November 3: 1st Annual Rustgi Undergraduate Conference on South Asia at the University at Buffalo, featuring a keynote by Sujatha Gidla

Rustgi Conference Logo

Origins of the Contemporary​

November 3rd 8:30 am to 6 pm

Capen 107, University at Buffalo, North Campus

Free and open to the public

(registration required


Gidla headshot

Please join fellow scholars and faculty for the first annual Rustgi Undergraduate Conference on South Asia at the University at Buffalo. The conference will feature a keynote lecture by Sujatha Gidla, acclaimed author of Ants Among Elephants: An Untouchable Family and the Making of Modern India (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017). Undergraduate presenters from institutions located throughout the United States will share their current research on South Asia. Undergraduate scholars based in South Asia will be joining us via Skype.

Gidla book cover

The first annual Rustgi South Asian Undergraduate Research Conference is made possible by a generous gift from Dr. Vinod Rustgi and his family. The University at Buffalo Asian Studies Program, Department of Anthropology, Department of English, Department of History, Department of Linguistics, Honors College, Office of International Education, and Humanities Institute have provided additional support and funding.

For more information, please contact


Opening Remarks (8:30 am)​

Panel 1 (8:45-9:45 am) Social and Political Currents

Chair: Dr. Shaanta Murshid (University at Buffalo, SUNY)

Abhishek Shah (Northwestern University), “Approaches to News Production on and from Kashmir”

Sadique PK (English & Foreign Language University, Hyderabad), “Post-Left Islam: Citizenship Politics and Emerging Muslim Youth Activism in South India”

Panel 2 (9:45-11:00 am) Literature and Media: Classical and Contemporary Perspectives

Chair: Dr. Natalie Sarrazin (SUNY Brockport)

Brigette Meskell (SUNY Brockport), “Escaping the Fire: The Construction of Female Same-Sex Desire and Identity in Hindi Cinema”

Fatima Afzal (Lahore University of Management Sciences), “Prime Time ‘Akhlaq’: Selling Ethics in the Subcontinent”

James Batten (University of Colorado Boulder), “National Pride, Nukes, and the Meaning of the Mahābhārata”

Coffee Break (11:00 – 11:15 am)

Panel 3 (11:15 am-12:15 pm) Health, Medicine, and Policy

Chair: Dr. Claude Welch (University at Buffalo, SUNY)

Sailakshmi Senthil Kumar (University of California Berkeley), “Lingual Choices”

Madison Weisend (Marymount Manhattan College), “Exploring Water Scarcity Through the Dynamics of Social Power: The Case of the Thar Desert”

Lunch (12:15-1:30pm) Free for those who register by October 31, 2018

Panel 4 (1:30 – 2:45 pm) Religions, Theory, and Practice

Chair: Dr. Mark Nathan (University at Buffalo, SUNY)

Emily Sadler (University of Colorado Boulder), “Queer Hindu Theology and Philosophy and their Social Applications”

Sharmain Siddiqui (Northwestern University), “Unani Tibb as Resistance: Bodily Practice at the Intersection of Colonial and Postcolonial Systems of Power”

Ethan Seeley (University at Buffalo, SUNY), “The Strange Case of Bhagat Singh Thind: Citizenship and Spirituality”

Panel 5 (2:45 – 3:45 pm) Art and Diaspora

Chair: Dr. Christopher Lee (Canisius College)

Sarah Robinson (Vanderbilt University), “Anarcho-Sufism in America: A Musical Analysis of Omar Waqar”

Courtney Johnson (The Ohio State University), “The Bifurcated Bride: Gender, Nationalism, and Identity in Amrita Sher-Gil’s The Bride’s Toilet

Coffee Break (3:45 – 4:00 pm)

Keynote: Sujatha Gidla (4 pm)

Book Signing (until 6pm)