V.D Savarkar - The Politics, Poetics and History of Hindu Nationalism: ISAS Faculty Workshop led by Prof. Janaki Bakhle

Workshop | November 27 | 10 a.m.-5 p.m. | Stephens Hall, 10 (ISAS Conf. Room)

 Thomas Blom Hansen, Professor in South Asian Studies and Professor in Anthropology, Stanford University; Vidyut Aklujkar, Research Associate, Centre for India and South Asia Research, University of British Columbia; Christian Novetzke, Professor in the South Asia Program, the Comparative Religion Program, and the International Studies Program at the University of Washington’s Jackson School of International Studies; Vasudha Paramasivan, Assistant Professor of South & Southeast Asian Studies, UC Berkeley; Sudipta Sen, Professor of History at the University of California, Davis; Christine Philliou, Associate Professor of History, UC Berkeley

 Janaki Bakhle, Associate Professor of History, UC Berkeley

 Institute for South Asia Studies, Sarah Kailath Chair of India Studies

The growth and rise of the Hindu right wing in India has been an alarming reality for many in the country. An ideology loosely labeled “Hindu fundamentalism” or “Hindutva” (Hindu-ness) appears to have attained legitimacy in the world’s largest secular democracy. Some Hindu fundamentalists have issued calls to expel all Muslims from India and teach only a true Hindu civilizational history in schools. Today, the right-wing Hindu nationalist party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, is in power, and threatens to do away with many of the secular and liberal protections India’s citizenry have come to take for granted. How did a right wing ideology capture the hearts and minds of the same population that a little over fifty years ago threw its’ support behind the stalwarts of liberal secular nationalism, such as Gandhi and Nehru?

Join us for a workshop, led by Prof. Janaki Bakhle, that will attempt to look for a historical explanation in the historical scholarship on the main ideologue, political figure, and author of Hindu fundamentalism: Vinayak Damodar Savarkar (1883-1966).



10:30 am: OPENING: Janaki Bakhle

----------Sudipta Sen
----------Christine Philliou

12 - 1 pm: LUNCH

----------Christian Novetzke
----------Thomas Blom Hansen

2:15 - 2:30 pm: BREAK

----------Vidyut Aklujkar
----------Vasudha Paramasivan

3:45 - 4 pm: BREAK

4 - 4:15 pm: WRAP UP: Janaki Bakhle

4:15 - 5 pm: RECEPTION

Presenter Bios

Sudipta Sen is Professor of History at the University of California, Davis. A scholar of India and the British Empire, his work has focused on the early colonial history of British India. He is the author of two books, Empire of Free Trade: The English East India Company and the Making of the Colonial Marketplace (Philadelphia: The University of Pennsylvania Press, 1998) and Distant Sovereignty: National Imperialism and the Origins of British India (London: Routledge, 2002). He is currently working on two book length manuscripts. The first, Ganga: Many Pasts of an Indian River (New Haven: Yale University Press; forthcoming) is an exploration of the idea of a cosmic, universal river at the interstices of myth, historical geography and ecology, and the other is a longer term project entitled Empire of Law and Order: Crime, Punishment and Justice in Early British India, 1770-1830.

Christine Philliou, is Associate Professor of History at UC Berkeley. She specializes in the political and social history of the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey and Greece as parts of the post-Ottoman world. Her book, Biography of an Empire: Governing Ottomans in an Age of Revolution (University of California Press, 2011), examines the changes in Ottoman governance leading up to the Tanzimat reforms of the mid-nineteenth century. It does so using the vantage point of Phanariots, an Orthodox Christian elite that was intimately involved in the day-to-day work of governance even though structurally excluded from the Ottoman state. Her current work turns to the political, personal and intellectual/artistic itinerary of the Turkish writer Refik Halit Karay (1888-1965). Her interests and other publications have had to do with comparative empires across Eurasia, various levels of transitions from an “Ottoman” to a “post-Ottoman” world in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and political and cultural interfaces in the eastern Mediterranean, Middle East, and Balkans in the early modern and modern eras.

Christian Novetzke is a College of Arts and Sciences Term Professor in the South Asia Program, the Comparative Religion Program, and the International Studies Program at the University of Washington’s Jackson School of International Studies. He teaches and writes about religion, history, and culture in South Asia, as well as theoretical issues in the study of religion in general and its intersection with historiography. He works with Marathi and Hindi materials, including textual, ethnographic, and visual/filmic sources. He specializes in the study of Maharashtra from the second millennium CE to the present, ranging from the medieval period, through the colonial and modern periods, to the postcolonial era. Professor Novetzke’s first book, Religion and Public Memory (Columbia University Press 2008) won the American Academy of Religion’s award “The Best First Book in the History of Religions” in 2009. The book has been published in India under the title History, Bhakti, and Public Memory by Permanent Black. His second book, co-authored with William Elison and Andy Rotman, is Amar Akbar Anthony: Bollywood, Brotherhood, and the Nation, published by Harvard University Press in 2016. His third book, solo authored, is The Quotidian Revolution, published by Columbia University Press, 2016.

Thomas Blom Hansen is the Reliance-Dhirubhai Ambani Professor in South Asian Studies and Professor in Anthropology in Stanford University. He is the author of The Saffron Wave: Democracy and Hindu Nationalism in Modern India (Princeton 1999); Wages of Violence: Naming and Identity in Postcolonial Bombay (Princeton 2001), and Melancholia of Freedom: Anxiety, Race and Everyday Life in a South African Township (Princeton 2012). In addition to these ethnographic engagements, Professor Hansen has pursued a number of theoretical interests in the anthropology of the state, sovereignty, violence and urban life. This has resulted in a range of co-edited volumes, and special issues of journals such as Critique of Anthropology and African Studies. He is currently working on a collection of theoretical and ethnographic essays provisionally entitled Public Passions and Modern Convictions.

Vidyut Aklujkar is a research associate at the Centre for India and South Asia Research at the University of British Columbia, where she has also taught in the Departments of Philosophy and Asian Studies. She studied in the University of Poona, Tufts University, and the University of British Columbia. Her research interests range from poetry and fiction to critical studies in classical Sanskrit literature, Marathi, and contemporary South Asian literature. She has published in both North America and India as a poet, journalist and fiction writer.

Vasudha Paramasivan is Assistant Professor of South & Southeast Asian Studies, UC Berkeley. Her research focuses on early modern and modern literary cultures of North India. Her current research is centered on the Ramcaritmanas of Tulsidas. Her book project brings together exegetical literature, hagiographies, and narrative poetry in order to explore the complex sets of interactions among the various 19th-century literary cultures—sectarian, courtly, and colonial—that contributed to the emergence of the Ramcaritmanas as the principal text of Ram devotion. She is also interested in the enormous impact that the Ramcaritmanas exerted on the modern Hindi poetical imagination.Her publications include: "Yah Ayodhyā Vah Ayodhyā: Earthly and Cosmic Journeys in the nand Lahari," "Captivity and Curiosity, The Question of Economic Independence for Women," and "The Condition of Hindu Wives."

Janaki Bakhle is Associate Professor of History at UC Berkeley. She specializes in Modern South Asian history. Her areas of specialization include Indian political history, Indian feminist history, nationalism, gender and culture. Her first book, Two Men and Music: Nationalism, Colonialism and the Making of an Indian Classical Tradition was published by Oxford University Press, 2005. She has published in CSSH, and is currently engaged in her second book project about Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, known as the chief ideologue of Hindu fundamentalism, and is writing about sedition, colonial surveillance, and the emergence of Hindu fundamentalism in late nineteenth century India.

Event made possible with the support of the Sarah Kailath Chair of India Studies

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The event is FREE and OPEN to the public.

 isas@berkeley.edu, 510-642-3608