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2013 Symposium Schedule

Thursday, April 25

12:30 – 1:00 am Registration


1:00 – 1:15 pm


Tarun KhannaDirector, South Asia Institute at Harvard University, Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor, Harvard Business School


1:15 – 1:30 pm

 Opening Remarks

Diana Sorensen, Dean of Arts and Humanities, James F. Rothenberg Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures, and of Comparative Literature, Harvard University


1:30 – 2:45 pm

 Why Europe Got Rich and Asia Did Not

Prasannan ParthasarathiDirector, Professor and Director of Graduate Studies, Boston College
Moderator: Parimal PatilProfessor of Religion and Indian Philosophy, Chair of the Department of South Asian Studies, Harvard University

Prasannan will engage the audience in a discussion of the historical pressures facing both Europe and Asia that have produced very different state policies and economic outcomes in these regions of the world. Working against notions that this divergence occurred because of superior European markets and institutions, the panelists ask what lessons this re-oriented view of history has for the development of the world economy today.


3:00 – 4:15 pm

 Historicity and Modernity of Caste

Narendra Subramanian, Associate Professor, Political Science, McGill University
Anupama Rao, Associate ProfessorHistory, Barnard College
Lucinda Ramberg, Assistant Professor, Anthropology, Cornell University
Moderator: Ajantha SubramanianProfessor, Social Anthropology Program, Department of Anthropology, Harvard University

Caste is a topic which has produced a voluminous literature. It has long been emblematic of South Asian cultural difference and hierarchy. In this panel, we depart from the most emblematic representations of caste as a purely religious, ritualistic, or “traditional” phenomenon to consider the historicity and modernity of caste. We look at the historical and contemporary social life of caste, and its dynamic role in changing economic, cultural, and political formations.


4:15 – 5:30 pm

 Gender and Contemporary South Asia

Abbas Jaffer, Ph.D. Candidate, Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences
Mitakshara Kumari, M.Ed. Candidate, Harvard Graduate School of Education
Litcy Kurisinkal, MPP Candidate, Harvard Kennedy School
Moderator: Jacqueline Bhabha, University Advisor on Human Rights Education; Director of Research FXB Center; Jeremiah Smith, Jr. Lecturer on Law; Research Director for the FXB Center, Harvard University

The concept of masculinity in South Asia is in desperate need of innovation and evolution. While men in South Asia are obliged to fit into the traditionally defined mold of masculinity, the increasing awareness about gender violence necessitates us to uncover the old relics that perceive masculinity as an ever-fixed concept. The panel will take the audience to different dimensions of masculinity, which would include the influence of music and digital technology on the formation of elite masculine ideals in Pakistan, misconstrued internalization of masculinity among children living on the streets in South Asia and the representation of masculinity in the cultural landscape of India.


5:30 – 6:30 pm


All are welcome


Friday, April 26

8:30 – 9:00 am   Breakfast & Registration


9:00 – 10:15 am 

Rasa: The Possibility of Poetry

Lawrence J. McCrea,  Associate Professor, Director of Undergraduate Studies, Department of Classics, Cornell University
Parimal PatilProfessor of Religion and Indian Philosophy, Chair of the Department of South Asian Studies, Harvard University

Parimal and Lawrence will lead an ‘opinionated mini lesson’ on the theory of aestheticized emotion in classic Indian literature.


10:30 – 11:45 am 

Social Entrepreneurship and the Arts

Hitesh Hathi, Producer, WBUR/NPR’s Here and Now
Samir Patil, CEO, Scroll Media Network
Laura Weinstein, Ananda Coomaraswamy Curator of South Asian and Islamic Art, Museum of Fine Arts Boston
Moderator: Mukti Khaire, Marvin Bower Fellow, Associate Professor, Harvard Business School

Since the demise of the patronage model, cultural production and distribution had been facilitated largely by firms. This has resulted in situating the production and consumption of culture in markets, with varying consequences in different contexts. South Asia is one of the fastest growing markets for cultural industries and also has a long tradition of diversity, free exchange and evolution in these fields. Yet while the ‘quantity’ metrics may be growing there is a widely recognized gap in the quality (e.g., growth of paid news, continued neglect of public infrastructure for the arts, limited influence of professional, independent critics). What are the changes required to support the cultural industries in a way that better serves the public interest? How are entrepreneurs and artists responding? What does this mean for social, cultural, and economic change in South Asia? These and other related questions will be explored.


11:45 – 12:15 pm Boxed Lunch


12:15 – 1:30 pm  

Constitutionalism and Development in South Asia 

Mahendra Lawoti, Professor, Department of Political Science; Western Michigan University; Associate Fellow, the Asia Society
Sujit Choudhry, Cecelia Goetz Professor of Law, New York University School of Law
Madhav Khosla, PhD. Candidate, Political Theory, Harvard University
Moderator: Mark Tushnet, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

Constitutions develop with the particular economic and political changes that a nation faces. Comparing and contrasting constitutional law in India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, this panel looks at how these developments have occurred differently in these different countries, and asks how we might think about designing constitutions in such a way that they can effectively respond to and accommodate the market economy and democratic tensions.


1:30 – 3:00 pm

Harvard without Borders: Mapping the Kumbh Mela

Diana Eck, Fredric Wertham Professor of Law and Psychiatry in Society; Master of Lowell House; Harvard College Professor; Member of the Faculty of Divinity
Gregg Greenough,  Assistant Professor, Department of Global Health and Population, Harvard School of Public Health
Rahul Mehrotra, Professor of Urban Design and Planning; Chair of the Department of Urban Planning and Design
Shri Jawed Usmani, Chief Secretary, Uttar Pradesh Government-India
Moderator: Tarun Khanna, Director of the South Asia Institute and Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor, Harvard Business School

In January, 50 Harvard faculty, staff and student researchers traveled to Allahabad, India to document and analyze the processes involved in the Kumbh Mela, the world’s largest human gathering. This religious festival is held every twelve years, lasts 55 days, and draws millions of visitors to a temporary, purpose-built tent city on the banks of the Ganges and Yamuna. Team leaders share insights and outcomes that have come from this massive interdisciplinary project, and speak with the Chief Minister and Urban Development Minister of Uttar Pradesh.


3:00 – 3:15 pm 

Closing Remarks

Parimal PatilProfessor of Religion and Indian Philosophy, Chair of the Department of South Asian Studies, Harvard University