Wednesday, October 28, 2020

From Malabar to Coromandel — The Future of Deccan Heritage, Art and Culture 

The pandemic has been brutal, nowhere more than India, but one small benefit has been the number of online meetings that have been available for wider participation. I'm still sad that Madison had to be cancelled, and truly disappointed that the SAH annual conference in Seattle was cancelled in March. But I've been able to listen to a lot of lectures and presentations I would have otherwise missed if all meetings had been held in person.

This is just to say: this webinar series from the Deccan Heritage Foundation looks amazing.

From Malabar to Coromandel — The Future of Deccan Heritage, Art and Culture

Seminars and lectures co-organized by the Deccan Heritage Foundation, the Centre of Islamic Studies at the University of Cambridge, and the HH Sri Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wadiyar Foundation, Mysore, presenting the pioneering work of scholars in various cultural fields from both the Northern and Southern Deccan regions of India.


November 13th at 13.00 GMT
Pushkar Sohoni (IISER Pune), The Architecture of a Deccan Sultanate: Courtly Practice and Royal Authority in Late Medieval India. Discussants: Marika Sardar (Aga Khan Museum) and Vivek Gupta (University of Cambridge) (Book Discussion)

November 27th at 13.00 GMT
George Michell (Architectural Historian, DHF) "Art and Architecture of the Badami Chalukyas"

• December 11th at 16.00 GMT
Richard M. Eaton (University of Arizona) India in the Persianate Age: 1000—1765
Discussants: Alka Patel (UC Irvine) and Roy Fischel (SOAS, University of London) (Book Discussion)   

December 18th at 13.00 GMT
Annapurna Garimella (Art, Resources and Teaching Trust) "The Square and the Rectangle: Design Transformations and Architectural Renovation between the 14th-16th Centuries in Vijayanagara"

January 8th at 13.00 GMT
Emma Flatt (UNC Chapel Hill) The Courts of the Deccan Sultanates: Living Well in the Persian Cosmopolis
Discussants: Evrim Binbaş (University of Bonn) and Subah Dayal (NYU Gallatin) (Book Discussion)

January 22nd at 16.00 GMT
Anna Lise Seastrand (University of Minnesota)"Image and Imagination: Wall Paintings in Early Modern Southern India"

MARCH 2021
March 5th at 13.00 GMT
Evrim Binbaş (University of Bonn) "The Idea of Sacral Kingship between Islamic and Turco-Mongol Concepts of Politics"

To learn more, visit the Deccan Heritage Foundation website ( or write to


South Indian Paintings

This is well outside my field of expertise, but this new resource for South Indian paintings seems like a nifty and necessary effort. Created by Anna L. Dallapiccola, John and Fausta Eskenazi, and Mr. C. Ganesan, this project documents South Indian murals (primarily in Tamil Nadu) that are threatened by vandalism and decay.

From the authors' description:

"We would like to share this collection of splendid murals with as many fellow enthusiasts, students, scholars, and travellers, as possible. The aim of this documentation is not only to provide a tool for further research on South Indian painting, but mainly to make the art world aware of this endangered cultural heritage and to encourage not only scholarship, but also restoration and conservation works."

See more at South Indian Paintings (


Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Surviving the Pandemic in South Asia

Surviving the Pandemic in South Asia: A Panel Discussion with Anita Patil-Deshmukh, PUKAR; Imran Ahmed, Shakti Foundation, and Usman Javed, Mazdoor Dhaba

On Monday, September 28, at 9 a.m. EDT, the Rutgers South Asian Studies Program is hosting an event on COVID-19 in South Asia, with presentations from NGO leaders working with those most affected by the pandemic. Anita Patil-Deshmukh from PUKAR (Mumbai), Imran Ahmed from the Shakti Foundation (Dhaka), and Usman Jawed from Mazdoor Dhaba (Delhi) will speak, followed by a Q&A session.

For more information, see

To register to attend, see


Partha Chatterjee: A Relativist View of the Indian Nation


Professor Partha Chatterjee will be speaking as part of the Rutgers AMESALL Distinguished Lecture Series, on Friday, October 09, 2020, at 11:00 a.m. EDT.

Talk abstract: Research in the last three decades on the print literatures in the various Indian languages has revealed that the consciousness of the people as constituting a nation was deeply grounded in the emergence in the 19th and 20th centuries of the regional vernaculars as standardized print languages. But the identity of the people-nation in each region had constituent features that were not the same everywhere. At the same time, the identity of a linguistic community as a people was located within a larger identity of belonging to the Indian nation. This paper argues that while there is a real construct of the Indian nation, it looks different when viewed from the perspective of each regional language. There is no language-neutral perspective available. Hence, one must accept a relativist view of the Indian nation.

For more information, see or contact Prof. Preetha Mani (

Friday, July 24, 2020

Affected by Landslides: PhD Research in Kalimpong District

View of Kalimpong hills
Hills of Kalimpong.
Image credit: Anuj Kumar Pradhan

According to an article in the July 22nd issue of India Today, 27 people have lost their lives in landslides in Darjeeling and Kalimpong Districts. Searching for more information took me to Peter McGowran's discussion of his PhD research on the topic. This is an area about which I know little, so I enjoyed reading it (as much as one can enjoy reading about preventable deaths).

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

STS Research, COVID-19, the Global South

This is a bit belated, but I just found this discussion between editors/assistant editors at Backchannels. Gloria Baigorrotegui (Santiago), Amanda Domingues (New York), Joseph Satish Vedanayagam (Hyderabad), María Elissa Torres Carrasco (Cuenca), Olusegun Alonge (Berlin), and Xan Chacko (Meanjin/Brisbane) share their thoughts on the pandemic and scientific research.

"Silence is key to continue breathing."

Thursday, July 16, 2020

A Real Threat to Research and Safety

Any woman* considering dissertation research in India should read Audrey Truschke's recent essay** and take it seriously. As a scholar working in science studies, cultural heritage management, and architectural/landscape history, I've run up against the limits of what can be said without threat of a masculinist Hindutva retaliation. While my personal safety has never been threatened (that I know of), I have certainly done a lot of self-censoring when applying for visas, pursuing certain research topics, and publishing on certain topics. I thought long and hard before publishing my article on Ayodhya, and I had to take multiple deep breaths before publishing an article that undermines the myth of Jaipur as a Hindu city (city plan).

My dissertation research will probably never make it into book form, but that may be just as well, as interpreting Jai Singh's observatories as sites of an exclusively Hindu science is just not possible. Certainly earlier Hindu/Sanskrit texts played a role, especially early in Jai Singh's explorations, but arguably, Islamic and then European texts were more important during the era of design and construction.

I don't know what kind of risk I'd be willing to assume to see my book published. Professionally, I'm not dependent on it for promotion and advancement, so having my book pulped like Wendy Doniger's wouldn't necessarily hurt my career. But it would hurt personally, tremendously, beyond what I could express.

Knowing the problem is the first step: be aware of what's going on. Solving the problem is the second, third, fourth, and fifth step. Men, support your more vulnerable colleagues at home and in the field. Think about how networks that are so valuable to your research may be failing to help your female colleagues. If your voice is being heard, use it for change. Listen to the women with whom you work.

*Really, this warning is for everyone working in South Asian studies, but women, trans, and non-binary people are definitely more at personal risk.

**Thank you to the scholar who shared this essay via the ACSAA network this morning.