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Research Focus Group Talk: Worship Space Acoustics: Exploring Its Application in Hindu Temples

3041 HSSB UC Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA, United States

Acoustically important aspects of Hindu worship include chants, bells, conch-shells, and gongs. Every Hindu temple is fitted with bells that worshipers ring. Conch-shells and gongs are used at various times during pūjā rituals, during which texts from the Vedas and other Sanskrit scriptures are chanted. These Vedic chants have phonetic characteristics such as pitch, duration, emphasis, uniformity, and juxtaposition. In this talk, Shashank Aswathanarayana will discuss his postdoctoral research on the acoustics of Hindu temples ...

Research Focus Group Talk: Trust Issues: Debating Medicine and Authority in Medieval India

3041 HSSB UC Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA, United States

When it came to medicine in medieval India, it was hard to know who to trust. Physicians and philosophers employed in royal courts disputed the competing claims to medical authority, using debates initiated around religious scriptures to assess the authority of canonical Sanskrit medical texts. This talk will focus on arguments made by Ugrāditya, a physician who was one of many Jain scholars working in the court at Mānyakheṭa of the Rāṣṭrakūṭa king Amoghavarṣa Nṛpatuṅga ...

Research Focus Group Talk: Engaging Religious Difference: The Case of Haribhadrasūri

3041 HSSB UC Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA, United States

The philosophical corpus attributed to the preeminent eighth-century Śvetāmbara scholar-monk Haribhadrasūri presents one of the most sustained, systematic, and multifaceted engagements with religious difference in all of medieval South Asian literature. This talk will examine his various modes of engaging difference and how they fit together: his doxographies surveying the varieties of belief; polemics that advocate critical interrogation of partisan allegiances; rules for debate that seek common ground in the face of divergent identity-based presuppositions; ...

Research Focus Group Talk: Rethinking Non-Violence: The Spiritual and Emotional Lives of Animals in Jain Literature

3041 HSSB UC Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA, United States

Why are Jains committed to non-violence (ahiṃsā)? Is it out of a compassion for animals? Is it because of the consequences of violent action on the soul? This talk argues that the answer to these questions depends in part on whether one is reading Jain doctrinal texts or Jain literature. Jain literature in Kannada and Sanskrit offers a rationale for non-violence that is based on an affective materiality that karmically binds souls together across transmigration ...

Research Focus Group Talk: Self-Formation and Selflessness in the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava Tradition

3041 HSSB UC Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA, United States

The sixteenth-century Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava tradition proposes a unique model of grace that decenters the paradigm of atonement and forgiveness and instead centers on forgetting and remembrance. In this Kṛṣṇa bhakti tradition, jīvas, embodied beings, occupy a unique intermediary position that identifies them both in relationship to Kṛṣṇa, the supreme Godhead, and to the material world of prakṛti. Jīvas can therefore choose to either turn toward or away from Kṛṣṇa. A person turns away from or ...

Research Focus Group Talk: Amritlal Thakkar: A Gandhian “Intervention” in the “Tribal Question”

3041 HSSB UC Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA, United States

Debates on the “tribal question” constituted an important part of intellectual politics during the late colonial period in South Asia, especially during the decades leading to the Partition and Independence in 1947. Present-day "reservation" (affirmative action) policies for the "Scheduled Tribes" owe much to these debates. The “tribal question” was framed as a question that attempted to resolve how the British colonial government, and later the post-colonial Indian government, should engage groups of tribal communities ...

Research Focus Group Talk: For He Gladdens the Earth: Consent and Conjugality in the Astral State

3041 HSSB UC Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA, United States

Traditional discussions of gender in Hindu traditions often begin with a critique of patriarchy in orthodox Brahmanical Dharmaśāstras, followed by a turn to potential feminist resources—for example, in goddess worship, Śākta traditions, and Tantra. One effect of this line of thinking has been a relative absence within Hindu studies of reflections on gender in relation to state power, a thematic hallmark of feminist postcolonial histories of South Asia. Geslani’s talk reframes the question of gender ...

Research Focus Group Talk: The Politics of Eros and Ecofeminism in India

3041 HSSB UC Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA, United States

Herbert Marcuse (1898–1979), the German-American philosopher and political theorist who was a prominent member of the Frankfurt School of critical social theory, envisioned a new form of feminist socialism in which Eros, desire, the domain of the body and the passions, would be restored to its proper place as equal to Logos, reason. In this talk Savita Singh will explore the politics of Eros articulated by Marcuse through an analysis of the politics of ecofeminism ...

Research Focus Group Talk: Mediterranean Pathways: GIS, Network Analysis, and the Ancient World

3041 HSSB UC Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA, United States

We live in a world of maps and networks. GPS enabled phones allow us to instantly locate ourselves on the earth’s surface, guide us to stores or restaurants, or announce to the world our location through social media. Likewise, programs like Google Earth and desktop Geographic Information Systems (GIS) have revolutionized our engagement with maps, map-making, and have challenged traditional notions of space and place. The proliferation of GIS technologies and the “spatial turn” in ...

Research Focus Group Talk: Land, Lineage, Embodied Practices, and the Khora of Migration: Himalayan Lives Between Nepal and New York

3041 HSSB UC Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA, United States

This presentation will explore what it means for people from Mustang, Nepal, including those who have migrated to New York, to care for each other, steward a homeland across time and space, remake home elsewhere, and confront distinct forms of happiness and suffering through these movements. How do people honor and alter their shared responsibilities and senses of connection to people and place through migration? How do different generations abide with each other, even when ...

Research Focus Group Talk: The Dirt on Rubbish: What Discard Tells us about Home Life in Roman Egypt

3041 HSSB UC Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA, United States

This paper explores activities of cleaning and disposing because they represent key principles of social organization. Close attention to discard behavior helps us to understand how people related to the material goods and places that once made up their object worlds – their material habitus (c.f. Meskell, 2005: 3). Human relationships to defilement, in particular, must be seen in in the context of how human identity as a rational being is established and maintained (Kristeva, ...

Research Focus Group Talk: Photography as Embodiment? Questions of Representation and Duplication in the Cult of Sai Baba of Shirdi

3041 HSSB UC Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA, United States

Portraits of Sai Baba of Shirdi (late 1830s–1918) are everywhere to be seen in public space in Mumbai. Are these images sacred? According to the saint himself, historical exponents of his teachings, and many ordinary Mumbai residents, the answer is “Yes.” What does it mean to encounter divine power in a mass-reproduced image? Drawing on material from his just-released book, The Neighborhood of Gods: The Sacred and the Visible at the Margins of Mumbai (University ...

Research Focus Group Talk: Buddhism and Sexuality: A Primer

3041 HSSB UC Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA, United States

Although an ascetic religion that touts celibacy as the norm (at least for the clergy), Buddhism has a lot to say about sexuality. José Cabezón’s talk will focus on ancient South Asian sources and will present an overview of what classical Buddhist authors have had to say about sex. Based on his recently published book, Sexuality in Classical South Asian Buddhism (Wisdom Publications, 2017), the talk will explore the themes of sexuality in Buddhist cosmological ...