New Cultural Histories of South India

Aesthetics, Social Change, and the Politics of Culture

A Conference in Honor of Indira Viswanathan Peterson, Professor of Asian Studies, Emerita, Mount Holyoke College





9:30amLight Breakfast


10:00am-11:00am: Welcome

Honoring Indira Peterson’s Life and Contributions to the Field


11:00am-12:30pm: Panel 1: Design and Rhetoric: Aesthetics and the South Indian Temple


Anna Seastrand (University of Minnesota)

Design and Rhetoric in South Indian Painting


Archana Venkatesan (University of California, Davis)

From Inside a Campaka Flower: Ornamentation, Desire, and Distance in the Adhyāyanotsavam at Tirukkurungudi


12:30pm-2:00pm         Lunch


2:00pm-3:30pm: Panel 2: Poems to Śiva: Community, Region, Religion


Elaine Fisher (Stanford University)

Beyond Cosmopolitan and Vernacular: Vīraśaiva Translations and Multilingual Commentary in Social Context


Caleb Simmons (University of Arizona)

Aesthetics and Social Change in Beṭṭada Cāmuṇḍi, a Kannada Folksong


3:30pm-4:00pmCoffee Break


4:00pm-5:30pm: Panel 3: Tamil (and Telugu) Geographies: Literature and Modern Political Imaginaries


Lisa Mitchell (University of Pennsylvania)

Abhimānam and Dīkṣā: Claiming the Right to Represent


Sascha Ebeling (University of Chicago)

“We are all Units of the Tamil Nation”: On the Cultural Politics of Being Tamil in South India and Ceylon, c. 1800-1920


5:30pm-6:30pm: Reception







9:30am: Light Breakfast


10:00am-12:15pm: Panel 4: Performing Pasts: Sonic Histories as Social Histories


Stephen Hughes (SOAS, London)

Sound Unbound: Visualizing Technological Change in South Indian Musical Practice


Amanda Weidman (Bryn Mawr College)

Redefining Tamil Vocal Masculinity: From the Bhagavatars to T.M. Sounderarajan


Davesh Soneji (University of Pennsylvania)

Resounding Islam: Occluded Histories of the Tamil Muslim KīrttaṉaPatam, and Muṉājāttu


12:15pm-1:00pmConcluding Remarks and Wrap-up Session


1:00pm: Lunch