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Friday, July 10, 2020

Academics & Research

UH India studies program kicks off


Keyote speaker at the event and University of Pennslyvania professor Ania Loomba (right) is introduced by UH Associate English Professor Ann Christensen (left). | Image courtesy of Michael Brims

Keyote speaker at the event and University of Pennslyvania professor Ania Loomba (right) is introduced by UH Associate English Professor Ann Christensen (left). | Image courtesy of Michael Brims

UH President Renu Khator (far right) sits with her colleagues at the lecture that kicks off the Indian Studies program. | Images courtesy of Michael Brims
UH President Renu Khator (far right) sits with her colleagues at the lecture that kicks off the Indian Studies program. | Images courtesy of Michael Brims

After a weekend event to bring attention to the UH’s India Studies program, future events are likely to follow.

The event was planned and executed by faculty from the Department of English in coordination with the Department of Comparative Cultural Studies.

The latter put on a three-day symposium of panels, workshops and screenings, which portrayed India as a hub for intellectual discourse.

“The primary purpose of the event was to promote intellectual exchange among faculty in the English department and scholars from other universities, all of whom focus on empire studies and postcolonial studies,” said associate professor Lynn Voskuil.

“A related purpose was to alert the general public to the existence and goals of the India Studies Program at UH, which is housed within the Department of Comparative Cultural Studies.”

Ania Loomba, the Catherine Bryson Chair of the English department at the University of Pennsylvania, was the keynote speaker of the Thursday lecture.

She addressed issues of gender, sexuality and caste in contemporary India.

Loomba specializes in postcolonial studies, empire studies and Shakespearean studies.

“(These issues are relevant) to students because we live in a global world in which issues like this one are not limited to specific nations,” Voskuil said.

“In addition, UH is a highly diverse campus with a wide variety of international students. Because UH has such a global campus, these issues are particularly important for us.”

There was also a series of seminars on Friday and Saturday which featured six scholars — Sukanya Banerjee of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Nandini Bhattacharya of Texas A&M University, Sucheta Choudhuri of UH-Downtown, Benjamin Conisbee Baer of Yale University, Simon Potter of Bristol University and S. Shankar of the University of Hawaii at Manoa. The seminars were strictly for faculty and graduate students.

In addition, the 2011 Bollywood film “The Dirty Picture” was shown Saturday in the Dudley Recital Hall of the Fine Arts Building.

The film also raised questions about issues of gender in contemporary Indian society and was followed by a panel of Indian film experts.

The speakers were selected because of their expertise in the areas of empire and postcolonial studies.

The goal of the India Studies program at UH is to promote teaching and scholarship focused on the history, politics, economics, languages, religion and culture of India, according to a College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences news release.

Minors in India Studies and Comparative Cultural Studies are currently being offered at UH.

Students interested in the program should go to www.uh.edu/class/ccs/india-studies.

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