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Indian Secularism on a Global Stage

Indian Secularism on a Global Stage published on

19Nov2014 Indian Secularism on a Global Stage

Indian Secularism on a Global Stage: Reconsidering Muslim Belonging in Nehru’s India

by Prof. Taylor C. Sherman, London School of Economics and Political Science

Discussant: Prof. Manu Bhagavan, Hunter College/CUNY

Wednesday, Nov 19, 2014
208 Knox Hall

Muslim belonging in India since independence has been anchored using the language of secularism. However, the rise to power of the BJP in recent decades and the concomitant anti-Muslim violence in India has led some to declare that India’s secularism is in crisis. Much of the discussion surrounding this issue is predicated upon the assumption that India’s secularism was firmly established under the rule of the first Prime Minister of independent India, Jawaharlal Nehru. This paper takes a new look at secularism in Nehru’s India. Rather than focusing on what Nehru said in his speeches and letters, this paper examines notions of secularism as the term was deployed on multiple levels of government and in wider society. It reassesses Nehru’s influence, and explores the ways in which calculations about the treatment of Indian Muslims in India were often worked out on a global stage.

How and Why did Genocide Become a non-Political Crime

How and Why did Genocide Become a non-Political Crime published on

• “How and Why Did Genocide Become a Non-Political Crime” by A. Dirk Moses (Professor of Global and Colonial History (19th-20th centuries), EUI)
Tuesday, September 23rd
4:00PM to 6:00PM, 411 Fayerweather

International law distinguishes between political and the non-political crimes in the following way: racial hatred is defined as non-political because victims are attacked for who they are: for their identity. Genocide cannot occur where a victim group has agency, as in, say, launching an insurgency, because such action implies politics. This conception of genocide as a non-political, mass hate crime is modeled on the Holocaust of European Jewry, meaning that Holocaust memory intersects in important ways with the humanitarian intervention agenda. To galvanize the “will to intervene,” human rights activists must make contemporary civil wars resemble the Holocaust by casting civilians as victims of murderous racial persecution: for who they are rather than for what some of them may have done. The spurious distinction between racial and political intentions—the depolicitization of the genocide concept—lies at the heart of the relatively new field of genocide studies and its older sibling, Holocaust studies. One consequence is the promotion of toleration as genocide’s antidote. Another is that genocides are misrecognized, as in the case of the UN Darfur report in 2005. In this paper, I explain how and why this distinction was constructed by revisiting the contingent origins of the genocide concept. My discussion mainly concerns two moments in the second half of the 1940s when it was crystallized in international law and the postwar imagination: 1) the latter Nuremberg Trials; and 2) the concurrent UN Debates about the Genocide Convention.

Around 1948: Human Rights and Global Transformation

Around 1948: Human Rights and Global Transformation published on

Leading scholars Rashid Khalidi, Lydia H. Liu, Samuel Moyn, and Deborah Nelson discuss the advent and the global impact of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Moderated by Eugenia Lean.

Panel Discussion
“Around 1948: Human Rights and Global Transformation”
Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies, Columbia University
Lydia H. Liu, Wun Tsun Tam Professor in the Humanities, Columbia University
Samuel Moyn, Professor of Law and History, Harvard University
Deborah Nelson, Associate Professor of English, University of Chicago
Moderated by Eugenia Lean, Associate Professor of Chinese History, Columbia University
Wednesday, October 8
3:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Pulitzer Hall, Third Floor Lecture Hall
No registration required.
Co-sponsored by the Center for International History, Critical Inquiry, the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, the Department of History, the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society, and the Middle East Institute

(Dis)Placed?: Immigrants, Histories, & the Shaping of NYC

(Dis)Placed?: Immigrants, Histories, & the Shaping of NYC published on

CIH Immig Poster light font copy


A Panel discussion with Gaiutra Bahadur (journalist & writer), Dai Sil Kim-Gibson (independent filmmaker), Samip Mallick (archivist), Mae Ngai (professor, Columbia University), and Beresford Simmons (activist, musician)

  • Gaiutra Bahadur, Journalist and Writer, Coolie Woman: The Odyssey of Indenture
  • Dai Sil Kim-Gibson, Independent filmmaker, Sa-I-Gu, A Forgotten People: The Sakhalin Koreans,Silence Broken: Korean Comfort Women
  • Samip Mallick, Executive Director, South Asian American Digital Archive
  • Mae Ngai, Professor of History and Asian American Studies, Columbia University
  • Beresford Simmons, New York Taxi Workers Alliance; Creator of Taxi Vibes
Thursday, April 17
406 International Affairs Building
420 West 118th St

What is the place of history in the shaping of narratives in and about immigrant communities in New York City? Immigration is often told as a story that begins with rupture and ends with assimilation – of severing roots, and building new ties. Yet, so often in New York with an immigrant population of 3 million, there are a richer, more complex stories to be found, archived, and told.  How do immigrant stories shape New York, the “majority-minority” city? Join the Center for International History for a panel discussion as we navigate the question of immigrant histories and the shaping of NYC — through film, through literature- academic, fictional and journalistic- through music, archiving, and activism.

The event is free and open to the public.
Wine & cheese reception afterwards
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Co-sponsored by the Center for International History and the Asian American Alliance

Book Launch for The Chile Reader: National History and Global Context in the Age of Transnational History

Book Launch for The Chile Reader: National History and Global Context in the Age of Transnational History published on

The Chile Reader: National History and Global Context in the Age of Transnational History
A book launch for The Chile Reader: Culture, Politics, History  (Duke University Press, 2013) coedited by Elizabeth Quay Hutchison, Thomas Klubock, Nara Milanich, and Peter Winn

Panel discussion with Sol Serrano (Pontificia Universidad Católica, Chile) and Heidi Tinsman (UC Irvine)
Tuesday, April 15, 2014, 5:30 pm
Sulzberger Parlor, 3rd floor, Barnard Hall
Barnard College campus, entrance at 117th Street and Broadway

Sponsored by: Columbia Global Center/Santiago; Institute of Latin American Studies; Center for International History; Barnard Forum on Migration

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Suicide as Event? Intervening in Charlotte Salomon’s Interventions”

Suicide as Event? Intervening in Charlotte Salomon’s Interventions” published on

April 25, 2014
Fayerweather 411
Time: 4:00pm
Speakers: Darcy Buerkle (Smith College)


Reframing ‘India’ in Exile: The Excentricities of Peripheral Vision and a View from the Centre

Reframing ‘India’ in Exile: The Excentricities of Peripheral Vision and a View from the Centre published on

April 8, 2014
Location: Fayerweather 411
Time: 5:30-7:00pm
Speakers: Benjamin Zachariah (Karl Jaspers Centre for Advanced Transcultural Studies, Heidelberg University)

Abstract: In the first half of the twentieth century, political emigres and exiles from India found themselves in a position to become the voice of a colonised and oppressed country before an audience comprising often sympathetic, if not always well-informed, citizens of various countries of the world in which they found themselves. The ways in which they found this voice had much to do with their ability to reframe the problem of India in terms intelligible to these audiences. In so doing, they also embarked on a process of self-education and ideational translation that was transformative of the ways of conceptualising India in the world, and the world for India. The various framings of India, sometimes by the same person for different audiences, is revealing of the ways in which existing and emerging languages of legitimation were mobilised, and affected the reframing of ‘India’ both at home and away from India, by those identified with India as a national entity as well as those foreign to it. The ways in which peripheral subjects speaking from and to the centres of world power were crucial elements in conceptualising the periphery for its own subjects at home is an important aspect of the mobilisation and movement of diverse ideas in the first half of the twentieth century. How did the persons move back and forth?  How did this movement of ideas work? How were these transmitted? These questions take us past the themes of the limited or constrained agency of the native informant, towards a more dynamic model of moving ideas.

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Remover of Obstacles: Ganesh and the persistence of the mythological genre in Hindi cinema

Remover of Obstacles: Ganesh and the persistence of the mythological genre in Hindi cinema published on

March 31, 2014
The mythological, the founding genre of Indian cinema, is one of its most innovative forms.  In the colonial period, it promoted nationalist ideals while avoiding censorship through its association with religion and tradition.  It is usually thought that the mythological genre declined in popularity in Hindi cinema in independent India, eclipsed by the social which foregrounded new ideas of Indianness, a concern which continued through the Bollywood films about the diaspora and the recent flourishing of the biopic.   Yet the mythological, ignored by many writers and critics, who saw the massive success of JSM in 1975 as a freak occurrence, has continued as a popular form in Hindi cinema, notably children’s animated films, up to the present, also flourishing in other media ranging from television, to popular English fiction. This paper looks at Hindi mythological films about Ganesh, the Remover of Obstacles, in the wider context of the evolving genre, discussing his changing image while also examining the nature of his gajatva or ‘elephantness’.

Location: Hamilton 303
Time: 10:30am
Speakers: Rachel Dwyer (SOAS)
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On Secularism, Identity and Enchantment by Akeel Bilgrami

On Secularism, Identity and Enchantment by Akeel Bilgrami published on
Book launch with panel discussion featuring Akeel Bilgrami (Columbia), Pankaj Mishra (Writer), Manu Goswami (NYU) and T.J. Jackson Lears (Rutgers) 
Monday, March 31, 2014
501 Schermerhorn
The event is free and open to the public.
Refreshments will be served.
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CIH Mishra poster (1)

Wounds of Waziristan

Wounds of Waziristan published on

SCREENING: Wounds of Waziristan with Amy Goodman | March 12, 6pm
Location: Columbia University, Alfred Lerner Hall, Roone Arledge Cinema | 2920 Broadway
Please reserve here. This event is free, but seating is limited. For details, see here and here or Facebook.
The short documentary film, Wounds of Waziristan highlights the stories of those directly impacted by American drone attacks in Pakistan. Followed by a discussion with:
Madiha R. Tahir is the director of WoundsShe is an independent journalist whose work has appeared in Foreign Affairs, Vice, The National, Guernica, The New Inquiry, PRI and BBC’s “The World”, The Columbia Journalism Review, The Wall Street Journal, Democracy Now! Caravan, Global Post and other outlets. She is co-editor of a volume of essays Dispatches from Pakistan and is currently a doctoral candidate at Columbia University.
Amy Goodman is the host and executive producer of Democracy Now!, a national, daily, independent, award-winning news program. Time Magazine named Democracy Now! its “Pick of the Podcasts,” along with NBC’s Meet the Press. Goodman is the first journalist to receive the Right Livelihood Award, widely known as the ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’ for “developing an innovative model of truly independent grassroots political journalism that brings to millions of people the alternative voices that are often excluded by the mainstream media.” She is the first co-recipient of the Park Center for Independent Media’s Izzy Award, named for the great muckraking journalist I.F. Stone. The Independent of London called Amy Goodman and Democracy Now! “an inspiration.” PULSE named her one of the 20 Top Global Media Figures of 2009. She is the author of The Silenced Majority: Stories of Uprisings; Occupations, Resistance, and Hope, written with Denis Moynihan; Breaking the Sound Barrier; and, co-authored with her brother, journalist David Goodman, Standing Up to the Madness: Ordinary Heroes in Extraordinary Times (2008), Static: Government Liars, Media Cheerleaders, and the People Who Fight Back (2006), and The Exception to the Rulers: Exposing Oily Politicians, War Profiteers, and the Media That Love Them (2004).
Manan Ahmed Asif is assistant professor of history at Columbia University. He is interested in the relationship between text, space and narrative. His areas of specialization include the political and cultural history of Islam in South and Southeast Asia, frontier-spaces and imperial and colonial historiography. He is involved in Digital Humanities projects that examine the relationship between space, location and text. Asif has also written extensively about the contemporary politics of Pakistan, collected in his book Where the Wild Frontiers Are.
Presented by: This event is sponsored by the Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life, and co-sponsored by the Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality; the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma; the Center for International History; the Institute for the Study of Human RightsMiddle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies at Columbia University; and the Organization of Pakistani Students.