South Asia Initiative Events

Fall Quarter 2019

Encounters: Carnatic-Hindustani Jazz

Monday, October 7, 2019, 5:30-7pm

Conrad Prebys Music Center Room 127

A conversation featuring jazz musician Rudresh Mahanthappa, Revathi Subramaniam (India Fine Arts Academy of San Diego), Anthony Davis (UCSD Music), David Borgo (UCSD Music), Mark Dresser (UCSD Music).

Co-sponsored by: the South Asian Studies Minor Program/SAI, UCSD Department of Music, and the India Fine Arts Association of San Diego (IFAASD).

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Watch a 2010 performance featuring Rudresh Mahanthappa, featuring Gerry Hemingway and Mark Dresser: The Mauger Trio at the UCSD Loft.

To learn more about the performers and their art, check out this exclusive podcast:



“The Brahminical Colonial Occupation of Kashmir by India: What’s Caste Gotta Do With Colonialism?”: A Talk by Huma Dar

Wednesday, October 30, 2019, 3-5pm

Social Sciences Building (SSB) Room 107

Last month, in September 2019, Prof Kancha Ilaiah, during his visit to Berkeley, cited Prof Hansen’s assertion which pitched the “caste question,” i.e., the problem of Brahminism, against the “Kashmir issue,” i.e., theproblem of Indian coloniality in Kashmir, to claim greater urgency for the former. This received loud hums of approval from the room full of people gathered in Stephens Hall. In this paper I argue that such a framing is not only simplistic and ahistorical, but that “unmarked” or “non-intersectional” liberatory impulse — including that from (unmarked) “feminism” — is indelibly inscribed within supremacies and structures of power. I will argue that the Indian Occupation of Kashmir is critically inflected by Brahminism: the “casteist” oppression of Kashmiris inscribed in law, our dehumanization being de jure. Simultaneously, the Brahminical oppression of DalitBahujans, Adivasis, and Pasmanda Muslims is inflected by coloniality: remembered and reinforced through the uncritical celebrations of “Aryan” conquests over the indigenous peoples of South Asia, our dehumanization being de facto. Liberation for Kashmiris and for those oppressed by caste not only need not be turned against each other, but are inextricably intertwined.

Huma Dar’s paternal family was ethnically-cleansed from Srinagar, Kashmir in 1948 for demanding plebiscites under the UN Resolutions. Her maternal family, exiled from Kashmir after accepting Islam during the Dogra regime, fought for Independence from the British. With an interdisciplinary background in South Asian Studies, Dar has lectured in the departments of Gender & Women’s Studies, Ethnic Studies, and South Asian Studies at University of California at Berkeley and in the Department of Critical Studies and Philosophy at California College of the Arts, amongst others. Dar’s work is focused on the intersections and co-formations of race, religion, class, caste, gender, sexuality, and national politics of South Asia and South Asian diasporas, centered on intellectual and political activism for social justice, especially in Indian Occupied Kashmir. Her published work includes “Cinematic Strategies for a Porno-tropic Kashmir and Some Counter-Archives” in the Journal of Contemporary Theory; “Of Niqabs, Monsters, and Decolonial Feminisms;” “Can A Muslim Be An Indian and Not A Traitor or A Terrorist?” in Shared Idioms, Sacred Symbols, and Articulation of Identities in South Asia; and “A Rescue Project Initiated by the Oppressors: Why the Exercise of Caste(ist) Privileges Can Never Annihilate Caste, Or What’s Wrong With the Navayana project on AoC” in Hatred in the Belly: Politics behind Appropriation of Dr. Ambedkar’s Writings, and pieces in several edited volumes focused on South Asia. Dar is a feature writer at Pulse Media, a collaborative political, activist, and academic weblog, and is a published poet. She is a founding member of the UC Berkeley Center for Race & Gender and Townsend Center working group on “Muslim Identities & Cultures,” and organized the feminist conference, Boundaries in Question on the theme of “Women and War,” both at UC Berkeley. Dar is a feature writer at Pulse Media, a collaborative political, activist, and academic weblog.


Wrecks of Ancient Ships and Cargoes in the Pre-modern Indian Ocean: Bearings on South Asian History: A Talk with Ranabir Chakravarti

Wednesday, November 6, 2019, 4-6pm

Computer Science and Engineering Building (CSEB) room 4262

Dr. Chakravarti is a Professor of Ancient History at the Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, India. He specializes in the economic and social history of early India with a particular interest in the history of maritime trade in the Indian Ocean (prior to c. 1500 CE). Chakravarti has authored and/or edited: A Sourcebook of Indian Civilization (Orient Longman, Hyderabad, 2000), Trade in Early India (OUP, New Delhi, 2005), Trade and Traders in Early Indian Society (Manohar, New Delhi, 2007, second edition), Indo-Judaic Studies in the Twenty First Century, a View from the Margins (Palgrave MacMillan, New York, 2007) and Exploring Early India up to c. AD 1300 (Primus, New Delhi, 2016). Chakravarti is a recipient of the Commonwealth Fellowship, a Fulbright Fellowship, and a member of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton University. He was also a Fellow-in-Residence at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study. In 2011, Chakravarti was elected President of the Ancient India section of the Indian History Congress.


Polluting the Ganges: A Book Reading and Discussion of Ganges: The Many Pasts of an Indian River with Sudipta Sen

Monday, November 18, 2019, 4-6pm

Geisel Library, Seuss Room

Ganges: The Many Pasts of an Indian River by Sudipta Sen (Yale University Press, 2019) is an exploration of the idea of a cosmic, universal river at the interstices of religious belief, historical geography, and ecology jeopardized by climate change and environmental pollution. Comment by Dr. Matthew Herbst, Director of the Modern World Writing Program.

Co-sponsored by: the UC San Diego Library, SAI and the South Asian Studies Minor Program, the Eleanor Roosevelt Making of the Modern World Writing Program, and supported by funding from the International Institute.

Sudipta Sen is Professor of History at the University of California, Davis. A scholar of India and the British Empire, his work has focused on the early colonial history of British India. He is the author of two books, Empire of Free Trade: The English East India Company and the Making of the Colonial Marketplace (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1998) and Distant Sovereignty: National Imperialism and the Origins of British India (Routledge, 2002).

Expendable Bodies and Ethical Crisis: A Talk with Saveetha Meganathan

Wednesday, December 4, 2019, 4-6pm

Computer Science and Engineering Building (CSEB) room 4262

This paper presents an ethnography of the Koya tribal community in the context of ‘the practice of bioethics’ in Khammam district of Telangana (South India), with respect to a Post Licensure Observational Study of the HPV immunization programme. The paper includes a discursive attempt at understanding the donor and recipient relationships of aid in the public health sector in India.

Saveetha Meganathan is a Visiting Scholar at the UCSD Institute for Practical Ethics and a research scientist at the Tata Institute for Genetics and Society in Bangalore, India. She has consulted for Give2Asia, a nonprofit helping communities meet philanthropic goals. At the Institute, Saveetha will research the ethics of gene drives as it relates to India.


ArtPower Events Co-Sponsored by SAI

Rudresh Mahanthappa’s Indo-Pak Coalition With Rez Abbasi & Dan Weiss

Tuesday, October 8, 2019 at 8pm

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

(via ArtPower)

Few musicians share the ability of Rudresh Mahanthappa to embody the expansive possibilities of his music with his culture. He is an alto saxophonist and composer who materializes a sound that hybridizes progressive jazz and South Indian classical music in a fluid and forward-looking form that reflects Mahanthappa’s own experience growing up as a second-generation Indian-American.

The Indo-Pak Coalition, featuring Pakistani-American guitarist Rez Abbasi and percussionist Dan Weiss, blends the sounds of jazz with Mahanthappa’s South Indian roots, creating a new and sublime complexity of sound. The result is a fiery jazz with Indian-Pakistani influences and a modern touch.

Watch a 2010 performance featuring Rudresh Mahanthappa, featuring Gerry Hemingway and Mark Dresser: The Mauger Trio at the UCSD Loft

Tickets and More Information


Aakash Odedra Company: Rising

Tuesday, December 3, 2019 at 8pm

David and Dorothea Garfield Theatre at the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center: 4126 Executive Dr, La Jolla, CA 92037

(via ArtPower)

One of the most exciting young contemporary dancers and choreographers in the UK, the “simply breathtaking” (Globe and Mail) Aakash Odedra takes the stage in the captivating solo Rising with choreography from acclaimed international artists Akram Khan, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Russell Maliphant, and Odedra himself.

In Rising, Odedra draws on his background in the classical Indian dance disciplines of Kathak and Bharatanatyam while remaining intrinsically contemporary in style and concept. Exploring different processes and aesthetics in the pieces created for Rising, Odedra highlights different aspects of himself to create a new personal language: lyrical and graceful, brutal and raw, edgy, and animalistic.

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Red Baraat Festival of Colors

Thursday, March 20, 2020 at 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.

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Yumi Kurosawa with Special Guest Anubrata Chatterjee

Wednesday, April 29, 2020 at 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