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Past Events of Spring 2011

Monday, January 24 – South Asia Graduate Student Forum
A talk by Patton Burchett (Department of Religion)

"Two Hanumans in One: Rasiks and Yogis in Early Modern Bhakti"

This paper focuses on the Ramanandi sampraday, particularly the lineage of Krishnadas Payahari at Galta (outside modern-day Jaipur), in order to analyze several developments that were characteristic of the early modern north Indian religious sphere. As “the bhakti movement” spread across Mughal India, a broad shift occurred from Shaiva-Shakta religion to Vaishnava bhakti, both at the level of royal patronage and popular practice and support. Linked to this trend of “Vaishnavization” was an increasingly noticeable confrontation between the perspective of yogic-tantric asceticism and that of selfless devotion to an all-powerful God. This paper seeks to better understand the relationships between bhakti, tantra, and yoga--between sedentary, literature-producing rasiks and itinerant, warrior ascetics--in the early modern period. It does so through a discussion of (a) the historical memory of the Ramanandi saint Krishnadas Payahari and his two main disciples, Kilha and Agradas, and (b) the role of Hanuman in the Ramanandi sampraday in the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries. As I will demonstrate, in the remembered lives of Payahari, Kilha, and Agra, we see clear evidence of the growth of two different if related bhakti paths, one more yogic and tapas-oriented and the other more devotional and rasa-oriented. The figure that most often mediated the tension between devotion (bhakti) and tantric influenced asceticism and power (sakti) was, of course, the monkey-god Hanuman. In seeing how Ramanandis variously conceived and approached Hanuman we will gain insight into the different styles of attitude and practice that made up not only their sampraday, but much of the larger bhakti tradition of early modern north India.

The Forum format is as follows: 20-30 minutes, Presentation; 20-30 minutes, Q & A and Discussion; 60 minutes: Reception. The Forum is open to all members of the Columbia community. If you have any questions about the Forum or are interested in presenting (graduate students only please), contact one of the Forum co-coordinators, Simranjeet Singh (sjs2180@columbia.edu) and Nabila Pirani (np2347@columbia.edu).

Time: 4:00pm – 5:30pm
Location: Knox Hall, Room 208, 606 West 122nd Street, between Broadway and Claremont Avenue

Tuesday, February 1 – Distinguished Lecturer Series
EVENT CANCELED
The Lecture by Elinor Ostrom on February 1 has been canceled due to inclement weather.
We plan to reschedule the event at a later date to be announced.

A talk by 2009 Nobel Laureate Elinor Ostrom (Indiana)

"The Challenge of Community Governance of Resources in Nepal."

Co-sponsored by
Center for Environmental Research and Conservation
Department of Ecology, Evolution & Environmental Biology
Program for Economic Research

Elinor Ostrom is appointed as Distinguished Professor, Arthur F. Bentley Professor of Political Science, and Senior Research Director at the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis (which she co-founded in 1973), at Indiana University in Bloomington. At Arizona State University, Ostrom is the Founding Director of the Center for the Study of Institutional Diversity. She earned her Ph.D. in Political Science from UCLA, and has been honored with numerous awards, prizes, and academic honors in the course of her career. In 2009, Dr. Ostrom received the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel "for her analysis of economic governance, especially the commons." The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences cited Ostrom's research as having "brought the topic from the fringe to the forefront of scientific attention ... by showing how common resources - forests, fisheries, oil fields, or grazing lands - can be managed successfully by the people who use them, rather than by governments or private companies."

To register for this event, please visit the Center for Environmental Research and Conservation (CERC) website.
(Note: the CERC registration process may activate slowly.)
For questions about this event, please contact wac2112@columbia.edu.

Time: 4:00pm – 5:30pm
Location: 1501 International Affairs Building, 420 West 118th Street at Amsterdam Avenue

Monday, Feb 28 – Distinguished Lecturer Series
A talk by Cynthia Talbot (University of Texas, Austin

"Justifying Defeat: Rajput Honor in the Age of Akbar"

This talk explores Rajput responses to Mughal conquest by means of a case study of Hada Surjan of Bundi, a Rajput warrior who was defeated in battle and subsequently inducted into the imperial service. Surjan's surrendering of Ranthambhor fort to Akbar in 1569 was an event celebrated in Mughal chronicles such as Akbar Nama, but condemned in Nainsi’s Khyat and other Rajput texts. How it was perceived by Surjan’s own lineage can be gleaned through analysis of Surjanacaritra-mahakavyam, a biographical poem composed shortly after Surjan’s death in the mid 1590s. It seeks to reconcile traditional Rajput values which extolled fighting to death with the changed circumstances of an imperial age. Particularly striking are the text’s descriptions of Surjan’s lavish religious patronage at Mathura and Kashi, sites where Raja Man Singh and other mansabdars of Akbar also made munificient gifts. This suggests that high-ranking Hindus who served the Mughal emperors purposefully deployed a classical model of kingly behavior that could supercede the demands of warrior honor.

Cynthia Talbot is Associate Professor, Department of Asian Studies, University of Texas at Austin. She earned her PhD at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Her research interests include the social and cultural history of medieval and early modern India (ca. 1000-1750); historiography and historical memories, and Hindu-Muslim relations. She has been a fellow with the National Endowment for the Humanities, Guggenheim Foundation, and the American Council of Learned Societies. Talbot is the author of Precolonial India in Practice: Society, Region, and Identity in Medieval Andhra (2001); co-author of India Before Europe (2006); and editor of the forthcoming volume Changing Conceptions of South Asia's Past.

Time: 4:00pm – 5:30pm
Location: Knox Hall, Room 208, 606 West 122nd Street, between Broadway and Claremont Avenue

Thursday, March 3 - Lecture
"As Lord Siva hunts the deer: Kalidasa's use of poetic elements from the Mahabharata"
A talk by Ram Karan Sharma

Sponsored by MESAAS (Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies, Columbia University)

Professor Ram Karan Sharma is an eminent scholar and educator, Sanskrit poet, translator, editor, and author. After a traditional gurukula education, Dr. Sharma earned his M.A. (Sanskrit and Hindi) from Patna University in his native Bihar, and Sahityacharya, Vyakarana Shastri and Vedanta Shastri degrees from the Bihar Sanskrit Association. As a Fulbright scholar, he came to the U.S. and earned a Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of California, Berkeley, under the guidance of Murray B. Emeneau.

Professor Sharma has taught, written, translated and promoted Sanskrit for over 50 years. He served as Vice Chancellor of two prominent Sanskrit universities in India and as the long-time president of the International Association of Sanskrit Studies. He has held visiting professorships at the University of Chicago, Columbia University, and UC Berkeley, and is currently visiting the University of Pennsylvania. He is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the President's Award (India) and the Krishna Kanta Handique Memorial Award. As a scholar and humanitarian, Professor Sharma is interested in the unifying aspects of Sanskrit and other classical traditions of the world. The Library of Congress has twenty-one works by Dr. Sharma.

Time: 11:00am-12:30pm
Location: Room 501 International Affairs Building (IAB), 420 West 118th Street at Amsterdam Avenue

Monday, March 7 – South Asia Graduate Student Forum
A talk by Andrew Ollett
(Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies)

"Metrics and the History of the Natyashastra"

The Natyashastra is the fundamental text on Indian dramaturgy and related subjects, from aesthetics to dialectology. But the text is often confusing, and its role in literary and intellectual history far from clear, owing to circumstances of its compilation and transmission about which we know relatively little. The two sections of Sanskrit and Prakrit meters, however, provide some important indirect evidence for those circumstances: the form of the definitions, the content of the examples, the sequence of meters, their treatment in the only surviving commentary, and the sources of the text can help us to understand the processes by which this important text took shape.

The Forum format is as follows: 20-30 minutes: Presentation; 20-30 minutes: Q & A and Discussion; 60 minutes: Reception

The Forum is open to all members of the Columbia community. If you have any questions about the Forum or are interested in presenting (graduate students only please), contact one of the Forum co-coordinators, Simranjeet Singh (sjs2180@columbia.edu) and Nabila Pirani (np2347@columbia.edu).

Time: 4:00pm – 5:30pm
Location: Knox Hall, Room 208, 606 West 122nd Street, between Broadway and Claremont Avenue

Monday, March 21 – South Asia Graduate Student Forum
A talk by Simranjeet Singh (Department of Religion)

"Re-Textualizing Sheikh Farid: Anamnetic Authorship in 17th Century Punjab"

Abstract: This paper explores the ways in which oral and written texts have been transmitted across linguistic communities of premodern Punjab. It will focus specifically on the understudied but critically important personage of Sheikh Farid ad-Din Masud "Ganj-e-Shakkar" (d. 1265 CE). Popularly known as Sheikh Farid or Baba Farid, this figure continues to be revered for his contributions to the religious and cultural milieu of South Asia. This paper will look at representations of Sheikh Farid through two closely connected Gurmukhi texts - the Adi Granth, which was compiled in 1604 by the Sikh community, and a hagiography entitled Masle Sheikh Farid Ke, which was composed in the middle of the 17th century by the Mina community. With the help of Christian Novetzke's recent work on Saint Namdev and Christopher Shackle's linguistic analysis of Southwestern Punjabi, this paper aims to explore the transmission of writings ascribed to Sheikh Farid through orality, performance, textualization, and "anamnetic authorship," while also shedding light on three underrepresented entities - Sheikh Farid, the Mina tradition, and Masle Sheikh Farid Ke.

Time: 4:00pm – 5:30pm
Location: Knox Hall, Room 208, 606 West 122nd Street, between Broadway and Claremont Avenue

Monday, March 28 - University Seminar
A talk by Shehzad Nadeem (Lehman College)

"Dead Ringers: How Outsourcing is Changing the Way Indians Understand Themselves"

Abstract: In the Indian outsourcing industry, employees are expected to be "dead ringers" for the more expensive American workers they have replaced -- complete with Westernized names, accents, habits, and lifestyles that are organized around a foreign culture in a distant time zone. Professor Nadeem's new book, Dead Ringers, chronicles the rise of a workforce for whom mimicry is a job requirement and a passion. In the process, Professor Nadeem explores the complications of hybrid lives and presents a vivid portrait of a workplace where globalization carries as many downsides as advantages.

Shehzad Nadeem is Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, at Lehman College, City University of New York.

The talk will be followed by a no-host dinner (about $24) at *Faculty House. If you wish to attend the Seminar Dinner following Prof. Nadeem's talk, please RSVP as soon as possible by notifying the Seminar rapporteur, Drew Thomases (email: djt2113@columbia.edu).

Time: 4:00-6:00pm
Location: Room 1, Faculty House, 64 Morningside Drive (between 116th – 118th Streets)
*Directions to the meeting at Faculty House:
http://facultyhouse.columbia.edu/content/contact-us-new-york-event-and-reception-venue#Directions

Monday, April 4 – Lecture
A talk by Chris Fuller (London School of Economics)

"Science, Culture and Caste Identity among the Brahmans of Tamilnadu"

Chris Fuller is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the London School of Economics. His first fieldwork (1971-2) was in Kerala among the Nayars and the Syrian Christians. In 1976, Fuller began twenty-five years of field research in the great temple of Madurai, to study the priests, whose lives changed radically during that time, and to research the temple's highly elaborate ritual cycle. From 2003-5, with colleagues at LSE, Fuller participated in a major research project on regionalism, nationalism and globalisation in India, for which his research focused on middle-class company managers and software professionals in the city of Chennai. From 2005-8, with Haripriya Narasimhan, he carried out a project on a group of Tamil Brahmans, focusing on this traditional elite's modern transformation into a migratory, urbanised, trans-national community. Fuller has researched and written extensively on popular Hinduism and Hindu nationalism, the caste system, the anthropology of the state and other topics. His publications include Servants of the goddess: The priests of a South Indian temple (1984 and 1991); The renewal of the priesthood: Modernity and traditionalism in a South Indian temple (2004); The camphor flame: Popular Hinduism and Indian society (2004); and the co-edited volume Globalizing India: Perspectives from below (2005).

Time: 4:00pm – 5:30pm
Location: Knox Hall, Room 208, 606 West 122nd Street, between Broadway and Claremont Avenue

Monday, April 11 - Lecture
A talk by Ira Bhaskar (Jawaharlal Nehru University)

"Partition, Communalism and Indian Cinema"

Co-sponsored by the Film Studies Program, Columbia School of the Arts

Ira Bhaskar is Associate Professor of Cinema Studies at the School of Arts and Aesthetics at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. She received her PhD from New York University. She has been Visiting Faculty at the University of Pavia, Italy, at the Mass Communication Research Centre at Jamia Millia Islamia University, at the Film and Television Institute at Pune, at Whistling Woods International Film School, Bombay and at the School of Convergence, New Delhi. She has critical interests in "historical poetics," cinematic forms including melodrama, cinema and modern subjectivities, literature and film, and historical trauma, violence, memory and representation. She has published on narrative poetics, adaptation, and nationalism and cinema. Bhaskar is co-author of Islamicate Cultures of Bombay Cinema (2009). Her current projects include an edited volume, Ritwik Ghatak's Partition Quartet and a book on "Historical Trauma, Memory and Representation in Indian cinema."

Time: 4:30pm - 6:00pm
Location: Knox Hall, Room 208, 606 West 122nd Street, between Broadway and Claremont Avenue

Saturday, April 16: Hindi-Urdu workshop
"Mulla Da'ud's CHANDAYAN: the First Work of Hindi Literature?"

The workshop is sponsored by the South Asia Institute and the Department of Middle East, South Asian, and African Studies at Columbia University. It is free and open to the public, but advance registration is required. To register, or for more information, please visit the workshop website.

Follow the link here to visit the workshop website.

Time: 10am - 3:30pm
Location: Knox Hall, Room 208, 606 West 122nd Street, between Broadway and Claremont Avenue









Monday, April 18 – Film Screening and Discussion
Tanvir Ka Safarnama (2008)

Followed by a discussion with director Ranjan Kamath and Shayoni Mitra (Barnard College)

Working with unschooled, uneducated villagers, living together as a family over 50 years, Habib Tanvir's Naya Theatre has produced adaptations of folklore, Shakespeare, Brecht, Tanvir's own plays, and Indian Sanskrit classics for audiences around the world. The documentary Tanvir Ka Safarnama follows Habib Tanvir and his Naya Theatre troupe on the road over two years from Europe to his homeland in Chhattisgarh.

Ranjan Kamath graduated in Political Science at St. Xaviers' College, Calcutta and completed post-graduate work at the London International Film School in 1989, with a Distinction in Cinematography. His professional theatre career started in Calcutta's theatre and music world, as an actor, stage and lighting designer. He has worked with numerous theatre companies including the Royal Shakespeare Co., National Theatre, Cambridge Theatre Co., Watermill Theatre (UK) and Trinity Square Repertory Co (US). For two decades he has been working both as cinematographer and director on feature documentaries and television series for PBS, BBC, Channel Four, National Geographic and Discovery Channel. As a producer and director, his feature documentaries include Fishers of Men, The Die Is Caste, Tam Bram in a Jazz Jam and Tanvir Ka Safarnama.

Shayoni Mitra is Assistant Professor in the Theatre Department at Barnard College. She received her BA and MA in English from St. Stephen's College, Delhi University, and her MA and PhD in Performance Studies from the Tisch School of the Arts, New York University. Mitra has taught at Brown University and NYU. Her theatre experience includes facilitating workshops on Theatre for Social Change and Theatre of the Oppressed in Rhode Island and New York (2005-2009), and performing in proscenium and street theatre shows with Jana Nayta Manch in New Delhi (2000-2003).

Time: 4:00pm – 5:30pm
Location: Knox Hall, Room 208, 606 West 122nd Street, between Broadway and Claremont Avenue

Thursday, April 21 - Barbara Stoler Miller Lecture
A talk by Ayesha Jalal (Tufts University)

"Striving for Beauty: Poetics and Ethics in Muslim History"

Ayesha Jalal is the Mary Richardson Professor of History at Tufts University where she teaches in the History Department and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and serves as Director, Center for South Asian and Indian Ocean Studies. Jalal obtained her doctorate in history from Cambridge University, and has taught at the University of Wisconsin-Madison as well as Tufts, Columbia, and Harvard Universities. She has been Fellow at Trinity College and the Centre of South Asian Studies at Cambridge, Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, and the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies. Dr. Jalal was a MacArthur Fellow, 1998-2003.

Her publications include The Sole Spokesman: Jinnah, the Muslim League and the Demand for Pakistan (1985 and 1994); The State of Martial Rule: the Origins of Pakistan's Political Economy of Defence (1990) and Democracy and Authoritarianism in South Asia: a Comparative and Historical Perspective (1995); Self and Sovereignty: the Muslim Individual and the Community of Islam in South Asia since c.1850 (2000-01); and Partisans of Allah: Jihad in South Asia (2008). Dr. Jalal co-authored Modern South Asia: History, Culture and Political Economy (1998) with Sugata Bose.

Time: 4:00pm – 5:30pm
Location: Knox Hall, Room 509, 606 West 122nd Street, between Broadway and Claremont Avenue

Monday, April 25 - University Seminar
A talk by Kanchan Chandra

Title to be announced.

Kanchan Chandra is Associate Professor of Politics at New York University. She received her PhD from Harvard in 2000. Chandra is the author of Why Ethnic Parties Succeed (2004) and the forthcoming Constructivist Theories of Ethnic Politics. Her research interests include Comparative Ethnic Politics, Democratic Theory, Political Parties and Elections, Violence, Comparative Research Methods, and Political Economy. She has been a fellow at the National Science Foundation, United States Institute of Peace, Guggenheim Foundation, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioural Sciences, and the Carnegie Foundation.

The talk will be followed by a no-host dinner (about $24) at *Faculty House. If you wish to attend the Seminar Dinner following Prof. Chandra's talk, please RSVP as soon as possible by notifying the Seminar rapporteur, Drew Thomases (email: djt2113@columbia.edu).

Time: 4:00-6:00pm
Location: Room 1, Faculty House, 64 Morningside Drive (between 116th – 118th Streets)
*Directions to the meeting at Faculty House:
http://facultyhouse.columbia.edu/content/contact-us-new-york-event-and-reception-venue#Directions

Thursday, April 28 - Lecture
A talk by Ranjani Mazumdar (Jawaharlal Nehru University)

"Aviation, Tourism, and Love in 1960s Bombay Cinema"

Co-sponsored by the Film Studies Program, Columbia School of the Arts and Barnard College.

Ranjani Mazumdar is Associate Professor of Cinema Studies at the School of Arts & Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University. She received her PhD from New York University. Her publications focus on urban cultures, popular cinema, gender and the cinematic city. She is the author of Bombay Cinema: An Archive of the City (2007). Mazumdar has worked as a documentary filmmaker and is a founding member of Mediasorm, India's first women's film collective, which received the Chameli Devi Jain Award for outstanding media professionals among women. Mazumdar's documentaries include, Delhi Diary 2001, on violence, memory and the city, The Power of the Image (co-directed) a television series on Bombay Cinema, and Prisoner of Gender, which won the second prize at an International Television documentary festival. Mazumdar has been a visiting fellow at Princeton University, a British Academy Fellow at the University of Westminster, and visiting faculty at New York University, Jamia Millia Islamia University and at the Film and Television Institute, Pune. Her current research focuses on film in the 1960s, globalization and film culture, and the visual culture of film posters.

Time: 5:15pm- 6:45pm
Location: DIA Room 501, Diana Center, Barnard College, 2009 Broadway between 116th and 120th Street.
Entrance to Barnard College campus is at 117th Street at Broadway
For Directions, see Morningside Heights campus map at http://www.columbia.edu/content/maps.html
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