CGIS Knafel, K262
1737 Cambridge Street
Cambridge MA 02138
Joint Seminar on South Asian Politics
Emmerich Davies Escobar, Assistant Professor of Education, Harvard University Graduate School of Education
Bryce Millett Steinberg, Postdoctoral Fellow in International and Public Affairs, Brown University
Chair: Ashutosh Varshney, Sol Goldman Professor of Political Science and International and Public Affairs, Director of the Brown-India Initiative
Cosponsored with the Center for Contemporary South Asia at the Watson Institute at Brown University, the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, and the MIT Center for International Studies
Graduate Student Associate Seminar
Hardeep Dhillon, PhD Candidate, Dept. of History, Harvard University; SAI Graduate Student Associate
Sunil Amrith, Mehra Family Professor of South Asian Studies, Harvard University
Sugata Bose, Gardiner Professor of Oceanic History and Affairs, Harvard University
In the early twentieth century, immigration from Asia to the U.S. propelled local, national, and global questions on race, labor, imperialism, and citizenship. This talk will present a microhistory of these events.
South Asia Without Borders Seminar
Dr Anastasia Piliavsky, Fellow and Director of Studies in Social Anthropology at Girton College, Cambridge; Director of Studies in Social Anthropology at Newnham College, Cambridge; Newton-Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, CRASSH, Cambridge
Chair: Ajantha Subramanian, Professor of Anthropology and South Asian Studies, Harvard University
It is the central article of faith in Western political theory that democracy is an inherently egalitarian form. But in northern India democracy is decidedly hierarchical, both in practice and in local normative imagination. People look to hierarchical relations with politicians as a source of political responsibility, as the lever they use to get politicians to do what they wish to be done. Far from disempowering and humiliating, here voters see hierarchical ties of dependency as their chief political resource. Grasping the ‘vertical’ dimension of India’s democracy helps us not only to better understand the country’s politics, but also to rethink some of our deepest convictions about democracy, anywhere in the world.
*Please note the date and location change.
Presented by the South Asia Across Disciplines Workshop
Mrinalini Sinha, Alice Freeman Palmer Professor of History; Professor (by courtesy) of English and Women’s Studies; Senior Fellow, Michigan Society of Fellows (2015-), University of Michigan
Sunil Amrith, Mehra Family Professor of South Asian Studies, Professor of History
Mou Banerjee, PhD Candidate, Dept. of History, Harvard University
Cosponsored by the South Asia Across Disciplines Workshop and the W. E. B. Du Bois Research Institute
The indentured labor system, which had been put in place in the aftermath of Atlantic slavery to replace emancipated African slaves with indentured Indians on colonial plantations overseas, came under widespread attack by the early decades of the 20th century. M.K. Gandhi’s involvement in the movement for the abolition of indenture, or what following the abolition of Atlantic slavery has been called the “second abolition,” helped launch his political career in India. Yet the campaign against indenture occupies an obscure and undigested role in the scholarship on Gandhi and on modern India. What might it mean to restore abolitionism to its role in the advent of Gandhi’s career in India? What might abolitionism tell us about Gandhi’s signature concepts of swaraj and satyagraha? This talk will shed light on the abolition movement in India and explore its implications for understanding Gandhi’s politics.
Tarun Khanna, Director, SAI, Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor, Harvard Business School
Cosponsored with the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies
Arts at SAI Seminar
Devdutt Pattanaik, Author, Mythologist, Artist (@devduttmyth)
Chair: Gokul Madhavan, Preceptor in Sanskrit, Department of South Asian Studies, Harvard University
Can you imagine a cross-dressing God? Hindus can, and have, for over a thousand years. Did this express a universal social reality or was this a highly refined metaphor for a few remains a matter of speculation and fierce debate. But no one can deny that in Hindu holy books and temple imagery when God descends on earth to be the ‘complete man’, it involves incorporating the feminine. Such queer ideas extend themselves to Buddhist and Jain stories too, making it not just a Hindu idea but generally an Indic idea. Through shifts in gender, the fluid nature of the world was shared by the sages to help people expand (brah) their mind (mana). Come experience the stories and ideas they shared through art through Devdutt Pattanaik’s brilliant and unique sketches!
An exhibit of the same name will be on view February 2 – March 23, 2016 at the CGIS Knafel Concourse, 1737 Cambridge Street, Cambridge MA 02138
Cosponsored with the Arts Connect International, Asia Center, Carr Center, India GSD, LAMBDA at Harvard Law, Harvard India Student Group, South Asia Institute, and the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs.
Watch an interview with Devdutt Pattanaik:
Basir Mahmood, Visiting Artist, SAI Arts Program
Chair: Jennifer Leaning, François-Xavier Bagnoud Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights; Director, FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, Department of Global Health and Population, Harvard School of Public Health
Basir Mahmood, recipient of South Asia Institute 2015 Emerging Artist Award, will be offering insights into his practice as he has developed over the last few years, and will attempt to meaningfully engage audiences to mutually construct new narratives around his works. Using video, film or photographs, Mahmood’s work weaves together various threads of thoughts, findings and insights into poetic sequences, building various forms of narratives. In order to engage with situations around him, he ponders upon embedded social and historical terrains of the ordinary, as well as his personal milieu.
In “My father” 2010, an upright sewing needle appears in sharp focus as the blurred image of an old man attempting to thread the needle fills the screen. The agonizing process evokes a sense of humility and empathy through a personal connection suggested by means of the work’s title, as the man fails each attempt at the task. His work titled “Missing Letters” revolves around a collection of ashes from Returned Letter Office (RLO) at Pakistan Post Office, Lahore. Prior to Pakistan’s independence, and during the British Raj era, the RLO was known as “Dead Letters Office”, wherein undelivered letters were kept for thirty days before eventually being burnt. In this work, Mahmood drew some of the ashes of burnt undelivered letters, and reduced these ashes to the point where they cannot be burned anymore.
Basir’s work is currently on display at the SAI office on the 4th floor of CGIS South, 1730 Cambridge Street.
The Arts at SAI initiative connects South Asia’s curators, museum administrators, artists, and art educators with Harvard faculty and students to support activity and research that advance understanding and appreciation of the tapestry of South Asian art and the heritage that defines its voice in the world.
SAI Special Event
This summer, with support from Harvard’s President’s Innovation Fund for International Experiences, SAI ran an 8-week summer program in India for Harvard College students to explore the potential of mobile technology to enable economic and social mobility, which combined academic coursework and experiential learning. The program culminated in a final project, which the students will present on campus at this interactive event, with feedback from the faculty leaders.
Diane Jung, Human Development and Regenerative Biology, Harvard College ‘17
Kais Khimji, Social Studies, Harvard College, ‘17
Pradeep Niroula, Government, Harvard College ‘18
Eshaan Patheria, Applied Math & Computer Science, Harvard College ‘18
Satchit Balsari, FXB Research Fellow, FXB Center for Health and Human Rights; Director, Weill Cornell Medical College Global Emergency Medicine Program
Malavika Jayaram, Fellow, Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University; Fellow, Centre for Internet and Society, Bangalore
Tarun Khanna, Director of the South Asia Institute; Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor, Harvard Business School
JP Onnela, Assistant Professor at the Department of Biostatistics, Harvard School of Public Health
SAI South Asia Without Borders Seminar
Chandan Gowda, Professor of Sociology, Azim Premji University
Chair: Parimal G. Patil, Professor of Religion and Indian Philosophy, Committee on the Study of Religion, FAS, Chair of the Department of South Asian Studies
Kuvempu (1904-1994), the famous Kannada literary figure, observed, “The Veda is an unfinished book.” Influenced by the vedantic thought of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Swami Vivekananda, and Sri Aurobindo, Kuvempu did not consider the Vedas and the Upanishads as texts of Brahminical orthodoxy; instead, for him, they constituted India’s common spiritual heritage that both provided moral guidance and allowed for their own renewal in relation to contemporary politics. Kuvempu’s critiques of caste and religious orthodoxy were inseparable from his concerns with reconstructing the “Bharatiya” philosophical heritage. This paper reconstructs Kuvempu’s ethics of self-making and their epistemic and social significance through an examination of his ideal of Vishvamanava (“Universal Human”) and its embodiment in a few of his writings and in Mantra Mangalya, a new form of marriage that he introduced in 1966.