At a glance: the South Asia Institute
The South Asia Institute (SAI) coordinates activities at Columbia University that relate to study of the countries of Bangladesh, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, as well as related areas such as Afghanistan, Bhutan, and Burma. The Institute organizes conferences, seminars, film screenings, lecture series and brown bag talks that bring together faculty and students with diverse interests and backgrounds. SAI partners with departments, centers, and institutes at Columbia, and works with South Asia groups on campus and off, in order to reach new audiences and facilitate an exchange of knowledge. Undergraduate and graduate students may study South Asia in a variety of degree programs across the university, and have access to the one of the oldest and largest South Asia collections in the country through the Columbia Libraries. The Institute's outreach activities provide a broad range of resources for K-12 teachers interested in South Asia.
The South Asia Institute is located on the second floor of Knox Hall, Room 213, located at 606 West 122nd Street, between Broadway and Claremont Avenues.
SAI administers a Master of Arts Program in South Asia Studies that draws upon affiliated Institute faculty who teach courses on South Asia in fourteen departments and six schools. Read more.
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Friday, May 10 - Lecture
A talk by Arindam Dutta (MIT)
"TransNational HaHas: Deltas, Deities and the Debt"
Sponsored with the Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life
and the School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation
ABSTRACT: At the end of the Seven Years War in 1763, realization grew that, at several times the level of annual revenue, the Public Debt had become a permanent institution to be serviced in perpetuity. The talk looks at land and socialization in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in light of this "financialization" of the British economy, a process that would have a spiraling effects across the globe. The objects under investigation here are the follies of garden Britain, Ireland and America, compared with the Zamindari bagan-baris and thakur-baris (garden estates and estate-temples) of colonial Bengal as a coterminous type. The follies and thakur-baris can be read as differential markers in a dispersed set of concerns and anxieties over nature, economy, government and religion, all of these headings being themselves synthesized and systematized into new epistemic fields through the course of the long eighteenth century. The talk looks at the entanglement of two of these new epistemic fields - "economy" and "religion" - in this context, particularly in the places where the singular, secular temporal expectancy of a ballooning, perdurable Public Debt was seen as interjecting into eschatologically-defined conceptions of obligation and existence. The shards of the Mughal Empire in India, and the "Augustan Age" of eighteenth-century Britain, abruptly joined into a single system by the fact of global capital, present signal comparisons and contrasts in their constructions of time even as they are bound by the same temporal devices of debt and finance. It is as if folly and thakur-bari, signifiers of disparate tempos of memory and divinity, speak to each other through a kind of imperfect translation, a heteroglossia called the economic.
Arindam Dutta is Associate Professor of Architectural History, Department of Architecture, at the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology, and directs the SMArchS Program at the Department. His teaching interests are in the area
of modern architectural theory and history, imperialism and globalization, gender and body politics, Marxist thought,
and post-structuralism. Dutta obtained his Ph.D. in the History of Architecture from Princeton University in 2001.
He has degrees in architectural design from the Harvard Design School and the School of Architecture in Ahmedabad,
India. Dutta is the author of The Bureaucracy of Beauty: Design in the Age of its Global Reproducibility
Time: 4:00pm - 5:30pm
Location: Knox Hall, Room 208, 606 West 122nd Street, between Broadway and Claremont Avenue