Category Archives: Lectures

April 29: Medha Bhattacharyya on “Rethinking Bollywood Women in the Twenty-First Century”

Please join us at 12 pm on Friday, April 29 an Asia at Noon Lecture featuring Dr. Medha Bhattacharyya, Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence at Bridgewater State University. Dr. Bhattacharyya will give a virtual presentation on “Rethinking Bollywood Women in the Twenty-First Century.” To attend this online event, please visit

12 pm March 19 | Jamal J. Elias (U Penn) “Troubling Translations and the Elusive Original”

Jamal J. Elias
“Troubling Translations and the Elusive Original: Translating More than Text”
12 pm March 19, 2021     

Please see the poster below for the Zoom link

Professor Jamal J. Elias is Walter H. Annenberg Professor of the Humanities and Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. He specializes in Islamic thought, literature, and history in Western, Central, and South Asia, with a focus on Sufism and Visual Culture. His most recent books are On Wings of Diesel: Trucks, Identity and Culture in Pakistan (Oxford 2011), Aisha’s Cushion: Religious Art, Perception and Practice in Islam (Cambridge, MA, 2012), and Alef is for Allah: Childhood, Emotion and Visual Culture in Islamic Societies (Berkeley, 2018).

Organized by the University at Buffalo Asian Studies Program and Translation Zone Humanities Institute Research Workshop

Rustgi Undergraduate Conference on South Asia (Feb 26 & 27, 2021)

Isolation and Its Discontents

February 26 and 27, 2021, via Zoom

University at Buffalo, SUNY


Saturday, Feb 27 at 3 PM EST

Dr. Aniruddha Dutta, Keynote Speaker 

“Isolation to Responsibilization: Contradictions of Trans Activism in India during COVID-19”

Dutta Pic.jpg
Dr. Aniruddha Dutta

The COVID-19 pandemic and the Indian state’s high-handed response in the form of severe lockdowns without adequate notice or welfare measures had profoundly debilitating effects on socially vulnerable groups, including trans and gender-diverse people. As many have documented, these impacts, including livelihood loss and psychosocial isolation, prompted a flurry of mobilization and fundraising by trans and kothi-hijra (transfeminine spectrum) activists and organizations for not just their own communities but also other marginalized social groups. This burgeoning sphere of COVID-related activism helped mitigate the intensified social and structural isolation of trans and other vulnerable groups during the pandemic, but evidences several contradictions. Since the immediate need for relief took precedence over challenging state policies, trans activism helped fill in for token welfare measures meted out to these communities, which intensified the process of neoliberal responsibilization wherein individuals and the “civil society” take up responsibility to make up for declining state infrastructure and social security. Further, this activism was characterized by profound inequalities in recognition and funding among activists based on class, caste and geographic location, and the state’s utilization of the pandemic period to institute undemocratic bodies for trans welfare, in which elite trans activists were complicit. Based on ethnography and collaborative activism in eastern India, this lecture will explore the conundrums and potentials of Indian trans activism during an unprecedented crisis.

Pandemic food distribution

Dr. Dutta is Associate Professor in the departments of Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies and Asian and Slavic Languages and Literature at the University of Iowa. Their work has appeared in journals such as Transgender Studies QuarterlyQED: A Journal in GLBTQ WorldmakingInternational Feminist Journal of PoliticsGender, and History, and South Asian History and Culture.


Friday, Feb 26 at 9 PM EST

Paul Livingstone & SANGAM, Guest Performers

Sangam - Livingston.jpg
Peter Jacobson (l) and Paul Livingstone (r) of SANGAM

Sangam is the chamber music duo of sitarist Paul Livingstone and cellist Peter Jacobson. They have been featured on three Grammy Award-winning records artists with Ozomatli, Quetzal & Rickey Kej.

Conference Program (subject to change)

Program Schedule

Friday, February 26th

Panel 1: Contextualizing Gender Violence                               7:00 pm – 8:30 pm

Syeda M. Bokhari (American University): “Object or Subjects: Women and Violence During the 1947 Partition”

Hannarose Manning (SUNY Geneseo): “Prostitution in Times of Rebellion: Examining the Roles Prostitutes Played in the 1857 Rebellion and the Legacy They Left Behind”

Olivia Frison De Angelis (The College of Wooster): “Criminals and Comic Relief: Hijra Misrepresentation in South Asian Films”

Mridula Sharma (University of Delhi ): “Escaping Isolation(s): (Re)Constructing the Kashmiri Woman in Popular Imagination”

               Performance: Paul Livingstone & SANGAM 9:00 pm

Saturday, February 27th

Panel 2: Mediated Spaces 9:00 am – 10:30 am

Amna Ejaz (Lahore University of Management Sciences): “Netflix in Pakistan: Navigating Evolving Screen Modalities among Young Adults”

Nimra Tariq (Lahore University of Management Sciences): “Blood, Guns, and Words: Response to violence in Palestinian and Kashmiri rap music”

Uswah e Fatima (Lahore University of Management Sciences): “A Shared Past & An Ambivalent Future: The Dynamics Between the Pakistani and Indian Film Industries”

               Panel 3: Reclamation of Identity 11:00 am – 12:30 pm

Sukanya Maity (Jadavpur University): “Fleeing from the Nations of Pandemics and Epidemics: Walls, Isolation”

Wajeeha Amir (Lahore University of Management Sciences): “Ajab Khan Afridi in Pashto Cinema: Changing Representations and Shifting Identities”

               Panel 4: Isolation, Religion, and Othering 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm

Upasana Rajagopalan (Ashoka University): “Caught in the web of inequalities: The Devadasis’ Isolation”

Nicholas Hom (Elon University): “A Model of Religious Othering for Medieval Tamil Literature”

Lucas J Brenner (SUNY Geneseo): “Wahhabism and the Isolation of Indian Muslims After the 1857 Rebellion”

Keynote Speaker 3:00 pm

Dr. Aniruddha Dutta, “Isolation to Responsibilization: Contradictions of Trans Activism in India during COVID-19”

This online event is free but registration is required. To register, please visit Further details will be provided before the event to those who register.

Please contact for more information. 

To view past conference programs, please visit or

The third annual Rustgi Undergraduate Conference on South Asia is made possible by a generous gift from Dr. Vinod Rustgi and his family.

Christi Merrill (U Michigan): “the artistry and afterlives of anti-caste activism” (Dec. 4)

Christi Merrill December 4 2020 lecture announcement

The Translation Zone Humanities Institute research workshop is happy to invite you to our end-of-semester talk by Dr. Christi A. Merrill, Associate Professor of Comparative Literature, South Asian Literature, and Postcolonial Theory, University of Michigan. The title of her talk is “the artistry and afterlives of anti-caste activism.”

The hour-long event will take place at 4:00 PM on Friday, 4th December, 2020. To join the online event, please visit

As a noted translator and anti-caste academic, Dr. Merrill will speak to us about translation practices in Dalit literature, her own translation work and publishing ventures, as well as larger questions concerning the identities of the author, the translator, and the publisher. You can find out more about her prolific body of translation work and teaching here

We are very excited to be hosting her as part of our workshop and look forward to having you all join us for this talk! Questions may be directed to Shantam Goyal <>

Abhipsa Chakraborty : “Activism of Intersectionality: Dalit Politics at the Cusp of Caste, Class and Gender in Contemporary India” (3:30 pm Dec. 1)

Poster announcing Chakraborty lecture December 1, 2020 at 3:30 pm

We are very pleased to announce the first talk in the social justice works-in-progress series, which emerged from one of the Department of English affinity groups and is intended to bring academic and activist work into close conjunction:

Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020 3:30 p.m.

Abhipsa Chakraborty, University at Buffalo Department of English

“Activism of Intersectionality: Dalit Politics at the Cusp of Caste, Class and Gender in Contemporary India”

For a Zoom invitation to join, please email Doug Basford <>.

Please make plans to attend and help us spread the word!

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)

October 27: In Silence the Secrets Speak – Lecture and Workshop on Gold-Leaf Painting by Seema Kohli

Seema Kohli

Visiting artist from India

Hosted by the Asian Studies Program & Art Department, UB with Triveni Collaboration

The lecture traces the influence of ancient and modern Indian traditions (legends & myths) to Seema’s own spiritual quest and expression in her art.

The workshop is on Gold-Leaf Painting – an ancient, traditional Indian art form. Workshop is limited to 20 participants. To register, please visit

  •        Friday, 27 Oct. 2017
  •        Lecture          12:30 PM – Screening Room, Center for the Arts, UB
  •        Workshop     2:30 to 5:00 PM – Art Studio, Center for the Arts, UB

Visiting artist Seema Kohli (India) has offered a rare opportunity for the UB and Buffalo area community to join her in a gold-leaf painting workshop. The gold-leaf painting workshop focuses on an ancient, traditional Indian art form.

The workshop is limited to 20 participants, and a ticket is required (register here). The workshop runs from 2:30pm to 5pm on Friday, October 27, 2017. The workshop is free, but is limited to 20 participants. All materials will be provided.

The workshop is directly after Seema Kohli’s 12:30pm public lecture “In Silence the Secrets Speak” (CFA Screening Room, UB North). The lecture traces the influence of ancient and modern Indian traditions (legends & myths) to Seema’s own spiritual quest and expression in her art. Registration for the 12:30pm lecture is NOT required.

Seema Kohli poster

Dauji Gupta Flyer

September 15 Asia@Noon: Roundtable with Dauji Gupta

Lucknow: A Historic Indian City in the Twenty-first Century

A Roundtable Asia@Noon presentation featuring:

  • Dr. Dauji Gupta, Former Mayor of Lucknow
  • Dr. Walter Hakala, UB Department of English and Asian Studies Program
  • Dr. Ashima Krishna, UB Department of Urban and Regional Planning
  • Ms. Kayleigh Reed, UB Asian Studies Program, Boren SAFLI Fellow in Lucknow
September 15, 12 pm in 280 Park Hall, UB North Campus

All are welcome.

Dr. Dauji Gupta is a former mayor of Lucknow, served as a State Senator, and is an author, poet, and linguist. His PhD is from the University of Lucknow, and he also has studied in Lucknow Christian College and the University of Vermont. In addition to his work as a politician and a scholar, Dr. Gupta led and was a member of movement for the emancipation of Dalits and the abolition of the caste system in India. Dr. Gupta was born in Lucknow, grew up there, and is deeply influenced by the cultural traditions of the city.

Dauji Gupta Flyer

Mitra Sharafi, “Corruption and Forensic Experts in British India,” Baldy Center Distinguished Speaker (March 3, 2017)

Photo of Prof. Mitra Sharafi

“Corruption and Forensic Experts in British India”

March 3, 2017, 12:30 pm. Lunch served at 12:00 pm.

509 O’Brian Hall, University at Buffalo North Campus

Mitra Sharafi

Associate Professor of Law, University of Wisconsin, Law School


About the speaker: Mitra Sharafi is a legal historian of South Asia. She holds law degrees from Cambridge and Oxford (the UK equivalent of a JD and LLM) and a doctorate in history from Princeton. Sharafi’s book, Law and Identity in Colonial South Asia: Parsi Legal Culture, 1772-1947 (Cambridge University Press, 2014) won the Law and Society Association’s J. Willard Hurst Prize for socio-legal history in 2015. The book explores the legal culture of the Parsis or Zoroastrians of British India, an ethno-religious minority that was unusually invested in colonial law. Her research interests include South Asian legal history; the history of the legal profession; the history of colonialism; the history of contract law; law and society; law and religion; law and minorities; legal consciousness; legal pluralism; and the history of science and medicine. Sharafi is a regular contributor to the Legal History Blog. Since 2010, her South Asian Legal History Resources website has shared research guides and other tools for the historical study of law in South Asia. Follow her blogposts and follow her on Twitter @mjsharafi  Read more.
DOWNLOAD PAPER: “Corruption and Forensic Experts in Colonial India” (573 KB)

Daniel Majchrowicz (Northwestern University), “The Case of the Vanishing Maharaja: Urdu Travel Literature and Princely Politics in South Asia” (March 10, 2017)


Daniel Majchrowicz (Northwestern University)

The Case of the Vanishing Maharaja

Urdu Travel Literature and Princely Politics in South Asia

Friday, March 10, 2017

12 to 1 pm

280 Park Hall

Holkar In 1851, the young Tukoji Holkar, Maharaja of Indore, went missing under suspicious circumstances. Some said his regent wanted him out of the picture. Others speculated that he’d been kidnapped and taken to Calcutta by nefarious colonial agents. In truth, he’d  skipped town to make a clandestine tour of of North India. After his return, Holkar did something that was doubly unprecedented for a Persian-speaking court of his time: he wrote a travelogue, and he wrote it in Urdu. Following his lead, other princes across the region began to write their own, increasingly elaborate travel accounts. By the end of the 19th century, writing about travel have become a well established expression of princely praxis. Focusing on two narratives in Urdu from 1851, this talk will argue that the decision to write a travel account – and to do so in Urdu – reflected Holkar’s, and the princely states’, desire to use travel literature to stabilize their legitimacy at a time when colonial predations had rendered it increasingly precarious.

Daniel Majchrowicz

Daniel Majchrowicz is an Assistant Professor of South Asian Literature and Culture at Northwestern University. He received his PhD from Harvard University in 2015. He is currently working on two manuscripts. The first is a study of Urdu travel writing from 1830-1950, tentatively titled “Travel and the Means to Victory: Travel and Travel Writing in Modern South Asia.” The second is a collaborative project aimed at producing a scholarly anthology of Muslim women’s travel writing from across the world, entitled “Veiled Voyagers.”

Supported by the UB Honors College and Asian Studies Program.