Welcome to the Language, Culture & Power conference

The conference will be held on February 22 and 23, 2008 in Columbia University's International Affairs Building, room 1512. (Please note that this is a venue change.) It is open to the public. If you are planning to attend, please contact the Southern Asian Institute at to reserve your place.

Over the past three decades, the scholarship of Sheldon Pollock has transformed the study of South Asia. His body of work so far represents a unique combination of interests, disciplinary breadth and theoretical acumen, ranging from classical Indology to comparative intellectual history, from philology to contemporary cultural studies, and from innovative social theory to artful literary translation of Sanskrit classics. Throughout this incredibly varied oeuvre, Pollock has always maintained a standard-setting combination of scholarly rigor, comparative vision, and unfailing respect for the emic understanding of his materials. His research is only part of the story of his contribution to the field: a dedicated and gifted educator and a tireless advocate for his students, Pollock has been instrumental in training a generation of South Asianists working in a remarkably wide range of fields.

With the publication of The Language of the Gods in the World of Men, and his recent move to Columbia University, his students and friends thought it appropriate to organize this conference, to honor his scholarship and mentorship on the occasion of his sixtieth birthday. The conference is dedicated to some of the major topics and recurrent concerns that have marked his contributions to study of India and beyond: The Ramayana's genetic and receptive histories; the evolution and contours of Sanskrit literary culture; the interplay between cosmopolitan and vernacular forms of life and culture; Sanskrit's systems of knowledge and the relationship they inscribe between theory and practice; India's intellectual and social transformation in early modernity; and the role of philology as a discipline in the twenty-first century university. The papers in this conference, the work of his own students and others who have been challenged and inspired by his work, will examine the impact of Pollock's scholarship on these fields, the questions it raises, and the directions it suggests for future research. In the spirit of the honoree's own work, these papers seek to further advance the scholarly conversation in the historical and contemporary study of South Asian civilization, culture, and society.

— conference organizers Yigal Bronner, Whitney Cox and Larry McCrea



Mani stone

The conference was made possible by the support of the Southern Asian Institute, the Heyman Center, COSAS at the University of Chicago, the Clay Sanskrit Library (JJC Foundation) and the Office of the Vice President of Columbia University.

Additional thanks for help with the website goes to Mohamad Khan, Frances Pritchett and Anna Seastrand. The Mani stone image (right) used on conference materials is from the British Museum.

This site was designed by Arthur Dudney. Please contact him with any queries.
Last updated 12 February 2008.