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This Divided Island

START
Mon, Apr 18, 2016 at 04:00pm

END
Mon, Apr 18, 2016 at 05:30pm

VENUE
CGIS South, S354

ADDRESS
CGIS South, S354
1730 Cambridge Street
Cambridge MA 02138

Book Talk

Samanth Subramanian, Author

Chair: Charles Hallisey, Yehan Numata Senior Lecturer on Buddhist Literatures, Harvard Divinity School

In the summer of 2009, the leader of the Tamil Tigers was killed, bringing to a bloody end the stubborn and complicated civil war in Sri Lanka. For nearly thirty years it had stretched its fingers: into the bustle of Colombo, through Buddhist monasteries scattered across the island, up the soft hills of central Sri Lanka, down the curves of the eastern coast near Batticaloa and Trincomalee, and over the stark, hot north. Samanth Subramanian gives us an extraordinary account of this great modern conflict and the lives it changed. Taking us to the ghosts of summers past, he draws out the story of Sri Lanka today—an exhausted, disturbed society, still caught in the embers. This Divided Island is a harrowing and humane investigation by one of India’s finest narrative journalists.

 

Techno-networks and Urban Space in Bombay Cinema

START
Tue, Apr 5, 2016 at 06:30pm

END
Tue, Apr 5, 2016 at 08:00pm

VENUE
CGIS South, S354

ADDRESS
CGIS South, S354
1730 Cambridge Street
Cambridge MA 02138

Urbanization Seminar

Ranjani Mazumdar, Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University

Chair: Rahul MehrotraProfessor of Urban Design and Planning, Harvard Graduate School of Design

This paper looks at the role of media and communication technologies in the imagination of urban spaces in contemporary Bombay cinema. If surveillance practices and their resultant structuring becomes one part of this imagination (No Smoking 2007, LSD 2010, Ugly, 2013), we also see the role of the internet and social media in the framing of spatial encounters in small town India (Masaan 2015). A fascination for ‘obsolete’ technology frames another order of space linked to the recent past (Gangs of Wasseypur 2012, Miss Lovely 2012, Dum Lagake Haisha, 2015), while documentary films like John and Jayne (2005) invoke the call centre imagination within a fractured urban subjectivity. In these films, the themes of violence, love, tragedy and comedy are enacted within a spatial terrain triggered by new media technologies. Taken together these films offer a new geography of the experiential changes unraveling in contemporary India.

Ranjani Mazumdar is Professor of Cinema Studies at the School of Arts & Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru 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) and co-author with Nitin Govil of the forthcoming The Indian Film Industry. She has also worked as a documentary filmmaker and her productions include Delhi Diary 2001 and The Power of the Image (Co-Directed). Her current research focuses on globalization and film culture, the visual culture of film posters and the intersection of technology, travel, design and colour in 1960s Bombay Cinema.

India: the Urban Transition

START
Mon, Mar 28, 2016 at 06:30pm

END
Mon, Mar 28, 2016 at 08:00pm

VENUE
CGIS South, S354

ADDRESS
CGIS South, S354
1730 Cambridge Street
Cambridge MA 02138

Urbanization Seminar 

Henrik Valeur, Architect-Urbanist, Founder and Creative Director of UiD

Chair: Rahul MehrotraProfessor of Urban Design and Planning, Harvard Graduate School of Design

Can India use urbanization as a driver of economic, human and social development like China has done? How can Indian cities be made more inclusive, productive and livable? Are there any simple solutions to the seemingly insurmountable problems of urban India – the life threatening levels of air pollution, the desperate lack of water, the precarious food situation, the squalid living conditions in the slums, the chaotic, choked and congested road traffic? This lecture will discuss some of these problems and propose some possible solutions, using the cities of Bangalore in South India and Chandigarh in North India as its primary cases. The concept of smart cities will briefly be discussed and co-evolution and development urbanism will be introduced as alternative strategies.

Muslim Saints and Hindu Daughters: Kinship, Ethical Self-Fashioning, and Inter-religious Relations at Firoz Shah Kotla Dargah, Delhi

START
Fri, Feb 26, 2016 at 04:00pm

END
Fri, Feb 26, 2016 at 05:30pm

VENUE
CGIS South, S354

ADDRESS
CGIS South, S354
1730 Cambridge Street
Cambridge MA 02138

Muslim Societies in South Asia

Anand V. Taneja, Assistant Professor, Department of Religious Studies, Department of Anthropology, Asian Studies Program, Graduate Department of Religion, Vanderbilt University

Chair: Ali AsaniProfessor of Indo-Muslim and Islamic Religion and Cultures; Director, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Program, Harvard University

Relations between religions in South Asia have been seen as marked by either competition or syncretism. Is there another way of understanding the inter-religious interaction? Turning to the interactions between Muslims and Hindus at the popular Muslim saint-shrine of Firoz Shah Kotla in Delhi, Taneja offers another model in this talk—one of religions opening up new potentialities of ethical life and self-fashioning for the others they interact with, without either “conversion” or the dilution of doctrinal specificity. At Firoz Shah Kotla, the ethics of social interaction are anti-identitarian. People actively avoid asking each other’s names, which easily identify one’s religious community and caste. Instead, people follow an ethic of nameless intimacy, where they become friends and share intimate secrets while, on one level, remaining strangers. Women, for example, freely express their disaffection with the often oppressive structures of their natal and marital families. The ability to form communities of hamdardi (shared pain/empathy) while stepping out of one’s socially determined identity, Taneja argues, is a major factor in the healing power of Muslim saint shrines such as Firoz Shah Kotla. This healing efficacy can be linked to anti-patriarchal strands within Islam and to the Islamic ethic of gharib-navazi (hospitality to strangers/others), associated in particular with the Chishtiya Sufi order in South Asia. By offering us a model of Islam as an ethical inheritance as opposed to a religious identity, Firoz Shah Kotla forces us to rethink normative ideas of religion, and the role of Islam in the ethical and religious life of North India.

Cosponsored with the Prince Alwaleed Islamic Studies Program

Corporate Philanthropy Between Empire and Nation: Tata and the Making of Modern India

START
Mon, Feb 1, 2016 at 04:00pm

END
Mon, Feb 1, 2016 at 05:30pm

VENUE
CGIS South, S354

ADDRESS
CGIS South, S354
1730 Cambridge Street
Cambridge MA 02138

Graduate Student Associate Seminar

Mircea Raianu, PhD Candidate, History Department, FAS; SAI Graduate Student Associate

Chair Sunil AmrithMehra Family Professor of South Asian Studies, Professor of History, Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences

From one of many merchant families in the port city of Bombay in the mid-nineteenth century, Tata became India’s largest and most influential business firm by the time of independence in 1947, with interests ranging from steel to hydroelectricity, chemicals, and aviation. In parallel, Tata philanthropy took on the burden of development beyond the economic domain, from scientific research to modernist art. This talk will examine the transformation of Tata philanthropy from community-based charity to “constructive” projects on a national scale, and account for the expansive transnational set of actors brought together by Tata patronage, including scientists, technocrats, intellectuals, and artists. The talk will show how the pattern of Tata philanthropic donations was neither the expression of an underlying nationalist vision, nor a purely strategic calculus. Institutions such as the Indian Institute of Science (1909), the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (1936), and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (1947) fulfilled the imagined developmental needs of the nation-state-in-waiting, while at the same time remaining inseparably connected to the firm’s need for technology and expertise in the mills of Bombay and the new steel township of Jamshedpur.

Bengali Poetry in Australian Deserts: Placing Histories of South Asian Travellers

START
Wed, Oct 28, 2015 at 06:00pm

END
Wed, Oct 28, 2015 at 08:00pm

VENUE
CGIS South, S354

ADDRESS
CGIS South, S354
1730 Cambridge Street
Cambridge MA 02138

Harvard/MIT Series: South Asia and Its Diasporas

Samia Khatun, McKenzie Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Melbourne

Discussant: Vivek Bald, Associate Professor, Comparative Media Studies/Writing, MIT

Australian deserts today are dotted with the remains of 19th century mosques. Built by South Asian merchants and workers in the era of the Australian camel trade, 1860 – 1930, these mosques are rich repositories of the things once most precious to Muslim travellers. Beginning with the discovery of a 19th century book of Bengali sufi poetry in a mosque in Broken Hill, Khatun explores the epistemological traditions that travelled with colonized peoples moving across the terrain of empire.

Khatun asks: What role can the poetry of colonised peoples play in crafting new histories of South Asian travellers? What historiographical practises did Aboriginal people deploy to memorialise South Asians travelling through Australian deserts? On what alternative grounds can we place histories of South Asian travellers?

 

Storytelling, Learning and Human Communication

START
Mon, Oct 26, 2015 at 04:00pm

END
Mon, Oct 26, 2015 at 05:30pm

VENUE
CGIS South, S354

ADDRESS
CGIS South, S354
1730 Cambridge Street
Cambridge MA 02138

Muslim Societies in South Asia Seminar

Musharraf Ali FarooqiAuthor, Translator, Storyteller

Chair: Ali AsaniProfessor of Indo-Muslim and Islamic Religion and Cultures; Director, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Program, Harvard University

Click here to read an event summary.

From 2014-2015 author, translator and storyteller Musharraf Ali Farooqi led the highly successful ‘Leading Through Teaching’ storytelling workshop for Pakistan parliamentarians, in association with the education advocacy group Alif Ailaan. These storytelling workshops were aimed at preparing the parliamentarians to engage with young learners, and acquaint themselves firsthand with the education delivery issues in the schools in their constituencies. A record of these workshops, the storytelling sessions conducted by the parliamentarians, and their comments, can be viewed here: Leading Through Teaching

These workshops grew from Farooqi’s highly successful storytelling sessions in Pakistan schools to introduce the children’s publications of his publishing house Kitab. Farooqi’s own understanding of the storytelling processes are grounded in his study and translations of Urdu language classics. His acclaimed translations, The Adventures of Amir Hamza (2007), and Hoshruba (2009) were the first major translations of Urdu language classics.

Farooqi will offer his view of storytelling as a core function of human communication, discuss the special place of stories in the Indian subcontinent, and talk about his own work as a storyteller, writer and translator.

Cosponsored with the Prince Alwaleed Islamic Studies Program

Knowing through Others: Testimony as a Source of Knowledge in Classical Indian Philosophy of Religion

START
Mon, Oct 19, 2015 at 05:00pm

END
Mon, Oct 19, 2015 at 06:30pm

VENUE
CGIS South, S354

ADDRESS
CGIS South, S354
1730 Cambridge Street
Cambridge MA 02138

GSA Seminar

Rosanna Picascia, SAI Graduate Student Associate, PhD candidate in the Study of Religion 

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 talk will look at the debate among Sanskrit philosophers of religion over whether, and the conditions under which, testimony is a source of knowledge.  In particular, it will focus on the epistemic status of scripture, the example par excellence of testimony. What makes scripture an interesting case to look at is that it often speaks about nonempirical objects, such as heaven, which are incapable of being directly verified. Moreover, the fact that scriptural testimony varies among different religious traditions poses a challenge to testimonially-based religious belief. This talk will explore the ways in which South Asian philosophers of religion in first millennium India approached these issues, while additionally drawing upon contemporary discussions in the epistemology of testimony.