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Past Events of Spring 2009

January 26, 2009 South Asia Graduate Student Forum
"At the Intersection of Religion and Literature in Medieval Kashmir: Bhattanarayana's Stavacintamani with Ksemaraja's Commentary" Presentation by Hamsa Stainton, Ph.D. candidate in the Religion Department

The stotra form (also called stuti/stava; often translated as 'hymn of praise') is one of the most popular and widespread genres of Sanskrit literature in South Asia, and it continues to play a prominent role in religious practice today. By focusing on the important stotra of Bhattanarayana called the Stavacintamani, this paper will examine the role of this genre, as well as key concepts like bhakti and namas, in religious life in Kashmir. It will highlight, in addition, issues unique to stotras as a literary form that may have contributed to its historical success.

The Forum format is as follows:
20-30 minutes: Presentation
20-30 minutes: Q & A and discussion
60 minutes: Reception (food, samosa etc., and drink provided)

The forum is open to all members of the Columbia community. If you have any questions about the forum or are interesting in presenting, please contact the forum coordinator, Audrey Truschke, at aat2120@columbia.edu.

Time: 4:00-6:00 p.m.
Location: 1134 International Affairs Building, 420 West 118 Street

January 26, 2009 - Film Screening and Discussion
ATHWAAS – The Journey
(30 minutes)
Directed by Ashima Kaul
Film Screening and discussion with the Director

In 2001, a few Kashmiri women from diverse backgrounds, who had each experienced the Kashmir conflict in different ways, came together to listen to each other. They named themselves Athwaas, a Kashmiri word meaning a handshake. The core group of women later traveled to different parts of the Kashmir Valley and to the camps of the displaced Kashmiri Pandit community in Jammu, listening to women’s stories of suffering and resilience.

The documentary film Athwaas - The Journey traces the personal narrative of the director from her first visit to the Valley through the formation of Athwaas. The film chronicles the collective emotional and physical journey of the women of Athwaas, the process of trust building and healing within the group, and the formation of Samanbals as grassroots healing and reconciliation spaces.

Ashima Kaul is a social worker, independent journalist, and consultant for Women in Conflict Management and Peace (WISCOMP), a South Asian research and training initiative, which facilitates the leadership of women in the areas of peace, security and international affairs.. Ms. Kaul is the regional coordinator of Athwaas, an initiative of WISCOMP in Jammu and Kashmir.

Time: 7:00pm – 8:30pm
Location: 1134 International Affairs Building, 420 West 118th Street

January 27th, 2009 - Outsourcing News: Boon or Boondoggle?
A round table discussion on editorial outsourcing to India.

Videos:
  1. Video 1 (Flash Player)
  2. Video 2 (Flash Player)
The word outsourcing used to bring to mind call centers for customer service. That changed when, in an effort to reduce costs, media outlets—from websites to newspapers—began shipping editorial work offshore. Those who advocate for assigning copy editing, layout design and even reporting to newsrooms afar see it as a necessary cost-cutting measure that may keep tanking news organizations afloat. Those who oppose the practice say that such work requires a homegrown news judgment and cultural reference base that cannot be harnessed abroad.

Join us on the evening of January 27 for a discussion about editorial outsourcing to India with six journalists, moderated by Sree Sreenivasan of the Columbia Journalism School.

They'll hash out the ethics and viability of offshoring and discuss workflow models. Are the savings substantial enough to salvage a fading industry? Or does editorial outsourcing tarnish the profession of journalism as we know it? Co-sponsored by the South Asian Journalists Association and The New York Press Club

Panelists:

Moderated by Prof. Sree Sreenivasan, Dean of Student Affairs at Columbia University, WNBC-TV's tech reporter, and co-founder of SAJA, the South Asian Journalists Association

Robert Berkeley, CEO, Express KCS, a firm that provides India-based editorial outsourcing services to US publications

Tony Joseph, CEO, Mindworks Global, a firm that provides India-based editorial outsourcing services to US newspapers

Bruce Lambert, freelance journalist, former vice chairman of The Newspaper Guild, NYT chapter, and 22-year veteran of The New York Times

James Macpherson, Publisher, PasadenaNow.com

Phil Pilato, editor and news writer at CBS Radio 1010 WINS, from The Writers Guild of America, East

Anthony Ramirez, freelance journalist and 19-year veteran of The New York Times

For more information, please contact Sabrina Buckwalter at (212) 854-5514 or at sb2997@columbia.edu

Time: Networking 6:30 to 7:00 pm, program 7:00 to 9:00 pm
Location: The Associated Press Conference Center, 450 W. 33rd St. (between 9th and 10th Avenue) New York, NY

Registration: Admission is free, but RSVP is required for building security. Please visit http://www.newyorkpressclub.org/contact.php to register.

January 27th, 2008 - Outsourcing News: Boon or Boondoggle?
A round table discussion on editorial outsourcing to India.

The word outsourcing used to bring to mind call centers for customer service. That changed when, in an effort to reduce costs, media outlets—from websites to newspapers—began shipping editorial work offshore. Those who advocate for assigning copy editing, layout design and even reporting to newsrooms afar see it as a necessary cost-cutting measure that may keep tanking news organizations afloat. Those who oppose the practice say that such work requires a homegrown news judgment and cultural reference base that cannot be harnessed abroad.

Join us on the evening of January 27 for a discussion about editorial outsourcing to India with six journalists, moderated by Sree Sreenivasan of the Columbia Journalism School.

They'll hash out the ethics and viability of offshoring and discuss workflow models. Are the savings substantial enough to salvage a fading industry? Or does editorial outsourcing tarnish the profession of journalism as we know it? Co-sponsored by the South Asian Journalists Association and The New York Press Club

Panelists:

Moderated by Prof. Sree Sreenivasan, Dean of Student Affairs at Columbia University, WNBC-TV's tech reporter, and co-founder of SAJA, the South Asian Journalists Association

Robert Berkeley, CEO, Express KCS, a firm that provides India-based editorial outsourcing services to US publications

Tony Joseph, CEO, Mindworks Global, a firm that provides India-based editorial outsourcing services to US newspapers

Bruce Lambert, freelance journalist, former vice chairman of The Newspaper Guild, NYT chapter, and 22-year veteran of The New York Times

James Macpherson, Publisher, PasadenaNow.com

Phil Pilato, editor and news writer at CBS Radio 1010 WINS, from The Writers Guild of America, East

Anthony Ramirez, freelance journalist and 19-year veteran of The New York Times

For more information, please contact Sabrina Buckwalter at (212) 854-5514 or at sb2997@columbia.edu

Time: Networking 6:30 to 7:00 pm, program 7:00 to 9:00 pm
Location: The Associated Press Conference Center, 450 W. 33rd St. (between 9th and 10th Avenue) New York, NY

Registration: Admission is free, but RSVP is required for building security. Please visit http://www.newyorkpressclub.org/contact.php to register.

February 4, 2009 - Film Screening
Khamosh Pani (Silent Waters, 2004)

Language: Punjabi (Subtitled in English)
Length: 101 minutes
Director: Sabiha Sumar
Writers: Sabiha Sumar (screenplay), Paromita Vohra (writer)

Synopsis: Ayesha is a seemingly well-adjusted middle-aged woman whose life centers around her son Saleem - a gentle, dreamy 18 year old, in love with Zubeida. They live in the village of Charkhi, in Pakistani Punjab. Ayesha's husband is dead and she manages a living from his pension and by giving Quran lessons to young girls. The story begins in 1979, in a Pakistan under President General Zia-ul-Haq and a state of martial law. In a few months the country will be ruled by Islamic Law. Saleem becomes intensely involved with a group of Islamic fundamentalists and leaves Zubeida. Ayesha is saddened to see her son change radically. Events escalate when Sikh pilgrims from India pour into the village.

Winner of Golden Leopard at the Locarno Film Festival.

Time: 6:00pm – 7:45pm
Location: 1134 International Affairs Bldg., 420 West 118th Street at Amsterdam Avenue

February 9, 2009 – New Book Series
Global Sex Trafficking and the Business of Modern Slavery
A talk by Siddharth Kara

Co-Sponsored by the East Central European Center and the Human Rights Program

Every year, millions of women and children are abducted, deceived, seduced, or sold into forced prostitution. Generating huge profits for their exploiters, sex slaves form the backbone of one of the world's most profitable illicit enterprises.

Siddharth Kara’s new book, "Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery" investigates the mechanics of the global sex trafficking business across four continents -- and its primary sources of origin in South Asia, Eastern Europe, and East Asia -- and takes stock of its human toll.

Drawing on his background in finance and economics, Kara provides a rare business analysis of sex trafficking, focusing on the local drivers and global macroeconomic trends that gave rise to the industry after the fall of the Berlin Wall. He quantifies the size, growth, and profitability of sex trafficking and other forms of modern slavery—metrics that have never been published before—and locates the sectors that would be hardest hit by specifically designed interventions and penalties.

Since first encountering the horrors of sexual slavery in a Bosnian refugee camp in 1995, Kara has taken multiple research trips to India, Nepal, Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Albania, Moldova, Mexico, and the United States. He has met hundreds of slaves, has witnessed the sale of numerous human beings into slavery, and has confronted some of the criminals who have exploited them.

Siddharth Kara is a former investment banker and business executive with an MBA from Columbia. He set aside his corporate career to pursue anti-slavery research, advocacy, and writing, and, more recently, a law degree. He serves on the board of directors of Free the Slaves, an organization dedicated to abolishing slavery worldwide. In 2005 he was invited to testify on contemporary slavery to the US Congressional Human Rights Committee.

Time: 4:00pm – 5:30pm
Location: 1134 International Affairs Bldg., 420 West 118th Street at Amsterdam Avenue

For more information about Kara’s Book, see the Columbia University Press website at http://www.cup.columbia.edu.

Wednesday, February 11 – Brown Bag Talk on Bhutan
"Gross National Happiness – A Real Alternative or an empty slogan?"
A talk by Tashi Choden and Ram Fishman

Since its inception in the small Himalayan Buddhist Kingdom of Bhutan in the 1970s, Gross National Happiness (GNH) has been attracting increasing international attention. Some embraced it as a brave alternative to the standard development paradigm, while others have dismissed it as a romantic and impractical concept.

Tashi Choden, a 2nd year MPA student and researcher at the Center for Bhutan Studies, and Ram Fishman, a 3rd year PhD student in Sustainable Development who has recently participated in the 4th International Conference on Gross National Happiness in Bhutan, will discuss the origins, meaning and relevance of GNH for development policy and share some impressions from this fascinating and unique country.

Time: 12:30pm – 2:00pm
Location: 1134 International Affairs Bldg., 420 West 118th Street at Amsterdam Avenue

Monday, February 16 – South Asia Graduate Student Forum
"Mughal power and Sanskrit culture: Cross-Cosmopolitan Encounters in Siddhicandra's Bhanucandraganicarita"

A presentation by Audrey Truschke, Ph.D. candidate in the Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures Department

In his Bhanucandraganicarita, The Life of Bhanucandra (BhC), Siddhicandra offers an anecdotal account of the presence of Jaina scholars at the Mughal courts of Akbar and Jahangir. Despite the title of his work, Siddhi's primary criteria for including events is not that they relate to the life of his teacher, Bhnucandra, but rather that they are encounters between Jaina intellectuals and Mughal imperial figures. Siddhicandra was not the first to write in Sanskrit about such cross-cultural interactions, particularly in the Jaina tradition. However, he stands alone as the only Sanskrit intellectual to make such cross-cosmopolitan encounters the primary unifying subject of a literary work. In this paper, I explore how BhC defines this new object of study in Sanskrit and carves out ways for the Persianate Emperors to dynamically participate in the Sanskrit cultural sphere.

The Forum format is as follows:
20-30 minutes: Presentation
20-30 minutes: Q & A and discussion
60 minutes: Reception (food and drink provided)

The forum is open to all members of the Columbia community. If you have any questions about the forum or are interesting in presenting, please contact the forum coordinator, Audrey Truschke, at aat2120@columbia.edu.

Time: 4:00pm – 6:00pm
Location: 1134 International Affairs Bldg., 420 West 118th Street at Amsterdam Avenue

Tuesday, February 17 – Brown Bag Talk
"Rebuilding the Education System in Northern Pakistan following the 2005 Earthquake"
A talk by Dr. Lorie Brush

In October 2005, a devastating earthquake hit northern Pakistan. The quake occurred during school hours and resulted in the destruction of 7,700 schools and the deaths of about 18,000 children. From August 2006 to September 2007, Dr. Brush served as Chief of Party to a three year USAID funded project, "Revitalizing, Innovation, Strengthening Education," which was aimed at the areas hardest hit by the quake, the North West Frontier Province, and Kashmir. Dr. Brush will discuss her experiences as the in-country director of the project. She will introduce the earthquake and its impact on the state of education, and talk about the ways NGOs can adapt education projects to culture and religion in order to ensure that the new ideas they present are embraced by the population while reflecting sound educational practices

Dr. Lorie Brush is an independent consultant in the fields of international education, early childhood education, policy analysis, and the project development and management. She has participated in USAID projects focusing on Jordan, Kenya, Macedonia, Pakistan, and Sudan. In the US, she has been involved with numerous Head Start initiatives and programs with state and federal education agencies. Dr. Brush received a PhD in Developmental Psychology from Cornell University, and taught Psychology at Weslyan University for six years.

Time: 12:30pm – 2:00pm
Location: 1134 International Affairs Bldg., 420 West 118th Street at Amsterdam Avenue

Wednesday, February 18 – Lecture and discussion
"The Afghanistan that Obama Inherits"
A talk by Rameen Javid

Rameen Moshref Javid is an Afghan-American recently returned from Afghanistan after a two years stay. The first year he worked as head of an urban regeneration program in a historic district of Kabul and the second year as the adviser for the Ministry of Women's Affairs on donor and international relations.

As a community activist for the past 19 years in the US, Rameen has served in many capacities. He worked as the Executive Director of a community based non-profit organization, Afghan Communicator, for 11 years. Prior to that, he had served as Director of Foreign Relations for the Afghanistan Peace Association. In 2002, Rameen won the Union Square Award for emerging immigrant leaders of NY.

As a specialist on Afghanistan, Rameen has been widely published including two books: “Fundamentalism Reborn” and “Afghanistan, A Country Without a State?” Rameen received his Master of Arts in Near Eastern Studies from New York University.

Time: 4:00pm – 5:30pm
Location: Room 1134, International Affairs Bldg., 420 West 118th Street at Amsterdam Avenue

Monday, February 23 – University Seminar
"Going MAD: Ten Years of the Bomb in South Asia"
A talk by Zia Mian
Program on Science and Global Security
Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs Princeton University

ABSTRACT: Ten years have passed since India and Pakistan tested nuclear weapons. The nuclear tests ushered in a period of major crises for South Asia. There have been threats to use nuclear weapons, talks to improve relations, and the seemingly inexorable building of nuclear arsenals, and the planning and preparation for fighting a nuclear war. This talk will review these developments and explore the implications for the future of nuclear South Asia of US fears of the proliferation of nuclear technology, materials and knowledge from Pakistan, especially to radical Islamist groups, and the emergence of a new US-India strategic relationship that is likely to fundamentally change the security calculus in South Asia.

The talk will be followed by a no-host dinner (about $25) at Sezz Midi Restaurant (Amsterdam Ave. at 122nd Street)

If you wish to attend the Seminar dinner following Dr. Mian's talk, please RSVP as soon as possible by notifying the University Seminar rapporteur, James Hare (email: jph2101@columbia.edu).

Time: 4:00pm – 6:00pm
Location: 1134 International Affairs Bldg., 420 West 118th Street at Amsterdam Avenue

Monday, March 9 – Work-in-Progress & Discussion
"Transnational Politics and Sexual Rights Discourse in a Postcolonial Muslim state"

A presentation of a work-in-progress by Dina M. Siddiqi
Visiting Scholar, Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality, New York University

Siddiqi's talk will critically analyze the emergence of sexuality and rights discourse in postcolonial Bangladesh. Drawing on ongoing research on "normative" and "non-normative" sexualities in urban Bangladesh, the talk will explore the complexities generated by emergent categories of sexual identity such as MSM (men who have sex with men), gay, and same-sex loving women. Siddiqi argues that fractures along lines of class and education, rather than of religion -- in conjunction with transnational politics -- produce "local" understandings of sexual identity. The argument seeks to displace neo-Orientalized versions of modernization theory that characterize much recent work on sexuality in Muslim societies.

Dina M. Siddiqi is a cultural anthropologist who divides her time between the US and Bangladesh, where she works as a research consultant for human rights and legal aid organizations. She is a core resource person at the Centre for Gender, Sexuality and HIV/AIDs at the School of Public Health, BRAC University, Dhaka; and a member of the Core Advisory Group of the South Asian Network of Gender Activists and Trainers (SANGAT). Her research and publications cover a broad spectrum: Islam and transnational feminism; the politics of sexuality; gender justice and non-state legal systems; and globalization and workers' rights. She is currently a Visiting Scholar at the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality, New York University.

Time: 4:00pm – 5:30pm
Location: Room 1134, International Affairs Bldg., 420 West 118th Street at Amsterdam Avenue

Wednesday, March 11 - Brown Bag talk
"Weapons of Mass Communication: Political Mobilization Through Text Messaging and Online Networking in Pakistan"

Ayesha Haroon, Editor, The News (Lahore)

In 2007 General Musharraf dismissed the Supreme Court of Pakistan and later imposed yet another emergency rule in the country. The internet/texting mediums, which were largely social exchange platforms for the youth till then, saw an unexpected transformation into platforms of political exchange and mobilisation. It was a mobilization across party-divides - in fact majority of the youth/civil society were not members of any political party. For the first time since the 60s, well placed urban youth organized itself -and through blogs, emails, text messages stumped Musharraf's police state, creating a strong urban middle class resistance that tipped the balance against Musharraf, forcing his supporters - Pakistani army and Bush administration - to remove him.

Ayesha Haroon is the Editor of The News, Lahore, which is part of the biggest media group - Jang Group - in Pakistan. Earlier she was Resident Editor of The Nation, Islamabad. At present she is the only female editor of a mainstream newspaper in Pakistan. She finished college under the Zia regime, began journalism in post-Zia weakened democracy, became an editor when General Musharraf had imposed his dictatorship in Pakistan and curtailed civil liberties for eight long years. All through those eight years, Haroon says, "firmly of the belief that information empowers and brings freedom," and "proud to be a Pakistani journalist."

Co-sponsored by the South Asia Journalists Association

Time: 12:30pm – 2:00pm
Room 1134, International Affairs Bldg., 420 West 118th Street at Amsterdam Avenue

Monday, March 23 - Film Screening and Discussion with Director
Kashf (The Lifting of the Veil)
(2008, 85 Minutes)

Screening will be followed by a discussion with Ayesha Khan, the film's Director, Writer and Co-Producer.

Seating is limited. Admission is free, but seating is first come, first served.

Kashf is the first English language film made in Pakistan in 30 years. Synopsis: Armaghan is born out of an oath his childless mother makes to a Pir at a Sufi Shrine. She promises to let her first son "walk the Sufi path" when he grows up. But shortly after his birth in Pakistan, Armaghan is sent off to the US to live with relatives after his father's death. After 25 years, Armaghan returns to Pakistan to discover a lost culture, a mystic religion, and a family secret. His cousin, Ali, seeks his own calling in the film world of Lollywood and becomes engulfed by fantastical musical hallucinations — but has he found peace or lost his hold on reality?

Sponsored by the South Asia Insitute, South Asia Association, and the Organization of Pakistani Students.

Time: 6:00pm - 8:30pm
Location: Broadway Room, Alfred Lerner Hall, 2920 Broadway at 114th Street

Tuesday, March 24 – Brown Bag
"Empire, ('Demonic') Theology and the Sri Lankan Colonial Impasse of 1915"

Mangalika de Silva
Visiting Scholar, South Asia Institute, Columbia University

Abstract: The paper examines the place of political theology in colonial governmentality in Sri Lanka by reconstructing the in-situ multiplex ideological framings of the 1915 'Buddhist riots' and their repression. This violence was preceded by a telling series of juridical/theological conflicts amongst the colonial administration, local mosques and the Buddhist temple establishment over how, when and where Buddhist religious practices should ritually occupy and acoustically manifest themselves in colonial public space. The paper extends and contests previous historical interpretations that see the 1915 'riots' as solely reducible to premature Sinhala Buddhist nationalism, to an essentialized anti-Muslim sectarianism, to alienation based on agrarian inequity and 'loan sharking' by Muslims and as British reaction to imagined German subversion.

The performative and spatial structures of religious practice that were construed as transgressive by the colonizer, the consequent protests of the colonial subject against the spatial interdiction of Buddhist processions and the resulting counter-terror of the colonial power all reveal 1915 as the intersection of incommensurable and clashing political theologies. This terrain of contesting political theologies appears at several levels; 1) in the discourse and practice of Christian missionization particularly in its encounter with what was mystified as a 'Demonic' Buddhism; 2) in the secularization and politicization of theological norms in their circulation amongst missionaries, governmental administrators and other colonial elites; 3) in the colonial subject's appeal to a counter political theology that sacralizes Theravadic Buddhism's privileged relation to the state.

In this framework 1915 becomes a site where Christian theories of the demonic fuse with colonial governmentality thereby endowing the religious agency of the colonized with a demonic valence projected as not simply resistant to Christianized colonial penetration but as seeking to overthrow the colonial-theological by advancing an anti-colonial sovereignty of the demonic. In contrast to and in conflict with this imperial theodicy, protesting Buddhists and other colonized actors took to the streets as plural subjects evoking both the foundational 1815 covenant between the imperium and Buddhism and prospective decolonization.

Mangalika de Silva's research is positioned at the intersection of postcolonial democracy, violence, criminalized minorities and post-structuralist political philosophy. Currently she is a visiting scholar at the South Asia Institute, Columbia University and the recipient of the Rubicon Award for the Social Sciences (Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research) for 2009-2011. de Silva received her PhD from the Amsterdam School for Social Science Research, University of Amsterdam in 2008 for her ethnography /Minor Tangles: the Prison House of Democracy in Southern Sri Lanka/. She previously directed the NGO Women for Peace from 1995-1997 that advocated demilitarization in Sri Lanka and the rights of Tamil and Muslim women.

Time: 12:30pm – 2:00pm
Location: Room 1118, International Affairs Bldg., 420 West 118th Street at Amsterdam Avenue

Wednesday, March 25 – Brown Bag Talk
"The Nationalist Hindu Militias"

A talk by Christophe Jaffrelot (Sciences-Po ; Director, Centre d'Etudes et de Rescherches Internationales)

Co-sponsored by the Alliance Program; Center for Democracy, Toleration and Religion; Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life, and the Political Science Department.

A lecture by Christophe Jaffrelot (Sciences Po-CERI, Paris) on the rise of ethnic nationalism and ideology in India. Despite its national defeat in 2004, the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)continues to govern large Indian states and remains a major force in the world's largest democracy.

Prof Jaffrelot is author of India’s Silent Revolution: The Rise of the Lower Castes in North India (2003) and The Hindu Nationalist Movement and Indian Politics (1996) and will be the Alliance Francaise Visiting Professor at Columbia University in Fall 2009. The talk will be moderated by Alfred Stepan, the Wallace S. Sayre Professor of Government at Columbia University.

Time: 12:30pm – 2:00pm
Location: Room 707, International Affairs Bldg., 420 West 118th Street at Amsterdam Avenue

Wednesday, March 25 – Barbara Stoler Miller Lecture
"The Triumph of Modernism: Indian artists and the avant-garde -1922-1947"

A lecture by Partha Mitter (Oxford and Sussex Universities)

The lecture presents Partha Mitter's work, The Triumph of Modernism: India's artists and the avant-garde 1922-1947, published a year ago. In our present global culture we often take the universality of western modern art for granted. This lecture challenges this notion that modernist art outside the West is simply a pale shadow of western modernism. The conviction is not lessened by the recent successes of Indian contemporary art at global art auctions. Through a series of complex arguments the lecture seeks to demonstrate that avant-garde art in India can be understood only in the context of its own cultural imperatives. Of course Indian modernism was not an isolated phenomenon, as shown by its engagement with global ‘primitivism', but this engagement itself became a form of resistance to western industrial capitalism.

Partha Mitter is Emeritus Professor in Art History, University of Sussex and member of Wolfson College, Oxford. In 2008, he was awarded an honorary D.Lit. by the Courtauld Institute, London. He has been Fellow of Clare hall, Cambridge; Mellon Fellow, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton; Radhakrishnan Memorial Lecturer, All Souls College, Oxford; Scholar, Getty Research Institute; Resident Fellow, Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts; Ailsa Mellon Bruce Fellow, Center for Advanced Study in the Visual arts, National Gallery of Art, Washington DC. His books are Much Maligned Monsters: History of European Reactions to Indian Art, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1977 (Chicago Paperback, 1992); Art and Nationalism in Colonial India 1850-1922, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1994; Indian Art, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2002; The Triumph of Modernism: India's artists and the avant-garde, 1922-1947, Reaktion Books, London, 2007. In December 2008, Art Bulletin published his essay, 'Decentering Modernism: Art History and Avant-Garde Art from the Periphery', as part of its Interventions Series.

Time: 6:00pm – 7:30pm
Location: Room 707, International Affairs Bldg., 420 West 118th Street at Amsterdam Avenue

Thursday, March 26 – Brown Bag
"Water: a Conflict of Paradigms"

A talk by Rohini Nilekani
Chairperson, Arghyam and Pratham Books

Nilekani will discuss her experience at Arghyam, which supports water initiatives, and her insight that underlying the failure of many of the efforts to resolve increasing water (and sanitation) issues is a polarized divide about the approaches to these issues. These conflicts over paradigm echo the many conflicts over the sharing of water resources, and over the lack of access to basic water for life and livelihood. Nikelani will share some examples through anecdotes and stories, to open up a discussion on why the issue of water is important to us all, wherever we are in the world, and whichever economic strata we belong to.

Rohini Nilekani is a writer and hands-on philanthropist. She is Founder and Chairperson of Arghyam, which supports initiatives in water, and of Pratham Books, which seeks to democratize the joy of reading for children. She sits on the board of many non-profit and funds efforts in health, environment, and micro-finance. Nilekani writes a fortnightly column for Mint, a financial daily. She recently anchored a TV show, Uncommon Ground, which created a rare dialogue between leaders of corporate and social sectors. In 2008, Forbes named her one of the 48 Asian Heroes of Philanthropy.

Time: 12:30pm – 2:00pm
Location: Room 1510, International Affairs Bldg., 420 West 118th Street at Amsterdam Avenue

Monday, March 30 - South Asia Graduate Student Forum
Presentation by Victor D'Avella, Ph.D. candidate in the Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures Department

"kani punah shabdanushasansya prayojanani? (But what uses does the instruction of words have?): The uses of Sanskrit Grammar from Patanjali to Persian."

ABSTRACT: In this talk I will address two questions: why Sanskrit grammars, in particular Panini's, were composed and secondly, in more detail and with more certainty, to what use they were put. Although grammars are often written to record or preserve a specific form of a language from the unyielding ravages of linguistic change for any number of reasons (religious, political, sentimental, etc.), the dizzying complexity and status of Sanskrit grammar throughout the history of (greater) South Asia compels one ask whether such explanations don't fall short. By examining passages from Patanjali's Mahabhashya, "The Great Commentary," and other later sources such as commentaries on poetry, Vamana's Kavyalamkarasutra, and the Sanskrit-Persian grammar, the Parasiprakasha, of Krishnadasa I hope to shed additional light on the original, idealized, and practical uses of Sanskrit grammar through the ages.

The Forum format is as follows:
20-30 minutes: Presentation
20-30 minutes: Q & A and discussion
60 minutes: Reception (food and drink provided)

The forum is open to all members of the Columbia community. If you have any questions about the forum or are interesting in presenting, please contact the forum coordinator, Audrey Truschke, at aat2120@columbia.edu.

Time: 4:00-6:00 p.m.
Location: Room 1118 International Affairs Building (Middle East Institute), 420 West 118 Street, New York City

Monday, April 6 – Lecture
"Not Just Another Song and Dance Routine: Music, Developmentalism, and the 'Bollywood Effect'"

A talk by Tejaswini Ganti
Assistant Professor of Anthropology
New York University

The commercially oriented Hindi language film industry based in Mumbai, India, more popularly known as "Bollywood" is an important site to understand the circulation and internalization of development discourse and its temporal logics. These logics are most apparent in Hindi filmmakers' ambivalence toward the presence of song and dance sequences, which are perceived as the most distinctive feature of popular Indian cinema. However, rather than being a taken-for-granted feature of Hindi cinema, these sequences are actually a site of tension, debate, and intense negotiation among members of the Hindi film industry. These negotiations reveal how developmentalist attitudes shape the presence and production of a nearly ubiquitous feature of popular culture in India.

Tejaswini Ganti is Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology and its Program in Culture & Media at New York University. She has been conducting ethnographic research about the Bombay film industry since 1996 and is the author of Bollywood: A Guidebook to Popular Hindi Cinema (Routledge 2004). She is currently finishing the book Producing Bollywood (Duke University Press), which examines the social and institutional transformations of the Bombay film industry wrought by India’s program of economic liberalization. She has also produced the documentary, Gimme Somethin’ to Dance to! which explores the significance of bhangra music for South Asians in the U.S. Time: 4:00pm – 6:00pm
Location: Room 1118 International Affairs Building (Middle East Institute), 420 West 118th Street at Amsterdam

Tuesday, April 7 – Brown Bag Talk
"To be Post-post Colonial : Geopolitics and Ideology of Emerging India"

Professor Jean-Luc Racine

Senior Fellow, Centre for South Asian Studies, EHESS Head, International Programme for Advanced Studies
Fondation Maison des Sciences de l'Homme

Moderated by Professor Sudipta Kaviraj, Professor of South Asian Politics and Chair, Department of Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures

From 1947 to the late 1980's, India as been a post-colonial State, building itself largely on the foundations laid by the Nehruvian paradigm. In the Nineties, the policy of economic liberalization and the decision to become open a Nuclear Weapon State outside the global regulatory framework set by the international community marked a major turn. The Congress and the BJP, on these two issues, translated into action a new assertiveness. India started to look at itself and to look at the world differently, and the world started to look differently at India as well. The post-colonial era ended during the Nineties, and India is now a post-post colonial State. Most probably, and despite a serious loss of steam of Indian growth rate, the present global meltdown will not affect this new dynamics, which has implications on a number of issues: the ideology of the decision makers and of the dominant classes, the way to look at the past and the present, the place of India on the moving Asian chessboard, and the global expectations entertained in India for the future. To put it differently, in post-post-colonial times, what could be the Indian dream?

Jean-Luc Racine is senior CNRS Fellow at the Centre for Indian and South Asian Studies, School for Advanced Studies in Social Sciences (EHESS), Paris. His main fields of research are the political, ideological, social and economic dynamics of change in India; India's perceptions of the new world order and her relations with major powers (United States, European Union, China, Russia) as well as with new emerging countries, and South Asian geopolitics, particularly its most strategic issues (Pakistan, India-Pakistan relations and Kashmir).

Time: 12:30pm –2:00pm
Location: Room 1118 International Affairs Building (Middle East Institute), 420 West 118th Street at Amsterdam

Thursday, April 9 - South Asia Graduate Student Forum
Presentation by Zoe Slatoff, Ph.D. candidate in the Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures Department

"The Confluence of Yoga and Ayurveda in the Ayurvedasutram: the Birth of Modern Yoga"

ABSTRACT: Walk into any bookstore today, and you will see Yoga and Ayurveda (the traditional Indian system of medicine) acclaimed as "sister sciences" in contemporary popular literature on the subject. However, though they have common roots in the Vedas, when eventually systematized - sometime around the beginning of the Common Era - they became two distinct disciplines, both in theory and practice. The first and only known Sanskrit text to attempt a synthesis was not until the 16th century in a little-known anonymous work, the Ayurvedasutram,the focal point of my talk. It is my contention that the integration of Yoga and Ayurveda is essential to what we consider Yoga today and thus this text is uniquely foundational. Many Ayurvedic principles of lifestyle and diet have been incorporated into Modern Yoga practice; however, more importantly, it is the principle of living in the world rather than renouncing it, and therefore extending its applicability to the masses, that has contributed to the birth of this most recent incarnation of Yoga.

The Forum format is as follows:
20-30 minutes: Presentation
20-30 minutes: Q & A and discussion
60 minutes: Reception (food and drink provided)

Location: Room 628 Kent Hall
1140 Amsterdam Avenue

The forum is open to all members of the Columbia community. If you have any questions about the forum, please contact the forum coordinator, Audrey Truschke, at aat2120@columbia.edu.

Time: 4:10-6:00 p.m.
Location: Room 628, Kent Hall

Saturday, April 11 - Hindi-Urdu Workshop
WHAT IS A SHAHR-ASHOB? If you think you know, you may be surprised at what you find out. If you don't know, come and consider the options. The annual Hindi-Urdu workshop takes up this surprisingly contentious question of genre and literary history on Saturday April 11th. Join us for lively poetry readings (texts in Urdu and English) and even livelier critical discussion.

Click here, for workshop information and registration form.

Coordinators:
Fran Pritchett and
Pasha Mohamad Khan

Saturday, April 11 - Lecture
"CASTE AFTER AMBEDKAR"

A talk by Nicholas B. Dirks
Vice-President for Arts & Science, Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Science, and Franz Boas Professor of Anthropology and History Introduction by Janaki Bakhle
Associate Professor of South Asian History and Director, South Asia Institute

Time: 10:30am – 12:00pm
Location: Room 1501, International Affairs Bldg., 420 West 118th Street at Amsterdam Avenue

Lecture will be folllowed by workshops organized by the Dr. Ambedkar
International Mission Inc. USA (AIM)
Time: 1:30pm - 4:30pm
Location: Room 1501, International Affairs Bldg., 420 West 118th Street at Amsterdam Avenue

Monday, April 13 - University Seminar
"Global Islam and Local Muslim Identity: Readings from the Colonial Archive"

Teena Purohit
Department of Religion
Boston University

ABSTRACT

This paper analyzes the formations of the nineteenth century Ismaili community of India, as a way of exploring the role of the vernacular in the history of Islam's expansion. The discussion will illustrate how the beliefs and teachings of the Ismaili community were firmly embedded within the diverse cultural practices indigenous to South Asia. The talk will examine how these complex identifications were undermined and reshaped in the nineteenth century, most notably as a result of this community's being categorized as Ismaili Muslim by the British colonial state. The paper offers readings from the devotional texts of the Ismailis to illustrate how the heterogeneous forms of practices peculiar to the vernacular history of Islam in early modern South Asia were displaced by the discourse of religious identity in the colonial period.

The talk will be followed by a no-host dinner (about $25) at Sezz Midi Restaurant (Amsterdam Ave. at 122nd Street)

If you wish to attend the Seminar dinner following Prof. Purohit's talk,please RSVP as soon as possible by notifying our rapporteur, James Hare (email: jph2101@columbia.edu).

Columbia University encourages persons with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities. University Seminar participants with disabilities who anticipate needing accommodations or who have questions about physical access may contact the Office of Disability Services at 212-854-2388 or disability@columbia.edu. Disability accommodations, including sign-language interpreters, are available on request.

Requests for accommodations must be made two weeks in advance. On campus, Seminar participants with disabilities should alert a Public Safety Officer that they need assistance accessing campus.

Time: 4:00pm – 6:00pm
Location: Room 1118 International Affairs Building (Middle East Institute), 420 West 118 Street at Amsterdam Avenue

Monday, April 20 - South Asia Graduate Student Forum
Presentation by Indira Arumugam, Ph.D. Candidate in Anthropology at London School of Economics

"The Politics of Persuasion and the Making of a Modern Politician: Campaigning for the Local Body Elections in Tamil Nadu."

Through the analysis of a heated campaign for the post of PanchayatPresident in 2006 in a village in Tamil Nadu, this paper will reflect on the motivations of voters and the machinations of electioneering strategies. Why do villagers vote the way that they do and what makes a candidate successful? Considering the confluence of free gifts, kinship moralities, massive amounts of money, gossip and a diverting and dramatic spectacle that became the recent campaign, this paper will argue that the village is witnessing the making of a new kind of politics and a new kind of politician.

The forum is open to all members of the Columbia community. If you have any questions about the forum, please contact the 2008-2009 forum coordinator, Audrey Truschke (aat2120@columbia.edu) or the 2009-2010 coordinators, Arthur Dudney (add2115@columbia.edu) and Hamsa Stainton (hms2122@columbia.edu).

Time: 4:00-6:00 p.m.
Location: Room 1118 International Affairs Building (Middle East Institute), 420 West 118 Street at Amsterdam Avenue

Tuesday, April 21 - Books and Authors Series
"Music and Readings from 'The Music Room'" by Namita Devidayal

Please join The South Asia Institute and the South Asian Journalists Association (SAJA) for a very special evening of music and readings from "The Music Room"--the debut and critically acclaimed memoir from Namita Devidayal--a SAJA member from the very beginning. Based in Mumbai, she is on her North American tour with several stops in New York. She will give a short music demonstration followed by a reading and a book signing.

A bestseller and literary sensation in India, Namita Devidayal's memoir "The Music Room" was the winner of the 2008 Crossword Popular Book Award, India's most prestigious book prize (given in 2007 to Kiran Desai's "The Inheritance of Loss"), and shortlisted for the 2008 Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize.

When Devidayal was ten years old, her mother took her to Kennedy Bridge, a seamy neighborhood in Bombay, to study with a music teacher who lived there. Despite her squalid surroundings, the classical singer Dhondutai had inherited riches of a different sort. She is the last living disciple of two of the finest Indian classical singers of the twentieth century: the legendary Alladiya Khan and the great songbird Kesarbai Kerkar. Although she never achieved fame or fortune herself, Dhondutai was now the keeper of the rarest and most unusual compositions of the Jaipur Gharana, a well-known school of Indian classical music.

"The Music Room" is a meditation on how in Indian classical music, artistic traditions and life lessons are passed along generations and how performers sacrifice themselves to their art in a musical practice which in of itself becomes devotional.

Namita Devidayal was born in 1968, and has studied with Dhondutai from the age of 10. She left India to attend Princeton University where she studied politics and then returned to become a journalist with The Times of India in Mumbai. She has covered a range of subjects, including civic issues, the arts, business, and most recently, a wry column on parenting called "Yummy Mummy."

"The Music Room' is essential reading for lovers of Indian music, movingly illuminating the transition of Indian classical music from its confident past to a fragile present."
-- Gita Mehta, author of "A River Sutra" and "Karma Cola"

"A must for every musician and music lover."
-- Ravi Shankar

Time: 6:30-8:30
Location: International Affairs Room 407, 420 W. 118th Street at Amsterdam Avenue

Co-sponsored by South Asian Journalists Association (SAJA)

Monday, April 27 - Distinguished Lecturer
"'Tribes of the criminal kind, Tribes of the criminal mind...'
Denotified Communities and State Policy in India"

Meena Radhakrishna
Associate Professor of Sociology
Dehli School of Economics

From 1871 onwards, the British declared more than 150 Indian nomadic communities as Criminal Tribes. Historical evidence shows this declaration to have been a result of cultural prejudices as much as political exigencies. The self perception of these communities as descendants of "incorrigible, habitual offenders" makes for poignant contemporary history, and feeds into continuing punitive state policy.

Meena Radhakrishna, currently Associate Professor at the Department of Sociology, Delhi School of Economics, had earlier taught at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. She spent an extended period at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library as a Senior Fellow of the Indian Council of Historical Research, and of the University Grants Commission. She is the author of "Dishonoured by History: 'Criminal Tribes' and British Colonial Policy", (2001) which has been recently republished in a paperback version (2008). Her work with the Government of India as Research Director of the National Commission for Denotified and Nomadic Tribes has helped her to balance her historical perspective with contemporary insights. Meena Radhakrishna’s scholarly articles have been included in a number of anthologies relating to colonial anthropology and marginalized groups.

Time: 4:00-5:30 p.m.
Location: Room 1512 International Affairs Building, 420 West 118 Street at Amsterdam Avenue

Tuesday, April 28 - Books and Authors Series
Journalist Arif Jamal on his new book "Shadow War: the Untold Story of Jihad in Kashmir"

For nearly sixty years, India and Pakistan have battled over the territory of Kashmir, and have fought three wars. Jamal's book documents another war that has been fought in the shadows. Having interviewed nearly a thousand militants in Kashmir, Arif Jamal presents an account of Pakistan's secret battles with India from the early 1980s, when the Kashmiri conflict lurked in the background of the CIA's proxy war in Afghanistan, to the eruption of insurgent violence in 1988, to recent Kashmiri connections to terrorist financing and training. In his book, Jamal claims that the Pakistani military has trained nearly half a million insurgents and, as a matter of defense policy, continued the conflict at great human cost. He discusses how CIA money destined for the Afghan mujahideen was funneled to Kashmiri jihadis, fueling to a twenty-year insurgency rarely discussed in Western media.

Arif Jamal is a Visiting Fellow at the Center on International Cooperation of the New York University. Jamal has written more than 200 investigative and interpretive articles in English, focusing on such subjects as Islamist politics in Pakistan, jihad in Kashmir, and the Pakistan Army. Arif Jamal began his professional career in Pakistan in 1986 as a journalist and has since worked with The Pakistan Times, The Muslim, The News, Newsline and Financial Post; and with various international media including The New York Times, Radio France International, and The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. He holds a Masters in International Relations and has been a fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard and at the University of London, where he performed research activities on modern Salafism and Salafist jihad in South Asia and its links to Salafism in Saudi Arabia.

Time: 12:30pm - 2:00pm
Location: 1118 International Affairs Building, 420 West 118th Street at Amsterdam Avenue
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