Center for South Asian Studies | University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa

“Sensing South Asia” – 30th CSAS Annual Symposium

Conference Dates: April 17-19, 2013, in Honolulu, Hawai’i

Sheri Lyles

What happens when we approach social and natural worlds, the body, and affect through the senses?  How do disciplinary and interdisciplinary understandings of South Asia change if we consider that what and how we feel, hear, taste, smell, touch, see, and intuit are culturally and historically mediated?  In this symposium, we explore what South Asian societies — and their histories, philosophies, everyday rituals and practices, and political economies — can offer to emerging theories and methods in sensory studies.  

The papers to be presented at the conference will be available early April through the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s Scholar Space.




5:30-7:00pm: Welcome reception, Architecture Courtyard


8:15-8:45am: Coffee and Pastries for participants, Architecture, Room 214

8:45:9:00am: Welcome remarks: Edward Shultz, Dean, School of Pacific and Asian Studies, and Monisha Das Gupta, Director, Center for South Asian Studies

9:00 -10:15am

Robert Desjarlais, Anthropology, Sarah Lawrence College

KEYNOTE: “Sensate Image: Fieldwork in Photography, in Nepal

Introduction by Anna Stirr, Asian Studies, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

10:30 am -12 noon PANEL 

Sensory Presence and Absence: The Quotidian to the Imperial

Chair: Jan Brunson, Anthropology, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

Ordering Food, Reordering Relationships: Deaf and Hearing Social Interaction in Kathmandu

Erika Hoffmann-Dilloway, Anthropology, Oberlin College

A Frenchman Sensing Seventeenth Century Mughal India

Talia Gangoo, Islamic Studies, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Sensing Transcendence

Ramdas Lamb, Religion, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

Color, Complexion, and Prognosis in an Early Sanskrit Medical Manual

Martha Ann Selby, Asian Studies, The University of Texas at Austin

12 noon-1:30 pm: LUNCH, Architecture Courtyard

1:30pm-2:45 pm

Nayanika Mookherjee, Anthropology, Durham University

KEYNOTE: Sensing Violent, Haunted Pasts: ‘Feeling’ the Raped Woman

of the Bangladesh War of 1971

Introduction by Shankaran Krishna, Political Science, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

3:00-4:30 pm PANEL

Chair: Ned Bertz, History, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

Performing the Sensory from the Neighborhood to the Nation and Beyond

“’Horn Do’: A Sonic Flâneur in North Kolkata”

Richard Cullen Rath, History, University of Hawai’i at Manoa

“The Annual Ganesh Festival in Paris as Urban Sensorium: Walking in the City in a Tamil Hindu Ritual Procession”

Nicole Berger, Anthropology, Princeton University

Sight and Sound in Popular Historiography: Construction of a National Imaginary in Jodha-Akbar

Taimoor Shahid, Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies, Columbia University

“A Preface to Spoken Tamil”

Nana Yaw O Boaitey, University of Texas at Austin

5:30-7:00 pm

Reception, Architecture Courtyard

Ode to the Senses, Sai Bhatawadekar, Indo-Pacific Languages, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

7-8 pm

Tarfia Faizullah and Elizabeth Herman enter the trauma of the Bangladesh Liberation War through poetry and photography

Introduction by Kazi Khaleed Ashraf, School of Architecture, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

“‘Is It Possible to Live With Memory?’ Bangladesh War, Women, and Sexual Violence in Portraits and Poems”


8:15-9:00am:  Coffee and Pastries for participants, Architecture, Room 214 

9:00-10:15 am

Uttara Coorlawala, Dance, Ailey School and Barnard College

KEYNOTE:  Angikam Bhuvanam*: Whose Bodies? Whose Worlds? And by Which Words? 

*Angikam Bhuvanam are the first two words of the Abhinaya Darpana (a Sanskrit text that follows the Natya Shastra). The Abhinaya Darpana begins with an invocation to Shiva, the aadi dancer or the very first  and final dancer, and addresses Him as the One whose body is the World.

Introduction by Kara Miller, Department of Theatre and Dance, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

10:30-12 noon PANEL

Intersensoriality and Empathy

Chair: Anna Stirr, Asian Studies, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

Sensory Sacrifice: Staging Class, Effacing Sexuality in Bangladeshi Hijra Dance

Munjulika Rahman, Performance Studies, Northwestern University

Padma-aja: The Allegory of the Lotus and its Sensory Experience as a Cultural Expression of Hindu and Buddhist Traditions”

Anita Vallabh, Independent Scholar and Performer, and Elizabeth Fisher, Dance, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

 “’We Went to the Hills’: Four Afghan Life Stories”

James Weir, Director, Muslim Societies of Asia and the Pacific, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

“Subtle Bodies”

Sheri Lyles, Department of Art and Art History

12:15- 1:00 pm:

Closing Thoughts:  South Asia and Sensory Studies

1:00pm: LUNCH, Architecture Courtyard


Brief Bios of the Keynotes:

Uttara Asha Coorlawala, Dance, Ailey School and Barnard College, and is author of “It matters for whom you dance” in Dance Matters: Performing India on Local and Global Stages (Routledge, 2010).  She has published numerous journal articles theorizing embodiment, performance and experience in relation to culture. 

Robert Desjarlais, Anthropology, Sarah Lawrence College, and author of Sensory Biographies: Lives and Deaths among Nepal’s Yolmo Buddhists (University of California, 2003).  He is completing another book entitled, Subject to Death: Life, Loss, and Mourning among Nepal’s Yolmo Buddhists.

Nayanika Mookherjee, Anthropology, Durham University, author of The Spectral Wound: Sexual Violence, Public Memories and the Bangladesh War of 1971 (Duke University Press, Forthcoming) and editor of the JRAI Special Issue ‘Aesthetics of Nations’ (2011). She is currently working on another book, Arts of Reconciliation (Stanford UP).

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