Sanjay Srivastava,Professor of Sociology, JNU, Delhi
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
This paper focuses upon new urban developments in India and suggests that an ethnographic account of this context provides fruitful insights into contemporary relationships between the state, the ‘people’ and capital. The paper is organized around historical and ethnographic accounts of the privately developed DLF City in the North Indian state of Haryana. DLF City borders Delhi and is part of an area known as the National capital Region (NCR). In principle, a government body known as the National capital Region Planning Board is meant to oversee coordinated infrastructure and other forms of planning processes for the Region. In practice, urban processes within the NCR depend upon erratic relationships between real estate behemoths, the state and a variety of residents associations. This discussion proceeds through introducing the concepts of ‘post-national modernity’ and ‘moral consumption’. These, I suggest, allow us to explore the relationships noted above, as well as allowing for a tracking of the contours of a state formation that is part of the informality it seeks to banish. The discussion also outlines some of the ways in which new forms of urban citizenship emerge through the changing relationships suggested above, as well those that are submerged.
Dr. Yaaminey Mubayi, Culture and Community Development
Chair: Jinah Kim, Assistant Professor of History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University
Water as an essential resource for the evolution of human settlements throughout history, has thus far escaped the attention of scholars of history in South Asia. Contemporary research relating to the subject largely involves the examination of policy frameworks governing access to and distribution of water resources on the one hand, as well as fixating on the colonial period as a “watershed” dividing pre-modern water management systems from colonial and post-colonial policies seeking to control the use of water by communities. Both perspectives view the actual element, its presence in nature and forms of access by human agency, in an instrumental manner, reducing it to “fit in” as it were, into pre-determined political and disciplinary frameworks and arguments.
This seminar will offer a different perspective to the study of water and human history. It will focus on a historically settled and culturally active region of South Asia, i.e. Ellora-Khuldabad-Daulatabad in the Marathwada region of the Indian Deccan Plateau. It will seek to examine the ecological features of the region as underpinning the historical and cultural development of the political, socio-economic and cultural systems intrinsic to the area. Ellora-Khuldabad-Daulatabad, lying within a 10 km radius in Aurangabad district, are richly populated by historic sites such as the Ellora Cave complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Daulatabad Fort as also numerous smaller temples, pilgrimage centres, ashrams, Sufi dargahs and historic tanks (kunds). The theme for the region is set by the numerous water features, streams, rivulets, man-made reservoirs, temple tanks and historic state-sponsored waterworks. The micro-watershed of Khuldabad Taluka, within which the study area is located, provides an appropriate context for the evolution of human settlements in the region since pre-historic times.
Narendar Pani,Professor, National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore, India
Chair: Sai Balakrishnan, Assistant Professor in Urban Planning, Harvard University Graduate School of Design
The challenge of combating caste discrimination in India has generated two quite different approaches. There has been a radical view that the caste system can be made to disappear through, to use Ambedkar’s terminology, its annihilation. In contrast, there were approaches such as that of Gandhi as well as the first attempts at affirmative action in the princely state of Mysore in 1921, which allowed for the possible resilience of the institution and hence focused on ensuring greater equality between castes. This talk will begin by arguing that political reality has lent its weight, for better or for worse, to the idea of the resilience of caste. If we look at three important dimensions of caste – identity, power and discrimination – there is evidence of change but not necessarily a decline in importance. It will then explore the nature of this resilience in the face of global influences, using evidence from one of the Indian cities most impacted by globalization, Bangalore.
Priyasha Saksena,SJD Candidate, Harvard Law School; SAI Graduate Student Associate
Chair: Samuel Moyn, Professor of Law, Harvard Law School
This talk focuses on jurisdictional disputes between the Indian princely states and the British Government in late nineteenth-century South Asia to flesh out both the role played by international law in the definition and contestation of the relationship between the princely states and the British Government, as well as the influence of such disputes on the development of international law ideas. In particular, the talk will examine the influence of the historical school of jurisprudence on the development of the idea of sovereignty. Focusing on jurisdictional disputes will enable us to understand that the rhetoric of inclusion-exclusion, along with the idea of legal evolution, was core to late nineteenth century international law.
Suraj Yengde, Associate, Dept of African and African American Studies, Harvard University
Chair: Ajantha Subramanian, Professor of Anthropology and South Asian Studies at Harvard University.
Rohith Chakravarti Vemula was an Indian PhD student at the Hyderabad Central University. His suicide on 17 January 2016 sparked protests and outrage from across India and gained widespread media attention as an alleged case of discrimination against Dalits and backward classes in India.
Her first book Coolie Woman: The Odyssey of Indenture was shortlisted for the 2014 Orwell Book Prize and won the 2014 Gordon K. and Sybil Lewis Prize. The book provides a stunning analysis of indentured servitude while raising critical questions regarding the relationship between history and literature, space, indentured servitude, slavery, free labor, and migration, gender, etc.