psychology, U-M
Using the Chennai floods as a case study, I will explore how intersections of caste, class, "dirty work," and the politics of cleaning continue to ignore the sufferings of Arunthathiyar (A Dalit caste group in Tamil Nadu) as they cleaned the city after the Chennai floods in 2015. This presentation particularly focuses on the invisibility and erasure of the sufferings of Arunthathiyars from public memory. Recorded on September 7, 2018.

2017-18 Videos

Consumer Citizenship: The Social Life of Industrial Foods in India

Amita Baviskar is Professor of Sociology at the Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi. Her research focuses on the cultural politics of environment and development in rural and urban India. Her first book In the Belly of the River: Tribal Conflicts over Development in the Narmada Valley and other publications explore the themes of resource rights, popular resistance and discourses of environmentalism. She is currently studying food and agrarian environments in western India. Her recent publications include the edited books Contested Grounds: Essays on Nature, Culture and Power; Elite and Everyman: The Cultural Politics of the Indian Middle Classes (with Raka Ray); and First Garden of the Republic: Nature on the President’s Estate. She has taught at the University of Delhi, and has been a visiting scholar at Stanford, Cornell, Yale, SciencesPo and the University of California at Berkeley. She was awarded the 2005 Malcolm Adiseshiah Award for Distinguished Contributions to Development Studies, the 2008 VKRV Rao Prize for Social Science Research, and the 2010 Infosys Prize for Social Sciences.

Atmospheric Citizenship: Distributions of Life in the Wake of Delhi’s Airpocalypse

Asher Ghertner, Department of Geography, Rutgers University
D. Asher Ghertner is an associate professor in the Department of Geography and director of the South Asian Studies Program at Rutgers University. His current research project, “Bad Air: The Cultural Politics of Breathing in ‘the World’s Most Air-Polluted City’,” builds on ethnographic, legal, and archival research to examine how templates of segregation are being remapped onto the three-dimensional space of the atmosphere, and how class- and caste-based exclusions are being reimagined in the wake of the WHO's declaration that Delhi’s air the worst in the world. His first book, Rule by Aesthetics: World-Class City Making in Delhi (Oxford University Press, 2015), was an ethnography of mass slum demolition, charting the rise of a mode of governing space premised on urban aesthetics. Recorded on February 2, 2018.

Keynote Presentation: CSAS 2018 Graduate Interdisciplinary Conference on South Asia | Towards a Non-sovereign Politics? Rethinking "Religion" with Gandhi

Professor Ajay Skaria, University of Minnesota
Ajay Skaria studied Political Science and History at Maharaja Sayajirao University, Vadodara, during which period he also worked as a journalist for Indian Express. He received his PhD in History from Trinity College, Cambridge, and currently works at the University of Minnesota. He was a member of the Subaltern Studies editorial collective from 1995 till its dissolution. He is one of the co-editors of Subaltern Studies Vol. XII, and the author of Hybrid Histories: Forests, Frontiers and Wildness in Western India (1999) and Unconditional Equality: Gandhi’s Religion of Resistance (2015). He is currently working on a book on Ambedkar. Recorded on January 27, 2018.

“Minimum Government, Maximum Governance”: Modi’s Statue of Unity and the Sense of Scale

Kajri Jain, Department of Visual Studies, University of Toronto
Kajri Jain is Associate Professor of Indian Visual Culture and Contemporary Art at the University of Toronto. Her research focuses on images at the interface between religion, politics, and vernacular business cultures in India; she also writes on contemporary art. Jain is currently completing a book on the emergence of monumental iconic sculptures in post-liberalization India. She is the author of Gods in the Bazaar: The Economies of Indian Calendar Art (Duke, 2007); her recent publications include essays in Current Anthropology (2017), Art History and Emergency: Crises in the Visual Arts and Humanities (Clark Art Institute/Yale, 2016), and New Cultural Histories of India (Oxford, 2014).  Recorded on December 8, 2017.

The Highway, Automobility and New Promises in 1960s Bombay Cinema

(We regret that access to this video is restricted to members of the U-M community with an active uniqname/password.)

Ranjani Mazumdar, Professor of Cinema Studies at the School of Arts & Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University
A fascination for color in the 1960s led to Bombay cinema’s mobilization of the hinterland as the site for a new future. With the development of Indian highways and an increase in automobility, a new map of India now occupied the cinematic imagination. This talk will explore the links between the infrastructure of automobile culture, the highway, industrial development outside the city, and 1960s Bombay Cinema. Recorded on November 13, 2017.

Seeking Social Justice in South Asia Conference

The conference’s aim is to focus attention on stark and persistent political, economic, and social inequalities and the ongoing struggles to address them in contemporary South Asia. Recorded on September 22 & 23, 2017. Please visit the conference website to learn more.

‘Marriage’, ‘Trafficking’ and the Transnational Family: Moral and Legal Regulation of Nineteenth Century Women’s Mobility in the Western Indian Ocean

Farhana Ibrahim, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology
This paper examines the trans-oceanic migration of women between the Bombay Presidency, Persian Gulf and East Africa during the course of the nineteenth century. While their movement was subsumed by the colonial state under the overall rubric of ‘slave trafficking’, I argue that the category of ‘trafficking’—then as now—glossed over a number of trajectories for women’s mobility, not all coercive or limiting. The larger project that this paper is a part of looks at the legal and social category of ‘marriage’ as a regulatory regime that continues to have repercussions for citizenship and mobility across borders in the region. In contemporary times, women cross borders— notably from Sindh and Bengal—to marry in Kutch, now a district in the western Indian state of Gujarat that shares a border with Pakistan’s Sindh province. These marriages can be expressions of aspirational mobility, or a creative use of borders to negotiate citizenship rights in the aftermaths of partitioned territories. While some of these marriages are recognized legally and socially, others are designated as ‘trafficking.’ The paper asks: when is women’s mobility across borders sanctioned as ‘marriage’ and when is it criminalized as ‘trafficking’? What categories are used by the state and popular discourse in their evaluation of licit and illicit sexuality? How have these changed over time in a single region? Central to the nineteenth century state’s understanding of marriage and trafficking was their understanding of the legally free and un-free person. While slaves were legally seen as un-free, the state took it upon itself to liberate them, thereby criminalizing those who purchased, sold or otherwise transported them within British jurisdictions. On the other hand, this paper will argue that women and their presumed ‘traffickers’ took recourse to multiple legal discourses in circulation across the Indian Ocean region. These proposed a range of ways in which those designated as ‘trafficked’ could move along the continuum of bondage and freedom. Judgements and legal opinions from shari‘a courts in locations as diverse as Yemen, Muscat and Bombay were invoked to present alternatives to the marriage-or-trafficking paradigm of the state. In the debates over slavery and its abolition, the colonial state of the mid- to late nineteenth century, in its jurisdictions over western India, the Persian Gulf and East Africa, encountered legal and social elaborations of the family, marriage and co-habitation that push us to interrogate these anthropological categories in the present. Finally, the richly textured testimonies of these mobile women, add a refreshingly gendered dimension to existing work on Indian Ocean migration. Recorded on October 13, 2017.

Summer in South Asia Fellowship Symposium

Ten undergraduate students were selected to be 2017 Summer in South Asia Fellows. Fellows designed, implemented, and enacted their proposals for their summers in India. At the symposium, students will share their experiences in India, drawing from their internships, research, and interactions with the culture. Recorded on October 4, 2017. Meet the fellows here.

Sarandib, Lanka, Ceylon: Banishment and Belonging

Ronit Ricci, Department of Asian Studies, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
The small, Indian Ocean island known as Sarandib, Lanka, and Ceylon has figured as an important site of banishment in different periods and different literary and religious traditions. This talk takes as its starting point the history of the Sri Lankan Malays, a community descended from 18th century royal exiles from across the Indonesian archipelago, soldiers in colonial armies, servants, convicts, and others sent to Dutch and British Ceylon, to consider if and how earlier traditions of banishment mattered to the Malays’ images of, and sense of belonging to the island. In particular, the talk explores the Islamic tradition that views the island, which the Arabs called Sarandib, as the site of Adam’s Fall from Paradise to earth, and the ways that ancient story helped frame, and give meaning to exile in the colonial period. Recorded on September 29, 2017.

Changes in Dowry Practices?: Insights on Dowry and Its Regulation

Vikramaditya Khanna, William W. Cook Professor of Law, University of Michigan Law School
The Law in India has prohibited demands for dowry since 1961 and expected penalties have been increased multiple times since then, but from most accounts the incidence and magnitude of dowry demands appears to have only increased. I am examining dowry from a somewhat different perspective - are there examples of dowry having declined and what insights might we gain from these examples? This examination includes not only current instances of declines in dowry in India, but also historical and comparative examples. Through this kind of inquiry one hopes to obtain some useful insights for law and law reform in the South Asian context. Recorded on September 8, 2017.

2016-17 Videos

7th Annual UM - Pakistan Conference: Gender & Sexuality

Gender in analytic discourse is either taken as the sole purview of a niche—that of feminist scholars—or, in the late Sharmila Rage’s terms, simply “tacked on” as an afterthought. Through a conversation between artists, activists, and academics, we hope to understand the role of gender in shaping various aspects of contemporary life in Pakistan. Recorded on April 17, 2017. Conference website.

Technicolor Transnationalism: Film Technology between Hollywood and Bombay in the 1950s

Nitin Govil, Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies, Department of Critical Studies, University of Southern California
In the 1920s, Florence Burgess Meehan, scouring shooting locations in South Asia, wrote in American Cinematographer that, “the Orient receives the cameraman gladly and warmly . . . it loves the moving pictures and that ‘gifted child of the gods’ who carries a Bell and Howell is all but revered in most places.” In their print advertisements over the next decades, Western camera companies put this talismanic conception of film technology to good use. At the same time, India in particular served as a limit to Western technological capacity, so that any cameras that could survive the climate became imbued with a kind of ineluctable mobility. Cameramen were seen as attendants to this wondrous technology, intrepid explorers braving the unknown dangers of the “mystic East.” This paper locates Technicolor cinematography’s postwar introduction into the Indian Subcontinent within this longer tradition as well as burgeoning Indo-American relations at the outset of the geopolitical conflicts that would define the world of the 1950s and beyond. Relying on extensive archival research, this paper excavates the filming of these early color films and offers a comparative account of the distribution of foreign expertise and technology in Bombay film production. Even as Hollywood-Bombay relations in the early 1950s exceeded conventional Cold War mentalities, concerns about the wellbeing of foreign film personnel and problematic assumptions about the aptitude of “native” technical talent belied the easy translations assumed by the promoters of cinema trade. Recorded on March 17, 2017.

Meritocracy and Democracy: the Social Life of Caste in India

Ajantha Subramanian, Professor, Department of Anthropology and South Asian Studies, Harvard University
How does the utopian democratic ideal of meritocracy reproduce historical inequality? My larger project pursues this question through a historical anthropology of technical education in India. It looks at the operations of caste, the social institution most emblematic of ascriptive hierarchy, within the modern field of engineering education. At the heart of the study are the Indian Institutes of Technology, or IITs, a set of highly coveted engineering colleges that are equally representative of Indian meritocracy and, until recently, of caste exclusivity. In this talk, I hope to show that the politics of meritocracy at the IITs illuminates the social life of caste in contemporary India. Rather than the progressive erasure of ascribed identities in favor of putatively universal ones, what we are witnessing is the rearticulation of caste as an explicit basis for merit and the generation of newly consolidated forms of upper casteness. Recorded on March 31, 2017.

Royal Rage in Rajputana: The Politics of Anger in Mughal India

(We regret that access to this video is restricted to members of the U-M community with an active uniqname/password.)

Cynthia Talbot, Professor, South Asia Institute, University of Texas at Austin
“Royal Rage in Rajputana: The Politics of Anger in Mughal India" explores the issue of anger and kingship in early modern India, drawing on a warrior chronicle composed ca. 1600. Unlike earlier texts in Sanskrit which deplore the emotion of anger, this vernacular work from Rajasthan depicts kings as frequently expressing anger toward their subordinates – whether this is legitimate or not is a critical point for analysis. While the deployment of anger for political purposes in Rajasthan’s martial culture is a departure from traditional Brahmin norms.

Markets in Life: Surrogate Mothers on India's Reproductive Assembly Lines

Sharmila Rudrappa, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Texas at Austin
Between 2002 and 2016, when commercial surrogacy was eventually banned in India, surrogacy grew to a multi-million dollar industry and earned India the moniker, the world’s “baby factory.” Drawing on interviews with surrogate mothers, egg donors, and garment workers in Bangalore, as well as straight and gay couples in the U.S. and Australia, this talk locates surrogacy as an activity that invokes both gift giving and market exchange. The speaker suggests that in the new kinds of embodied labor, such as surrogacy, egg and sperm donation, the two worlds of market and non-market are co-constitutive, and complicate notions of commodification, altruism, alienation, and intimacy. Recorded on October 28, 2016

Summer in South Asia Fellowship Symposium

This event featured presentations by the ten 2016 Summer in South Asia fellows, who shared information about their internships, final projects and personal experiences in India over the summer.

Thanks to a generous anonymous donation to the Center for South Asian Studies, the Summer in South Asia Fellowship has provided over 70 undergraduate students with the opportunity to design and carry out their own fellowship programs in India over the summer months. Participating in this fellowship provides students with invaluable international experiences that are transformative and leave a lasting personal, academic and professional impact on their lives. Recorded on September 30, 2016.

Encounters at Sea: Piracy and Protection in the Indian Ocean

Jatin Dua, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Michigan
Maritime piracy as a kidnap and ransom economy enjoyed unprecedented success in the Western Indian Ocean from 2007-2012. While global attention was transfixed by the capture of oil tankers and large container ships, the expansion of piracy in the Indian Ocean led to many more engagements between pirates and motorized dhows that sail from port to port in the western Indian Ocean littoral. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in India, UAE, and Somalia this talk focuses on these interactions between pirates and dhows in the watery expanses of the Western Indian Ocean. Specifically, by highlighting what came to be known as the practice of “mothershipping”–the use of captured dhows to expand the spatial and temporal range of piracy—I note worlds of violence, threat and hospitality constructed in these moments of encounter. Instead of a vision of the Indian Ocean that foregrounds long histories and cosmopolitan exchange, “mothershipping” emphasizes forms of contact that are both fleeting and overwhelmed by real and potential violence. Through an ethnographic engagement with this practice, I show how these onboard encounters can help theorize spatial and regional futures in the Indian Ocean and beyond. Recorded on September 16, 2016

2015-16 Videos

The Growth of the Himalaya and the Tibetan Plateau and the Effect of High Terrain on the Indian Monsoon

Peter Molnar, Department of Geological Sciences, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado
Peter Molnar obtained a bachelor’s degree in Physics in 1965 from Oberlin College and Ph.D. in geology in 1970 from Columbia University, with a thesis in earthquake seismology. His initial work addressed aspects of plate tectonics. Following a 2-year post-doc at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and 4 months as an exchange scientist in the USSR studying earthquake prediction, he began an assistant professorship at MIT, where he turned his attention to the processes by which continents deform on a large scale and in particular how mountain ranges form. After 12 years of being dissatisfied with his teaching, he quit and returned to the life of a post-doc. In 2000, eager to change the direction of his research to include the study of how large-scale geodynamic processes have affected climate on geologic time scales, he moved to the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Colorado and became a fellow in the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES).
Recorded on March 11, 2016

Writing History in Colonial Times: The Space and Time of Religious Polemic in Late 19th and Early 20th Century Southern India

Dilip Menon, Mellon Chair in Indian Studies, Director of the Centre for Indian Studies in Africa, University of Witwater
Dilip Menon studied in Delhi, Oxford (Balliol) and Cambridge (Trinity) and was a Fellow of Magdalene College Cambridge before returning to India to take up teaching posts and fellowships in Trivandrum, Hyderabad and Delhi. He has held postdoctoral and teaching positions at Cambridge, Yale, Zentrum fur Moderner Orient (Berlin)and Maison des Science de les Hommes (Paris) and has published three books and several articles on caste, socialism and modernity in India. Menon is currently working on a book project on the historical imagination in South India between 1860 and 1960 to be titled "Thinking History in Colonial Times." He is currently the Mellon Chair in Indian Studies, and Director Centre for Indian Studies in Africa at the University of Witwatersrand.
Recorded on November 16, 2015

Summer in South Asia Undergraduate Fellowship Symposium 2015

Six undergraduate students were selected to be Summer in South Asia Fellows during the 2014-15 academic year. Each fellow designed, implemented, and enacted their own proposals for their summers in India. At the symposium, students present their research and findings.

2014-15 Videos

Secularized Heritage and Fundamentalist India: The Case of M.F. Husain

Daniel Herwitz, Frederick G.L. Huetwell Professor, University of Michigan
Herwitz is the author of The Star as Icon, Columbia Press, October, 2008, Key Concepts in Aesthetics, Continuum Press, 2008, Race and Reconciliation, University of Minnesota Press, 2003, Making Theory/Constructing Art: On the Authority of the Avant-Garde, University of Chicago Press, 1993, and Husain, Tata Press in India, 1987. He has also published Midnight’s Diaspora: Critical Encounters with Salman Rushdie, a book of essays co-edited with Ashutosh Varshney of the University of Michigan for UM Press, November 2008, Action, Art, History: Critical Engagements with Arthur Danto, Columbia University Press, March 2007, edited with Michael Kelly, and The Don Giovanni Moment, Columbia University Press, edited with Lydia Goehr, Columbia University Press, 2006.
Recorded on April 17, 2015

History as Elegy: The Poetics of Commemoration in Early Modern Hindi

Allison Busch, Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies, Columbia University
Allison Busch's research centers on early modern Hindi literature and cultural history, with a special interest in courtly India. She is the author of Poetry of Kings (Oxford, 2011), a book about Mughal-period literary culture. She has published numerous articles on the literary and intellectual life of seventeenth-century sub-imperial courts. Culture and Circulation, an edited volume (with Dr. Thomas de Bruijn of Leiden, the Netherlands) that explores literary history from a multilingual point of view, has recently come out from Brill. Her current research is on local histories from the Mughal-period that were recorded in classical Hindi dialects such as Brajbhasha and Rajasthani. She is also the recent recipient of an ACLS collaborative grant and is co-authoring a book on aesthetic worlds of the Indian heroine with art historian Molly Aitken.
Recorded on February 13, 2015

Youth Tobacco Control in India

Ritesh Mistry, School of Public Health, University of Michigan
Dr. Mistry received his Ph.D. from the UCLA School of Public Health and completed his post-doctoral training at the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center. He is currently an Assistant Professor in The University of Michigan, Department of Health Behavior and Health Education. He has conducted studies in the U.S. and internationally in areas of tobacco use, physical activity, food choice, and health care utilization. He was a recipient of the Fulbright-Nehru Senior Scholar Award to study the implementation of India's tobacco control policy and adolescent tobacco use. He has been Principal Investigator and Co-Investigator on studies funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and the California Tobacco Related Disease Research Program. His research has received news media attention from local, national and international agencies such as CNN, Reuters, Times of India and others.
Recorded on January 30, 2015

The Syntax of Witness: A Reading and Discussion

Tarfia Faizullah, Helen Zell Writers’ Program, University of Michigan
Born in Brooklyn and raised in west Texas, Tarfia Faizullah is the Pushcart Prize winning author of Seam (Southern Illinois University Press, 2014), and winner of the 2012 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award. Her poems appear in American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, The Missouri Review, The Southern Review, Massachusetts Review, Ninth Letter, New England Review, Washington Square, and anthologized in Poems of Devotion, Excuse This Poem, The Book of Scented Things, and Best New Poets 2014.
Recorded on December 5, 2014

Cold War Communication and the Cold War: An Indian History of a Global Form

Arvind Rajagopal, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, New York University
Arvind Rajagopal's scholarly work is at the intersection of sociology, cultural history and media theory, and explores the history of publicity and political aesthetics as seen from the global south.
Recorded on October 3, 2014

2013-14 Videos

Temple Destruction and Historical Construction: Rethinking the 'Fall' of Vijayanagara

Kathleen Morrison, Department of Anthropology, University of Chicago
The eponymous capital of Vijayanagara was largely abandoned following the defeat of the imperial army at Talikota in 1565. The city was burned and looted and its monumental temple complexes, gateways, and images left in ruins. Despite the massive and pervasive dismantling of architecture at the city, however, the level and focus of destruction is strikingly variable. In this paper, we draw on the material record of late Vijayanagara temple complexes and other sacral forms to examine these patterns of differentially distributed political violence.
Recorded on January 10, 2014

Summer in South Asia Undergraduate Fellowship Colloquium 2013

Saarah Anjum, Bailey Binke, David Buruchara, Courtney Green, Dustin Hartz, Magdalene Kuznia. Recorded on December 6, 2013

Theorizing Lower Caste Politics: A View from Bihar

Jeffrey Witsoe, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, Union College
Bihar, a north Indian state of over a hundred million people, is India’s poorest state known for caste conflict, political violence, and a Maoist insurgency. At the same time, since the early 1990s a dramatic upsurge of lower caste politics swept Bihar and other parts of north India. Drawing from ethnographic fieldwork conducted since 2002, this talk examines why caste remains the most important political identity in Bihar and what this reveals about the dynamics of India’s democracy.
Recorded on October 22, 2013.

CSAS Film Series: Partners in Crime

Paromitra Vohra, Devi Pictures and Hughes Fellow
When more than three-fourths of those with an Internet connection download material for free, are they living out a brand new cultural freedom – or are they criminals? Full of wicked irony, great music, and thorny questions, this 2011 film explores the grey horizons of copyright and culture during a time when technology is changing the contours of the market. Co-sponsored by the Department of Screen Arts & Cultures.
Recorded on October 4, 2013

Addressing Under-Representation in the Time of Globalization: A Kerala Experience in Affirmative Action

D. Damodaran Nampoothiri, Executive Director, Centre for Research and Education for Social Transformation--CREST
Higher education was opened to the poorest communities in Kerala, such as Dalits and Adivasis. However, from the 1950s onward, they experienced very little upward social mobility, largely because these historically ostracized and excluded communities lacked the social, cultural, and symbolic capital which the mainstream communities always held in ample measure. Co-sponsored by the Office of the Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs.
Recorded on October 2, 2013

Revealing Powers: Money, Morality, and Politics in Bangladesh

Nusrat Chowdhury, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, Amherst College
This discussion focuses on the popular preoccupation with money, in the larger context of national politics documented during Chowdhury's fieldwork in 2007-2008 in Phulbari, Bangladesh. It focuses on money, which, as a medium of political communication, distilled a set of popular discourses about governmental corruption and the unequal exchange relations that underline a global culture of natural resource extraction.
Recorded on September 20, 2013

2012-13 Videos

The Digital Ecosystem of Governance in India after 'Aadhaar'

Ashish Rajadhyaksha, Center for the Study of Culture and Society, Banglalore, India
Recorded on April 19, 2013

Self-Publishing Prophecies: Apocalypse and Media from Shah Waliullah to Zaid Hamid

Manan Ahmed, Columbia University
Recorded on April 12, 2013

Human Rights and Pakistan Conference

Co-sponsored by the American Institute of Pakistan Studies; the Center for International and Comparative Law; the Rackham Dean Special Initiative Fund; the Office of Academic and Multicultural Initiatives; Central Student Government; Muslim Law Students Association; Ford School Student Government; Department of Political Science; Department of Asian Languages and Cultures; Islamic Studies Program; the International Policy Center; Rackham Student Government; the Program in International and Comparative Studies; International Institute and the Office of the President.
Recorded on April 5, 2013

Women Writing in Early Twentieth Century Bengal: Contesting the Formation of a New National Identity

Firdous Azim, Professor, BRAC University, Bangladesh
Recorded on March 29, 2013

Exfoliating Colorism: Contestations, Comedy, and Critique in India's Transnational Media Field

Radhika Parameswaran, Indiana University
Recorded on February 22, 2013

The Streets are Rising

Naiza Khan, Visual Studies Department, Karachi University
Recorded on February 18, 2013

The Practice of Translation: Academic Exercises and Activist Stances

Sumathy Sivamohan, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka
Co-sponsored by the Center for World Performance Studies and the Helen Zell Writers’ Program in the Department of English
Recorded on February 15, 2013

Epidemic Proportions: "Globesity" and the Accumulative Body in India

Harris Solomon (Duke University)
Co-Sponsored by the Department of Anthropology
Recorded on February 8, 2013

Dissenting Diaspora

YaliniDream, Movement Artist
Recorded on February 1, 2013

Gandhi and the Hazards of Action: The Lessons of Chauri Chaura

Karuna Mantena, Yale University
Co-sponsored by the Department of Political Science
Recorded on January 18, 2013

Chaitanya and the Politics of Recovery in Colonial Bengal

Varuni Bhatia, Asian Languages and Cultures, University of Michigan
Recorded on November 30, 2012

The Third Trehan Year Conference (part 2): "The Environment of India"

J. Mark Baker & K. Kannan "The Trehan Initiative:  "The Environment of India" Conference - Part II" Conference and Q&A
Recorded on November 16, 2012

Gajatame and Ganesha: The Sacred Elephant of Ancient India

Raman Sukumar, Ecological Sciences, IIS, Bangalore
Recorded on November 2, 2012

Summer in South Asia Undergraduate Fellowship Colloquium 2012

Nicholas Pilarski, Marisa Perera, Eric Raynal, Carolyn Yarina, Rabia Mahmood, Tessa Adzemovic, Bradley Iott
Recorded on October 19, 2012

The Revival of Dastangoi: Urdu Storytelling in History and Practice

Mahmood Farooqui, Writer, Actor, Filmmaker
Co-sponsored by the Islamic Studies Program
Recorded on September 28, 2012

Lost Without Translation: Telling the Stories of a Silenced People

Anushiya Ramaswamy, Southern Illinois University
Co-sponsored by Fall 2012 LSA Translation Theme Semester
Recorded on September 14, 2012

South Asia as a Hydrological Surface

Dilip da Cunha, University of Pennsylvania
Co-sponsored by Taubman College of Architecture & Urban Planning and School of Natural Resources & Environment
Recorded on September 7, 2012

2011-12 Videos

The Persistence of the Elephants

Thomas R Trautmann, Professor Emeritus of History and Anthropology
Recorded on April 13, 2012

Indenture, Abolition, and the Nation-State Form

Mrinalini Sinha, Professor of History, University of Michigan
Recorded on March 23, 2012

The Third Trehan Year Conference (part 1): "The Environment of India"

Mahesh Rangarajan, Director, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi 
Ashwini Chhatre, Department of Geography, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Recorded on March 9, 2012

The Fire Eaters: Law and Faith in Colonial Public Sphere Debates on Widow Immolation

Tanika Sarkar, Professor of Modern History at the Centre for Historical Studies 
Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
Recorded on February 17, 2012

Summer in South Asia Undergraduate Fellowship Colloquium

Martha Johnson, Sonya Usman, Nader Hakim, Alexandria Passarelli, and Julia Field
Recorded on October 14, 2011

All Tigers are Tamil, but not all Tamils are Tigers

Sharika Thiranagama, The New School
Recorded on September 30, 2011

Dalit Memoirs: Re-Scripting the Subaltern Body

Gyanendra Pandey, Emory University
Recorded on September 23, 2011

2010-11 Videos

Second Trehan Theme Year Conference | Inequalities in India
Recorded on November 12, 2010

Interaction between Social, Political and Economic Dimensions of Inequalities in India: An Interpretation
Suresh Tendulkar, Delhi School of Economics

The Grammar of Caste: Economic Discrimination in Contemporary India
Ashwini Deshpande, Delhi School of Economics

Film Discussion: "The House on Gulmohar Avenue"

Samina Mishra, Film Director; Aswin Punathambekar, Professor of Communications, U-M
Recorded on October 8, 2010

Summer in South Asia Undergraduate Fellowship Colloquium
Recorded on October 1, 2010

Featuring project presentations by the 2010 CSAS Summer in South Asia fellows:

Eman Abdelhadi
Melissa Allan
Jordan Eizenga
Minjoo Kim
Rachel Long
Ksenija Sabic

The Politics of the Great Pakistan Deluge of 2010

Juan Cole, University of Michigan Professor of History and Director of the Center for South Asian Studies
Recorded on September 17, 2010

2009-10 Videos

Hirsh Sawhney Reads from "Delhi Noir"

Hirsh Sawhney, Wesleyen University
Hirsh Sawhney is the author of a novel, South Haven, which has been selected as a 2016 Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Pick. His articles and essays have appeared in the New York Times Book Review, the Guardian, the Indian Express, the Times Literary Supplement, the Financial Times, Outlook, and numerous other periodicals. He is the editor of Delhi Noir, a critically-acclaimed anthology of original fiction. Recorded April 2, 2010

Maucaulay's Man and Engineering Colonial Bombay

Preeti Chopra, Department of Languages and Cultures of Asia, University of Wisconsin
Recorded on March 19, 2010

Enforcing Legal Rights in India: Judicial Reform

Vikramaditya Khanna, School of Law at the University of Michigan
Recorded on March 12, 2010

Routes: A Way of Thinking About India, Asia and the World

Stewart Gordon, Center for South Asian Studies, University of Michigan
Recorded on January 22, 2010

Friction on the Edge of Contemporary Bombay Cinema

Ranjani Mazumdar, Jawaharlal Nehru University
Recorded December 4, 2009

The State After Liberalization: Reflections on Inequality and the Middle Classes in India

Leela Fernandes, Rutgers University
Recorded on November 20, 2009

Terminal Present:  Making Art from Either Side of the Margin in the 21st Century

Kanishka Raja, Independent Visual Artist
Recorded on November 13, 2009

Television, Participatory Culture, and Politics:  The Case of Indian Idol

Aswin Punathambekar, University of Michigan
Recorded on November 11, 2009

Lineages of Political Society

Partha Chatterjee, Columbia University
Recorded on October 16, 2009

2009 Summer in South Asia Undergraduate Symposium

Recorded on October 2, 2009

Rory Crook, Department of Kinesiology
Project: Addressing the physiological difficulties of a sample of school children with polio and congenital birth defects by incorporating physical activities with simple exercise equipment.

Caleb Heyman, Department of History and English
Project: Analysis of how two NGOs in Kolkata interact with the city-space, their structures and problems as they work to give relief to the city's homeless children.

Adam Khan, UM Medical School
Project: Estimation of the costs and financial projections to determine the payback period for a new hospital in an underserved region.

Meha Pandey, School of Engineering
Project: Assessment of the infrastructural needs of a rural hospital, in terms of patient safety, hygiene, and waste disposal.

Ye Wang, Department of Economics
Project: A study on supermarket oriented supply chains in Bangalore and the impact on small farmers in terms of their welfare and livelihood.

Sairah Husain, Department of Economics
Project: Effectiveness of targeting women in employment-generating schemes in urban infrastructure in the Kolkata metropolitan area.

Adhiraj Vable, School of Engineering
Project: Installation of a solar powered backup system to power a new computer lab at Jnana Bodhini School near Bangalore.

Old City, New City: Locating the Past in Urban India | An Interdisciplinary Graduate Student Conference

Keynote Address by Ravi Sundaram, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi
See the conference poster and program
Recorded on September 25, 2009

Muslim Voices: Traditions and Contexts (Audio Files)

A Conference in Honor of Barbara Daly Metcalf
Recorded September 11-13, 2009