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*Audio recordings of keynotes and panels are now available.Download your playlist here.*

Winter School Schedule
Winter School Schedule



The Contribution of Bengali Muslim Women to Nationalist Thought: A Contested Arena

Firdous Azim

Wednesday December 6th, 2017


The late 19th to early 20th century in the Indian subcontinent is a period that is seen to have laid the seeds of the emergent post-colonial nation(s). My paper will concentrate on the emergence of the Muslim as a category in Bengal, and especially the placing of the Muslim woman within this nascent consciousness. This will be examined through following literary expressions by women. A reading of a prose-poem Rupjalal by Nawab Faizunnessa Chaudhurani in1876 will form the backdrop, against which the writings of Rokeya and her contemporaries in the early part of the 20th century will be placed.

The larger trajectory of postcolonial literary studies, as it intersects with issues of gender will provide the lens through which to examine the ways in which women are factored into nationalist thought and/or anti-colonial struggles. The paper will also try to include other prisms, especially of the admixtures within the emerging Muslim consciousness of the time – to put it ambitiously, a sense of Muslim cosmopolitanisms perhaps. The debate about what constitutes the Bengali/Indian, does, at this point intersect with other ways of being, and more specifically in this case, a sense of Muslimness.

Nationalist thought and the creation of new national identities thus draws on wider cosmopolitan interests, and it will be interesting to see how women enter the contested arena of nation-making and the wider cosmopolitan movements which influence and even inspire them.

Intellectual Cosmopolitanism 

Sundar Sarukkai

Saturday December 9th, 2017


How can the notion of ‘cosmopolitan’ go beyond mere diversity? What kind of intellectual engagement can meaningfully offer a grounding to this idea? This talk will attempt to show why cosmopolitanism has to be grounded in a true engagement with alternate intellectual traditions. Thus, it will be a way of reflecting on how to think about or use or critique intellectual traditions, other than certain dominant ones, in order to make sense of the contemporary world. In this talk, I will draw from and extend the idea of intellectual ahimsa which has been used as a term to describe the Jaina intellectual tradition and will attempt to illustrate how this approach can help us understand the contemporary conceptual world through ‘cosmopolitan intellectual’ practices.


Care and Intimacy

Rajni Palriwala and Ira Raja 

Wednesday - Friday December 6th-8th, 2017


If many of the crucial relationships characteristic of the globalizing world we inhabit are indirect and impersonal, it is also true that globalization has led to a remarkable increase in opportunities for intimacy, sustained across and in spite of physical distances and apparent cultural divides. While many such intimacies – be it sex and desire, familial and/or professional care-giving, surrogacy – unfold in the shadows of oppressive political and economic structures, their meanings are scarcely exhausted by structural analyses alone. At the same time, such instances of intimacy are not to be understood in terms of an unreconstructed appeal to individual ethics and behaviours characteristic of early articulations of cosmopolitanism. Rather, micro narratives of cross cultural exchanges, obligations and intimacies invite us to think about individual meaning making activity through which inter-personal and inter-cultural encounters are given shape. Rethinking concepts and ideas of caregiving through the relationalities of care demands that we question many of the dichotomies that have become a priori in social theories – rationality and emotion, public and private, impersonal contract and personal gift, amongst others. This seminar aims to address some of the above concerns through a close engagement with a set of theoretical and literary readings focused on intimate encounters, largely transnational and not unrelated to the political economy of both everyday life and globalisation.



Constable, Nicole. 2017. ‘Familial migration strategies and the cultural logics of desire: a case of Asian-    U.S. correspondence marriages’. AOTC 20. http://aotcpress.com/articles/familial-migration-strategies/

Hochschild, Arlie. 2011. ‘Emotional Life on the Market Frontier’. Annual Review of Sociology, 37: 21-33.

Palriwala, Rajni. 2015. ‘Rationality, Instrumentality, and the Affective: Crossings and Blurrings in          Relations of Care and Intimacy’, Korean Journal of Sociology, 49.3: 21-38.

Raja, Ira. 2013. ‘Contractarianism and the Ethic of Care in Indian Fiction’. South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, 36.1: 79-91.

Yeoh, Brenda S.A. and Shirlena Huang. (2015) ‘Cosmopolitan beginnings? Transnationalhealthcare workers and the politics of carework in Singapore’. The Geographical Journal 181.3: 249–258.

*Familiarity with Kamila Shamsie (Home Fire), Amitav Ghosh’s Sea of Poppies and Krishna Sobti’s novella Listen, Girl are helpful for this seminar. 

Transnational Media and the Public Domain 

Satish Poduval

Wednesday - Friday December 6th-8th, 2017


This short seminar on “doing minor cosmopolitanism” will have a double focus: to introduce you to key concepts and debates that have structured “public” life in the modern world, and to deepen your understanding of how transnational media practices are reshaping our lives today. We will begin by examining some of the key debates on new media practices (and possibilities) in the context of the technological and political transformations that have occurred worldwide since the 1990s. The next two sessions will focus on what has come to be termed the public domain through an exploration of the following themes:

• Social media and the public interest

• Surveillance and the question of privacy



Wednesday, 6 December

Laura deNardis, “The Privatization of Free Expression,” Global Censorship: Shifting Modes, Persisting Paradigms, edited by Pranesh Prakash, Nagla Rizk, Carlos Affonso Souza, Information Society Project, Yale Law School 2015.

Pranesh Prakash, “India: Visible and Invisible Censorship,” Global Censorship: Shifting Modes, Persisting Paradigms, edited by Pranesh Prakash, Nagla Rizk, Carlos Affonso Souza, Information Society Project, Yale Law School 2015.

Thursday, 7 December

Gautam Bhatia, “State Surveillance and the Right to Privacy in India: A Constitutional Biography,” National Law School of India Review 127 Vol. 26 No. 2 (2014).

Friday , 8 December

Itty Abraham and Ashish Rajadhyaksha, “State Power and Technological Citizenship in India: From the Postcolonial to the Digital Age,” East Asian Science, Technology and Society: An International Journal No. 9 (2015).

Populism: The End of (Minor) Cosmopolitanism? 

Shaswati Mazumdar and Dirk Wiemann 

Wednesday - Friday December 6th-8th, 2017 


It seems as if at the beginning of the 21st century democracy has lost its cohesive forces, exposing once integrated political communities to divisive and polarizing populist forces mainly from the political right. Moreover, it also seems like the very notion of cosmopolitanism, whether minor or mainstream, requires to be remapped under conditions in which the presence of right-wing and authoritarian populism makes itself increasingly felt, challenging not only established politics and institutions but political culture at large, and countercultures in particular. To some extent, the current rise of populism can be seen as an outcome of the political handling of the global financial crisis in 2008, following which democratic procedures were hollowed out as non-democratic and non-legitimized procedures of decision-making were established. As a consequence citizens were disenfranchised and disempowered, and fragile national economies exposed to severe austerity regimes. Even in the less affected countries, tax cuts for the wealthy have resulted in an insecure middle class that is afraid of its social decline, and growing numbers of those excluded and left behind. To be sure, populism is neither a new nor an unambiguous phenomenon. What is new to the current wave of populism, whether in Europe and the United States, is that it emerges against the background of established formal democracies. The same holds true for India, where a particular brand of sectarian nationalism has emerged with populist characteristics. In our seminar we will attempt to address and assess a few of the manifold complexities and ambiguities of populism by reading some theoretical and some more ‘applied’ texts.



Wednesday, 6 December: What is ‘the people’? 

Alain Badiou: “Twenty-Four Notes on the Uses of the Word ‘The People’”. What Is a People? Ed. Bruno Bosteels. New York (Columbia University Press) 2016.

Yannis Stavrakakis: “The Return of ‘the People’: Populism and Anti-Populism in the Shadow of the European Crisis”. Constellations 21.4 (2014).

Thursday, 7 December: A grammar of populism?

Ernesto Laclau, “Populism: What’s in a Name?”. Populism and the Mirror of Democracy. Ed. Francisco Panizza. London (Verso) 2005.

Jayson Harsin & Mark Hayward, “Stuart Hall’ ‘Deconstructing the Popular’: Reconsiderations Thirty Years Later”. Communication, Culture & Critique 6 (2013).

Friday, 8 December 2017: Populist culture | popular culture?

Olivier Jutel, “The Liberal Field of Journalism and the Political: The New York Times, Fox News and the Tea Party”. Journalism 17.8 (2016).

Subir Sinha, “Fragile Hegemony: Modi, Social Media and Competitive Electoral Populism in India.” International Journal of Communication 11 (2017).


Workshop I 

Thursday December 7th, 2017


How Not to Translate

Vibha Maurya, Musab Abdul and Anugya 

In the course of the workshop we shall be focusing on some of the thorny and seemingly unresolvable questions regarding the translation of literary works. It has often been asked if translation is at all possible; why does translation matter, for whom does it matter (Edith Grossman) and does it make any contribution to national, comparative or world literatures? Writers, literary critics and philosophers, and not just specialized translators, have reflected upon the processes of translation, some deeming the act utopic, others finding it to be a usual exercise. Acquisition of language and its use is essentially a continuous process of translation (Octavio Paz), an issue that anthropologists also face in their writing of cultures and peoples and ways of being for readers who may or may not be of that culture. In this vein, creative use of language – literary language – also emerges from a translational process.


Thinking Cosmopolitanisms; Thinking Gender and Space

Janaki Abraham

In this workshop we will explore the idea of minor cosmopolitanisms by looking at the production of gender in different spaces. In particular, we will seek to understand the space of the neighbourhood. Neighbourhoods carry the potential for both transformation and also of exclusivity - practices that tug at contrary ends of a cosmopolitan culture. Drawing from field work in Mumbai, Thalassery and Bikaner, the facilitator will talk about how gender (and other axes of differentiation) come to be mutually produced in neighbourhoods. We will look at the processes by which newness enters into a neighbourhood, while also engaging with ideas of homogeneity, heterogeneity, and questions of diversity in relation to public space.

Comparatist Emily Apter, has examined a series of axioms beginning with ‘Nothing is translatable’ to ‘Everything is translatable’ and has argued that the tension between translatability and untranslatability, the universal and the particular, cosmopolitan and local, World Literature and discrete national literatures are yet to be resolved. That is why the tussle between the universal (Alain Badiou’s assertion of the ‘universality of great poems’) and the ‘specificity of the autochthone’ (Gayatri Spivak’s insistence) continues. Translators nevertheless make concerted attempts to bring the two extremes together, and despite failures and hurdles, they carry forward their struggle to translate in order to balance the singular untranslatable alterity as against the need to translate by all means. The tension embedded in these contradictions is used creatively by translators.

Fidelity and infidelity to the original, accuracy and flow in the translation, cultural and linguistic specificity versus adaption and domestication, and close and distant reading of literary texts are among the binaries being debated in this field for decades. Literary translators fundamentally write or rather rewrite in the second language a work of literature written in a first language, hoping that the reader of the second language will receive it with the same degree of emotion and aesthetic pleasure as the reader of the first one. The grand ambition of the translator of a literary text is to parallel the joy of reading the original in translation.

The workshop aims at discussing some of the issues of literary translation by first presenting a brief theoretical framework and then taking up specific questions of a practical nature through examples from translated literary works from different literatures.


Speech and the Right to Choose

Gautam Bhatia

Freedom of speech is the right of every human being to contribute to the social, cultural and political environment, through the means of expression - whether by writing, by speaking, by listening, or even through symbolic conduct. The session will examine how and to what extent the Indian Constitution has lived up to this ideal.

Workshop II

Saturday December 9th, 2017 



Sharmila Samant

The workshop looks to initiate forms of emancipatory ‘glocal’ understanding where creativity and the imagination help raise a cosmopolitan consciousness. Cosmopolitanism as not just an ideological system of political position or approach of assimilation but as a creative and critical praxis that emphasises on local diversity and celebrates difference. Looking at community based artworks that employ an embodied, sustained and relational approach, reflecting the way in which spaces can be experienced or ‘sensed’. Initiating a discourse that necessarily engages with horizontal relations, of talking with someone rather than to (or at) them.To think of praxis as human potential, a process of opening, of transformation and mutual reinforcement. Encounters of this kind to envision a world, which is comprised of subjects rather than objects and such subjects as equally capable of being co-creative and making shared meanings.


Living and Loving In Jehangirpuri: Filming masculinity

Rahul Roy

The workshop will centre around the documentary form and the art of living, loving and surviving in Jehangirpuri, a working class suburb of Delhi. The lecture will utilise filmic material generated with a small group of men (and their families) in two phases with a gap of twelve years to unravel the documentary form and the political project of hegemonic masculinity as a classificatory project to set up an oppositional category. The geographies of the documentary, moral order of gender discourse and the space of Jehangirpuri will be mapped over time to generate a sense of change that bodies go through and the persistence of conflicts that are both internal and external to those bodies.



Keval Arora

The workshop will look to explore the dynamics of exclusion and consolidation through enacted and verbal improvisations by participants


Panel Discussion I 

Contesting Dominant Epistemologies

Kumkum Sangari, Mallika Shakya, Udaya Kumar and Aniket Jaaware

Thursday December 7th, 2017


Panel Discussion II

Democracy, Dissidence and Pluralism

Githa Hariharan, Satyajit Rath, Paranjoy Guha Thakurta and Ravi Nair

Friday December 8th, 2017

Visit to Jana Natya Manch

Jana Natya Manch - NGO Theater Group

The Many Faces of Delhi: A Talk by Sudhanva Deshpande

Thursday December 7th, 2017

Sudhanva Despande will speak about the nature of the city; the many faces of Delhi; and the political geographies of cultural practice in the city. Deshpande will relate these themes to the location that the participants will be at, namely, Studio Safdar, Shadi Khampur, about 6 km west of what is considered the centre of colonial-era Delhi.

Heritage Walk

Walking Tour: On the Indian Rebellion of 1857

By Tour guide, Sohail Hashmi

Friday December 8th, 2017

On this tour we will visit four meaningful sites of the Indian Rebellion of 1857. The walk starts at the flagstaff in Delhi University opposite the office of the VC. The flagstaff was the site where the British took shelter when they escaped from the city as it was being taken over by the rebel soldiers. We get into the bus and drive across the North Delhi ridge and visit the victory tower built by the British to commemorate those who died in the different battles that the British had to fight to recapture Delhi. The third halt is the Nicholson cemetery, the site where most of the whites who died during and after 1857 were buried, the cemetery is currently in use though there is great pressure on space. From here we go across to Kashmiri gate, the site if one of the most fierce battle for the recapture of Delhi.