1. Vernacular Urbanism, Panel 1

    03:15:24

    from Center for South Asia / Added

    37 Plays / / 0 Comments

    The four major metropolitan cities in India, Mumbai, Delhi, Calcutta and Chennai, have a paradigmatic place in the literature on urban life in the entire region. Large cities like Bangalore and Ahmedabad are scantily studied as urban spaces, and so are Lahore, Karachi and Kathmandu. Other major urban spaces, such as Dhaka or Colombo, or Lucknow and Kanpur are hardly studied in their contemporary form. However, the biggest absence in the scholarly understanding of urban South Asia is the massive landscape of hundreds of provincial cities, many of them exceeding 500.000 people. Most of these cities have emerged in the past few decades from being minor towns, local railway hubs and minor industrial centers. The seminar will be devoted to explore two larger questions: (1) what spatial, political and cultural imaginings and designs define the public life of provincial cities? Does the metropolitan areas in the region provide hegemonic models or do we see attempts to define aesthetics, symbolsandurbaninstitutionsthatreflectspecificregional histories? (2) As urban centers grow and diversify in terms of communities of caste, language and religion what are the relations between ‘community’ as an ethical and practical structure, and the commercialization of public life, increasingly mediated by access to capital, land and coveted private sector jobs? Is the older proverbial contradiction between capital and community giving way to a new (and yet old) ‘caste capitalism’ where caste and community are the most important forces shaping and enabling mobility and accumulation of wealth in urban spaces across South Asia?

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    • Vernacular Urbanism, Panel 2

      02:59:37

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      The four major metropolitan cities in India, Mumbai, Delhi, Calcutta and Chennai, have a paradigmatic place in the literature on urban life in the entire region. Large cities like Bangalore and Ahmedabad are scantily studied as urban spaces, and so are Lahore, Karachi and Kathmandu. Other major urban spaces, such as Dhaka or Colombo, or Lucknow and Kanpur are hardly studied in their contemporary form. However, the biggest absence in the scholarly understanding of urban South Asia is the massive landscape of hundreds of provincial cities, many of them exceeding 500.000 people. Most of these cities have emerged in the past few decades from being minor towns, local railway hubs and minor industrial centers. The seminar will be devoted to explore two larger questions: (1) what spatial, political and cultural imaginings and designs define the public life of provincial cities? Does the metropolitan areas in the region provide hegemonic models or do we see attempts to define aesthetics, symbolsandurbaninstitutionsthatreflectspecificregional histories? (2) As urban centers grow and diversify in terms of communities of caste, language and religion what are the relations between ‘community’ as an ethical and practical structure, and the commercialization of public life, increasingly mediated by access to capital, land and coveted private sector jobs? Is the older proverbial contradiction between capital and community giving way to a new (and yet old) ‘caste capitalism’ where caste and community are the most important forces shaping and enabling mobility and accumulation of wealth in urban spaces across South Asia?

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      • Far From the Nation Close to the State: Hazy Sovereignty and Anxious Citizenship in India’s North East, Panel 3

        02:55:11

        from Center for South Asia / Added

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        Northeast India has for decades constituted the limit of India’s cultural and political imagination. Media, policy makers, development experts, and scholars alike present the region as a dysfunctional landscape inhabited by ethnic political entrepreneurs, corrupt politicians, armed forces fighting semi-permanent insurgencies, and backward tribal groups. A zone of natural beauty and ‘primitive culture’, yet largely irrelevant to national political and cultural life.

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        • Techniques of the City: City, Knowledge, and Surveillance

          02:53:56

          from Center for South Asia / Added

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          Discussant: S. Vivek Ravi Sundaram, Senior Fellow, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies "Information, crisis and postcolonial urbanism" For many years urban planning in India offered a representational grid through which the city became visible for the postcolonial elite. With the cycles of chaotic urban expansion after globalization, planning is now in crisis. Planning has been replaced by a discourse of urban infrastructure. Intrinsic to the infrastructural turn are new technologies of managing urban populations. These initiatives range from biometric cards for slum dwellers which are linked to governmental welfare schemes, enumeration of urban land by linking it to digitized property titling schemes, CCTV platforms to survey streets and neighborhoods, massive transportation databases that are linked to GPS enabled road machines, and large GIS mapping initiatives . Along with the recent biometric UID scheme to be deployed at the national level, these technological interventions have little parallel in any postcolonial society, dwarfing many such schemes worldwide in their ambition. What are the stakes for the postcolonial urban after the informational turn? Are we witnessing the beginning of new technologies of urban surveillance or, new instabilities linked to the informational turn? Zephyr Frank, Department of History, Stanford University "Reading Rio de Janeiro: an essay in spatial history" The paper deconstructs the space of downtown Rio, using graphics as well as text, with a focus on the 19th century. I can provide the paper for pre-circulation by the end of the week. Vyjayanthi Rao, Department of Anthropology, The New School of Social Research "Speculative Cities: Structures and Infrastructures" What are the stakes for the postcolonial urban after the informational turn? Are we witnessing the beginning of new technologies of urban surveillance or, new instabilities linked to the informational turn?

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          • Vernacular Urbanism: Panel 3

            02:41:09

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            Will Glover, University of Michigan: The Small Town in Colonial Punjab Durba Chattaraj, University of Cambridge: Notes along National Highway 117 Bea Jauregui, University of Cambridge: Policing the Provincial City: From Little Kingdoms to Little Kingpins in Contemporary Lucknow

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            • Writing Under Siege: South Asian Writers on Civil War

              02:36:49

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              F eaturing: Basharat Peer V.V. Ganeshananthan Tsering Wangmo Pireeni Sundaralingam Moderated by: Vilashini Coopan, UC Santa Cruz Saikat Majumdar, Stanford University Civil wars are not always experienced within the terms they are fought. Their tangible effects are often describable for social scientists in terms of destruction of infrastructure, loss of human lives, and mass displacements. The more intangible life of violence as it seeps into everyday relations, families, mundane objects, dreams and fantasies is much harder to articulate. It is to give voice to this intangible yet pervasive violence that we often turn to literature. This event brings together emerging South Asian writers whose lives have been shaped directly or indirectly by civil war to reflect upon what writing can do for the writer and for the reader.

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              • Making India Visible: The National-Popular Sensorium

                02:13:32

                from Center for South Asia / Added

                185 Plays / / 0 Comments

                Saloni Mathur, UCLA Modalities of the Museum in South Asia For the past six years, I have been involved in a collaborative research project that has taken the form of a multi-faceted investigation into the history and theory of museums in South Asia. My paper will provide a brief overview of the many issues and phenomena uncovered by this project related to museums and their contexts of display in Indian society. I will foreground, in particular, the museum’s relationship to the realm of “the popular,” a theme that emerged as a central preoccupation of India’s so-called Museum Movement in the decades following Independence. From the late 1940’s on, the members of the latter sought a far-reaching re-examination of the museum’s role in Indian society through a redefinition of its responsibility to the public. And yet, their self-conscious efforts to “popularize” the institution reveal a number of enduring conceptual difficulties with respect to the issue of the museum’s mass audience, the interface between subalterity and spectatorship, and the relationship of the museum as an urban institution to India’s rural populations. Building on the work of Tapati Guha-Thakurta and Gyan Prakash, which has highlighted the question of colonial visitorship in several important ways, I situate a perspective on the nexus of issues regarding the colonial/postcolonial museum in South Asia at the intersection of recent approaches to popular culture, the visual sphere, and modernism’s unfolding in the Indian subcontinent. Ranjani Mazumdar, Jawaharlal Nehru University “Retro Bombay in Contemporary Cinema” Indian cities in the last two decades have witnessed major transformations. The rise of innovative architectural designs, new forms of infrastructure and the ubiquitous presence of technological gadgets have marked this moment as globalization. This transformation has created a dense visual and aural landscape in which the sound of the cell phone follows us everywhere along with new surfaces and objects that pervade the city. The intoxicating sensorium generated by urban renewal, shop signage, branding, and the power of light is making the ruins of the old industrial city slowly fade away. It is this juncture that has triggered off a cinematic re-visiting of Bombay’s pre-globalized urban form. Mani Ratnam’s Guru (2007), Sudhir Mishra’s Khoya Khoya Chand (2007), Milan Luthria’s Once Upon a Time in Mumbai (2010), Chandan Arora’s Striker (2010), and Mahesh Manjrekar's City of Gold (2010) are examples of films that have created vivid images of Bombay before the advent of globalization. The narratives of these 21st century films are located at different moments of the last sixty years. The films draw on perceived notions of Bombay’s recent past, to specifically design a city devoid of the signs of the present. These urban 'sets' created by production and costume designers contain familiar and antiquated material. The sets are either constructed in studios or generated through a transformation of real locations, to adapt to the time of the films. Production designers work with a material memory of the past - magazines, films, photographs, memoirs, paintings, architectural manuals, and music. There is a fascination with outmoded or obsolete technology, older forms of home decor, fashion and accessories. The retro past is always a recent past, a nostalgic admiration for a world that has just passed us by. The act of revisiting draws from both high and low forms and is consumed by aesthetic tensions. This paper engages with the material, cultural and historical transactions involved in the recreation of India’s best known city before the entry of globalization. Rachel Dwyer, SOAS, University of London “The Biggest Star of All: The Elephant in Indian Cinema” The aesthetics of the Indian elephant were famously invoked by M.F. Husain in his film Gajagamini, she who has the gait of an elephant. This paper explores the aesthetics of the Indian elephant (elephas maximus indicus), which was declared a National Heritage Animal in 2010, in view of its contribution to Indian culture and history. It is not surprising that the elephant features in Hindi film, but it is striking that it features in a range of genres, where it is shown to have a complex status, being divine, a moral and noble animal with human qualities, as well as a working animal participating in warfare and in circuses. The elephant’s qualities are often contrasted with those of humans, with the elephant always esteemed for its moral rectitude, its devotion, its dedication and its sense of joy. Although the Hindi film cannot feature the elephant’s current status as an endangered species whose only predator is man, it does create an interest and empathy for this symbolically significant animal.

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                • Civility at the LImit of the Political: Session II with Dipesh Chakrabarty and Vinayak Chaturvedi

                  02:07:28

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                  Dipesh Chakrabarty Civility, Incivility, and Some Indian Arguments About the West My talk will focus on how the West figured in cultural debates in India before independence and contrast that with debates today to highlight both the legacy of civility that anti-colonial nationalism in India bequeathed to the nation and its subsequent erosion in postcolonial politics. Vinayak Chaturvedi Hindu Civility and the Impossibility of Hindutva In Six Glorious Epochs of Indian History, published in 1971, V.D. Savarkar argues that only those individuals who fully embody the principles of Hindutva exhibit “Hindu civility.” In contrast, he does not consider Hindus who claim to be refined, polite, courteous, and non-violent to have any understanding of civility. In fact, he suggests that these individuals are actually uncivilized. Savarkar’s discussion of “Hindu civility” is connected to a larger discussion of the Hindu codes of conduct during periods of what he calls the “Hindu-Muslim epic wars.” Savarkar’s interpretation of sabhyata challenged the existing contemporary debates on civility in colonial and postcolonial India. His point was not simply to provide counterarguments to the normative or accepted understanding of civility, or to reject the interpretations of his contemporaries who linked civility to passive resistance, satyagraha, or non-violence. Instead, Savarkar wanted to assert his interpretation of Hindu civility within public discourse as a way to promote the essentials of Hindutva. For Savarkar, this means that Hindus need to exhibit bravery, valor, and heroism at every stage of their lives to protect the civilization at all costs. The Hindu code of conduct needs to be at the center of all interactions, especially during periods of warfare—the examples he cites in SGE are Muslim invasions, Muslim conversions, and Muslim rule. In many instances, the use of violence is both virtuous and ethical. However, Savarkar points out that many individuals simply rejected the Hindu code of conduct to promote non-violence and toleration of Muslims. Others converted to Islam without any resistance. In effect, the actions and thoughts of these Hindus was an abandonment of Hindu civilization—of Hindu civility, of Hindu sabhyata.

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                  • Sri Lanka Intersections, Panel 3: Political Formations and Transformations

                    02:00:49

                    from Center for South Asia / Added

                    79 Plays / / 0 Comments

                    Devaka Gunawardena, UCLA Left perspectives of the Sri Lankan conflict My paper sketches a contrast between two concepts of ethnicity in the Sri Lankan governments of the United Front (1970-77) and the People's Alliance (1994-2001). In particular, it examines the way in which the category of ethnicity was redeployed by Left theorists associated with these specific regimes. The paper looks at several key texts of each period in order to identify the major positions. It finds that whereas in the United Front ethnicity was reduced to class, in the People's Alliance ethnicity was operationalized as an autonomous variable of research and policy making. The overall goal of this paper is to understand the underlying debate among Leftists as part of the constitution of a local Sri Lankan archive of political thought. This archive is linked as well to global discussions of Marxism and the national question. Ben Pasquale, NYU The Social Legacies of Civil War in Eastern Sri Lanka What are the social legacies of exposure to war-time violence on civilians in eastern Sri Lanka? While much research has focused on the causes of participation in armed groups or conflict exposure, relative little systematic evidence has analyzed post-war trajectories, particularly in areas exposed to high levels of war-time violence. To measure the impact of exposure to violence on local social cohesion, I pair villages that were exposed to violence between the LTTE and Colonel Karuna's TMVP using an original newspaper dataset of conflict events from 2004 to 2008. In approximately 40 villages affected by such events as well as a comparable set of 40 villages that were not affected in this period I will complete a household-survey and an embedded behavioral experiment in order to measure social cooperation. I plan to complete a pilot of the described survey and embedded experiment in January 2013 with the help of Social Indicators, the survey wing of the Centre for Policy Alternatives (based in Colombo). Nalika Gajaweera, UC Irvine Buddhism without Borders?: Dana, Humanitarianism and NGO work in Post-Tsunami Sri Lanka

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                    • Kashmir Symposium: Contested Histories, Ayesha Jalal, Suvir Kaul, and Mridu Rai

                      02:00:20

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                      629 Plays / / 0 Comments

                      Regional Patriotism, Religious Universalism: the Kashmir-Punjab Nexus, 1931-2011 Ayesha Jalal Mary Richardson Professor of History, Tufts University The first part of this paper will focus on the links that were established in the decade of the 1930s between the Muslim politics of Kashmir and the Punjab. In the aftermath of the 1931 protests against princely authoritarianism in Srinagar, the rivalry between the Ahrars and Ahmadis for political ascendancy in the Punjab came to be fought on the terrain of Kashmir. Not just the poetry, but also the politics of Iqbal, will be shown to have exemplified this connection. The intersection of issues of class and sect with Kashmiri regional patriotism and religious universalism needs to be fathomed to get a clear sense of the border-crossing nature of Kashmiri politics. The paper will in its second part move toward an analysis of the interplay of regional patriotism and religious universalism in the post-colonial era, especially during the last two decades. Training the spotlight exclusively on the terror networks that undoubtedly exist between Pakistani Punjab and Kashmir misses the broader contours of historical and kinship ties between the two regions that give the Kashmiri cause its emotive appeal beyond its strict regional borders. 
 The third and final part of the paper will propose the principles on which a just and lasting settlement can be reached in Kashmir that can accommodate regional as well as universalist aspirations that are grounded in history. The dictum – “we cannot change borders, but we can make them irrelevant” – must be able to address the complexities of the Kashmir-Punjab nexus if it is to be a successful basis for finally resolving the Kashmir imbroglio. Muhammad Iqbal was not alone among the poets and publicists in the Punjab who eloquently supported the Kashmiri cause. "Kashmir
 and
 the 
Challenge 
of 
Postcolonial 
Politics"
 Suvir
 Kaul


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