From the Director's Desk

Lately, its been a season of plenty as far as South Asian events in Honolulu are concerned. We may not have bread, but we've certainly had some superb fare in the circus department. Besides the events hosted in the University listed in the pages that follow, the Honolulu Academy of Art served as the locus for a number of excellent programs this year. From September 16 to November 7, 1999, the Academy hosted "Interaction of Cultures: Indian and Western Painting (1780-1910) from the Ehrenfeld Collection." Consisting of over a hundred paintings, watercolors, drawings, prints and photographs created in India by Indian, European and American artists, the exhibit was drawn from the collection of Dr. William K. Ehrenfeld.

Anchored around the very well-attended exhibit were two public lectures. The first, "East and West: Meeting the Twain in Mughal India" by Dr. Pratapaditya Pal (Art Institute of Chicago) on September 26 discussed the interactions between the arts of India and Europe in the first half of the 17th century-at the apex of Mughal rule in India. The second public lecture "The Maharajas and the Jewelers of Place Vendome" by Larry French (from the House of Buccellati, the famous jewelers of Milano) presented a slide lecture on the commingling of Indian and French tastes, styles, materials, patronage and design of jewelry during the first half of this (the 20th) century.

On October 8th, we were treated to a stirring fusion experiment in percussion by Zakir Hussain and his Rhythm Experience. Later that month, puppeteer Michael Schuster brought ancient Indian tales to life for all the keiki during the "Magic Carpet to India" on the Family Festival Day at the Academy. All these events have been generously sponsored by Indru and Gulab Watumull - our thanks to them for doing so much to sustain the cultural and intellectual profile of South Asia in this part of the world.

Film buffs had an especially delightful time these last few months. Firstly, a series of films ("Passage to India," "Zakir and his Friends," "Earth," "Heat and Dust," "The Jungle Book," and "Shakespearwallah") were screened at the Academy theater as part of the focus on India. This was a rare treat for some of us accustomed to seeing these films on the claustrophobic screens and with the anemic sounds of the TV/VCR combo. Close on the heels of this series, came the Hawai'i International Film Festival. The Indian entries included "Vanaprastham - the last dance" a nominated entry; "Battu's Bioscope," "Kumar Talkies" and "A Calcutta Christmas" - all critically acclaimed 'indies' from back home.

And the new millennium will begin with the Eighth East-West Philosophers Conference to be held at the University of Hawai'i and the East-West Center from January 9 through 21, 2000. The theme for the conference is "Technology and Human Values on the Edge of the Third Millennium." Among the many renowned philosophers presenting papers at the conference are many South Asianists including: Giri Deshingkar. Ashis Nandy, Susantha Goonetilleke and Dhirendra Sharma. The organizers are very keen that the community be a part of the event and everyone is invited to attend as many sessions as they can. The theme of the conference and the titles of the papers indicate many topics of general interest and relevance. For updated program information check As the year winds down, it is time to start planning next semester's colloquia series and the XVII Spring Symposium. Looking forward to another eventful and productive year, and wishing you all the best in the millennium to come. Cheers, Krishna.

Center Events

Fall 1999 Colloquium Series:

Dr. Miriam Sharma, Professor, Asian studies presented "Racing the Diaspora: being Asian, Black, and British," on September 10. Mimi spent the spring semester in England as part of UH's Study Abroad program and was utterly fascinated by the intersections of race, class, and South Asian ethnicity in London, and the contrasts it presented with the diasporic South Asian population in the USA. Her talk included plenty of hand-held video coverage of South Asian life in Enlgand - enhancing the gritty images of diasporic encounters along the fault-lines.

Dr. Charusheela, Assistant Professor in the Women's Studies department presented "Learning From Our Mistakes: Three Institutional Models of Credit-Based Approaches to Women's Economic Empowerment in the South Asian Informal Sector," on October 22. Charu's talk went beyond the usual facile equations of small-scale, women-targeted credit schemes with empowerment to show how such schemes, for all their positive contributions, may yet reinforce existing orders of patriarchy and capitalism in the sub-continent.

Bernardo Michael, Doctoral Candidate in History, presented part of his on-going dissertation, "Locating Statemaking and Space on the Anglo-Gorkha Frontier, 1743-1814," on November 5. Fresh from nearly two years of field work (courtesy to AIIS), Bernardo drew a theoretically sophisticated and empirically riveting picture of the production of boundaries and borders along the Indo-Nepal frontier with the advent of the Raj.

Vrinda Dalmiya, Assistant Professor in Philosophy gave a talk on "Cows and Others: Towards Constructing Ecofeminist Selves," on December 3. Using a short-story by Saddat Hasan Manto, Vrinda deftly showed the juxtapositions of nature/beast and woman on the one hand, and the internal dynamic of a feminist community on the other. Her talk was an attempt at intervening into the current impasse between a "rights discourse" and "an ethic of care" that has polarized current thinking about ecological communities.

Lecture in the Vedanta Series:

Johannes Bronkhorst, Professor of Sanskrit and Indian Studies at Lausanne University, Switzerland presented "The Peacock-Egg: Bhartrhari on Language and Reality, at the Department of Philosophy on October 22.

Terence Parsons, Professor of Philosophy at the University of California at Irvine gave the talk, "What Cannot be Said: Paradoxes and Solutions from Indian Philosophy of Language, Frege and Russell," at the Department of Philosophy on November 19.


The Center along with the Clean Air Team of Honolulu, showed the movie Gandhi on Oct. 2nd, in commemoration of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi 130th birthday.

South Asia Course Offerings for Spring 2000:

ART 400: Special Projects: Buddhist Arts in Asia, Nancy Dowling
ASAN 491Z/PACS 49Z: Globalization in Asia and the Pacific, Mimi Sharma and Terence-Wesley Smith
ASAN 620(2): India's Modernity and Contestations/Representations of Faith, Rimli Bhattacharya
DNCE 255: Dance in World Cultures, Judy Van Zile
HNDI 102: Introductory Hindi and IP199: Hindi Reading, Ramanath Sharma
HIST 242: History of Asian Civilization, Jagdish Sharma
HIST 302: History of India-Pakistan, Jagdish Sharma
HIST 699: Directed Research, Jagdish Sharma
PHIL 102: Asian Traditions, David Kalupahana
PHIL 350: Indian Philosophy, Vrinda Dalmiya
PHIL 360: Buddhist Philosophy, David Kalupahana
PHIL 438/WS438: Gender and Environmental Philosophy, Vrinda Dalmiya
POLS 740: Graduate seminar in Comparative Politics, Sankaran Krishna
REL 662D: Indian Buddhism, David Chappell
SNSK 182, 282, 382, 482: Sanskrit Language, Walter Maurer
WS 361: Third World Women and Change, Charusheela

Please Note New Course Offering in the above listing:

ASAN 620(2): India's Modernity and Contestations/Representations of Faith, is a new course, offered by Rimli Bhattacharya,the Spring 2000 Watumull Endowed Chair, visiting from Department of English, University of Baroda (India). She received her doctorate in comparative literature from Brown University and has emerged as one of the leading scholars on the public culture of popular theater in colonial and postcolonial India. The course is inter-disciplinary, engaging with contemporary debates on the rights of representation and the place of desire vis--vis faith in the Indian modern secular state. The readings draw upon cross-cultural theories of aesthetics and art/performance practices. They examine selected texts-film on dance, women's autobiographies, performance texts and visual arts, including nineteenth century Kalighat pats and contemporary paintings. Dr. Bhattacharya's course promises to be an exciting and on-time addition to our course offerings - be there.

Phil 438/WS 438: Gender and Environmental Philosophy is another new course to be offered this Spring, by Vrinda Dalmiya, which will cover material relating to environmental thought in India and its relation to issues of gender. This is obviously a very timely and topical course, appropriately cross-listed in both philosophy and women's studies, and set in an area wherein some of the most interesting and innovative research is occurring.

ASDP summer institute for "Infusing India Into the Undergraduate Curriculum"

The Asian Studies Development Program (ASDP) Summer Institute, a joint project of the East-West Center and the University of Hawai'i was held from June 7-25, 1999. For three weeks, over thirty participants from various community colleges spread out all across the mainland United States were involved in an intensive seminar/workshop on how to infuse India into their curriculum and course offerings. Examining a wide variety of issues, and covering nearly two-and-a-half millennia, the institute relied upon a judicious blend of local and 'imported' talent to cover the various fields. The success of the institute is attested to by the three reports below, from Professor Mary Bockover, Dr. Harriette Grissom, and Dr. Stockton, all participants of the institute.

Mary I. Bockover, Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA

"I spent my summer vacation having another fantastic learning experience offered by the Asian Studies Development Program! For three weeks of June 1999, the East-West Center and the University of Hawai'i hosted the ASDP summer institute, a highly informative program directed by Arindam Chakrabarti and Vrinda Dalmiya, professors of Philosophy at University of Hawai'i. I am honored now to be able to commend them both on a job so very well done.

The first week of this institute introduced participants to some of India's core religious and philosophical traditions. The second week focused on how values and concerns which developed out of these traditions became reflected in Indian art and literature. The last week examined contemporary issues such as gender construction, the postcolonial formation of national identity, and the potential impact of certain economic and cultural reforms. As a teacher of comparative philosophy at California's Humboldt State University, my main area of interest given in the first week provides the "food for thought" for this very brief article.

To my pleasure, the central paradox of comparative philosophy was raised right away by Arindam and Vrinda, our perceptive directors. Of course, this paradox was framed in an Indian context, although it can be taken to apply to any comparative endeavor: How can one ask "what is Indian?" without transcending the cultural perspective required to properly answer the question? This is a paradox, however, and not an insurmountable dilemma. For "having a perspective" and "transcending a perspective" need not be mutually exclusive. Hindus remind us that some facts about consciousness can be both "immanent and transcendent", while the Buddha suggested a middle ground in saying that such a dichotomy need not be "twin barbs upon which our consciousness is impaled". Indeed, two of the finest Indian teachers of philosophy demonstrated that meeting such a challenge is the very spice of philosophical life. For philosophy is conceptual reflection, so by its very nature must "transcendentally" pose and attempt to answer questions in a second order fashion - that is, questions about things important to us.

During that first week our directors spoke on key ideas in ancient Indian philosophy and religion. They discussed "Indian Culture's Discovery and Imagination," "The Vedic and Anti-Vedic: Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy in early India," and "Moral Culture: The Ethics of the Bhagavad Gita." Also presenting this week were Elizabeth Buck on "Hawai'i: A Sense of Place", Eliot Deutsch on "Vedanta and Moksa: Ideals of Liberation", and Peter Hershock on "Buddhist Enlightenment: An Empty Path to Dramatic Engagement". Needless to say, these presentations were all outstanding.

Vrinda and Arindam fabulously achieved what was important for the purposes of this institute in three short weeks. During this time, they provided meaningful answers about India in a way that we could understand. Because of ASDP, and the competence and enthusiasm of the directors and presenters of this institute, I have once again been struck by the marvelous diversity and complexity of human life. And as always, this awareness is paradoxically enhanced by recognizing that our commonality as human beings allows us to be enriched by those ideas we have the good fortune to have others share with us. The participants of this institute had such good fortune, for Vrinda and Arindam used their knowledge (of both a first and second order) to effectively educate us about Indian philosophy, religion, society and culture. Thanks to both directors for their remarkable contributions to ASDP's continued endeavor to educate educators about Asia!"

Harriette Grissom, Associate Professor, Art-history, Atlanta College of Arts, Atlanta, GA

"As I try to recapture my experience at the Institute on Indian Culture and Society, the word "darsan" stands out. It means to see and to be so deeply impressed by what you have seen that you are profoundly changed. As we explored the myth, visual art, literature, drama, and aesthetic theory of India, a new understanding of the psychology of art and its spiritual and cultural potential began to unfold.

Vrinda Dalmiya's presentation on goddesses in Hindu tradition addressed the tangle of complexities that join images, social constructions, and psycho/spiritual awareness. Katherine Harper's ardent survey of Indian art and architecture created a visual spell (darsan!), and Samia Rab's scholarly thoroughness conveyed the intricate linkages between Mughal architecture and society. Mary Chin plunged us somewhat reluctantly into action in order to demonstrate key aspects of Indian dramatic theory. Rasa and its relation to ideas about the senses emerged as a key concern in my own work. Arindam Chakrabarti and Eliot Deutsch, demonstrating a willingness to assist, characteristic of the faculty at this Institute, provided crucial perspectives and resources as I struggled (happily) with heaps of dusty tomes rich in long, incomprehensible bits of Sanskrit.

As a founding co-editor of Manushi, a journal about women and society, Ruth Vanita offered enlightening insights into women's issues in India. Ruth's scholarship was awesome: she drew on sources as diverse as medieval devotional poetry and contemporary lesbian fables to explain women's experiences and strategies for coping. Sunita Peacock's selection of films added further dimensions to our reflections. Christina Bacchilega examined the fairy tale as an enduring aspect of tradition in contemporary Indian literature and provided cautionary notes for teachers embarking on cross-cultural literary expeditions.

Access to such a concentration of exceptional Indian scholars was invaluable in puzzling through thornier aspects of Indian culture. At the same time, the conscientious clarity of the Western presenters assured us that there was hope for non-Indians to do useful, responsible work. In addition to this terrific faculty, I enjoyed a group of impressively accomplished colleagues who challenged and charmed me into lots of productive work and a few good adventures."

William Stockton, faculty, History and Humanitites, Johnson County Community College, Kansas City, KS

"The ASDP institute on 'Infusing India into Undergraduate Curriculum' offered participants a broad survey of Indian topics: Arindam Chakrabarti on Vedic religion, the classical disciplines, and some of the orthodox and heterodox schools of philosophy; Eliot Deutsch on Advaita Vedanta. Peter Hershock on Buddhism; Vrinda Dalmiya on goddesses, Surojit Gupta on the history of the subcontinent; Katherine Harper on art; Samia Rab on Mughal architecture; Mary Chin on classical drama; Michael Schuster on Indian puppetry; Ruth Vanita on family and sexuality; Cristina Bacchilega on Indian writing in English; and Sankaran Krishna on Indian national identity and politics since Independence; and Charusheela on economic history. Additionally, Elizabeth Buck discussed Hawai'i.

Especially fruitful for me was Vrinda Dalmiya's presentation on the Mahabharata, and the Bhagavad Gita lying within it, and subsequent discussions with her and Arindam. The results of these will supply students in a leadership class I co-teach with a novel and effective way of reflecting upon the responsibilities of leaders and how aspiring leaders must deal with the sometimes messy consequences of leading-themes central to a leader's self-understanding. Writing materials for introducing this and related Indian themes has become my (rather daunting) project.

Upon reflection, the coverage seems, to have been remarkably comprehensive given the time-constraint of three weeks. There was depth too. Presentations were supplemented by generous readings, videos, films, and a song recital.

The skill, charm, and intelligence of the institute's co-directors, Vrinda and Arindam, the hospitable East West Center staff, the quality of the presenters; along with the company of amiable and capable colleagues from various disciplines made those three weeks memorable."

Other papers presentated at the institute included, Surojit Gupta's "A Thematic Overview of Indian History: Ancient to Islamic," and "A Thematic Overview of Indian History: Colonial to Independence and Partition." Mary Chin's "Indian Traditions of Drama and Performances," Ruth Vanita's "Family Ties and Voices in Diaspora: Contemporary Indian Narratives in English" and "Engendering India: Intimate Perspectives from the Borders of Friendship and Sexuality". Nancy Dowling on "Indian Art and Architecture," and Meheroo Jussawalla from the East West Center on "India in the Information Age." Sankaran Krishna gave two talks on contemporary India, "Deconstructing the concepts 'Indian' national identity and 'partition'" and "Postcolonial insecurities and politics of Hindutva," and Charusheela conducted a seminar on "Economic Policy and Economic Development in India."

South Asia Faculty and Student News

Faculty profile - Charusheela

CSAS is delighted to welcome Charusheela (or Charu), a new faculty member in the Women's Studies Program at the University of Hawai'i. Charusheela received her bachelor's degree in economics from Miranda House, Delhi University, and a doctoral degree in economics from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst (UMass-Amherst). After having taught at Franklin and Marshall college and a post-doctoral stint at the University of Washington in Seattle, she joined the University of Hawai'i in August 1999.

Charu's research and teaching focuses on the exciting new field of feminist economics. Discussing how she ended up making a commitment to this field, she notes that she hadn't entered economics with a clear vision of goals and interests. She chose economics because she did not wish to become a doctor or an engineer (the fields most young Indians looked to enter after high school), and economics seemed a reasonably 'acceptable' alternative in terms of job prospects. After her undergraduate degree, she joined the graduate economics program at UMass-Amherst because she received a teaching assistantship from the department. At the time of joining the department, she knew nothing about the program's specialization in heterodox political economy, and expected to go through a conventional program in mainstream economics.

Charu notes that her first exposure to the heterodox traditions of analysis within the economics profession at Amherst left her feeling confused. But despite her initial resistance to critical heterodox perspectives, she found at UMass an open-ness to fresh ideas, a strong commitment to careful scholarship and critical thinking, and a vibrant tradition of critical and scholarly debate. The careful engagement with schools of thought from right, mainstream, and various heterodox perspectives, forced her to critically consider the broader traditions of economic analysis and social and political economy more carefully.

During her years in graduate school Charu also discovered feminism. While she was aware of various feminist issues as a student at Miranda House, at the time feminism to her was a political position that addressed what appeared to be isolated problems concerning women's welfare. She saw feminism unconnected to economic analysis, and saw women's issues as primarily resulting from inadequately modernized cultural attitudes. It was during her years at UMass that she realized that feminism was much more, and discovered the broader tradition of feminist scholarship and analysis that informs her work today. She credits the critical and open tradition of heterodox thought and the commitment to social justice she found at Amherst with providing her with the background and interest that led her to seek out, learn from, and join other scholars in the field working to create the new field of feminist economics. This experience informs her commitment to education as sparking excitement and broadening the critical imagination of students, and her commitment to academia as a place for critical inquiry.

In her work now, Charu brings together insights from the areas of Third World feminism and Marxian, feminist, Post-Keynesian and Radical-Institutionalist analyses of economy. Her current research focuses on the potential and limits of finance-credit based strategies for Third World women's economic and social empowerment, micro-credit availability for women. In addition she is currently working with Verite (Verification in Trade and Export), an NGO that conducts factory audits internationally to ensure that sub-contracting multinational corporations in the apparel and show industries comply with labor standards and do not violate labor rights. She is a member of IAFFE (International Association of Feminist Economics), URPE (Union for Radical Political Economy), and AESA (Association for Economic and Social Analysis), and an editorial board of member of the journal Rethinking Marxism.

Charu is excited about her move to Hawai'i, and appreciates the opportunity to work within a Women's Studies program. She sees Women's Studies departments as central to the mission of fostering an engaged and critical intellectual atmosphere, as they allow and facilitate the merging of interdisciplinary interests. She feels that Hawai'i is fortunate to have a Women's Studies department which brings to together so many extremely active scholars. She also appreciates the presence of CSAS at the University of Hawai'i, since it too, like Women's Studies, brings together South Asian scholars from a variety of disciplines to promote engaged critical thinking and interdisciplinary work in the field. She was especially struck by the depth of scholarly commitment and sense of broader social purpose her colleagues at the CSAS brought to their work when she had the opportunity to conduct a seminar at the summer NEH institute of the ASDP.

Her series of papers that are forthcoming in various journals and books include "Women's Choices and the Ethnocentrism/Relativism Dilemma," "Introduction to the Issues: Libertarian/Postmodern vs. Marxist/Post-Colonial Approaches to Gender and Economy," "Macroeconomic Theory for a Gendered and Changing Economy: Class, Patriarchy, Financial Intermediation, and the Structure of Aggregate Consumption," and "Do Microcredit Programs Help Poor Women?" with Colin Danby.

Activities of South Asia Faculty and Students:

Dharm Bhawuk [School of Business Administration], directed the 13th Summer Workshop for the Development of Intercultural Coursework at Colleges and Universities organized by College of Business Administration, in July 1999. The 14th Summer Workshop is scheduled for June 21-30, 2000. Further Information on the workshop can be obtained from the web:

Bhawuk's new publications include "Who Attains Peace: An Indian Model of Personal Harmony," in the Indian Psychological Review (forthcoming), and a paper presented at the Academy of Management Conference in Chicago in August 1999.

He also finished a three year stint as the Vice President of Lotus (a community organization that celebrates South Asian culture and society) in Fall 1999.

Arindam Chakrabarti [Philosophy] and Vrinda Dalmiya co-directed the Summer Institute on 'Indian Culture and Society' through the ASDP program at the East West Center (see write-up on pg. 3-4). At the institute, Chakrabarti presented the paper "Indian Cultures: Discovery and Imagination" with Dalmiya. He also presented at the institute, "The Vedic and Anti-Vedic: Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy in Early India" and "Gods and Divine Incarnation."

Vrinda Dalmiya's [Philosophy] recent publications include "Why is Sexual Harassment Wrong?" in Journal of Social Philosophy, Spring 1999, and "Loving Paradoxes: A Feminist Reclamation of the Goddess Kali" in Hypatia 15(1), Winter 2000. She presented the paper "Particularising the 'particular self' of Feminist Philosophy: A Buddhist Response" at the SACP Conference, Bhubaneswar, India Jan. 1999, and "Mother-Child and Mortality: The Paradox of Kali" at Loyola Marymount, Los Angeles, at a conference on 'Women and Spirituality: A Hindu-Roman Catholic Dialogue' October 1999. She also presented the papers "Moral Culture: The Ethics of the Bhagavad-Gita," and "Goddesses and Indian Construction of Feminity" at the ASDP institute.

Dalmiya was appointed member of the Society for the Status of Asian, Asian American Philosophers and Philosophies by the American Philosophical Association.

Monica Ghosh [Library] chaired and served as a discussant for the panel "Identity Shifts Across Time, Place, and Language," on October 15, at the 28th Annual South Asia Conference in Madison, Wisconsin. Other papers presented in the panel by UH students included Sridevi Menon's "Muslim and Hindu Orients," Nritkaar Dhesi's "Healing Stones: Cultural Memory and the Indian Community of Hawai'i," and Barry Cowan's "Linguistic Hegemony: English Language Education in West Bengal," with Promita Chatterji of University of California-Berkeley.

Peter Hoffenberg [History] is putting the final touches on his book manuscript, "An Empire on Display: English, Indian and Australian Exhibitions from the Crystal Palace to the Great War," forthcoming from the University of California Press. The book contains lengthy discussions of exhibitions in India and South Asian displays and participation at overseas shows. He continues to work on his biography of John Lockwood Kipling (1837-1911), artist, art school instructor and administrator, and museum curator in Bombay and Lahore.

Sankaran Krishna [Director, CSAS/Political Science] spent the month of July -and early August on an NEH summer research grant doing preliminary field work in Tamil Nadu, India, for a project entitled "Ideologies in Collision: Dravidian Nationalism and Hindutva in contemporary Tamil Nadu."

He participated in the Thirteenth Annual SSRC-MacArthur Foundation Fellows Conference, held August 19-23., in New Delhi. His paper was titled "Deconstructing Partition and De-colonizing South Asia" and was part of a plenary session on "Partitions". His fellow panelists were Gyanendra Pandey, Urvashi Butalia and Mukul Kesavan, with Rajni Kothari and Rob Walker serving as discussants.

In November 1999, Krishna's first book Postcolonial Insecurities: India, Sri Lanka and the Question of Nationhood was published by the University of Minnesota Press. The book will also be published in a low-priced edition by Oxford University Press in South Asia in early 2000.

Krishna was also awarded a Senior Short-Term Research Fellowship by the American Institute of Indian Studies for summer 2000 to conduct research in India on "Dravidian Ideol- ogy and the BJP in Contemporary Tamil Nadu." He will be in India/ Tamil Nadu from May 15 to August 15, 2000 conducting research under this fellowship.

Krishna also completed a report titled "An Evaluation of the NMERTA-South Asia Fellowship Program (1995-1997)" for the Social Science Research Council in September.

Gregory G. Maskarinec's [Anthropology] recent work Nepalese Shaman Oral Texts (compiled, edited, and translated by Maskarinec) was recently released by The Harvard Oriental Series (edited since 1993 by Michael Witzel) volume 55: Cambridge, Mass. and London, England, 1998. The book a bilingual (Nepali and English) critical edition of three complete, representative repertoires of shaman texts collected over the past twenty years in Jajarkot District, Western Nepal.

In conjunction with the release, Dr. Maskarinec, an adjunct assistant professor and temporary lecturer in the UH Anthropology Department and Honors Program, delivered an invited address on December 25, 1998 at the Royal Nepal Academy, Kathmandu, Nepal, titled "Nepalese Shamans and their Mantra." He also spoke on "Culture, Language and Healing: Some Reflections based on fieldwork in Nepal" at the Martin Chautari Discussion Forum of the Nepal Social Science and Development, in December 1998.

His other presentations in the fall semester include " Casting the World into its Own Image: The Cosmology on Nepalese Blacksmith Shamans," an invited presentation at the Fifth Conference of the International Society for Shamanic Research, held in Ulaanbataar, Mongolia in August; "Ritual as Discursive Practice. Excursions in a World of Total Meaning," an invited participant in the symposium "Ritual in South Asia" at the University of Heidelberg, Germany, in July; and "Reinventing Mongolia' Shamans. Participating in Cultural Production," an Anthropology Faculty Colloquium, University of Hawai'i in October.

Also this year, Dr. Maskarinec received grants from the American Philosophy Society and the Wenner-Gren Foundation, both to prepare a second volume of Nepalese shaman oral texts, a work that has also been accepted for publication by the Harvard Oriental Series.

His recent publications include "Nepali jhangari ra yiniharuko mantar." (In Nepali), in Prajya 81:1-34; and "A Chronicle of Saru, Jajarkot," in Studies in Nepalese History and Society, 3: 2.

Brian Murton [Geography] has over the past four years been involved in land and resource rights research on Waitangi Tribunal claims in New Zealand. His southern Indian interests however continue in his teaching and in research. Murton's book chapter, "The Emergence of Sedentary Agriculture in Interior Tamil Nadu in the Thirteenth Century" is forthcoming in Hall, Kenneth B. (ed.) New Horizons in South Indian Studies, Oxford University Press, a volume honoring Noboru Karashima, the Japanese historian of medieval southern India.

Jaishree Odin's [Liberal Studies] recent publications include her book To the Other Shore: Lalla's Life and Poetry, Vitasta Publishers (1999), and a book chapter "Embodiment and Narrative Performance" in Women in New Media, MIT Press (forthcoming). She presented "Images and Reflections in Lalla's Poetry" at Loyola Marymount Univ., Los Angeles in October, 1999.

Odin is also Co-PI and Project Director of the Sloan Foundation Grant, University of Hawaii's Asynchronous Learning Network. PI and other Co-PI/Co-Director are Victor Kobayashi and Dan Suthers.

Jagdish Sharma's [History] edited book Individuals and Ideas in Traditional India: Twelve Interpretive Studies, is forthcoming. Also an Indian reprint of his first book, Republics in Ancient India, is forthcoming with a new Introduction, published by Munshiram Manoharlal, New Delhi. He is also currently working on finalizing his two books on Jainism.

Sharma was on LWOP Spring of 1999 at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at University of London. During this time he did some research ,thinking and planning, as he met with many scholars there. Also during this period he visited India for three weeks and Moscow for one week, and then in the summer visited Oxford, Holland, Norway, Finland, Sweden and Paris.

Mimi Sharma's [Asian Studies] paper "Ethnic Studies and Ethnic Identity: Challenges and Issues, 1970-1998," was published in Social Process in Hawai'i, vol. 39 (1999:19-42). She is also a participant of the Ford Foundation Project "Remaking Asia-Pacific Studies: Moving Cultures" (a project funded by SHAPS).

Ramanath Sharma's [Indo-Pacific Languages] recent publications include The Astadhyayi of Panini (vol. IV, 808 pages), New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal. He presented an invitational paper at the VIth World Hindi Conference at London, September 14-19, 1999, and co-chaired a general session. He received a Research Relations (UH) Grant to research Indian Theories of Meaning, LLL Dean's Facilitating Fund to attend the VIth World Hindi Convention this year.

Lee Siegel's [Religion] Love In A Dead Language: A Romance, was published in June of 1999 by The University of Chicago Press. In October he did a performance of Indian street magic at Muhlenberg College as part of their Semester of Magic program. He will be leaving for India on December 17th as an advisor and script writer for a Yorkshire Television documentary on Indian magic featuring Penn and Teller.


Mari Sato [Educational Foundations] finished her Master's program in Educational Foundations and presented "Educational Problems in Ladakh and the Role of NGOs" on Oct. 22.

Anuj Shah [Philosophy] received his doctorate degree from in August 1999. His dissertation is titled "On Imagining Being Someone Else," supervised under Eliot Deutsch.

Safia Aggarwal [Geography], Kathryn Besio [Geography], Sridevi Menon [American Studies], Bernardo Michael [History], and Bonita Rai [Political Science], having returned from their respective field-sites are all currently writing their dissertations.


Field Memoirs: "Ethnographic encounters on the road to the archives: accessing the world of the Bettiah Raj Mahfizkhana" by Bernardo Michael, Doctoral Candidate, Dept. of History

The town of Bettiah lies in the district of Champaran in the north Indian State of Bihar, close to the Indo-Nepal border. Bettiah was the capital of the little kingdom of Bettiah, one of the great estates of North Bihar. Like the rajas of neighboring Darbhanga, the rajas of Bettiah too possessed a record room or mahfizkhana. Bettiah is of special interest to me as it figures in my dissertation on the Anglo-Gorkha War of 1814-1816. Through the examination of this war my dissertation seeks to trace the emergent geographical architecture of the modern state. Anyway, in 1998 while in South Asia on a Junior Research Fellowship from the American Institute of Indian Studies, I finally got my opportunity to visit this rare repository. But accessing this world was not an easy task. I had to negotiate various configurations of culture, power and history before the archive would be opened up to me.

Since 1897, the Bettiah Raj has come under the Court of Wards, a colonial institution whose function was to oversee the administration of those estates which had no male heir to succeed as rulers. The Raj has its own officials who oversee day to day administration of its landholdings and other assets. In this connection anyone seeking permission to access the record room has to approach the Board of Revenue (another colonial institution originally set up in 1786) at Patna. After making a preliminary visit to Bettiah for a few days, I then went and met the Member of the Board and after a wait of about two weeks was granted permission to use the archives. But then contingency intervened. I happened to chance on the officer deputed by the Board to take my authorization papers to Bettiah and, offered to take him to Bettiah. Since I had my own 'aura' of importance in the form of an official vehicle, driver and 'assistants', (all generously provided by my hosts, the Dip Narayan Sinha Institute for Cooperative Management, Patna), he quickly took up my offer to take him to Bettiah. Such institutional linkages and my own representations of authority and influence certainly went a long way in facilitating access to the mahfizkhana.

On reaching Bettiah we were, thanks to our friend - who was considered very influential by local officials - accorded a warm reception. The mahfizkhana's doors were double locked. A remnant of colonial administrative practice, this meant that while one set of keys was in the hands of the Office Superintendent, the other set of keys remained with the Manager or Chief Administrative Officer in charge of the Bettiah Estate. Both sets of keys were procured within twenty minutes and the doors opened. In my present circumstances, this was nothing short of a miracle, given the abnormally long incubation period and tensions that invariably accompanied official fiat from Patna and its translation into practice at Bettiah.

The Bettiah Raj's mahfizkhana houses the official records pertaining to the administrative and legal affairs of the Raj for the past two hundred and fifty years or so. The records are stored in two huge rooms having an approximate storage space of 40,000 and 72,000 cubic feet respectively. With a shelf space that is approximately half a kilometer in length, the Bettiah Raj mahfizkhana is indeed a rich repository of source materials for the study of the agrarian and political history not only of the little kingdom of Bettiah, but of the wider region as well. The records are placed in bastas, which are individual bundles of records wrapped in cloth. The records I came across included rent registers and receipts, cash books, village notes and settlement records, village maps, legal proceedings and historical letters covering over 200 years of history. Unfortunately, the order in which the records were classified is now lost and most records can only be found by sheer guess work or even by accident!

Thus, the records in these archives though supposedly 'public' in their content, could only be accessed by negotiating at least two levels of authority - one official (the Board of Revenue at Patna), and the other more informal - the local officials in Bettiah. Securing the consent of both was critical. And for me it meant that I would have to represent myself as a 'foreign' scholar to some and as an 'influential saheb from Patna' to others. Reasons of space preclude me from getting into the ethnographic intricacies of these encounters, but I argue that archival research in this instance did not mean the simple tasks of filling registration forms and requisition slips. The Bettiah Raj's mahfizkhana had not, as yet, become a neutral space created for the benefit of the 'public.' Rather it was embedded within particular configurations of culture, power and history. Colonial and postcolonial statemaking had placed it on an inner political frontier. Negotiating this inner political frontier preceded any ethnography in the archives. Thus, conducting an ethnography in the archives did not only mean the application of ethnographic modes of analysis to archival materials; but it also needed to be empowered by an ethnography of everyday life - on which access to the archive was ultimately predicated.


Book Review: A Patchwork Shawl: Chronicles of South Asian Women in America, by Shamita Das Dasgupta, ed. Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, N.J.: 1998. Book review by Himanee Gupta, Graduate Student, Dept. of Political Science.

Academic writing commonly is seen as something that is written - and read - mainly by academic, and as irrelevant thereby, to practical politics. A Patchwork Shawl gently proves this premise wrong. This collection of essays was written by and about South Asian women in the United States as a study of negotiating identities and constructing communities. Its contributors probe questions that inform much of the scholarship on immigration and resettlement in the United States as well as on South Asians globally. Yet, many of its contributors are not full-time academics but housewives, artists and activists who, like editor Shamita Das Dasgupta, also engage in scholarship. This blend allows the writers to convey a powerful image of how the South Asian community in the United States has been shaped largely around a middle-class, upper-caste idea of culture in which women are placed at the center.

Annanya Bhattarcharjee's excellent essay that first appeared in a 1992 edition of Public Culture develops this issue most provocatively, while the first-person genre that Dasgupta uses in two pieces does so with a personal slant. Now a psychologist and advocate for domestically abused women, Dasgupta immigrated to a midwestern town with her husband in the late 1960s. As a young wife following her husband, she remembers her Indian friends reacted when she decided to step outside the domestic space confined to Indian womanhood and seek an advanced degree: " 'Educating yourself is wonderful,' they said, 'but not when you have a family.' Others waxed effusive about my husband's enormous patience in putting up with my willfulness ... and told him they would never allow their wives to associate with me." (pp. 114-115)

Dasgupta argues that traditional scholarship casts South Asian women as subservient and confined to the home. Such a description makes it easy for middle-class immigrants who have benefited economically from being in the United States to ignore the diversity of South Asian women's experiences and problems such as domestic abuse. "The disallowance of women's negative experiences is part of the male fantasy of an idyllic family and perfect wife, a family that is affable and conflict free and a wife who is mother, friend, lover, supporter, all rolled into one," she writes. "Within this fabrication of ideal womanhood, there is, of course, no space allocated for the lesbian, the activist, the protester, the different and individual woman." (pp. 9)

One compelling aspect of this text is its willingness to engage with the tensions between immigrant and American-born generations. Grace Poore, a Malaysian born Indian who writes that she chooses to live in the United States without becoming American, "dares" an American-born generation to ask why she and they should be lumped into a singular category of South Asian American. Psychotherapist Manisha Roy suggests that immigrants, focused on their motives for leaving "home," fail to see how racialized differences in the United States often create a sense of inferiority in their children, particularly their daughters. Such racialization affects immigrants too, but they are perhaps better able to cope. As immigrants, they understand they have a "real" home with "real" family elsewhere. For American-born children, this understanding doesn't necessarily exist. This point is brought out well in a piece by Dasgupta and her American-born daughter, Sayantani.

Despite its strengths, the collection relies too heavily on first-person writing. While this technique can help bring marginalized voices to the center, it works best when the writers are able to show how coming to terms with personal marginalization opens up possibilities to fight on behalf of those who are economically oppressed or socially abused. Poore and Dasguptas do this well. In other contributions, however, self-indulgence seems to overwrite political intent. The text's spirit of resistance also has the unfortunate effect of diverting many pieces from analysis toward quick solutions, causing many strong critiques to end up with rather hollow conclusions. Roy, for instance, concludes that the racially marginalized first-generation American born Indian's face will disappear among subsequent generations. This is questionable. If American born children grow up feeling inferior, what stops them from passing that inferiority onto their children? While racial hierarchies should be contested, arguing that "confusion" will disappear once the next generation is born is not contestation. Perhaps, however, the raising of intellectual hackles is a sign of a strong text. A Patchwork Shawl offers a dialogue that should that should continue.

Resources for Study of South Asia

Library and Internet Resources:

The South Asia Collection website, has a list of videotapes on South Asia recently acquired by the Wong Audiovisual Center at Sinclair Library. This list categorized by country, is on the URL: http://www2.


The Watumull Scholarship for the Study of India will provide support for three University of Hawai'i students who want to study in India. Scholarships of $5,000 each will be awarded to students who wish to learn about the culture and history of India and its people. Minimum length of study in India is two months. UH students from across the system, at both the graduate and undergraduate level, are eligible to apply for support.

Applications for the Watumull Scholarship are due by March 1, 2000. Please contact Office of International Affairs (Physical Science Building, Room 104; telephone: 956-3101) or CSAS for a copy of the guidelines and application forms.

Upcoming Center Events

Seventeenth Annual Spring Symposium:

CSAS will be holding its XVII Annual Spring Symposium from April 6-8, 2000. The theme of this year's symposium is "Public Culture and Democracy in South Asia." The annual spring symposium at the University of Hawai'i is one of the highlights of the academic calendar on campus and in the community. Past years have included participants such as Ashis Nandy, Sudipta Kaviraj, the late A.K.Ramanujan, Ayesha Jalal, E.Valentine Daniel, Kapila Vatsyayan, Gyan Prakash, and many others. The symposium is made possible by the generosity of the G.J. and Ellen Watumull Fund, in addition to support from the University of Hawaii's School of Hawaiian, Asian and Pacific Studies. All those interested in presenting papers relating to the theme of public culture and democracy in South Asia are urged to consider attending the coming years' symposium. Some (highly) subsidized accommodation on campus can be arranged for out-station scholars. Those interested in presenting papers at the symposium should send the title and brief description of the proposed paper to CSAS through e-mail ( or fax (956-2682).

Andrews Chair:

The Andrews Chair is one of the prestigious endowed positions for visiting scholars. The position rotates among the constituent units of SHAPS, with each group having use of the funds for a one-semester appointment in an academic year. The position rotates to the CSAS for the academic year 2000-2001. On a past occasion, the Center was privileged to host M.K.Raina, noted stage director from India as an Andrews scholar. During the one semester tenure at the University, the Andrews scholar will offer one graduate seminar and at the same time pursue original and creative research. Ideally the individual would also contribute tangibly to scholarship (i.e., through writing of monographs or articles, or development of other academic or creative products) during his/her tenure as an Andrews Professor. Earnings for the semester include $30,000 plus fringe benefits.

CSAS is soliciting nominations for the Andrews Chair position for Spring 2001. This prestigious position is an opportunity for the Center to bring in a scholar who has wide appeal - both to multiple audiences within the university and to the community at large. Strong preference will be given to candidates who work on South Asia other than India.

Deadline for nominations is January 15, 2000.

Study Abroad Opportunities

Berkeley Urdu language program in Pakistan (BULPIP) provides intensive and specialized Urdu language training to American students, scholars, and teachers who have research and professional interests in Pakistan, Islam, the Muslim communities of South Asia, and Urdu language and literature. Deadline for submission of applications is February 1, 2000. For more information please contact: Berkeley Urdu Language Program in Pakistan, Center for South Asia Studies, University of California, Berkeley, 10 Stephens Hall, Berkeley, CA 94720-2310, Phone: 510-642-3608. Email: Internet: southasia/bulpip

The Antioch College Buddhist Studies program provides an opportunity of study and meditation near the site of Buddha Shakyamuni's Enlightenment in Both Gaya, India. Application deadline for the Fall term is March 15. For further information and application forms, please contact: Buddhist Studies, Antioch Education Abroad, Antioch College, Yellow Springs, Ohio 45387. E-mail: Website:

Cornell-Nepal Study Program is an innovative joint venture between Cornell University and the Tribhuvan National University of Nepal. The program provides an opportunity of studying at a Nepalese University with Nepalese faculty and students, providing community service opportunities with various development agencies. This one semester program is open to undergraduate and graduate students. Application deadline for the fall 2000 semester is March 1, 2000. Further information may be obtained from Cornell Abroad, 474 Uris Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853. Tel: (607) 255-6224. E-mail: On the web: http://www.

Upcoming Conferences

The Society for Indian Philosophy & Religion will hold an International Interdisciplinary Conference in Calcutta 1-4 August, 2000. The Conference theme is "Language, Thought and Reality: Science, Religion and Philosophy." For more information contact: Dr. Chandana Chakrabarti, Elon College Campus Box 2336, Elon College, N.C. 27244. E-mail: Phone: (336) 538-2705.

CSAS Thanks You for Your Continuing Support

CSAS thanks all those who have supported the Center with monetary contributions in recent years. These funds provide a flexible resource to supplement our (rapidly declining) university operating budget and permits us to augment our South Asia activites.

Your tax-deductible contribution will be greatly appreciated and should be made to the University of Hawai'i Foundation Account No. 130910, c/o Center for South Asian Studies, Moore 411, Unviersity of Hawai'i, Honolulu, HI 96822.


South Asia News is produced by Sankaran Krishna, Director, and Safia Aggarwal, coordinator for the Center for South Asian Studies.

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