South Asia Initiative

The South Asia Initiative is an independent inter-divisional effort at UCSD to promote discussion and exchange about South Asia.

Winter 2020 Courses

Please see our About page for more information on SAI. Also see our Course page to view upcoming courses in the South Asian Studies Minor, along with course posters for each quarter.

Statement of Solidarity in Support of Peaceful Protest Around the Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizens in India

December 20, 2019

The Steering Committee of the South Asia Initiative at UC San Diego reaffirms its commitment to supporting free speech and peaceful protest. Recent (and ongoing as of this writing) frictions involving students, academics, and the police, spurred in large part due to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, have raised concerns about whether our colleagues on the subcontinent can peacefully express dissenting views (Reuters,Indian ExpressTimes of India). The right to dissent is not just a matter of academic freedom but is essential for a well-functioning democracy. We stand with students and colleagues who wish to have their voices heard in a nonviolent manner and oppose any state action that seeks to stifle peaceful protest.


Upcoming SAI Events

Winter Quarter 2020

Citizenship and Protest: A Panel Discussion on India’s CAA

Monday, 3 February 2020 @ 5PM

Spiro Library, SSB 269

Speakers: Huma Ahmed-Ghosh (Professor Of Women’s Studies, SDSU), Gareth Nellis (Professor Of Political Science, UCSD), and Damini Pant (Graduate Student, UCSD)

Image result for CAA protest

(Google Images)

Moderator: Aftab Jassal (Professor of Anthropology, UCSD)

In December 2019, India’s Parliament passed the Citizenship Amendment Act. The Act sparked controversy for its use of religion as a factor to fast- track citizenship for asylum seekers in India. Since its passage, there have been mass protests, largely led by students in Indian universities. Join us for a lively discussion about the Act and its implications.

For those who wait: Queues and Infrastructures in Manipur, North-East India

Thursday, 6 February 2020 @ 5PM

Spiro Library, SSB 269

Speaker: Nima Lamu Yolmo (PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology, UC Irvine)

Related image

(Google Images)

Long hours of waiting in front of banks and ATMs to access money is a common phenomenon across the North-East region of India. In Manipur, one of the eight states comprising the region, the situation is further complicated by concerns related to economic breakdowns and political strife. Banks are regularly beset with “link-failure” and ATMs are replenished with cash only once a day for “fear of insurgents”. Those waiting in the long queues habitually exchange anecdotes and anxieties over access to cash, and conversations tend to meld seamlessly into concerns around rising commodity prices, state neglect, corruption, military action, human rights abuse, and taxations by armed groups. In this presentation, I draw from ethnographic research to show how these inordinately long lines and the ensuing conversations reflect a distinctive feature of infrastructural failure in Manipur that configures money, labor, time, sociality, and critiques of the state. Attending to the realities of money practices in Manipur affords us crucial insights to the workings of money infrastructures in post-colonial India where conflict and violence have infused state-led efforts to include citizens symbolically and materially into the market, time, and territory of the nation-state.

Generations of Asians in the U.S.: Gen Z and Competition in the New Millennium

Thursday, 27 February 2020 @ 5PM

Seuss Room, Geisel Library

Speaker: Shalini Shankar (Professor of Anthropology, Northwestern University)

More details to come… 

Moral Security: Anti-trafficking and the Violence of the Humanitarian State in India

Thursday, 12 March 2020 @ 5PM

SSB 107

Speaker: Kim Walters (Assistant Professor of International Studies, Cal State Long Beach)

Image result for anti trafficking shelter in india

(Google Images)

The latest global panic over sex trafficking has animated a mode of global governmentality that has fused together otherwise contradictory registers of care and punishment in the disciplining of women who sell sex. This mode of governmentality, which I term moral security, foregrounds feminine sexuality as the site of greatest social risk and needful intervention. By conflating sex work with sex trafficking, moral security enables the humanitarian state to categorize all women who sell sex as victims requiring rescue, even if only from themselves. The urgency and fervor of the trafficking panic allows moral security to fuse together apparent contradictions into unwieldy amalgams: criminal-victim, forced rescue, and caring punishment. A patchwork of highly variable and often arbitrarily administered trafficking initiatives—whose largest sponsors are tech giants, Christian non-profits, and nation-states in the global north—taken in aggregate produce a state effect in which India as a whole is assessed, ranked, deplored, or petted by transnational philanthrocapitalists and other more powerful states. The state violence experienced by sex workers targeted by anti-traffickers becomes the basis for India’s claim to good governance within the framework of moral security. Action “against trafficking” is translated into numbers of shelters built, victims rescued, and families reunited, which provide easily legible metrics that add evidentiary flesh to the bones of India’s place in a global moral hierarchy of states.

Upcoming SAI/ ArtPower Events

ArtPower Events Co-Sponsored by SAI

Red Baraat Festival of Colors

Thursday, 20 March 2020 @ 8PM

Price Center East Ballroom: 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093

(via ArtPower)

Red Baraat Festival of Colors is an immersive celebration of the Hindu holiday of Holi through music, dance, and visuals. Red Baraat has taken the spirit of the festival to the next level: a year round show of communal revelry that brings together what NPR has called “the best party band in years,” a montage of classic Bollywood visuals, and a fiery dancer.

Traditionally, Holi is marked by public gatherings of families and strangers sharing songs, dance, and the exchange of “colors”— colorful dry powder or colored water playfully thrown among the crowds of revelers. It signifies the victory of good over evil, the arrival of spring, and for many, a festive day to meet others, play and laugh, forget and forgive, and repair ruptured relationships.

Red Baraat Festival of Colors debuted in 2012 at a sold out Le Poisson Rouge in New York City, and it has since expanded to over a dozen cities in the United States. Returning to its roots of just brass and drums and complete in colorfully painted white jumpsuits plus a dancer, Festival of Colors is a full- blown immersive experience as the band, the visuals, the dancer are like a mélange of colors, each bold on its own but commingling to form a stunning panorama.

Tickets and More Information

Yumi Kurosawa with Special Guest Anubrata Chatterjee

Wednesday, 29 April 2020 @ 8pm

The Loft at UCSD: 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093

(via ArtPower)

Koto visionary Yumi Kurosawa teams up with world-renowned tabla player Anubrata Chatterjee for a program that brings together two expressive musical traditions, bridging the cultures of Japan and India. The duo spin mesmerizing musical tales as they enchant the audience and reinforce the powerful idea of music as a means to enhance the collaborative spirit of our global community. Their performance illuminates the deep-rooted similarities of their craft while highlighting their affinity and respect for one another as virtuosic performers furthering their own timeless musical traditions.

Tickets and More Information