Join us for a talk by
Mrinalini Sinha (Professor of History, University of Michigan):
The Political in Question: Abolitionism in India’s 20th Century
Friday, October 23, 2015
The Institute for Public Knowledge, 20 Cooper Square, 5th Floor
Histories of politics in India frequently distinguish between the domains of elite and of popular or subaltern politics. The latter is typically expressed in the idiom of the fragment and identified with the particular rather than with the universal. This talk engages with the popular politics of the anti-indenture movement in India to raise the following questions: what happens when popular politics makes a claim to the universal? What does such an “impossible” politics suggest about the nature of the political itself?
South Asia NYU,
Department of History at NYU,
The Center for International History at Columbia University
Department of History
“From ‘Improvement’ to ‘Slum Rehabilitation’: Urban expansion and the fates of cooperative housing in Bombay”
Friday, February 27, 2-4pm
Discussant: Tania Bhattacharyya
Professor Rao is a scholar of urban history and urban economic and political development in South Asia. Rao is the author of House, but No Garden: Apartment Living in Bombay’s Suburbs, 1898–1964 (Minnesota, 2012)
*(poster image is detail from UGO Architecture‘s imagined redesign of Dharavi)
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.
April 8, 2014
REFRAMING ‘INDIA’ IN EXILE: THE EXCENTRICITIES OF PERIPHERAL VISION AND A VIEW FROM THE CENTRE
Location: Fayerweather 411
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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March 31, 2014
REMOVER OF OBSTACLES: GANESH AND THE PERSISTENCE OF MYTHOLOGICAL GENRE IN HINDI CINEMA
Abstract: 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
Speakers: Rachel Dwyer (SOAS)
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