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SAI Event Type : Conferences and Symposiums

Sun, January 20, 2019 at 10:00am to
Tue, January 22, 2019 at 04:30pm  /  Yalamaya Kendra: Patan Dhoka: Lalitpur

Hinduism in Nepal: The Ritual Dimension

As part of the Nepal Studies Program, Professor Michael Witzel will lead a conference titled “Hinduism in Nepal: The Ritual Dimension.” Ritual has played a major role in Hindu societies, from the Vedas to modern times, and it has been particularly prominent in Nepalese society. It accompanies individuals from morning until night, from birth to death, and it shapes the customs of society throughout the year. This conference will explore some of the rituals, past and present, that are typical for Nepal. Stress is put on the extensive documentation that has been carried out over the past few decades. This conference will focus mainly on fire rituals, including Agnihotra, Homa, and more.

This conference is hosted with the support of the Nepal Leadership Academy (NLA). NLA builds leadership capacity in young change-agents—who are guided by the shared values of collaborating, innovating, and serving and the shared principles of community, justice, and sustainability—to architect effective policy, business, and civic solutions that tackle the most grueling adaptive challenges.

The reception on January 21 is provided by Himalayan Children’s Charities. Through quality education and mentorship, this organization provides the under-served youth of Nepal the pathways to become the next generation of professionals, leaders, and change makers.

Conference schedule:


10:00–10:15 AM  Registration, coffee and tea

10:15–10:20 AM  Inauguration
Jayaraj Acharya, Former Nepalese Ambassador to the UN

10:20–11:15 AM  Introduction and Historical Overview of Hindu Fire Rituals (with films 1975–1985)
Michael Witzel, Professor, Harvard University

11:15–12:15 PM The Agnishala and Its Rituals: Filming the Agnimatha Rituals (1992/2004 with film fragments)
Bal Gopal Shrestha

12:15–2:00 PM  Lunch

2:00–3:00 PM  The Dynamics of Rituals at Agnimatha
Abhas Rajopadhyaya

3:00–3:45 PM  The Agnihotra at Pashupatinath (with film 2014)
François Voegeli

3:45-4:00 PM  Tea

4:00 PM  The Pavitrarohana in the Temples of the Kathmandu Valley (Agnimatha and Changu Narayan)
Om Dh. Rajopadhyaya


10:00–11:00 AM  Newar Ritual Calendar: New Methodology, New Discovery
Gautamavajra Vajracharya

11:00–12:00 PM  Reflections on the Patan Agnimatha through its Arundhati Tradition
Nutandhar Sharma

12:00–2:00 PM  Lunch

2:00–3:00 PM  Agnihotra Timings, Mantras and Oblations
Shiva Raj Panta and Dibya Chandra Acharya

3:00–4:30 PM  Lalitpur Aginmathako Sanskritik Sandharva
Nijiros Shrestha

4:30-4:45 PM  Tea

4:45–5:30 PM  The Buddhist Shantihoma
Manjushree Bajracharya (Rajguruju) and Dipendra Bajracharya

5:30 PM  Adjourning for Public Reception at the Ageno Restaurant, Dhobi Ghat Patan
Transport will be provided.


9:00 AM – 12:00 PM  Visiting the Patan Agnishala for the Agnihotra and the Darshapurnamasa (Paru) rituals

12:00–2:00 PM  Lunch

2:00–2:45 PM  The Hindu Ritual Regarding Seclusion and Purification of Women During Menstruation
Pragya Paneru

2:45–3:30 PM  Yaksha and Rituals in Buddhism
Suyog Prajapati

3:30–3:45 PM  Tea

3:45–4:30 PM  On Environment Conservation in Hinduism and Buddhism
Achyut Tiwari

4:30 PM  Question-and-Answer Session

Sun, Jan 20, 2019 at 10:00am

Tue, Jan 22, 2019 at 04:30pm

Fri, December 7, 2018 at 05:00pm to
Sat, December 8, 2018 at 06:30pm

Trace: Artisanal Intelligence, Material Agency, and Ritual Technology in South Asian Art

The ‘material turn’ in art history opened new avenues for research with fresh approaches that shift our attention from considering an object as a static thing in an absolute state to putting more emphasis on the process of making and its use and reuse. A chipped area in a miniature painting is no longer an unfortunate loss but a site of excavation for information about material conditions of production and use, while unfinished surface in a stone sculpture provides a laboratory to explore artisans’ hands at work.

This symposium brings together scholars whose research embraces methodological interventions and theoretical implications of art history’s material turn in the field of South Asian art and architecture, mostly focusing on the period between 500 CE and 1500CE.

Thematically organized, papers demonstrate how attending to thingness and the process of making helps reveal hitherto invisible connections across time and space.  Going beyond the rubric of material agency, papers also explore the importance of considering somatic intelligence and ritual technology that developed to activate power and sacrality of objects and buildings in Indic religious contexts. Further consideration of ritual knowledge helps situate the trace of time left in matter through artistic mediations in historical and experiential contexts.

KEYNOTE LECTURE: “Did Time Run Out? Hammer, Chisel, & the Unfinished at Rock-cut Ellora & Built Halebid” will be delivered by Vidya Dehejia, Barbara Stoler Miller Professor of Indian and South Asian Art, Columbia University


More details can be found on the symposium webpage.




Fri, Dec 7, 2018 at 05:00pm

Sat, Dec 8, 2018 at 06:30pm

Thu, September 20, 2018 - Sat, September 22, 2018

Slums: New Visions for an Enduring Global Phenomenon

There are very few signs that slums will transition out of the urban landscape in the foreseeable future. Even after more than one and a half centuries of policy interventions, starting from efforts to address the effects of industrialization in Europe, slums persist in almost every geography on the planet. Slums are not only visible in the Global South, but are reappearing in old and new manifestations in the Global North. Their persistence can be linked to a number of political and economic failures to effectively address poverty and inequality, distorted land markets, and systemic social exclusion. These failures are, in turn, rooted in the very way policymakers, global media, and intellectuals conceptualize and represent how, why, and by whom slums are produced, maintained, and reproduced. Slums continue to be imagined as urban aberrations, something that falls outside of (or delinked from) urban ecologies.

Slums: New Visions for an Enduring Global Phenomenon is a symposium being held at Harvard University from September 20-22, 2018 that will challenge participants to discuss the range of perceptions and systemic changes needed to re-imagine integrative urban and social landscapes, as well as the labor and land markets that most often underpin the formation of slums. Organized by the Harvard Graduate School of Design Department of Urban Planning and DesignHarvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, and Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, the symposium seeks to advance new policy, financial, design, and educational tools that can both improve existing slums and generate alternatives to future ones.

A diverse group of academic, policy, design and media experts, as well as community representatives will bridge historically siloed narratives about slums and discuss innovative ways to address them.

Confirmed speakers include: 

  • Somsook Boonyabancha, Asian Coalition for Housing Rights
  • Martha Chen, Harvard Kennedy School and WIEGO
  • Michael Cohen, The New School
  • Alejandro de Castro Mazarro, Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development (2019)
  • Fernando de Mello, URBEM Institute of Urbanism and Studies for the Metropolis
  • Alejandro Echeverri, Center for Urban and Environmental Studies of EAFIT University; Former Loeb Fellow
  • Brodwyn Fischer, University of Chicago
  • George Galster, Wayne State University
  • Sumila Gulyani, The World Bank
  • Alejandro Haiek Coll, LAB.PRO.FAB
  • Chris Herbert and David Luberoff, Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies
  • João Marcos de Almeida Lopes and Luiza Sassi, Usina Centro de Trabalho para o Ambiente Habitado
  • Jorge Francisco Liernur, University Torcuato di Tella
  • Ranjani Mazumdar, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  • George McCarthyEnrique Silva, and Martim O. Smolka, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy
  • Rahul Mehrotra, Harvard Graduate School of Design and RMA Architects
  • Sheela Patel, Society for Promotion of Area Resource Centres
  • Janice Perlman, The Mega-Cities Project
  • Edgar Pieterse, African Centre for Cities
  • Lyvia Rodriguez, Executive Director, El Cano Martin Pena ENLACE Project
  • Michael Uwemedimo, Collaborative Media Advocacy Platform and University of Roehampton
  • Charlotte Vorms, University of Paris
  • Peter Ward and Jacob Wegmann, University of Texas at Austin
  • Theresa Williamson, Catalytic Communities
  • Nicholas You, Global Business Alliance
  • M. Lorena Zárate, Habitat International Coalition

The symposium, which is free and open to the public (registration required), will be held at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) and the Harvard Center for Government and International Studies (CGIS). It starts on the evening of Thursday, September 20, with a keynote about the representation of slums in film and media at the Harvard GSD and continues on Friday and Saturday, September 21 and 22 at CGIS with full days of presentations and discussions.

REGISTER TO ATTEND (Registration closes September 19.)


Co-Sponsor(s): Lincoln Institute of Land Policy , Harvard Graduate School of Design Department of Urban Planning, Loeb Fellowship


September 20: 4:00 pm – 8:00 pm

September 21: 8:00 am – 9:00 pm

September 22: 8:00 am – 7:00 pm


Thu, Sep 20, 2018

Sat, Sep 22, 2018

Sat, May 12, 2018 from 08:00am - 09:00pm  /  Harvard Faculty Club

Bangladesh Rising: Conference at the Harvard Kennedy School

ABOUT THE CONFERENCE: The Economist reported last September that it is “a good moment to celebrate Bangladesh’s economic progress. Its annual growth has averaged more than 6% over the past ten years and has run above 7% over the past two.” More than celebrating, Bangladesh Rising conference will discuss how Bangladesh can maintain its momentum, and potentially accelerate the growth achieved in the last decade. The conference will host practitioners, academics, and high-level government officials to discuss the ways the country can advance further and avoid pitfalls. It will include important topics such as financial inclusion, foreign investment, generation and provision of electricity, and sustainable development goals, among others.




  • Ricardo Hausmann, Director of Center for International Development at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)
  • Stuart L. Hart, Professor, University of Vermont, Professor Emeritus, Cornell University, Founder of Enterprise for a Sustainable World
  • Charles Lacy, Angel investor in Bangladesh, President of Barred Rock Fund and former President of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream
  • Nasrul Hamid, MP, State Minister of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources, Government of Bangladesh
  • Abul Kalam Azad, Principal SDG Coordinator at Bangladesh Prime Minister’s Office
  • Kazi Aminul Islam, Executive Chairman of Bangladesh Investment Development Authority
  • Paban Chowdhury, Executive Chairman of Bangladesh Economic Zone Authority
  • Mashiur Rahman, Economic Adviser to the Prime Minister, Government of Bangladesh
  • Roger Wagner, Expert lawyer in energy sector
  • Muhammed Aziz Khan, Chairman of Summit Group
  • Deepesh Nanda, CEO of Gas Power Systems, GE South Asia at GE Power
  • Sonia Bashir Kabir, Managing Director at Microsoft Bangladesh
  • Anika Chowdhury, Head of Business Development at Square Pharmaceuticals
  • Farzana Chowdhury, Managing Director and CEO at Green Delta Insurance
  • Tanjib-ul-Alam, Head of Tanjib Alam & Associates
  • Mainuddin Monem, Managing Director at Abdul Monem Economic Zone
  • Jamaluddin Ahmed, General Secretary, Bangladesh Economic Association
  • Ahmad Zuaiter, Founder and Managing Partner at Jadara Capital Partners
  • Meera Narayanaswamy, Senior Investment Officer, Global Financial Markets at IFC

Sat, May 12, 2018 at 08:00am

Sat, May 12, 2018 at 09:00pm

Harvard Faculty Club

20 Quincy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138

Mon, May 7, 2018 from 01:00pm - 06:00pm  /  CGIS South, S030

Buddhism in Nepal, Past and Present

As part of the Nepal Studies Program, Leonard van der Kuijp, Professor of Tibetan and Himalayan Studies, will lead a conference titled “Buddhism in Nepal, Past and Present.” Based on medieval documents and modern practice, this conference will explore the spread and development of Buddhism in the India-Nepal-Tibet corridor.


Conference Schedule:

Naresh Man Bajracharya, Professor of Buddhist Studies and Vice Chancellor of Lumbini Buddhist University, Nepal

Kurtis R. Schaeffer, The Frances Myers Ball Professor of Religion, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, USA

Nirmal Man Tuladhar, Professor of Linguistics and Chair of Social Science Baha, Nepal

2:30-2:45 Q & A

2:45-3:15 PM Coffee/Chai Break

Todd T. Lewis, Murray Distinguished Professor of the Arts and Humanities, Professor of Asian Religions, College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, MA, USA

Siddhartha Tuladhar, Senior Research Officer of New ERA, Pvt. Ltd., Nepal 

Leonard W.J. van der Kuijp, Professor of South Asian Studies, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA

4:55-5:15 PM Q & A

5:15-6 PM Reception

Mon, May 7, 2018 at 01:00pm

Mon, May 7, 2018 at 06:00pm

CGIS South, S030
Harvard University

1730 Cambridge Street
Cambridge MA 02138

Sat, April 14, 2018 - Sun, April 15, 2018  /  CGIS South, Tsai Auditorium S010

Islam symposium

From the rise of ISIS and militant extremism in the context of an eroding Arab state system to the intensification of the Iran-Saudi cold war in the wake of the nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers, the dire consequences of Shi’a-Sunni sectarianism and conflict—which can tear apart the societies of the Islamic world—have never been greater in modern history. Now more than ever, dialogue both within the Islamic tradition and between different religious groups is critical for the future peace, stability, and prosperity of the Middle East, the broader Islamic world, and transnational Muslim communities across the globe, including in Europe and North America.

In conjunction with serious attempts to place different Muslim faith traditions in conversation, it is equally pressing that the U.S. policy making world and scholarly community is objectively informed and knowledgeable of the relevant issues and perspectives at hand in order to make a positive impact on policy and enable the grounds for peaceful conflict resolution. The First Annual Symposium on Islam, Dialogue, and Sectarian De-Escalation at the Harvard Kennedy School has gathered a diversity of voices from leading scholars, religious authorities, civic community leaders, and policymakers alike to push forward analytical understanding and dialogue on the pressing topic of sectarianism in the Muslim world.

The symposium is convened by the Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs’ Iran Project and co-sponsored by Harvard’s Center for Middle East Studies, the Asia Center, the Alwaleed Islamic Studies Program, and the Lakshmi Mittal South Asia Institute.

Lunch and refreshments will be provided. 

Date: Saturday, April 14 & Sunday, April 15
Location: CGIS South, Tsai Auditorium, 1730 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02138


Learn more at the Belfer Center Website. 

Sat, Apr 14, 2018

Sun, Apr 15, 2018

CGIS South, Tsai Auditorium S010
Harvard University

1730 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138

Sat, February 10, 2018 - Sun, February 11, 2018

India Conference 2018

The India Conference is one of the largest student-run conferences focusing on India in the USA. It takes place at the Harvard Business School and Harvard Kennedy School, and is organized by graduate students at Harvard University.

In 2018, the India Conference will be celebrating its 15th anniversary. The conference will bring together business leaders, entertainment professionals, government officials, philanthropists and many others.

SAI is a co-sponsor of this event.

Conference Website

List of Speakers

Sat, Feb 10, 2018

Sun, Feb 11, 2018

Fri, February 2, 2018 - Sat, February 10, 2018

The Dhaka Art Summit

Professor Sugata Bose, Gardiner Professor of Oceanic History and Affairs, Harvard University will be on two panel discussions at the Dhaka Arts Summit (DAS) in February 2018.

The first panel is titled “Rising Oceans and Conflict: From Bangladesh to Planetary Scale.” This panel brings together artists, architects, and curators, to locate Bangladesh and the rising waters of the world’s oceans at the frontier of global climate change. The panel will explore the agency of cross-disciplinary research on oceans and investigative tools of Forensic Architecture for gathering and presenting evidence on environmental destruction.

The second panel is titled “Diving deeper into Bangladesh, the Oceans, the Pacific, and Forms of Justice.” This discussion between artist, architect, academic, politician and curator draws links between environmental and political violence connected to the exhibition a beast, a god, and a line and artist Nabil Ahmed’s research on Bangladesh and the Pacific.

The Dhaka Art Summit (DAS) is an international, non-commercial research and exhibition platform for art and architecture related to South Asia. With a core focus on Bangladesh, DAS re-examines how we think about these forms of art in both a regional and an international context. Founded in 2012 by the Samdani Art Foundation—who continue to produce the festival—in collaboration with the Ministry of Cultural Affairs, People’s Republic of Bangladesh, DAS is hosted every two years at the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy. 

Rejecting the traditional biennale format to create a more generative space for art and exchange, DAS’s interdisciplinary programme concentrates its endeavors towards the advancement and promotion of South Asia’s contemporary and historic creative communities. Led by Chief Curator Diana Campbell Betancourt, local and international guest curators from leading institutions are commissioned to conduct research across South Asia, unlocking new areas of inquiry to build collaborative group exhibitions and experimental writing initiatives, as well as film and talks programmes.

For each edition of DAS, Bangladeshi artists shortlisted for the Samdani Art Award exhibit their work under the guidance of an international guest curator. Organised in partnership with the Delfina Foundation, the Award has created an internationally recognized platform for the work of young Bangladeshi artists. Many shortlisted artists have later exhibited in international exhibitions and institutions, including the 11th Gwangju Biennale, South Korea (2016); curated by_vienna, Austria (2016); 11th Shanghai Biennale, China (2016); 4a Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, Australia (2017); and Kunsthalle Zürich, Switzerland (2017).   

Expanding this support further, DAS 2018 will introduce two new platforms. The Samdani Artist-Led Initiatives Forum will recognize the importance of Bangladesh’s independently established and self-funded art initiatives by providing space and curatorial support for these groups to showcase their work during DAS. The Samdani Architecture Award invites architecture students across Bangladesh to submit proposals for the design of DAS 2018’s Education Pavilion. The winning individual or group will construct a pavilion to house DAS’s rich educational programming—including lectures, events, workshops, and dialogues—which is currently being developed by an international curriculum committee.

All of DAS’s exhibitions are supported by an ambitious commissions programme, which invites internationally acclaimed contemporary artists related to South Asia to create new work. Past commissions include Lynda Benglis, Simryn Gill, Po Po and Pablo Bartholomew, along with and some of the most exciting emerging names from the region: Ayesha Sultana, Waqas Khan, Munem Wasif, and many more. 

Celebrated for its critically acclaimed exhibitions by local and international arts professionals, many of DAS’s past projects have toured internationally to venues and festivals, including the Berlin Biennale; the Gwangju Biennale; the Singapore Biennale; the Queens Museum, New York; Kunsthalle Basel, Switzerland; the Office for Contemporary Art Norway; and the San Jose Museum of Art, USA; to name just a few. 

In an effort to encourage international arts professionals to travel to Bangladesh to develop exhibitions that include the work of South Asian artists, a new DAS Research Fellows programme has been launched to support artistic research in Bangladesh between each edition of DAS. This initiative has supported the work of curators from Tate Modern, London; the Centre Pompidou, Paris; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; to name just a few.

Free to the public and ticketless, DAS 2016 drew over 138,000 local and 800 international visitors across its four-day duration. Extending its duration to nine days, the fourth edition of the summit, DAS 2018, will be held from February 2–10, 2018. For the first time in its history, DAS will seek to create new connections between South, South East Asia, and the Indian Ocean belt, exhibiting artists from Thailand, Malaysia, Madagascar, the Philippines, and several other countries.


SAI is a research partner of The Dhaka Art Summit.

Fri, Feb 2, 2018

Sat, Feb 10, 2018

Fri, January 5, 2018 from 10:00am - 04:00pm  /  Yalamaya Kendra: Patan Dhoka: Lalitpur

Buddhism in Nepal, Past and Present

 As part of the Nepal Studies Program, Leonard van der Kuijp, Professor of Tibetan and Himalayan Studies, will lead a conference titled “Buddhism in Nepal, Past and Present.” Based on medieval documents and modern practice, this conference will explore the spread and development of Buddhism in the India-Nepal-Tibet corridor.


“Buddhism in Nepal, Past and Present”

JANUARY 5, 2018
10AM-12PM, 2-4PM
Yalamaya Kendra, Patan Dhoka, Lalitpur


Conference Schedule:

Naresh Man Bajracharya
Professor of Buddhist Studies and Vice Chancellor of Lumbini Buddhist University, Nepal

Kurtis R. Schaeffer
The Frances Myers Ball Professor of Religion, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, USA

Nirmal Man Tuladhar
Professor of Linguistics and Chair of Social Science Baha, Nepal

Todd T. Lewis
Murray Distinguished Professor of the Arts and Humanities, Professor of Asian Religions, College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, MA, USA

Siddhartha Tuladhar,
Senior Research Officer of New ERA, Pvt. Ltd., Nepal 

Leonard W.J. van der Kuijp
Professor of South Asian Studies, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA

Fri, Jan 5, 2018 at 10:00am

Fri, Jan 5, 2018 at 04:00pm