[ South Asia Table of Contents ]
[ Panels by World Area Main Menu ]
[ View the Timetable of Panels ]
Organizer: Irfan A. Omar, Marquette University
Chair: Theodore P. Wright, Jr., State University of New York, Albany
Discussant: Michael H. Fisher, Oberlin College
Keywords: Dara Shikoh, religion, South Asia, interfaith relations, 17th20th centuries.
The present-day discursive and political antagonisms between those who wish to project unitary Hindu and Islamic communities in South Asia, have incorporated mutually derogatory historical rhetoric, with many Hindus and Muslims accusing one another of contributing nothing positive to South Asian civilization, and only agreeing that their respective religious traditions are mutually exclusive. This leads us back to a period when serious attempts were being made, both in devotional movements of religious culture in north India and in the high culture of the imperial court, to reconcile these two traditions and their apparently divergent worldviews. This period is represented in the first half of the Mughal Empire, when some seers, scholars, and rulers were pursuing such reconciliation. One of the most outstanding representatives can be found in the person and works of Dara Shikoh (16151659 C.E.) who devoted concentrated scholarly efforts to the comparison of the texts and philosophies of the Hindu and Islamic traditions. This panel will examine and assess various aspects of Shikohs creative efforts, found mostly in his translations and commentaries on fifty classical Hindu Upanishads into Persian and his own methodical comparative reflections on the Absolutism of Quranic and Advaita Vedanta thought. The individual papers will explore various hermeneutic receptions of Shikoh by selected contemporary South Asian Hindus and Muslims in India and Pakistan who see in his work an entire spectrum of possible religious and socio-political meanings, ranging from the possibilities of inter-religious dialogue to threats to and reaffirmations of orthodoxy.
The Unlikely Commentator: The Hermeneutic Reception of Shankaras Thought in the Interpretive Scholarship of Dara Shikoh
Douglas L. Berger, Oakton Community College
During the first half of the Mughal Empire, when religious and philosophical exchanges of ideas and influences between the Brahminical, Devotional Hindu, Orthodox, and Sufi Islamic traditions were in vogue, the ancient Upanishads and the Advaita Vedantic interpretation of them became the beneficiaries of an unlikely commentator. Prince Dara Shikoh, scholar and claimant to the imperial throne, translated fifty classical Upanishads into Persian along with interlinear commentaries of Shankaracarya. Calling the Upanishads the first historical revelation of pure monotheism to humanity and equating Shankaras formulation of "knowledge of the absolute" (brahmavidya) with ultimate mystical knowledge of God, Shikohas a Sufientered into philosophical dialogue with the Brahminical tradition in an extraordinarily hermeneutically complex and creative fashion. This paper examines Dara Shikohs reception and appropriation of classical Brahminical philosophy in his translations and commentary on Sirr-i-Akbar, Majma al bahrain, and his debates with Baba Lal, a Hindu yogi, in order to critically assess and appreciate Shikohs interpretive achievements.
Dara Shikohs Intellectual and Mystical Vision and Its Implications for Hindu-Muslim Relations
Irfan A. Omar, Marquette University
Muslims arrived in India at the start of the 8th century. They came as traders, conquerors, travelers and scholars. For most of the time since then, many Muslims and Hindus have been at odds with each other, operating in parallel spheres. It is widely believed that orthodox Muslims strict distaste for idol worship is the root cause of their rigid stance against Hinduism, and Hindus have often regarded Muslims as "outsiders" despite the fact that a vast majority of Muslims in India are of native stock. In the midst of this long history together we find examples of Hindu-Muslim interface that seem to defy these religions alleged incompatibility with each other. One such example is to be found in the life and work of Prince Dara Shikoh. Shikoh as a Sufi had a deep interest in and appreciation for Hindu mystical ideas. Based on his knowledge and mystical experience Shikoh seems to argue for a certain parity("transparency") as enumerated through his comparative study and scholarshipbetween Islam and Hinduism in the realm of "essence" but giving little credence to the otherwise highlighted disparities ("walls") or theological, cultural, and social boundaries separating the two religions. This paper explores the lessons that can be learned from Shikohs mystical posture and the impact of his knowledge of, and appreciation for, Hindu mystical wisdom on the state of relations between Hindus and Muslims of north India, as well as future prospects for dialogue between members of their communities.
Contemporary Pakistani Views of Dara Shikoh and Aurangzeb
David Pinault, Santa Clara University
This paper explores the uses to which Mughal history has been put in the writings of historians, polemicists, and pamphleteers in contemporary Pakistan. I focus on Prince Dara Shikoh and his rival, the emperor Aurangzeb. Contemporary authors have used these rivals as ways to discuss contested issues that are relevant to todays Pakistani society, most notably Muslim-Hindu relations and the status of religious minorities in Islamic-majority states. Apologists for Dara Shikoh emphasize his collaboration with Hindu pundits and his translation of the Upanishads. Thereby they explore the possibilities for interfaith dialogue and the development of a humanistic tradition within Islam. Partisans of Aurangzeb celebrate this emperor as a champion of Muslim communal solidarity.
In addition to examining historical works, I present findings from my fieldwork with members of matami guruhan (neighborhood-based Shia ritual lamentation associations) in Lahore and Peshawar. For many South Asian Shias today, Aurangzeb remains a byword for Sunni persecution of Shias, an issue of enduring importance in communal politics. Finally, I discuss leaflet material I have collected in Pakistan; for example, a flier that cites Aurangzebs name (and his reputation for puritan orthodoxy) to justify a recent campaign by religious militants to suppress Lahores Basant (spring/kite festival) celebrations in the name of Islamic orthodoxy.
Session 28: Fifty Years of Wonder: A. L. Bashams Legacy and Contemporary South Asian History
Organizer and Chair: Richard H. Davis, Bard College
Fifty years ago A. L. Basham, professor of South Asian history at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, published The Wonder That Was India, a serious attempt to "interpret ancient Indian civilization" for the "ordinary Western reader." For many years Wonder has served as an entry point into the study of early Indian civilization; Ron Inden aptly speaks of it as the "hegemonic text" of the immediate post-Independence period.
This panel proposes a critical appreciation of Bashams The Wonder that was India from a fifty-year perspective. Three of the four panelists are Bashams former students. We intend to use this forum as an opportunity to reflect on Bashams critical choices in composing his work, his role in the development of South Asia studies in South Asia, Europe, and North America, the changes in South Asian historiography since Bashams time, and the challenges confronting those who would "interpret ancient Indian civilization" fifty years after Wonder.
Bashams Big Book
Thomas R. Trautmann, University of Michigan
Bashams book was written and first published in England in the age of decolonization. But it owes its (unwanted) title to Edgar Allen Poe, the hugeness of its (improbable) success to America, and its (indefinite) future to India. How did this thick and dauntingly technical text, which a reviewer whom Basham liked to quote called a "charnel house of facts," become an academic best seller? What shaped its makeup and its reception? The paper explores the answers to these questions, which have to do with the peculiar historical conjuncture of the time and the qualities of the book itself.
Basham and the New History in India
Romila Thapar, Jawaharlal Nehru University
This talk will reflect on studying with Basham at SOAS in London and on the role his work played in subsequent changes in the study of history in India. In particular, it will address how The Wonder That Was India fit with the development of a new historiography in India, more closely related to the social sciences, during the post-Independence period. How was Bashams work received among Indian historians during that period? Finally, this talk will address the challenge of writing a general history of Indian civilization for ordinary readers in the 1950s, such as Bashams, and in the present.
On Values and Historic Interpretation
Benjamin Preciado Solis, El Colegio de Mexico
Since its first appearance, the book of A. L. Basham The Wonder That Was India has won the applause and appreciation of the public and the recognition of specialists. As decades have passed, the general public continues to favor the book, whereas from some quarters of the academic world criticism has risen. This fact has to do with different schools and currents of historic interpretation and history writing as much as with differing positions in regard to values and principles, both in academia and contemporary society
In the present paper we will try to analyze some issues that come forward through the reading of The Wonder That Was India and that of its critics. These problems relate closely to the interpretation of cultures and their contact and mutual understanding.
Rewriting the History of India in the 1950s
Richard H. Davis, Bard College
Bashams major work, The Wonder That Was India, occupies a significant transitional position in the historiography of South Asia. Writing in the years immediately following the Independence of India and Pakistan, Basham writes as an enthusiast of South Asia, but much of his work is based on earlier researches and premises of colonial period historians. In this paper, I wish to view Bashams work, and the choices he made in writing Wonder, in the context of other attempts in the mid-1950s to reconstitute the study of South Asian civilization in a postcolonial setting. In particular I will consider Basham alongside the "social anthropology of civilizations" approach developed in the United States by Robert Redfield and Milton Singer and the comprehensive multivolume History and Culture of the Indian People sponsored by the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan and edited by R. C. Majumdar.
Session 29: Legal Contestations: Womens Rights and Religious Laws in Colonial and Contemporary South Asia
Organizer: Rina Williams, Rice University
Chair: Gail Minault, University of Texas, Austin
Discussants: Gail Minault, University of Texas, Austin; Erin Moore, University of Southern California
Keywords: women and gender, religion, personal laws, Islamic activism, Hinduism, widows, inheritance.
This panel analyzes the effects of religious law on women and womens rights as religion has become increasingly politicized throughout South Asia. In Indias religious legal system of "personal laws," matters such as marriage and divorce are governed by an individuals religion, while in Bangladesh the return to democracy has brought religious groups and women as political actors into the democratic process. Has the politicization of religious law harmed or helped womens rights in South Asia, historically and today? The papers, together, find that religious law has come to constitute a context in which womens rights are debated and determined.
Williams paper demonstrates how womens rights were subordinated to religious minority rights and national integration in the debates over the personal laws in India from the 1950s on. Shehabuddins paper examines how the elite Jamaat-i Islami movement has re-defined and re-presented itself and its vision of Islamic law to court the votes of lower class Bangladeshi women. Finally, Prasads paper discusses how Hindu widows used the Anglo-Indian courts newly established jurisdiction over religious personal law to secure their property rights in late-nineteenth-century India. Thus the papers demonstrate a dynamic engagement between womens rights and religious law, from which no clear picture of women as purely losers or winners emerges. Rather, religious law becomes the context in which womens rights are determined: at times they are subordinated to other discourses (democracy, nationalism), while at other times women are able to use religious law to gain legal rights or political power.
The Hindu Widow and Inheritance: Legal Battles in Colonial North India, 18761911
Nita Verma Prasad, University of California, Berkeley
This paper examines the Hindu widows involvement in inheritance disputes in colonial north India. "Hindu law" lays down precise rules for the inheritance of property. For the Hindu widow, these rules dictated the nature of her title to the estate of her deceased husbandin other words, what she could and could not do with her inheritance.
Despite these rules, many widows found themselves turning to the Anglo-Indian courts in order to defend or enforce their rights vis-ą-vis their inherited estates. Most cases involved widows either suing or being sued by their affinal family: widows, for example, would bring their in-laws to court for denial of property or rights or were sometimes brought to court for selling or mortgaging inherited property. Using the court records from these cases, this paper focuses on those disputes that were heard by the Allahabad High Court between 1876 and 1911.
These legal records paint a picture of an active widowone who fought for her inheritance and defended her financial decisions. This picture is in stark contrast to the pathetic and helpless Hindu widow described in current historiography. Todays literature shows widows who are abused by both their in-laws and society at large, tonsured, banned from social events, often abandonedwomen who have died a social death. This paper challenges this picture of the Hindu widow, showing instead a woman who continues to fight for her financial future and position in society.
Womens Souls, Womens Votes: Gender and Islamic Activism in Bangladesh
Elora Rahnuma Shehabuddin, Rice University
The Jamaat-i Islami in Bangladesh, which seeks to establish an Islamic state and legal system by democratic means, has made numerous ideological compromises since its founding, usually in response to political realities in Pakistan and, later, Bangladesh. Once restricted to elite men, it has sought to expand its support base over the years, especially with its growing involvement in electoral politics. In Bangladesh, the Jamaat has emerged as a key player in national politics, primarily as a crucial parliamentary alliance partner. Now almost as concerned with numbers as its rivals in the democratic process, the Jamaat in Bangladesh appears to have recognized that it cannot expect to win national power if it relies exclusively on an educated support base in the midst of mass illiteracy or if it neglects the concerns of impoverished women. Courted by international donors, NGOs, and multinationals in a way that their male relatives are not, impoverished women have emerged as an important constituency in formal politics, with a vocal interest in education and employment opportunities. This paper explores how Jamaat workers in Bangladesh seek to cultivate a loyal following among a largely unlettered, impoverished, female population, given that the curriculum that is the very cornerstone of the Jamaats Islamization process was designed with an elite, and indeed male, readership in mind. How exactly do Jamaat workers "translate" that scholarship for such a different yet "electorally significant" group? Does sympathy for the Jamaats religious teachings necessarily translate into votes for the party?
Gender and Religious Law in India: Political Discourse and the Personal Laws
Rina Williams, Rice University
Family laws in India ("personal laws") are governed by an individuals religion. Because the personal laws are based on religion, they are often seen as discriminating against women, giving unequal legal rights in matters such as marriage and property inheritance. The personal laws have been used in different ways to serve various agendas over timethey have, at different times, been portrayed as an issue of womens rights; as an issue of social, and therefore national, integration and unity; and as an issue of minority rights and religious freedom. This paper examines how the personal laws have been defined in political discourse by comparing two periods: the 1950s and the 1980s.
In the 1950s, Hindu personal law was reformed, while in the 1980s attempts to reform Muslim personal law failed. In the 1950s, reformers successfully defined the personal laws as an issue of modernization and national integration. In the 1980s, conservatives successfully defined the personal laws as an issue of protecting minority religious rights. In both periods, arguments were made about gender equity and womens legal rights. But in both periods, the discourse of gender rights was subsumed by another discourse: in the 1950s by nationalism, and in the 1980s by religion. As a result, the personal laws have never been defined primarily as a matter of womens rights. Indeed, the paper concludes that, like the 1950s and the 1980s, the personal laws continue to be defined in terms of nationalism and religion even today.
Session 48: Postcolonial Cities and the Question of Social Order
Organizer: Raka Ray, University of California, Berkeley
Chair: Vasudha Dalmia, University of California, Berkeley
Discussant: Lawrence Cohen, University of California, Berkeley
Keywords: postcolonial, city, violence, Hindu Right, servants, middle class, refugee, Mohan Rakesh.
The postcolonial city in India has been a crucial site of modernist anxieties and aspirations. At different moments, particular subjects have come to symbolize both the hopes and the fears of cities, because they either haunt the margins of social life or mark the changing order of the city. This panel explores the apprehension of old city dwellers in post-partition Delhi as immigrants become the new bourgeoisie; the discourses of violence that are repeatedly rehearsed amongst Hindu right-wing youth groups in the neighborhoods of Delhi today; and the domestic anxieties of middle class Kolkata wrought by the spatial and social transformations in its urban formation.
Artist and Bourgeois in Post-Partition Delhi
Vasudha Dalmia, University of California, Berkeley
Set in the changing cultural landscape of the post partition capital of the new nation, Mohan Rakeshs Andhere band kamare (1961, Dark, closeted rooms) narrates the life of the city as much as that of the writer/dancer couple at the center of it. The euphoria of independence has already begun to ebb as the city stretches to accommodate the refugees who will more than double its population within the first decade of independence. Still traumatized by the memories of the brutal violence which accompanied the birth of the nation, and propelled by the need to found a new existence, the newcomers will change the very character of the city, itself preoccupied with keeping abreast of the changes brought about by the rapid "transfer of power." Lutyens Delhi will be occupied by Indian civil servants; the coffee house and restaurants of Connaught Place will house the hub of journalists, intellectuals, and artists, who will be the mainstay of the cultural scene. In exploring the troubled lives of the artists and professionals who create the new cultural patterns as well as seek to fit into them, the paper will be concerned with the formation of national culture, the construction of the "classical" Indian and the metropolitan stamp of approval which will find new avenues to retain its authenticating power.
Neighborhood, Locality, City: Alternative Geographies, Commodity Cultures, and the Spaces of "Hindu" Violence
Sanjay Srivastava, Deakin University
"Religious violence" in India, it has been suggested, is grounded in movements of cultural nationalism that are articulated through discourses of founding myths and a promised return to an original"whole"state of being fragmented by a religious other. This paper, based on a period of fieldwork in Kotla Mubarakpur and Tagore Park in Delhi among Bajrang Dal activists, suggests an alternative perspective through an exploration of the experience of the city. It argues that discourses of violence may also seek to valorize the experience of fragmentation and hence to maintain a deep cultural experience of modernity. The paper proceeds through a discussion of spaceboth actual and imaginedat the level of the neighborhood, the articulation between the neighborhood and the state, the construction of the "seminal" family, commodity cultures, and the experience of multiple modernities.
From the Big House to the Apartment: Domestic Anxiety and Spatial Transformation in Kolkata
Seemin Qayum, Independent Scholar; Raka Ray, University of California, Berkeley
The paper explores the disintegration and the rearticulation of the urban zamindari model in postcolonial Kolkata through an investigation of its culture of domestic servitude. It traces the transformations in urban formation through the trope of the "big house," and its attendant domestic social relations, to its incomplete replacement in the modern apartment. We analyze two distinctive social formations. Feudal land and labor relations associated with the zamindari system marked the colonial big house. Apartment buildings (flat bari) represent "office" and industrial Kolkata. The old feudal houses had been occupied by multi-generational joint families of the landed gentry and their servants. Modern apartment buildings typically, though not always, house variations of the nuclear family and, sometimes, servants.
The culture or ethos of the colonial feudal household stands in complex relation to the expectations of employers and servants today. The paper argues that the tensions and confusion which permeate the relations of domestic servitude are the reflection of spatial and social dislocations. Thus the "servant problem" is never just about servant, but about nostalgia for a time when things seemed more certain and life easier. Anxieties about a changing domestic and world order are projected onto the body of the servant. Questions about the contested spaces and subjectivities of servants and employers are, in effect, interrogations of a changing urban order.
Session 49: Recent Changes in Indian Family Law: Marriage and Divorce among the Communities
Organizer: Narendra Subramanian, McGill University
Chair: Srimati Basu, DePauw University
Discussants: Jayanth K. Krishnan, William Mitchell College; Srimati Basu, DePauw University
Keywords: family law, legal pluralism, gender relations, secularism, social and cultural policy.
Scholars and observers often mention the tensions between Indias family law system and the postcolonial states commitments to secularism and gender equality. However, the received view of Indian legal pluralism gives little attention to the division of law-making and adjudicative powers, the scope this provides for change, and the nature and extent of recent changes. Law-making powers are divided between the national and state legislatures, the judiciary, and some community institutions. Adjudicative powers rest primarily with the courts, and secondarily with community institutions. The influences on these institutions, the ideologies that constitute them, and the constraints they face vary. Legislatures, the judiciary, and community institutions introduced various changes in family law over the last generation. The panel explores some recent and important changes in marriage and divorce law.
The papers use different analytical methodsethnography and textual analysis, the intensive study of community and family courts in a city, and the comparison of crucial judgments in India and other countries with plural legal systems. Shylashri Shankar compares the approaches of the apex courts of India and Israel to the marriage and divorce rights of women in majority and minority religious groups. Gopika Solanki explores the interplay between patterns of adjudication in three caste councils in Mumbai and ongoing community formation. Srimati Basu tracks the discourse of divorce in legislative and judicial contexts, focusing on points of anxiety around gender relations and efficient administration. Narendra Subramanian examines the recent legislative reform of Christian law, but not of Muslim law, amidst the ongoing judicial reform of both Christian and Muslim law. The panel sheds light on different sources of change in Indian family law and the implications of these changes for gender relations, cultural pluralism, and secularism.
Courts, Gender Rights, and Secularism in India and Israel
Shylashri Shankar, University of Texas, Austin
Women belong as citizens of a state and as members of a religious group. If secularism deals with the notion of equal protection of religious rights, citizenship deals with the notion of equal civil rights. How do states espousing secularism deal with clashes between these two rights? In particular, I will examine the role of the apex court in mediating the issue.
The paper will assess how the apex court in India and Israel deals with marriage and divorce rights of women in majority and minority religious groups. It will focus on how the Israeli Supreme Court treats cases brought by Jewish and Muslim women in matters of marriage and divorce and how the Indian Supreme Court rules on similar issues for Hindu and Muslim/ Christian women. The hypothesis is that the courts tend to uphold equal civil rights only if there is judicial review within the context of a liberal democratic constitution. Otherwise, civil rights are held hostage to religious rights, i.e., court verdicts will uphold equal civil rights for women in majority religious groups and equal religious rights for minority religious groups at the expense of the civil rights of women in such groups. Our findings will help us understand the tension between secularism and equal citizenship in multi-religious procedural democracies. They will address current debates on the limits and extent of religious freedom by helping us focus on the processes and the conditions under which the rule of law privileges religious rights or equal citizenship.
Contesting Homogeneity from Within: A Comparative Study of Community-Based Adjudication Processes under the Hindu Law
Gopika Solanki, McGill University
The paper intends to make visible the politics of difference articulated by diverse communities/caste groups falling under the purview of the Hindu law. The paper argues that sub-groups among Hindu communities tend to use the adjudicative arena to assert their autonomy in matters of family laws, question the desirability of state regulation in internal affairs, and attempt to extend their authority in regulating family laws. The Hindu law recognizes caste councils as adjudicative bodies in matters related to marriage and divorce. The paper focuses on processes of community adjudication in three communities across caste hierarchies in the city of Mumbai.
The paper is divided in three parts. The first section highlights intra-community politics of contestation and consensus around the issue of codification of customs and laws within each community and outlines communities initiatives in evolving internal mechanisms to regulate family laws. This section traces shifts in content of law and adjudication procedures across time within the context of ongoing processes of community formation. The second part of the paper focuses on micropolitics of adjudication, draws on experiences of litigants, and compares areas of overlap and conflicts between the overarching Hindu law and community laws. The final part of the paper compares commonalities and differences in the process of adjudication across three communities and teases out implications for strategic and substantive politics of difference in India.
The Judiciary, the Legislature, and the Reform of Christian and Muslim Law
Narendra Subramanian, McGill University
Hindu law was the sole focus of legislative family law reform in India after independence. Legislative reforms which favor greater gender equality were introduced in Christian and Parsi law over the last decade, but not in Muslim law. Judicial reform predated and prompted the legislative reform of Christian divorce law. The judiciary introduced gender-equalizing reforms in Muslim maintenance and divorce law too from the late 1980s, but this did not lead to efforts at legislative reform. The paper explains the differences in the pattern of recent changes in Christian and Muslim law.
Greater mobilized reformist opinion emerged among Christians than among Muslims. Reformist Christian legal mobilizers engaged more with religious authorities, leading to agreement among them about the need for reform and aspects of the desired reforms. Besides, the government was more inclined to reform Christian than Muslim law, especially after the National Democratic Alliance assumed power in 1998. Indeed, when lawyers contested features of Muslim law in crucial cases, government attorneys defended precedent-backed conservative interpretations of Muslim law, hoping that judges would declare Muslim law to be incompatible with the Indian constitution, rather than urging the gender-equalizing interpretations of Muslim law that the judiciary adopted in some of these cases. As lawyers in the lower courts are more attentive to legislative than to judicial reform, more Christian than Muslim litigants use the opportunities that reforms have created. The paper indicates the implications of these changes for how Indian legal pluralism accommodates different cultural groups and influences gender relations within these groups.
Between Welfare, Equity, and Efficiency: Tracing the Trajectory of Hindu Marriage Law
Srimati Basu, DePauw University
This paper uses the lens of dissolution of marriage to explore histories of the family, particularly the ways in which notions of "marriage" and "family" are deployed in legislative and judicial renderings of divorce. In the postcolonial trajectory, from discussions around the Hindu Code Bill in the 1950s, the 1974 Report of the Committee on the Status of Women in India, the 1984 Lok Sabha debates around the Family Courts Bill, and the contemporary workings of divorce courts, certain anxieties rise to the fore: power relations and the resolution of violence, balancing the needs of children and adults, and the disputed contours of economic entitlements and responsibilities. I present a close reading of these discourses (using legislative debates, government documents, ethnographic data), considering contradictions such as that between discourses of the innate values of marriage preservation against discourses of power and violence within marriage. The tension between feminist policy visions imagining optimal marital dissolution and the unsatisfiable management of divorce point to the difficulties of enacting feminism into law.
Session 70: Modern Formations of South Asian Identities
Organizer and Chair: Julie F. Codell, Arizona State University
Discussant: Rosemary Marangoly George, University of California, San Diego
This interdisciplinary panel consists of scholars in history, literature, political science, religion, and philosophy. We will examine various literary, sociological, and historical documents to explore how South Asian identities were expressed or constructed as modern. For India since the 1850s, modernity was defined by the status of women, the capacity to travel, an emerging national identity, and often a contradistinction from, or adaptation to, European modernity. Two speakers papers bracket female gendered socialization over the last 100 years: one speaker examines transnational, domestic manuals, focusing on those for Bengali housewives; the other speaker analyzes Indian TV soap operas women characters as socializing forces for their predominantly female viewers. Domestic manuals and TV serials promote a hegemonic femininity as modern, while also restricting gender ideals. A paper on Indians narratives of travel to Europe examines travel as a mode for the formation of a modern Indian identity and themes of modernity that saturate these texts. Written between 1870 and 1900 for Indian readers, these texts advocate a measured modernity, adapting and resisting European "progress" to resolve readers conflicts balancing the modern and the traditional. The paper on modern, post-Partition, postcolonial Muslim identity within a peaceful, modern state brings to bear political notions of modernity on South Asians struggles to represent themselves as modern and Indian. Speakers address ways identities are defined against counter-identities (European or Hindu), as well as within concepts of tradition and modernity.
Global Domesticity and the Bengali Home
Judith E. Walsh Wilson, State University of New York, Old Westbury
During the 19th century a collection of middle-class, European ideas and practices on home and family life became a globally hegemonic discourse on domesticity. During the century, as this discourse grew in global influence and significance, variants of its ideological and practical concerns could be found in places and cultures as diverse as India, England, and the United States. In my paper I examine an important collection of late-19th-century Bengali-language domestic manuals against this wider, transnational background to consider how Bengali identities of home and family life were shaped and normalized by its advice. In the Bengali-language manuals, as in Western and Indian domestic writings, the home is imagined as a place of system, order, hygiene, and comfort, its disruptive physicality contained by the disciplined energy of the skillful housewife. In this paper, however, I am more interested in hybridity than in hegemony. Wherever we find domestic manuals in the 19th century, and regardless of the broader hegemonic discourse they incorporate, these writings are local in focus, responding authentically (not imitatively) to the places in which they exist and addressing the lived material conditions of their various domestic worlds. Thus, in the 1890 Bengali book The Duties of Women (Ramanir kartavya), order and efficiency are combined with a wealth of local advice. We have recipes ("Eggplant tarkari," "Prawn chop"), sewing instructions, advice for home construction and decorations, descriptions of housecleaning, and diagrammed instructions for mending a sock.
Indians Abroad: Indian Narratives of Travel to Europe
Julie F. Codell, Arizona State University
At the turn of the last century, ca. 1900, several Indians wrote of their experiences traveling to Great Britain and the Continent. Strategically marking points of cultural difference and of the authors own preferences, sometimes for European ways and sometimes for Indian ways, these authors directly addressed an Indian readership primarily, to coax Indians to travel abroad and to consider kinds of social change, as well as traditions worth keeping. In this way, these authors attempted to address and construct a modern Indian identity. The authors I will consider (T. N. Mukerji, A Visit to Europe, 1889; N. L. Doss, Reminiscences, English and Australasian being an account of a visit to England, Australia, New-Zealand, Tasmania, Ceylon, etc., 1893; and Rao Bahadur Ghanasham Nilkanth Nadkarni Journal of a Visit to Europe in 1896) agreed on many of the same points for social change and social stability in India, identifying as crucial modern topics the role of women, the role of religion, the content of modern education, and the introduction of public institutions (hospitals, libraries, museums). These authors also addressed European readers to assure them of the stability of Indian culture, the desirability of certain modern European ideals and institutions, and Indian loyalty to the British Raj. In this way, these travel narratives helped constitute a space for a measured modernity for the emerging Indian middle classes without radically threatening Raj politics and Indian social order.
Spinning for Safety: Re-imagining Religious History in Post-Partition Punjab
Anna B. Bigelow, North Carolina State University
One Muslim region remained in Indian Punjab after the Partition in 1947. Following the devastation and trauma of violence, the tiny (167 sq. miles) kingdom of Malerkotla represented nearly the entire Muslim population of a formerly Muslim majority state, now less than one percent of the total. However, this island of Islam was a peaceful, safe haven for Muslim refugees en route to Pakistan; no one was killed within its borders. In the aftermath, the last Nawab, Iftikhar Ali Khan, wrote a genealogy of the state, The History of the Ruling Family of Sheikh Sadruddin, 14541948, relying on his great uncle Inayat Ali Khans A Description of the Principal Kotla Afghans (1882). Yet there is a qualitative shift in tone and purpose of his text. Drawing on Gyanendra Pandeys insights on Muslim identity formation in India, I argue that these two texts reveal the religious politics of their times. As Pandey argues, there was and is in India a "clamor . . . for loyalty, for proof of genuine belonging from those who do not inhabit this core: the minorities and marginal groups who might be allowed to be part of the nation, but never quite." The onus of proof falls on Indian Muslims. In light of this tenuous, defensive situation, Iftikhar Ali Khans post-Partition narrative may be regarded as a rewriting of history designed to demonstrate the possibility of Muslims, Sikhs, and Hindus living in harmony.
A Requiem for Feminism: Depiction of Women in Indian TV Serials
Rajesh Kumar, P.P.N. College, Kanpur
Mutually complementary phenomena of economic liberalization and the advent of satellite channels defined the decade of 1990s for India. Indigenous entertainment channels mushroomed and bombarded viewers with serials, targeted at females and very successful, grossing multi-millions in ad revenues for channels like Star Plus, Zee TV, Sony, and Sabe TV. Serial characters have become household names in urban and semi-urban India. Womens associations and NGOs complain that women are portrayed as paragons of traditional Indian values or as extremely Westernized and vampish in serials in which women hatch plots and plan revenge. Extra-marital relationships are a recurrent theme in serials. The national commission for women warned that this stereotyping can lead to further deterioration of womens status in Indian society, as women in serials become models of female identities. In this paper I investigate how, despite demeaning portrayals of women, these serials continue to be the hot favorite among female viewers. One leading producer of serials, Ekta Kapoor, has stated that whenever characters in her serials break the stereotype, ratings nosedive. I will examine these serials popularity among female viewers and how they affect perceptions of modern Indian women to analyze how serials commodify Indian women and how women viewers may come to identify with, or prefer, such TV characters. I will consider commercial aspects and females depicted in Indian TV serials in my discursive analysis.
Session 71: Literature and the Writing of South Asian History
Organizer: Rochona Majumdar, University of Chicago
Chair and Discussant: Dipesh Chakrabarty, University of Chicago; Guari Viswanathan, Columbia University
Keywords: South Asia, literature, history, religion, nationalism, caste, dowry.
Until recently most historical work on colonial and postcolonial South Asia was based on so-called "hard" archival datagovernment records, newspapers, and/or non-governmental survey reports, for example. Literature was, at most, a supplementary "source" that historians utilized to corroborate "evidence" garnered from these documents. This stance maintained the distinction between "fact" and "fiction" but also created a distance between histories of events and those of sentiments, affect, and imagination. This panel seeks to demonstrate the critical role that literary analysis can play in furthering a historical understanding that brings together event-history and the history of imagination. Analyzing fictional literature in the context of its production and circulation, this panel argues for literatures role in the writing of South Asian history as more than a mere reflection of historical events. Literary conventionsthe act of writing, texts and their circulation, languageare themselves histories of imagination and other related practices whose record complicates and challenges the usual narratives of social events. Focusing on vernacular literature from Maharashtra, Punjab, and Bengal, this panel attempts to understand/reinterpret the histories of caste, religious nationalism, and gender politics in these regions. Operating with the assumption that the act of writing is always inextricably linked to particular socio-historical contexts and inherited pasts, to peoples understanding of themselves and the social body they inhabit, this panel demonstrates how the literary archive is rapidly becoming fundamental to the writing of South Asian history.
The Vernacular Complex in Maharashtra: Literature and Subalternity before the Folk
Milind Wakankar, State University of New York, Stonybrook
This paper attempts to analyze the current debate in Marathi over the problem of untouchable or "dalit" cultural expression. The questions I ask are: to what extent is dalitness implicated in dominant forms of Hinduism? What is the relation between dalit thinking and the question of the folk? How can one imagine the possibility of a dalit practical reason? Such questioning stems from an important recent trend in historical research dealing with the literature of the folk, of which the work of G. D. Sontheimer and R. C. Dhere on the Sanskritization of the folk deities of pastoral nomads is a prime instance. I will focus in this project on recent attempts to argue for the medieval archive of Bhakti poetry as the basis for a prehistory of the modern dalit movement. It is in the Bhakti archive that scholars such as Sontheimer and Dhere have sought to locate the triangulation of folk, subaltern (dalit), and dominant idioms. Such a "vernacular" complex in modern Marathi cultural and literary debates gives us a sense of dalit or caste subalternity as perpetually in process, always emerging, and never complete. To ask how the vernacular is configured between the folk, the subaltern, and the dominant is also to ask after the possibility of a dalit practical reason that is both less and more radical than its literary representation in the texts of Bhakti poets such as Tukaram and Chokhamela.
Punjabs Literature as Historical Source: Hir-Ranjha in the Nineteenth Century
Farina Mir, University of Michigan
The history of colonial Punjab is traditionally written with an emphasis on differences, animosities, and political contestation between Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs. This emphasis in existing histories is due to the partition of British India in 1947, an event that precipitated widespread religious violence in the region. This paper explores how a shift away from traditional historical sources such as government documents, newspapers, or contemporary accounts to a literary archive effects the historiography of colonial Punjab. I do so by focusing on the Punjabi language epic tradition Hir-Ranjha, a fictional narrative widely composed and printed in the late nineteenth century. In this paper I examine the context of Hir-Ranjha production in the late nineteenth century and the content of a series of texts. I show that the Hir-Ranjha narrative tradition was a regional literary tradition, participated in by poets from all religious communities. A central feature of the narrative is a preoccupation with zat, a kinship-based system of social organization, rather than religious identity. I argue that the context of Hir-Ranjhas production and the centrality of zat in this literary archive allow us to reinterpret the cultural history of the region. Using this body of literature as historical source suggests that, in contrast to existing historiography, religious identity was not the central marker of self-identification in late-nineteenth-century Punjab. I close by asking how a history of the Punjab based on this literary archive might be integrated with the history of religious contestation suggested by traditional historical sources.
The Limits of Literary Humanism in Dowry Reform: The Death of Snehalata Mukhopadhaya
Rochona Majumdar, University of Chicago
The practice of dowry in India has been diversely explained in historical/sociological accounts as the result of relative diminution of womens labor from the turn of the twentieth century or as a by-product of the rigidification of the caste system under the colonial state. None of these explanations, however, has successfully accounted for one simple fact, namely, why, despite being universally condemned in public life, dowry flourished and continues to flourish as a social practice in India? By looking at the first publicized dowry death, the suicide of a fourteen year old Bengali Brahmin girl, Snehalata Mukhopadhaya, in 1914, this paper is an effort to understand how dowry came to loose social sanction behind it. Yet, the practice continued even though there were no longer any publicly voiced defenses of dowry, something there once was. This discrediting of dowry in public life was due to the rise of a literary, humanist criticism against the practice, which portrayed it as uncivil and inhuman. There was a massive volume of textual production centering on the suicide of this young girl, ranging from biographies to poetry, plays, and fiction. This literary activity after Snehalatas death, I demonstrate, represented a coalescing of diverse strands of social/literary thought dating back to the 1870s into a cultural critique of dowry. I end with a consideration of the limitations of this kind of humanist, literary criticism as a corrective for certain injustices endemic to particular gendered social conventions.
Session 89: Beyond Metropole and Colony: South Asia, Colonialism, and Comparative History
Organizer: Deana Lee Heath, California State University, Hayward
Chair and Discussant: Philippa Levine, University of Southern California
Keywords: South Asia, colonialism, comparative.
There have been notable attempts in recent years to overcome the essentializing of Indian history at the hands of colonial and later nationalist historians, most notably by the scholars of the Subaltern Studies Collective. Yet despite the efforts of the Collective and others to rethink colonial categories, to renegotiate the relationship between colonizers and colonized, and to question how power functioned in a colonial context such as India, scholars have yet to find ways to heed the call of Gyan Prakash to write "post-foundational" histories of the third worldor of any former colony, for that matter.
The problem is especially acute in the case of colonial India, the history of which continues to be regarded as unique and incomparable to the history of colonialism in other contexts. This is particularly true in regard to settler colonies. This panel proposes that one way to overcome this ongoing essentialism of Indian history is to break down the divide between India, a colony of conquest, and settler colonies such as Australia or Canada. Through an examination of the impact of communications and print media in different parts of the British Empire, an exploration of the history of science in India and Australia, a study of the linkages between Irish and Indian nationalism, and an overview of the history of moral censorship in India and Australia, this panel seeks to explore the ways in which studying the similarities and differences between colonialism in India and in settler colonies can alter our understanding of the history of colonial India and of colonialism in general.
Reporting the Raj: Communications and the Politics of the Indian Empire, 1870s1920s
Chandrika Kaul, St. Andrews University
By the end of the nineteenth century, Britain not only had the largest empire in modern history but also the most extensive system of worldwide communications. Imperial control was founded not merely upon military or economic hegemony but upon the manipulation of forms of knowledge and the creation of perceptions of social and cultural superiority. The British press was an important weapon in this imperial project of control and command and a significant forum for debate over the future of empire. Yet it also provided the wider British public with the information and images from which they formed their conception of the imperial project.
This paper explores the cultural technologies of imperial rule through an analysis of the role of communications and the media in the establishment, consolidation, and expansion of the British Empire and the attempts made to conceptualize this process. It seeks both to understand the early efforts of the British Government to manipulate press comment and coverage pertaining to India in both Britain and India, and to examine the repercussions of British news coverage of India in Britain, India, and the empire as a whole. It reveals that not only was the authoritative control that the British sought to exercise through communication and media technologies challenged by Indian nationalists but that since Britains relationship with her colonies was symbiotic, communications media thus posed a threat to the sustainability of imperial rule not only in a colony of conquest such as India but in Britains settler colonies as well.
Tales of the Expansion of Modern Science: A Study in the Comparative Historiography of Science in India and Australia
Dhruv Raina, Jawaharlal Nehru University
Studies on science and colonialism have revealed the unintended results of the civilizing mission as Western man created a wasteland in his search for the "vestiges of Eden." The relationship between science and colonialism is more complex, however, than such studies have implied. One reason for this complexity is the diversity of the colonial experience, not only between a colony of conquest such as India and settler societies such as Australia or Canada but between India and some of the colonies of Francophone Africa. Yet no matter what the colonial context, the expansion of modern science was initiated through a variety of imperial strategies that were determined by the place of science within the culture of the colonizing nation as well as the colonized nation.
This paper seeks to examine two historiographies of colonial science through comparing the role of the colonial scientist in both India and Australia in the late nineteenth century in order to examine the role of the scientist and the scientific institution as vectors for the "diffusion of science." The entrenchment of metropolitan practices at the periphery was concurrent with processes of adaptation that reconfigured metropolitan science. But the standard tale of the globalization of science relates merely to the first part of this process of mutual shaping. This essay seeks to explore the factors that shaped attitudes to and of colonial scientists in different colonial contexts and how these attitudes influenced the integration of scientists at the periphery into metropolitan science.
The Irish Free State and Indian Nationalism: A Historiographical Review
David Campion, Lewis & Cark College
In 1921, as the Khilafat-Noncooperation movement spread across India and electrified the cause of Indian nationalism, Britain negotiated a treaty with the provisional Irish government and the Irish Free State was born. The Anglo-Irish Treaty ended two years of bloody guerrilla fighting and 121 years of political union between Britain and Ireland as it offered to allow Ireland to exist as a self-governing dominion within the British Commonwealth. This happened at the moment that Indian nationalists were embarking on their own ambitious and uncertain mission to free themselves from British rule.
This paper examines the impact of the Irish Free State on Indian nationalism from 1921 to 1939. The ambiguities and controversies surrounding "dominion status" as codified in the imperial conferences of the 1920s and the 1931 Statute of Westminster were essential to framing the strategy of the Indian National Congress for gaining independence. Ultimately, this issue split the Congress between moderates and extremists and helped shape the dynamics of nationalist politics until independence in 1947.
Using a comparative approach I wish to challenge the prevailing historiography of British imperialism that separates and contrasts the experiences of the white "dominions" and the nonwhite colonies. In the interwar years, the Irish example framed the objectives and debates of the Indian National Congress on a significantly greater level than is allowed for in most South Asian historiography. The paper incorporates primary source research as well as recent scholarship by such historians as Deirdre McMahon, David Fitzpatrick, R. J. Moore, D. A. Low, and Judith Brown.
The Persistence of Colonial Categories: Rethinking the Conquest/Settler Colony Divide
Deana Lee Heath, California State University, Hayward
It has become standard scholarly practice to analyze the interconnections between the history of colonial India and Britain and to view colonialism as central to the construction of modern Britain as well as to its Indian colony. Few attempts, however, have yet been made to engage in rigorous comparison of the history and effects of colonialism in India and the history and effects of colonialism in other colonial contexts. This is particularly the case in regard to settler societies, for scholars continue to place sharp dividing lines between colonies of conquest and of settlement. There are a number of reasons why the two types of colonies tend to be regarded as incomparable: the field is caught between two radically divergent theories of empire; the categories of knowledge through which empire is analyzed continue to be largely constructed by colonialism; and the power of colonial states continues to be reified rather than critically examined.
Through an analysis of the establishment of systems of moral censorship in India and Australia beginning in the late nineteenth century, this paper examines what comparative colonial projects can reveal about the power of both the state and civil society in different colonial contexts, about the cultural power of colonialism in different contexts, and about how colonialism functioned in different types of colonies. Through breaking down the scholarly divide between colonies of conquest and settlement, the paper aims to propose a new approach to the study of colonial history.
Session 107: Writing Pluralism and Politics: Kingship, Sacred Space, and Sectarian Identities in Premodern South India
Organizer: Leslie C. Orr, Concordia University
Chair and Discussant: Cynthia Talbot, University of Texas, Austin
This panel focuses on the ways in which royal and regional idioms and agents both drew from and contributed to sectarian formations in pre-modern South India. The papers explore the complex and fluid spaces of intersection and overlap that bounded the identities of Jain, Saiva, and Vaisnava in the Tamil country of precolonial times. They also examine the relationship between the local and the cosmopolitan in the construction of religious communities and religious literatures. The panelists draw on a wealth of different kinds of sourceshagiographies, temple legends, inscriptions, poetry, and dramashowing how these various forms interacted with one another and provided contexts for the fashioning of histories and traditions or the creation of new sectarian and political realities.
The first paper situates the discussion of kingship in the Periyapuranama twelfth-century Saiva hagiography composed in the Chola courtin a discursive framework profoundly colored by Jain values and images. The second presentation utilizes the evidence of Chola-period temple inscriptions to analyze the relationships among kings and Saiva and Vaisnava priests and teachers against the background of later sectarian literature. The third paper shows how the thirteenth-century Vaisnava poet-philosopher Vedantad-esika uses a transregional genre, the sandesa poem, to map the sacred land of the South, including Saiva as well as Vaisnava shrines. The final paper analyzes the ways in which a religious drama, composed in eighteenth-century Tanjavur, mediates the worship of Visnu and Siva and establishes the Maratha king as a devotee within the Tamil religious landscape.
Being a King the Saiva Way: Love and Violence in Tamil Literary Culture
Anne E. Monius, Harvard University
In the medieval literary culture of Tamil-speaking South India, what it meant to be a good kingto rule justly and wisely, to fulfill ones royal obligations without sacrificing other human values and aspirationswas a much-contested issue among Jains and Buddhists, Saivas and Vaisnavas, debated through narrative literature, poetry, technical treatises, and commentaries in a variety of languages. This paper examines the construction of a specifically Saiva model of kingship through the important twelfth-century Saiva hagiographic work, the Periyapuranam, traditionally believed to have been composed by a minister in the court of the Chola king, Kulottunka II. Setting the Periyapuranam in the wider context of ninth- through twelfth-century South Indian literary models of kingshipmany of them written by Jains or strongly influenced by Jain teachingsthis paper argues that the Periyapuranam constructs its vision of a uniquely Saiva brand of king, a ruler thoroughly dedicated to Siva but also actively engaged in the world, through appropriating and adapting the very Jain values and images that it outwardly seeks to denigrate.
Priests and Kings/Temples and Teachers: The Making of Saiva and Vaisnava Identities in the Chola Period
Leslie C. Orr, Concordia University
The great Saiva and Vaisnava traditions of South India identify the period of rule of the Chola kings in the Tamil country as the context for the crystallization of the sectarian institutionsthe canon, the philosophy, the teaching lineages, the forms of temple lifethat are central to their self-understandings. Later temple legends and hagiographical literature, as well as much contemporary scholarship, portray the early medieval world as one in which temple priests and teachers of the Saiva Siddhanta and Srivaisnava traditions interacted with the kings of the Chola dynasty to give shape to sectarian identities and communities. Against this retrospective visioning of the formation of the sectarian traditions, the temple inscriptions of the Chola period (9th13th centuries) have another story to tell. Indeed this period was one of great significance for the definition of sectarian community, but the Chola kings role is more problematic than emblematic and the array of types of religious leaders and specialists very much more diverse than the later narratives would lead us to believe. I will seek in this paper to use the inscriptions as a resource for understanding how sectarians, ascetics, priests, and kings viewed their identities and interactions. This analysis will afford some insight into the politics of religious change and will provide an opportunity to examine the extent to which the temple-focused Saivism and Vaisnavism of the Chola period was continuous with pan-Indian sectarianism or was a creative construction localized in the Tamil country.
Lovers, Messengers, and Beloved Landscapes: Sandesa Kavya in Comparative Perspective
Steven P. Hopkins, Swarthmore College
My paper treats a major trans-regional and multi-religious poetic genre in South Asian literature: the sandesa kavya or "messenger poem." In such kavyas, an exiled lover (human or divine) sends a message to a distant beloved via a messengera starling, a goose, a bee, a cuckoo, a language (Tamil), or in the case of Kalidasa, a cloud. The first part of the sandesa kavya is a detailed description of the landscape over which the messenger will pass on its way to the absent beloved; the second contains the message itself. Such descriptions emphasize the beauties of nature, love, separation, and eventual reunion. But as royal or religious texts they also show the individual poets chosen sacred or politically/ideologically important landscape, making these texts compelling sources not only for literary historians or scholars of religion, but for those interested in pre-modern socio-political formations. Each messenger poem carves a distinctive map of the sub-continent that has political and social implications, reflecting the poets royal or sectarian patrons; these are rich literary resources for reconstructing the pre-modern histories of greater South India and Sri Lanka. After a discussion of the genre, I will focus on the Hamsa Sandesa by 13th-century South Indian poet-philosopher Vedantadesika. Though it lacks a clear royal context, and its sectarian spirit is rather irenic when it comes to Saiva shrines such as Kalahasti and Ekramresvara, its rootedness in South Indian landscapes and Vaisnava shrines, notably Kańcipuram, reveals a distinctive form of "southern" cosmopolitanism.
Staging Smarta Religion in Maratha Tanjavur: King Tulajas Drama of the Wedding of the Goddess at the Mahadevapatnam Visnu Temple
Indira V. Peterson, Columbia University
This paper examines the Sivakamasundariparinaya natakamu, a Telugu yaksagana attributed to the Tanjavur Maratha king Tulajaji I (17291735), as an example of the Maratha rulers use of dramain the place of purana textsas a vehicle for expressing a localized Saiva-Smarta religious vision by linking diverse forms of Visnu and Siva. Performed at the installation ceremony of the image of Visnu as the White Boar at the temple built for him in Mahadevapatnam by Tulaja in 1728, the Sivakamasundari presents a new narrative about the wedding of Siva Nataraja of Chidambaram and his consort Sivakamasundari at the Mahadevapatnam temple, with Visnu playing a supporting role. In addition to affirming the Saiva core of the kings Smarta religion (Smartism reconciles the worship of Visnu and Siva), the importation of the prestigious Nataraja form of Siva from Chidambaram into the local myth aggrandizes Tulajas status as royal patron. The festival is itself portrayed in the drama as the occasion that impels Nataraja and Sivakami to come to Mahadevapatnam. An embedded dialogue between the allegorical figures Knowledge and Illusion dramatizes the advaita Vedanta philosophy upheld by the Smarta king. Placing the Sivakamasundari in the contexts of Tanjavur drama and the religious activities of the Marathas, I reflect on the dramas rich themes and discourses, including the play of the local and the translocal in the new myths of localization, and the role of the dramatization of a wedding myth in the reconciliation of Siva and Visnu worship.
Session 108: Violence in Gujarat: 20022004: Sponsored by the South Asia Council (SAC)
Organizer: Howard Spodek, Temple University
Chair and Discussant: John R. Wood, University of British Columbia
In 2002, the State of Gujarat burst out in violence that captured the attention of India and of the world. The torching of a train filled with militant Hindu activists returning from a political-religious pilgrimage to the highly contested Mosque/Temple site of Ayodhya, in north India, left 58 dead. In immediate response a retaliatory pogrom was launched against the Muslims of Gujarat that left about 1,000 dead The violence was condoned, and to some extent sponsored, by the state government. The Chief Minister apparently believed that the anti-Muslim violence, and accompanying anti-Muslim propaganda, would help his party, the BJP, at the polls in a forthcoming election. In fact, his party did sweep the polls by an unprecedented, unexpected, overwhelming majority. The thorough entwining of politics and religion that engulfed Gujaratand brought victory at the pollsnow threatened the secular character of the rest of India as well. Violence has continued to simmer, although on a much-reduced level; social relations in Gujarat have been degraded; and the rest of India continues to watch the State with apprehension.
The panel will examine the violence in Gujarat from three perspectives: Howard Spodek will examine the violence in historical perspective. How has Gandhis home state become the most religiously politicized and violent state in India? How have politics and religion become so intertwined? How has the communal-religious platform of the political leaders in Gujarat won such success? Ghanshyam Shah will discuss social and political realignments of the castes and interest groups of Gujarat leading into the violence and as a result of it. He will address the position of the Dalits, the ex-untouchables, and their changing allegiances throughout the violence. The various regions of Gujarat have responded differently, and he will discuss reasons for these differences as well. Panna Naik will look at a subject that has not much been discussed: how has the violence been pre-figured in Gujarati literature, and how has the violence influenced writers after the fact?
The Sociology of Gujarat Violence
Ghanshyam Shah, Jawaharlal Nehru University
The traditionally deprived groups such as Dalits, lower castes, other backward castes, and Adivasis (tribals) joined hands with the Hindutva forces and actively participated in committing violence against Muslims during the 2002 communal carnage in Gujarat, A question arises: what made these groups participate in violence and how have they been mobilized by the dominant Hindutva forces? The question is relevant because the Hindutva ideology perpetuates the traditional hierarchical Brahminical social order. It is not only dominated by upper castes but also serves their interests against the interests of the deprived communities. This paper is an endeavor to probe into this question.
Three caveats are in order. One, the deprived groups are not homogeneous. They not only vary in their numerical strength but socially and economically each group is stratified. Two, even the reported participation of these groups is confined to certain areas and not of the whole region. For instance, participation of Dalits is mainly confined to certain localities of Ahmedabad and not of other cities, not to speak of rural areas. Similarly, participation of the Adivasis was confined to certain blocks of a few districts. Three, participation in riots varies from silent support to involving in killing, maiming, and burning property. The 2002 communal carnage was to a large extent planned and not spontaneous. It had four types of actors: the organizers, skilled operators, agent provocateurs, and silent spectators.
In this paper I argue that the trajectory followed by the dominant non-Hindutva social reformers for social transformation/empowerment of the poor has not challenged the hierarchical social order, though it opposed caste-based discrimination. And, in the course of time, ruling elites and scholars have legitimized the growth of caste-based identity politics within sanskritization model as the inevitable consequence of parliamentary democratic politics. The Hindutva forces have skillfully hijacked the democratic process of rising aspirations of the deprived communities to translate their agenda. They floated various organizations and carried out activities to build unity and harmony among the upper and lower castes against the "others" (Muslims). Systematic propaganda reinforcing enmity against Muslims has been skillfully carried out. Fear psychosis and a sense of injustice among the Hindus has been repeatedly hammered. Time and again, Muslims are branded as anti-national, fundamentalist, conservative and backward, terrorists, and spies for Pakistan. The Hindus are reminded that they are apostles (Upasak) of Shaktithe worshippers of Maha-Shakti with Trisul in the hands of Shiva, sudarshan in the hands of Krishna, bow and arrow in the hands of Ram. Hindus are cajoled to take arms against their enemies. They are reminded that weakness, timidity, and unmanliness are great sins and bravery and masculinity are great punya (virtues). Various new Hindu religious sects that came up in the last four decades, though not necessarily in alliance with the Sangh parivar, facilitated the Hindutva forces to carry out their agenda.
Gujarat Violence in Literature
Panna Naik, University of Pennsylvania
The recent Hindu-Muslim riots exposed several myths about Gujarat. The prevailing myth that such flagrant communal riots do not happen in Gandhis Gujarat was undeniably shattered. Further, the notion that upper class urban Gujaratis known for their entrepreneurial acumen and shrewd commercial sense would not indulge in such violent mass behavior was also rendered invalid.
Above all, the Gujarati literary community known for its genteel Gandhian influence of secularism and nonviolence has shown it too could fall prey to prevailing winds of narrow communalism as shown in comments made by two distinguished Gujarati literary personalities on the Godhara riots. K. K. Shastri, an octogenarian and the past President of the Gujarati Sahitya Parishad (Gujarati Literary Academy), which was once presided over by Mahatma Gandhi himself, remarked that the Hindu reaction to the Godhara event was appropriate. Similarly, Rajendra Shah, a distinguished poet and the most recent recipient of the prestigious Jnanpith Award, himself a Gandhian freedom fighter now in his upper eighties, remarked that Muslims were taught a good lesson.
In this paper, I intend to show that comments made by these two revered figures of Gujarati literature revealed bluntly what most Gujarati writers and intelligentsia had been thinking all along about the recent Hindu-Muslim riots. Gujarati literature in general has been dominated by the urban educated upper class Hindus. All presidents of the Gujarati Sahitya Parishad have been upper class Hindus. All of nearly seventy-five winners of its prestigious literary award, the Ranjitram Suvarna Chandrak, have been Hindus. It is only recently that we have seen some movement toward the literature of the oppressed known as Dalit Sahitya. The same is true of the Muslim presence in Gujarati literature despite the fact that they comprise nearly ten percent of the Gujarati population. The paper will show that the presence of Muslim content in Gujarati literature has been marginal and that the general attitude is either anti-Muslim or one of indifference.
Historical Perspectives on Gujarat Violence
Howard Spodek, Temple University
A series of historical events prepared the ground in which the violence of 2002 could flourish in Gujarat.
Gandhi introduced high levels of politicization.
Muslims, however, found little place within the states leadership, and especially the leadership of Ahmedabad, partly because the Muslim population was overwhelmingly of the laboring classes, and those that were not were isolated. More recently, changes in industrial job structures further reduced the economic condition of Muslims.
Violence became a tool of politics repeatedly: in the Maha Gujarat movement, 195660; in the Nav Nirman riots of 1974; and in the caste and communal violence of 1985, 1986, and 199091. Government as well as opposition groups seemed to evoke or suppress this violence at will.
Individual violence also became a tool in cultural and political life in highly publicized assassinations as well as attacks on artworks and architecture students.
The religious communities of Ahmedabad, and of other cities as well, began to segregate themselves into communal ghettoes. Violence encouraged separation, and the separation encouraged further violence.
Gujarat is a border state with Pakistan, and continuing evidence of cross-border smuggling of weapons destined for Muslim gangs further inflamed communal tensions.
The BJP rose to power in large part as an alternative to the perceived failures of the Congress. Once in office, however, the BJP stressed messages of communal antagonism, partly as a means of gaining popular support, and in 2002 Gujarats chief minister saw the inflammation of communal hatred and the use of violence as the key to a winning election strategy.
Session 128: ROUNDTABLE: Knowledge, Nature, Power, and States: From Landscapes to Genomes in South Asia
Organizers: Ronald J. Herring, Cornell University; K. Sivaramakrishnan, University of Washington
Discussants: Amita Baviskar, University of California, Berkeley; Stig Toft Madsen, Roskilde University; Ajantha Subramanian, Harvard University; Ronald J. Herring, Cornell University; K. Sivaramakrishnan, University of Washington; Michael Lewis, Salisbury University
Keywords: environment, politics, culture, conservation, biotechnology.
The normative legitimation of state power is the presence of public goods that will not be provided by other mechanisms, such as markets or civil society. We wish to ask what these public goods are in relation to nature, where nature itself is a contested and constructed category, as is the notion of public good: whose public, what good? From colonial times state power has been defined, and its exercise justified, in identifying nature and the natural and then organizing its protection, sustainable use, and conservation. In contemporary times, biotechnology presents a potential public good in knowledge derived from biodiversity and a material reason for conservation but a highly contested good by a divided public. But the range of struggles over nature, from exotic trees in native lands to rhetorically unnatural "Frankenfoods" in international trade and farmers fields, occurs in vastly varied locations. Where does the contest over nature occur in these different historical periods? Are there continuities of meaning, politics, and statecraft? Arguably, earlier nature conservation was landscape-oriented whereas advances in genomic science make possible ownership claims and potential hazards in smaller and smaller components of natural systems, as well as new reasons to contest the nature of the unnatural.
The purpose of this roundtable, with participants from different disciplines, is to investigate the intersection of cultural logics and political economy in contests around authoritative knowledge about nature. We seek to find commonalities across domains of knowledge as across spheres of nature and across historical periods.
Session 129: Text and Context on Food in South Asian Hindu, Christian, and Jain Traditions
Organizer and Chair: Robert Menzies, University of Winnipeg
Discussant: Katherine Ulrich, DePauw University
One of the reasons that "foodways" are taking a more prominent role in academe is that food is an excellent comparative category that cuts across social and cultural boundaries. Food also serves as a window into the ways cultures and individuals inflect common forms with particularized meanings. As an item of exchange between individuals (both human and divine), as a source of symbolism, and as a means of conveying status and power, food is an extremely versatile medium of social interaction. In South Asia many groups express religious identity through their uses of food. This panel seeks to explore social dimensions of food in three of South Asias diverse religious traditions. Our papers explore theoretical (textual) and practical uses of food in diverse contexts. We focus on how different kinds of food-related activities create different kinds of relationships, different understandings of these relationships, and different understandings of who and of what individuals are comprised. Our contention is that the uses of food are tools in identity formation for individuals and groups as well as demarcating levels of spiritual attainment and proof of authenticity or holiness.
The first paper, "Into the Mouths of Babes," deals with the Kasyapa Samhita of the Hindu Ayurvedic tradition. It indicates the difficulty in creating distinct categories of "food" versus "medicine" because of the inherently close relationship of season, location, and individual. It focuses on how the pregnant mothers food consumption sets a template of future health/ disease for her child. The mother, through her own identity as the first vessel and source of food, creates an inexorable connection between the child and its mother, family, caste, and physical surroundings.
"Changing Attitudes" seeks to understand the ambivalence toward prasadam (divine leavings), which is ordinarily seen as a sanctifying agent. This paper indicates the Tamil Hindu understanding that what is sanctifying is also dangerous and it demonstrates the differing interpretations of the two concepts. It analyzes the changing valuesin text and practicesuggested by conflicting accounts of who may consume or touch the offerings given to Shiva and the Goddess.
The third paper is also on Tamil culture. "Asanam Meal" articulates the social functions served by this rite to St. Antony. Asanam is a variety of rites in which a communal meal provides devotees a context in which to temporarily transcend the neatly defined social, caste, and religious identities that normally define relationships in south India. Further, it provides social leveling while ensuring earthly benefits from a religious patron. Crucial to the rite is the etiquette surrounding begging and the feeding of beggars. This paper is primarily a fieldwork examination of a ritual through the lens of Victor Turners structure/anti-structure model. Whereas the first paper demonstrates the nature of ones relationship to nature without direct intervention of the divine, the next two indicate the direct involvement of religious personages in human life.
The final paper, "Creative (Re)-Imagining in Jain Fasting Narratives" indicates the porous boundaries between "human" and "divine." It examines Jain narratives and their presentation of how lay women can serve as models of religious perfection. Food and food restrictions in the narratives and the ritual fasts show how Jains creatively reimagine fasting itself. Like "Changing Attitudes," this paper compares the textual traditions presentation of a concept with this concept in practice. It suggests that the limiting of food can be used by devotees to reinterpret their understanding of themselves. Whereas "Mouths of Babes" deals with association with locality due to food consumption, the next two papers articulate how food transactions create and break down barriers and identities based on constructed social relationships rather than relationships to "nature." But all four papers indicate the gradations used to create identities rather than discrete categories and present a model of a singular platter rather than a divided plate onto which the various portions are served.
Into the Mouths of Babes: Ayurvedic Diet and Rituals for Pregnancy and Infancy
Susannah McNeely, University of Iowa
In classical Ayurvedic texts, there is no substantive distinction made between food and medicine. In fact, the boundaries between the eater and food eaten are quite porous themselves. Ingesting the flora and fauna of ones region daily ties the eater to the region, climate, and season. Health, according to this system of thought, is dependent upon a diet consistent and compatible with ones surrounding ecology. This paper will focus on the Kasyapa Samhita, an Ayurvedic text dealing specifically with fertility, conception, childbirth and pediatrics. It is during conception, pregnancy, and childhood that the connections between diet, surroundings, the development of sound, and whole personhood are most compellingly revealed in classical Ayurvedic theory.
Kasyapa Samhita deals directly with obstetrics/ gynecology/early childhood diseases. I thought that would be an interesting focal point for food/religion because the text details a direct relationship between what the mother eats, what ends up in her breast milk/in utero, and how the unformed person ultimately develops into a fully sound human being. The food eaten sets a template of future health/disease for that child and fully integrates him into a particular region, climate, even caste depending on the flora and fauna native to the area and ingested while the baby is still forming. By eating, then, the mother is, through her own identity as the first vessel and source of food, committing that child to her, her family, her caste, her surroundings, and the spiritual potencies latent in the plant/animal life of her area. Because of those earliest experiences, that child is forever modeled after and inextricably part of a local spiritual and physical ecology.
Changing Attitudes toward Divine "Leftovers" in Tamil Temple Traditions
Ginette Ishimatsu, University of Denver
This paper seeks to understand why attitudes toward prasadam (divine "leftovers") seem ambivalent. It will argue that earlier understandings of prasadam, and its more common synonym nirmalya, as too dangerous for humans and/or the non-initiated are superseded by later understandings of nirmalya as the material carriers of Gods blessings. However, contemporary ritual practice in South Indian brahmanical temples reveals a continuing tension between the various understandings of nirmalya. Modern ritual practices acknowledge both the dangerous and beneficial qualities of prasada for humans. Thus, the ritual to Candesvara, as a necessary part of Siva-worship, preserves the early Agamic view of nirmalya as a dangerous substance and exists side-by-side with popular conceptions and practices, according to which Sivas leftovers are valued as a positive substance.
Asanam Meal: A Ritual Leveling of Differences in South Indian Christianity
Selva J. Raj, Albion College
The shrine of St. Antony at Uvari on the Pearl Fishery coastthirty miles north of Kanya Kumari at the tip of the Indian peninsulais a popular Catholic shrine in south India. Known as the "Padua of the East," Uvari, whose landscape is dominated by four towering churches built on the shores of the Bay of Bengal, is a reputed site for various miracles. Though situated in a caste-conscious Catholic village, where the Parava (fishing) caste group constitutes the largest majority, this rural shrine attracts thousands of devotees of diverse religious and caste identities who fulfill various vow rituals collectively known as asanam that includebut are not limited tohair shaving, ear piercing, ritual bathing, and animal sacrifices. Prior to the asanam, the sponsor family subjects itself to a series of ascetic practices in order to ensure the efficacy of the rite. Devotees offer asanams for any number of earthly benefits ranging from finding suitable spouses, gaining healing, fertility, marital stability, and agricultural prosperity to passing exams and securing jobs in the Gulf countries.
The centerpiece of the asanam rite, which invariably involves the slaughter of a goat or fowl, is the festive ritual meal prepared by devotees and dedicated to St. Antony and his "honored" earthly representatives as a thanksgiving gesture for favors already received or as a promissory offering for specific blessings hoped for. After performing such preliminary rituals as hair shaving, ear piercing, and ritual bathing, the family sponsoring the asanam goes about preparing the ritual meal. A crucial part of the ritual meal is the rubrics and etiquette governing the feeding of thirteen beggarsa number significant to St. Antonyselected by the church authorities as the honored recipients of the ritual feast. When the meal is ready, the sponsor family, more precisely, the primary vow-taker, is obligated to serve the meal first to thirteen beggars of various caste and religious identities. Once the meal is served on banana leaves and before the honored beggars begin eating the ritual meal, the primary vow-taker kneels in front of these 13 beggars, offers a prayer to St. Antony, and begs for a handful of food from each of the thirteen beggars to whom he has just served the meal. With the food collected through reverse begging, he sits beside the thirteen beggars for the ritual feast. Only after the beggars are fed to their satisfaction can family members partake of this ritual meal.
Based on extensive field research, this paper will explore the logic and grammar of the asanam rite and delineate the social themes embedded in the consumption of food prepared and consumed in a ritual context. I argue that one of the social functions served by this rite, which evidently entails some form of role reversal, is its ability to provide the devotees a religious context and ritual platform to temporarily transcend the neatly defined social, caste, and religious identities and strictures that normally define human relationships in south India and to experiment with socially tabooed antistructural interactions and reciprocities in an attempt to temporarily level social and religious differences in order to gain or ensure certain earthly benefits from a religious patron.
Creative (Re-)Imagining in Jain Fasting Narratives
M. Whitney Kelting, Grinnell College
Like fasts in Hindu traditions, Jain fasts often derive their form and justification from religious narratives. Jain fasting narratives often tell the stories of the virtuous interactions between lay Jains and the Jinas. In general, Jains show particular concern over diet because they see diet as central to the binding of karma and morality. In this presentation, Jain fasting narratives will be analyzed to illustrate the ways that popular imagination understands complex and esoteric Jain doctrine on volition, karma and the potential of laity, especially lay women, to serve as models of religious perfection. Analysis of the role of particular foods and food restrictions in three fasting narrativesthose associated with the Candanbala Tap, Varsi Tap, and the Ayambil Oli Tapand contemporary performances of the related fasts demonstrates the ways that Jains creatively reimagine the fasts described in the narratives when performing the fasting rituals themselves.
Session 147: Subaltern Medical Women in Late Colonial India
Organizer: Barbara N. Ramusack, University of Cincinnati
Chair: Sanjam Ahluwalia, Northern Arizona University
Discussant: Molly Sutphen, University of California, San Francisco
Keywords: medical women, Indian nationalism, Ayurvedic medicine, late colonial India.
Over the past decade research on medical women in India has focused on two topics. One is Western women physicians in India and their relationships with their patients, Indian medical women, and the male-dominated medical profession. The other is the role of indigenous midwives. This panel explores the careers of subaltern Indian women who worked on the periphery of Ayurvedic or Western medical systems. Charu Gupta recovers the story of Yashoda Devi, a highly unusual woman Ayurvedic practitioner in north India, who advised patients on sexual relationships as well as physical hygiene. Her paper contests simple oppositions between indigenous and foreign medical systems and appropriate gender roles. Rosemary Fitzgerald analyzes the effort to recruit and mold young Indian women into nurses according to Western models and to develop nursing as a profession in India. Barbara N. Ramusack delineates the development of the profession of maternal and child health among Indian medical women in the context of the Madras municipality. Her research highlights the efforts of an Indian majority in municipal government to demonstrate what it can achieve in improving the health of future citizens. In their consideration of women who sought professional roles in medicine, the presenters explore how issues of caste, class, race, religion, and gender influenced the development of various subfields of medical practice. They also trace how debates over the future of the Indian nation-state shaped medical practices and systems.
Commercializing Tradition through Women: A Woman Ayurvedic Practitioner
Charu Gupta, University of Washington
This paper questions neat dichotomies between subaltern and hegemonic and feminine and masculine, which are often made while examining the interrelationship between traditional, indigenous medical practices in colonial societies and the impact of modern, Western, biomedical systems on them. It does so by studying the extensive writings of Yashoda Devi, a famous woman Ayurvedic practitioner in north India in the beginning of the twentieth century, who negotiated the terrain of tradition and modernity in her discourse on womens health, often with contradictory and ambivalent implications.
It is unfortunate that this remarkable Ayurvedic doctor has not been "discovered" or found a place in the history of health and medicine in colonial India. Her story is perhaps unique, but this paper reveals what happens when a woman enters the domain of male practitioners, covertly contesting male control over the discipline and also offering different arrangements from hospitals and dispensaries. As a moral sexologist, Yashoda Devi, while full of praise for the indigenous medical system, also conformed partially to new modes of public health, hygiene, and medical science, while simultaneously critiquing Western medicine. She successfully molded the Hindu systems and needs to modern values. She offered indigenous methods for regulating the bodies of Hindu women, and to some extent of men, within the home and the nation. While often critical of male behavior, she never challenged patriarchy and gender hierarchies were reconstituted in her medical discourse. Indigenous healing became another tool in the construction of cultural identity and Indian nationalism.
Making and Re-casting Nurses in Colonial India, 19001930
Rosemary Fitzgerald, University of London
Over the last decade there has been considerable scholarly interest in the late-nineteenth-century movement to provide Western women doctors for the female population in India. Feminist historians have been particularly interested in tracing the ways in which Victorian imperial mentalities shaped the emergence of this movement in the metropole and its development as the female aspect of colonial medical policy and practice in India. But, with the exception of studies focusing on encounters between indigenous and Western midwifery, little scholarly attention has been paid to nursing in the matrix of colonial medical ideologies, structures, and relations in this part of the empire. Equally unexplored are the specific ways in which the values and practices of Western-style hospital nursingthe template for "modern" nursing developmentswere displayed and disseminated by Anglo-American nurses working in India at the beginning of the twentieth century.
This paper analyzes these neglected themes by examining the drive to transport the ideas, institutions, and practices of Western nursing to India between 1900 and 1930. Anglo-American nurses established nursing organizations and hospital-based training programs designed to re-make indigenous understandings of the nurse and to re-form "native nurses" according to the cultural codes of nursing in the West. Nursing in this period and context is revealed as a significant site of discursive and material struggle, deeply entangled with issues of caste, class, race, religion, and gender. Nursing was another arena of colonial medicine with special resonance for women, both colonizers and colonized.
Medical Women and Maternal and Infant Health Programs in Colonial South India
Barbara N. Ramusack, University of Cincinnati
Because of the practice of female seclusion, women physicians in India were more likely to specialize in gynecology and obstetrics than did women physicians in Britain and the United States. Consequently research on medical women in India has focused on physicians in these two areas and their relationships with indigenous dais. In both the West and India maternal and child health was an area deemed appropriate for medical women workers. However, there has been little exploration of maternal and child health workers in the historiography of colonial India despite the rhetorical appeals of nationalists that Indian women should produce healthy sons.
In the context of the Madras municipality this paper investigates the development of maternal and child welfare/health centers during the 1920s and 1930s and the women who operated them. First it will consider the all-India discourse about maternal and child health programs. Then the discussion will analyze the qualifications that the Madras Municipal Corporation sought in the women it employed in maternal and child health centers; the challenges these women faced in attracting and serving their clienteles; and how they and their employers measured their impact. Since all women employees in Madras city were Indian, the tensions between British superiors and Indian subalterns were attenuated. Maternal and child health work provided a career for women that could be coded as nation-building and the opportunity for a municipal government to demonstrate its effectiveness in providing services for its citizens.
Session 148: Global Literature, Local Critique: Exploring the Foundation of Modern Critical Vocabularies in Hindi, Urdu, and Bangla
Organizer and Chair: Daisy Rockwell, University of California, Berkeley
Discussants: Gopal Balakrishnan, University of Chicago; Daisy Rockwell, University of California, Berkeley
Keywords: South Asia, literature, world literature, literary criticism, Hindi, Urdu, Bangla, Bengali.
In recent years "world" literature has gained currency in the classroom, in publishing, and as the subject of critical study. In South Asia, an increase in publications of literary translations into English from a variety of languages has made available to the English reading public a great many works of fiction and poetry, but no works of criticism. This has contributed to a major lacuna in critical studies written in English of South Asian literatures: a lack of engagement with the very literary critical traditions which inform, critique, and classify works in the language medium in which they were written. The papers in this panel examine the writings of critics from three different South Asian literatures: The Mishra brothers in Hindi (Allison Busch), Urdu critic Altaf Husain Hali (Guriqbal Sahota) and different strands of 19th-century approaches to classical traditions in Bengali (Abhijeet Paul). What are the concerns and imperatives of particular critics in these three traditions? In what way do these early critics, who were working at an important historical juncture for the development of modern Indian critical traditions, mediate various streams from both within and outside their literary cultures? How do concepts such as "romanticism" and "rationalism" translate and re-articulate Anglo-European critical perceptions? How does the incorporation today of such critical vocabularies of both traditional and modern lineages complicate the histories associated with phenomena such as the Enlightenment, Romanticism, or Modernity? The discussants, Daisy Rockwell and Gopal Balakrishnan, will respond to the papers from the perspective of South Asian literary studies and Anglo-European philosophy and criticism respectively.
At the Crossroads of Literary Modernity: The Lives and Works of the "Mishrabandhu"
Allison R. Busch, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Three early-twentieth-century Indian critics collectively known as the "Mishra brothers" (fl. 1910) constituted a leading wing of the Hindi intellectual community during its crucial developmental phase. Their magnum opus, the Mishrabandhuvinod (Delight of the Mishra Brothers, 1913), was soon to be superseded by the more self-consciously modern Hindi Sahitya ka Itihas (History of Hindi Literature, 1929) of Ramcandra Shukla and has been as a result almost forgotten by subsequent scholars. But their criticism merits our attention both for its intrinsic intellectual contribution and because it serves as a case study in how imperial literary ideologies were negotiated by local Hindi critics.
As English-educated zamindars, the Mishra brothers simultaneously inhabited two different thought-worlds, and this socio-cultural hybridity is strongly reflected in their oeuvre. On the one hand, they espoused the modern, reformist ethos that dominated Hindi literary studies during the early nationalist period, leading them to reject what they considered to be the "feudal" elements of their literary past. On the other hand, they were deeply immersed in, and strong advocates of, the very literary heritage their generation of critics was newly learning to despise. My paper probes the forms of critical expression, and, on occasion, critical confusion, that emerged at this literary crossroads between colonial and Indian worldviews.
Towards Rumanviyat: Altaf Husain Hali and Urdu Romanticism
Guriqbal Sahota, University of Chicago
As the product of Ali Garh School rational speculation and reformism, the literary theory of Urdu literateur Altaf Husain Hali (18371915) is generally considered to be the counterpoint to Urdu Rumanviyat or Romanticism. Yet it is certain that Halis literary production did not always abide by his own literary-moral prescriptions, and his ruminations on nature lent themselves to manifold appropriations, including Romanticist. Thus, unlike European Romanticism, which responded positively to the Enlightenment as the unbridling of individualistic energies (Wordsworth and Coleridge) or reacted negatively to it in order to conserve a traditional spiritualism (Burke and Schleiermacher), Romanticism in Urdu was the figural fulfillment of a different trajectory of ideas and forms.
The ambivalent place Hali occupies in the history of Urdu Romanticism demands at once a local analysis of the Arabic, Persian, and strikingly modern Urdu sources of Rumanviyat and a more nuanced understanding of the manner in which Enlightenment ideals and Romanticist terminology were appropriated in the colonial world of Urdu. Does the history of European Romanticism provide a universal model for understanding Romanticist tendencies in colonial and postcolonial settings? To what degree can the formation of Romanticist thinking in Urdu contribute to a more encompassing theorization of Romanticism as an imperial or global phenomenon? This presentation seeks to provide certain indices for answering these questions by looking at Halis commentary on the state of Urdu literary culture at the turn of the century. It concludes by delineating various problems in conceptualizing Romanticism in light of its imperial expanse and from a perspective of colonial refashioning.
The Two Critical Traditions in Nineteenth-Century Bengali Criticism: A Study in Polarization and Mergers
Abhijeet Paul, Open University, UK
In this paper, I will examine the theme of polarization and mergers of the two critical traditionsformalist (Western, rationalist, aesthetic) and the indigenist (oral, religious, and medieval kavyas)in nineteenth-century Bengali criticism. Those who were predominantly interested in the formal tradition were Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay ("Bibidha Rachana" or "Miscellaneous Essays," 1876) and Rajnarayan Basu ("Sekal ar Ekal" or "Then and Now," 1873). The other position was adopted by Dineshchandra Sen (Bangabhasha o Sahitya or Bengals Language and Literature, 1896) and Rabindranath Tagore (writings of the 1890s). With a view to establishing the roots of the Bengali literary and critical canon, the latter group began collecting songs, tales, and rituals that contained a predominantly indigenous idiom. In this way, the medieval poetic traditions began to be partly restored. Instead of being useless in the nationalist canon, as Bankim and Rajnarayan had earlier indicated, they now began to be seen as indispensable ingredients in Bengali literary history and culture. Clearly, the latter tradition has held sway since then, for it attempted to forge a relationship between the formalist and the indigenist approaches. In conclusion, I suggest that, while the mainstream canon gained in aesthetic terms, the elements deemed indigenous were fated to be viewed through the mediation of the canon, now foreignized and ironically further colonized by the dominant critical idiom. Thus the Bengali critical tradition lost sight of a portion of its critical heritagea spirit of questioning which marked the very existence of these various oral, folk, and poetic genres.
Session 167: Technologies of Nationalism and the State: The Limits and Possibilities of Imagined Communities
Organizer: Radhika Mongia, University of California, Santa Cruz
Chair and Discussant: David Ludden, University of Pennsylvania
Keywords: nationalism, state, sovereignty, territory, cultural tradition, migration, India, Pakistan.
Few theorizations of the nation have been as creative or influential as Benedict Andersons study, Imagined Communities (1983). Focusing on a range of cultural, national, and state practices in the Indian sub-continent, this panel explores the limits and possibilities of Andersons theorizations. Like Anderson, the papers here are attentive to the relation between cultural forms, the work of the imagination, and the formation of the nation-state. However, for Anderson, as for many other theorists, this relationship is conceived of as an event wherein both nation and state are accorded a somewhat static, frozen, indeed "modular" form. This panel argues against the apparently seamless and fixed relationship between the nation and the state to demonstrate not only the malleability of national imaginings but also, simultaneously, the dynamic imaginings and materializations of the state. For instance, an examination of emergent techniques of ceremonial national-state rituals (Roy) or the making of musical traditions (Neuman) in post-independence India shows that they are not merely projections of pre-independence national imaginaries, but rather mark a crucial reformulation of the relation between national imaginings and state practices. Similarly, a consideration of state technologies for controlling movementof Muslim refugees directly following Partition (Zamindar) and of Indian migrants to white-settler colonies in the early twentieth century (Mongia)demonstrates how idioms of religion and race are central for suturing territory to nationality, thus redefining classic understandings of state sovereignty. Taken together, the panelists provide a rigorously historicized and complex reworking of how communities are imagined and materialized within and by the ever-changing framework of the nation-state.
Celebrity Itineraries: The Postcolonial State in the Making of National Culture
Dard Neuman, Columbia University
This paper asks how Hindustani music, so maligned in the early years of nationalist thought, came so centrally to signify an "Indian" cultural aesthetic in the post-independence period. Through a focus on the position of Bade Ghulam Ali Khan (19021968) as Hindustani musics first celebrity, it interrogates the role of the postcolonial state in nationalizing a hitherto unbounded musical tradition. Khan was born and musically groomed in Kasur (situated in what is now Pakistan). However, he toured throughout pre-independence India, becoming widely known and immensely adored. His gramophone disks were popular and his radio broadcasts were common. Yet when, at Partition, he made Pakistan his home he became, overnight, a "foreigner" in a country that had cherished him. All India Radio would go so far as to ban the broadcast of his music. His eventual relocation to India a decade later served the opposite purpose: the Indian press hailed his return as the homecoming of a prodigal son. Khans relocation to India would, moreover, make possible the assertion of Hindustani music as embodying a specifically "Indian" national cultural aesthetic. Bade Ghulam Ali Khans life story encapsulates the transformations, complexities, and contradictions of the emerging nation-states in South Asia, newly independent and traumatically cleaved. Indeed, as this paper demonstrates, the itinerary of Khans story is emblematic of how the postcolonial state participatesat the most minute levelsin the making of cultural tradition and the celebrity musician as bounded "national treasures."
Muslim in the Margin: The Making of a Post-Partition National Order in South Asia
Vazira Zamindar, International Institute for the Study of Islam in the Modern World (ISIM), Netherlands
When Benedict Anderson defined the nation as "an imagined political community" that was "imagined as inherently limited" he presumed those limits to be immanent. In the revised edition of Imagined Communities, Anderson added chapters to suggest, amongst other things, how the Mercatorian map had shaped anti-colonial national imaginaries. However, the national imaginings and the territorial limits of postcolonial states have not always coincided. In colonial conditions within the Indian subcontinent, for instance, the Indian National Congress could make all-inclusive claims to speak for a religiously diverse nation, even as the All India Muslim League could claim to represent a separate but total Muslim nation in its demand for Pakistan. However, with the Partition of 1947 and the emergence of a two-state order, the discursive field of nationalist claims had to be rationalized within new territorial limits. This paper examines the history of the first restrictions on the movement of people between the two emergent states as a contingent attempt to secure a relationship between nation and territory, state and citizen, in the making of a post-Partition national order. It tracks, in particular, the emergence of the "Muslim" refugee as an identity category signifying pollution for both India and Pakistan and argues that the making of the Indo-Pak border served not only to mark the corporal and territorial limits of the nation but also attempted to discipline Muslim political imaginaries into a two-state national order.
After Midnight: Official Nationalism and the Production of Postcolonial Identity in India
Srirupa Roy, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
The existing literature on nations and nationalism is marked by an episodic structure, whereby the nation-state functions as the telos of nationalismthat which all nationalists seek, and eventually achieve, at a particular "moment of arrival" (Chatterjee 1991). From this point on, the nation-state functions as a giventhe assumptive spatial framework within or against which scholars discuss sub-nationalist, anti-nationalist, or supra-nationalist movements. Thus, in narratives on nationalism the actual modality of making the nation-state escapes scrutiny. The nation-state assumes meaning either as horizon or as given framework but not as an active making, requiring study in its own right. Through an examination of the public rituals and cultural practices of the annual republic day parades in India, from the modest ceremony held to commemorate the first anniversary of the Indian constitution in 1951 to the grand spectacle memorializing the fiftieth anniversary of the Indian republic in 2000, this paper draws attention to these specific practices of nation-state formation. I argue both that such national-state rituals are indispensable to the production of a "state-effect" (Mitchell 1991), or the establishment of an authoritative identity for the state, and that the specification of a relation between state and nation is one of the central tasks that mark the postcolonial moment. Accordingly, we need to take account of the ways in which "imagining institutions" is integral to the project of "imagining community."
Historicizing State Sovereignty: Racialized Nationality and the International State System
Radhika Mongia, University of California, Santa Cruz
While the historicity of the nation is now a well-established fact, the literature on nation-state formation has been largely silent on how the advent of states described as national might effect changes in definitions of state sovereignty, perhaps the most prized possession of nation-states in the international order. This paper is concerned with the transformations, and thus the historicity, of the seemingly transhistorical category of state sovereignty. Focusing on early-twentieth-century shifts in migration regulations with regard to "free" Indian migrants to a range of white-settler colonies (specifically South Africa, Australia, and Canada), the paper argues that nationality emerges as a central axis for controlling mobility in order to manage the racialized anxieties attendant on such migration. The paper demonstrates how racialized anxieties concerning migration are recoded as national imperatives to produce a notion of sovereignty that territorialized nationality. This understanding, which binds nationality to territory and thence sovereignty, is absent from preceding migration regulationsbe they of the African slave diaspora, indentured Indian migration, or European migration. Thus, at the center of imagining the nation as "both inherently limited and sovereign" (Anderson 1983) is a relatively recent twentieth-century history of migration regulations that undertake to define and manage border-crossings in national terms. This history requires us to move away from models of isolated, discrete, or serial developments of nation-state formation and rethink our analytical frameworks in ways attentive to the co-production of seemingly disparate nation-states within a context of changing interstate relations.
Session 168: INDIVIDUAL PAPERS: Politics, Economy, and Gender in South and Southeast Asia
Organizer: Arun Agrawal, University of Michigan
Chair: Surupa Gupta, Pomona College
Women at War: Jahanara Imam and the Bangladeshi Liberation Struggle
Debali Mookerjea-Leonard, Cornell University
Bangladeshs liberation struggle in 1971 provoked a level of mass mobilizationcomparable to that which occurred contemporaneously in Vietnamin an attempt to not only collectively transform political alignments and class relations but also to effect changes within the sphere of gender relations. It is especially this last aspect, that of gender relations, that has been most inadequately served in the relatively sparse literature on this modern Asian conflict. In documenting the economic, political, and bodily dimensions of the repression inflicted on the Bengali population in the east, shahid janani (mother of martyr) Jahanara Imams writings constitute a unique vantage point into this history. While her political activism and writings span the entire period from the social and military mobilization to the establishment of an Islamicist military dictatorship this paper examines the private diaries and literary output of the earlier, more radical phase. There we find Imams nationalist, socialist, and feminist commitments synthesized into a unique artistic and social vision within Bengali literature.
In addition to its concern with the specificities of Imams artistic response to Bangladeshi social history, the paper also seeks to intervene in contemporary feminist debates, for though some strands of feminist thought have been critical of militaristic nationalism for its consequences for the lives of women, and women have been described as pacifist, yet they continue to support nationalistic projects. Using Imams writings, this paper examines the stake women have in nationalism and emphasizes that women are coparticipants in progressive social struggles even as they bring to bear critical insights derived from their peculiar experience of social marginalization and subordination.
Unbecoming Women: Re-writing the Gender Script in a Factory Workers Life Story (or, Whatever Happens to the Bharat Nari?)
Jayati Lal, University of Michigan
This paper presents the life story of a young female factory worker in Delhi to examine the theoretical and methodological issues that the specific case study poses to the general categories that she represents. This is not a singular case that represents "the" Indian Factory Woman. Rather, the narrative form of a life story enables moving between the family life of a factory worker and the public sphere of the factory. Recent scholarship on women workers in India have charted the growth in and changing content and meaning of womens work in the territory of the economy, industry, firm, and shop floor and in the individual life span of women. But where and how the family fits into the topography of womens work lives have been less adequately addressed.
Methodologically, the life story provides access to a social terrain that has been by and large slighted thus far in Indian gender and labor studies. This young womans life story indicates the continuous pattern of work in her life while she is an unmarried daughter, the significance of her work for her familys survival, and the historical shifts in industrial opportunities as they shape the work options for various members of her family. It also illuminates how, despite overt signs of "patriarchal" configurations, her location as an unmarried worker eases the burden of her contributions to domestic work and routine household tasks.
Furthermore, because it covers the span of a lifetime, it also enables reading actions in the current moment, at the time of the researchers interview, in historical context. In this sense, life stories allow us to comprehend the historicity of womens lives, of gender relations and the cultural scripts for gender, and to discern how these are being re-written by women. This close examination of one womans life also extends the scope of recent feminist scholarship into the arena of subjectively felt and experienced desires, which complicates the public discourse by women workers regarding their necessity to work. It therefore suggests a different representational strategy as well as an enlarged arena in which to situate the meaning of work in womens lives. Far from essentializing Indian women factory workers, this paper seeks to particularize the generalized depictions of the Indian woman, or Bharat Nari.
The 1947 Partition: Women, New Histories, and Public Spheres in South Asia
Kavita Daiya, George Washington University
This paper theorizes Partitions gendered violence during the mass migrations of 1947 in South Asia. I engage recent revisionist Subaltern Studies historical and feminist anthropological work on Partition. These revisionist works have turned to oral recountings of the memory of Partition experience and tend to explain Partition violence against women as engendered by discourses and ideologies about male, communal, and national honor. To complicate and develop further this project of rethinking Partition, I turn to the public sphere, where discourses of identity, ethnic conflict, and belonging are both constituted and contested. I argue that public sphere texts like literature and film suggest that our contemporary explanatory narratives often risk problematically conflating the workings of community and nation, eliding the ambivalence and differences between them. Moreover, the methodological focus on community and nation can render invisible the violence against women that was intra-community and articulated with desire, affect, class and race.
For example, as Saadat Hasan Mantos short stories like "The Woman in the Red Raincoat" and "Open It" reveal, Partitions sexual violence was not always about nationalism or ethnicity: the protagonist S in "Woman in the Red Raincoat" abducts a woman because "the desire to pick up a girl took hold of him." He ensures that his victim is not English, "because he hated Englishwomen"; for him, it is racialized desire, and not nationalism or ethnicity, that engenders the abduction. Such textual scenes of racialized and intra-ethnic gendered and sexual violence, for which there are no archival and few oral histories, enable us to better understand violence that is gendered, sexual, and eventually forgotten (or historicized as ethnic and national).
India at Doha: The Politics of Policy Making in the "New" Issues at WTO
Surupa Gupta, Pomona College
One of the strongest findings that emerge out of the literature on the politics of economic reforms is that a higher degree of autonomy of the policy elite makes adoption of liberal policies more likely. This model of policy liberalization was adopted in India during the Uruguay Round negotiations on trade. While an articulate opposition group emerged in India during those negotiations, the government did little to bring those dissenting voices into the policymaking process. Although taking these voices into account may not have affected Indias negotiating position to any substantial degree, ignoring them seems to have played a major role in shaping the subsequent discourse in India on multilateral trade negotiations under the World Trade Organization. This research suggests that the post-Marrakech consensus in India regarding WTO issues (in particular, the four Singapore issues) and the hardening of Indias position at Doha were, in large part, shaped by the Uruguay Round experience. Policy formulation and arriving at an initial negotiating position may be best done by policy elites working in isolation. However this research suggests that, at least in large democracies such as India, the political leadership and the policy elite have a responsibility of taking the policy to the people and the stakeholders once it is formulated. Ignoring the input of the stakeholders in the policymaking process can have serious implications for the legitimacy and wide acceptability of the deal thus entered into.
Democratic Transition, Economic Crisis, and Labor Reform in Indonesia
Teri L. Caraway, University of Minnesota
Although labor law reforms that strengthened basic labor rights were passed in Indonesia soon after the fall of Suharto, attempts to pass comprehensive reforms affecting labor flexibility and the adjudication of labor disputes have proven difficult. In February 2003, the legislature passed an important reform that covered labor flexibility over the right to strike; another law remains stuck in the legislature. Proposed reforms have faced strong opposition by both employers and labor. Perhaps the most puzzling aspect of labor reform is that while labor played little role in bringing down Suharto and is still weak and fragmented, it managed to secure many gains in the immediate post-Suharto era. In addition to the early reforms that guaranteed basic rights such as freedom of association, interim measures to regulate labor flexibility have made it difficult and expensive for employers to lay off workers. However, these early successes are extremely tenuous and have been partially rolled back in the latest law. I argue that labors early success can be explained by international pressure to restore basic labor rights and the early remobilization of labor, in contrast to employers, in the wake Suhartos fall. The passage of the latest reform reveals that labors gains, especially regarding labor flexibility, are likely to be rolled back as employers present a unified front. Capitals increased leverage is a result not only of its greater organization and financial strength but also of the persistence of the economic crisis and the dramatic decline in foreign investment.
Session 187: Regionalizing the Mughal Tradition in Early Modern Bengal
Organizer: Pika Ghosh, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Chair: Aditya Behl, University of Pennsylvania
Discussants: Eugene F. Irschick, University of California, Berkeley; David Gilmartin, North Carolina State University
Most of the scholarship on Mughal history has emphasized the massive administrative machinery that carried out functions like revenue collection and financial resource allocation. The cultural dimensions of the making of a Mughal imperial tradition have received less attention among historians. Recent scholarship on medieval and early modern India, however, suggests that valuable insights into the cultural and social history of north India during the 16th to 18th centuries are to be gained from probing the quest for a cultural and political style that tied together different regions of the subcontinent.
Art historians have examined the creation of an imperial image by Akbar and Shah Jahan through their active participation in the building of palace-fortresses and mausolea and the commissioning of albums of exquisite miniature paintings. However the dynamic interaction with regional elites and the local practices that created and maintained the empire remains to be scrutinized. This panel attempts to explore the dynamics of regional/vernacular cultures in interaction with specific aspects of the Mughal imperial tradition. By focusing on one region, Bengal, at the eastern periphery of the empire, and the evidence of legal documents, the textualization of oral narratives, and architectural construction, we ask how a Mughal Bengal was created and perpetuated during the 17th and 18th centuries and how the local participates in the global, and defines it.
The Mughal Tradition and Prose Narratives in Early Bengal
Kumkum Chatterjee, Pennsylvania State University
This paper concentrates on the influence of a Mughal/Persianized culture on the form and style of historical narratives in early modern Bengal. Much of the existing literature has characterized the advent of British colonial rule as the principal harbinger of a "revolution" of sorts in historical consciousness in Bengal (and in other parts of India). History now came to be understood as a rational-positivist discipline whereas earlier it had been formulaic, "mythic," and divorced from any material/sociopolitical context. This paper seeks to demonstrate that a significant shift in historical consciousness had already occurred in 17th- and 18th-century Bengal and identifies the consolidation of Mughal rule over eastern India, accompanied by the greater penetration of a Mughal political and intellectual culture as key factors in this shift. Based on an analysis of several prose narratives (in Bengali and Sanskrit) produced in Bengal in the 18th and early 19th centuries, this paper will explore the specific manifestations of a new idiom in historical consciousness which became manifest in these texts. The conclusion is that these texts betray an effort to accommodate regional traditions and issues with stylistic and substantive influences introduced into the region via Mughal rule. Secondly, it urges a re-thinking and re-evaluation of historical styles and consciousness in early modern Bengal as well as of the relationship between an imperial Mughal culture and regional/vernacular cultures.
Mughal Style and the Temple Vernacular in Eighteenth-Century Bengal
Pika Ghosh, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Bengali Mughal architecture has been obscured by the magnificent palace-fortresses and tombs of Delhi, Agra, and Fatehpur Sikri, which have attracted scholars as much as tourists. Historians of Mughal architecture have only undertaken preliminary documentation of the remains of mosques, tombs, and shrines at the successive Mughal capitals at Rajmahal, Dhaka, and Murshidabad. Their interaction with the existing Bengali Sultanate style as embodied in both the remains at Gaur and also the temples scattered across the Bengal plains remains to be explored. In this paper I examine the transition in architectural style from the mid-seventeenth to mid-eighteenth centuries at Vishnupur, in southwestern Bengal. At this time Vishnupur was the seat of the local Malla kings, who were motivated to create a dynasty in the image of first the Bengal Sultans and then the Mughals. The town also became an experimental laboratory in architectural forms spurred by religious enthusiasm to create a Vaishnava center. I argue that as the Mughals had earlier appropriated Indic rituals such as darshan, local Hindu rajas now framed Krishna in a Mughal jharoka. The architecture and ornament of the temples suggest how the local Bengali rulers imagined themselves under the Mughal umbrella and how they visualized the empire in shaping their world. I look at this development and its role in the making of a Mughal Bengal, parallel to the capitals at Dhaka and Murshidabad.
Qazi: Representing the Islamic Lawgiver in Eighteenth-Century Bengal
Sudipta Sen, Syracuse University
With the establishment of Mughal rule in Bengal, the Mughal legal system together with other institutions were introduced into Bengal in the later 16th and early 17th centuries. The figure of the Qazi was an important one in this legal system since the Qazi was an autonomous jurist, arbitrator, and upholder of the intricacies of the extant Hanafi canon. During the eighteenth century, the government of the Nawabs of Murshidabad (which can be regarded as a Mughal successor state in many ways) was replaced by that of the English East India Company. Under the governance of the Company, the Qazi gradually became an administrator and salaried servant rather than an autonomous jurist. This paper traces the Mughal/ Nawabi institution of the Qazi in 18th century Bengal and the representations of those who held this office at the official/administrative as well as popular levels. Secondly, it seeks to chart the transformations that took place in the nature of the office of the Qazi during the later 18th century.
Session 207: Legacies of Andhra Buddhism
Organizer, Chair, and Discussant: Sree Padma Holt, Bowdoin College
Histories of Buddhism, particularly those written with emphases on doctrine or art, often stress the formative importance of north Indian religious cultures in the Ganges River Valley, the Doab, and Gandhara when accounting for the emergence of central conceptual and artistic trajectories marking the development of this great religious tradition. The buddhologists writing papers for this panel, however, endeavor to illustrate how the religious culture of the Andhra region of south India, especially in the Krishna River valley, fostered the transformation of many enduring facets of Buddhist thought, practice, and artistic expression in its Theravada, Mahayana, and Tantric guises, transformations and innovations that endured in other regions of the Buddhist world where they were eventually transplanted. Specifically, these papers focus on the genesis of stupa architecture, anthropomorphic iconography, aspects of ritual culture, the idealization of soteriologically significant beings, and theories of kingship and polity, all of which were originally unique to Andhra but were sustained elsewhere in later periods of Buddhist history. Holt explores how conceptions intrinsic to Mahasamghika communities traveled to Sri Lanka to influence its kingship and emergent iconography of the Buddha; Kinnard focuses specifically on how Amaravatis art established a visual lexicon for other Buddhist sites in India while effectively canonizing particular events in the life of the Buddha; Lang discusses how Candrakirtis Madhyamaka ideas of kingship in Andhra formed a defense against emergent Saivite conceptions of royal power and in the process became a classical statement about Buddhist conceptions of polity; and Barber notes the seminal role played by various monks in Andhra for the development of Buddhist Tantra and its transmission to Tibet and China.
Andhras Buddhist Influence on Sri Lanka
John C. Holt, Bowdoin College
I argue that the Mahasamghika communities of early first millennium Andhra (Amaravati and Nagarjuna-konda) exerted formative impacts on the development of both conceptual and material Buddhist culture in Sri Lanka, specifically with regard to the development of the bodhisattva ideal and how the Buddha came to be figured in sculpture.
The paper begins with a description of the evolving character of Buddhist ritual culture in Andhra, noting especially the emergent practices of worshiping caityas and transferring merit, as well as the developing Mahasamghika profile of the altruistic bodhisattva. It then proceeds to a resume of the Sri Lankan Mahavamsas account of how the heretical (read Mahasamghika) presence of "proto-Mahayana" communities in Sri Lanka at the same time was expelled in Lanka by Mahavihara-inclined ("proto-Theravada") royalty who were called upon to adjudicate sectarian disputes between these rival Buddhist communities.
The paper then proceeds in two ways: (1) a documentation through inscriptions and monastic chronicles regarding how later conceptions of Lankan kingship were ironically impacted by the introduction of Mahasamghika bodhisattva ideals originating from Andhra; and (2) most importantly, how anthropormorphic images of the Buddha made of a certain type of limestone found only in the Krishna River valley of Andhra were not only imported frequently to Sri Lanka but that the "Amaravati style" of these very images was central to the formation of later Lankan Buddha images that came to dominate sculpted portrayals of the Buddha in the Anuradhapura period of Sri Lankan Buddhist history.
Amaravati as Lens: Envisioning Early Buddhism in the Ruins of the Great Temple
Jacob N. Kinnard, James Madison University
Amaravati has been one of the most analyzed structures in the history of Buddhism; the stone slabs, columns, and friezes that were recovered from the site have for well over a century been celebrated by scholars as the high point of Buddhist art and architecture. There has been, arguably, no more influential Buddhist structure. Amaravatis influence has been essentially two-fold: first, Amaravatis art fundamentally influenced the development of Buddhist iconography and practices at other sites in India, presenting a visual lexicon that would for centuries inform and guide Buddhist artisans in their production of sculpture and architecture. Second, beginning in the mid-19th-century, the art recovered from Amaravati fundamentally influenced the scholarly understanding of the development of Buddhist artistic motifs as well as Buddhist practice itself.
In this paper, I will first provide a brief history of Amaravati, one that focuses on the discovery of the great stupa in the 1870s. I will then move to a discussion of how the early interpreters of the sculpture excavated at Amaravati established a virtually hegemonic understanding of early Buddhist art and ritual. Finally, I will discuss the influence that Amaravati had within the contemporary Buddhist world and suggest that one of the most important aspects of Amaravatis influence was that the early sculptures produced there established not only a visual lexicon that narratively emphasized particular events in the Buddhas life but also may well have served to preserve and in some cases perhaps even recreatethe actual sites associated with these events.
Madhyamaka Monks and Krishna River Valley Kings
Karen Lang, University of Virginia
Buddhist monasteries once flourished in the fertile region of the Krishna River valley. In this regions monasteries, Nagarjuna and his disciple, Aryadeva, wrote the treatises that became the foundation for the Madhyamaka school. Nagarjuna and Aryadeva advised third-century c.e. Satavahana dynasty kings and with royal support Buddhism flourished. Among Nagarjunas works are two letters offering advice to an unnamed Satavahana king. In these letters, the Ratnavali and the Suhrullekha, he advises the king to develop insight into the four noble truths and to pursue meritorious actions with the intention of attaining Buddhahood. Aryadevas Chatushataka also includes a chapter offering advice to a king. Both Nagarjuna and Aryadeva encourage kings to become exemplary lay patrons by sharing their wealth generously and treating all people with compassion. Several centuries later, with the demise of the Satavahana dynasty and the decline of royal patronage, Buddhist institutions in the Krishna River valley succumbed to the prevailing tide of medieval Saivite devotion. Candrakirtis commentaries on the works of Nagarjuna and Aryadeva present a vigorous defense of Buddhism, perhaps to counteract the declining support Buddhism received in the early medieval court circles of the Krishna River valley. This paper will focus on these Madhyamaka scholars defense of the Buddhist values of compassion and non-violence against a royal culture that advocated violence and warfare.
Buddhist Tantra in the Krishna River Area
A. W. Barber, University of Calgary
The Krishna River area was one of the most influential regions of India for the development and transmission of Buddhist Tantra. The tantras that have solid connections with this area can be dated with some accuracy from the 7th to the 10th century c.e. Using various Sanskrit Indian and Tibetan primary textual sources, this paper will show how this area was seminal in these developments. It will identify some the most important historic figures and it will also identify which of the many early tantric traditions are associated with the Krishna River valley area.