The new ROM exhibit Between Princely India and the British Raj: The Photography of Raja Deen Dayal, curated by CSAS core faculty member Deepali Dewan, displays rare photographs from 19th century India. The exhibit was inspired by Dewan's recent book, co-authored with Deborah Hutton.
From the ROM website: "Raja Deen Dayal (1844–1905) was the first Indian photographer to earn international renown. Noted for remarkable beauty, aesthetic nuance and technical skill, Deen Dayal's photographs capture the architectural heritage of India, its landscape and people, and provide a lens through which we can explore a dynamic time in India's history and the role Deen Dayal had in fashioning a new identity for an emerging nation."
Read more about the exhibit (which runs until January 12, 2014) and view additional images at BBC News, the National Post, and the Toronto Star.
It is my very sad duty to inform you that Professor Joseph O'Connell, our friend and long-time supporter of the Centre for South Asian Studies, passed away suddenly on Sunday, May 7, 2012 in New York City.
Professor O'Connell was a member of the Department for the Study of Religion and in the Faculty of Theology at St. Michael's. He will be greatly missed by his many friends and colleagues, especially those who benefitted from his tireless commitment to building rich, expansive and diverse conversations in South Asian Studies.
New College, where the Centre for South Asian Studies was housed until recently, has published this obituary: http://www.newcollege.utoronto.ca/news/in-memoriam-professor-joseph-oconnell/ . In addition, please see the obituaries which appeared in both the Globe and Mail and Toronto Star, and another by William Radice of the School of Oriental and African Studies.
Dr. Ritu Birla
Centre for South Asian Studies
Professor Ritu Birla, Director of the Centre for South Asian Studies, then introduced the discussion with a presentation on "Global Designs & Designations," that considered how our contemporary concept of "the global" has been designed in knowledge and practice, and how we can explore the political, imaginative, material and aesthetic worlds that exist inside and outside the global space. A faculty member at St. George History, Professor Birla also celebrated the tri-campus, interdisciplinary faculty of the Centre, and the discussion to come. Following this enthusiastic introduction, the crowd was excited to hear the event's first panel on "Visual Regimes, Technologies, and Genealogies," with faculty specialists from Visual Culture Studies and the Department of Art. Professor Kajri Jain began with a talk on "The Aesthetics of Discrepant Globalization," which highlighted her fascinating current research on the proliferation of new, massive monumental statues in India. Such statues, she argued, chart India's new global economic geography, mapped by new material infrastructure such as highways, as well as vernacular worlds found in the circulations of the bazaar. Professor Dewan then presented her discussion on "Indian Painted Photographs Through a Transnational Lens" which illustrated the history and intricacies of the Indian painted photograph and its influence on global circuits of craftsmanship and artistic production today. Building on her comments about the masterful manipulations of the photograph by Indian craftsmen, the presentation concluded with a rich reflection on the "truth" of the photograph.
After a brief lunch break, in which attendees ruminated and conversed about the exciting discussions they had just heard, the second panel discussion on "Political Circuits and Mediations" commenced. Anthropology Professor Nais Dave presented a provocative talk on "The Intimacy of Human and Animal." Professor Dave opened her discussion with the observation that launched her research: those who seek to be cosmopolitan in India often embrace meat-eating, to counteract orthodoxies. It is in this context that she became interested in the rise in the discourse of animal rights in India, a political project at once very close to orthodox Hindu practice, while at the same time, in its intellectual heritage, a product of modern discourses of political liberalism. This fascinating exploration of this genealogy of the Indian modern was followed by an equally compelling discussion of modern media in the South Asian context by Professor Francis Cody of Anthropology. Professor Cody addressed the ever-popular "Tamil tea shop" discussions and the ways in which such vibrant local practices enabled the reproduction of print media, just at a time when they seem endangered in the West. The practice of reading about current events aloud from a newspaper, and then vigorously debating them, offers a rich ethnography through which to understand the media and the concept of the public itself.
The event concluded with a panel of faculty members from the Department of Geography, speaking on "Neoliberal Environments." Professor Raj Narayanareddy's talk on "Recycling Urban Commons" told a detailed story about markets and scavengers in electronic waste in Bangalore, India. A gripping tale, it was also a critical reading of the relationship between waste, labour and the production of value—market value and gendered social value. Professor Narayanareddy’s discussion of this microenvironment and the macroscopic questions about capitalism that accompany it was perfectly complimented by Professor Katharine Rankin’s discussion of the cultural politics of governance in post-conflict Nepal. Asking what happens when revolutionary Maoist politics actually comes to inhabit power, Professor Rankin engagingly detailed the many-layered, micro-level negotiations and contradictions that enabled macro-level transformations in governance.
An important feature of the event was putting CSAS core faculty in touch with experts in other regions who also actively engage with transnational analysis, who served most generously as robust, challenging and deeply engaging respondents. The Centre was delighted that History Professor Elspeth Brown, Director of the Centre for the Study of the United States, Southeast Asia specialist Joshua Barker, Undergraduate Coordinator and Professor in the Department of Anthropology, and Professor of Geography and Planning, Kanishka Goonewardena were able to join us to build the critical questions via subcontinental worlds.
The final panel was followed by a reception, where attendees were able to chat with the South Asian expert panelists while enjoying delicious homestyle Gujarati dishes.