Anxiety and Authority in South Asia

Faculty Sponsor: Jonathan Gold, Director of Program in South Asian Studies, Princeton University

Devika Shankar, History
Wasim Shiliwala, Near Eastern Studies

Sponsored by: Program in South Asian Studies at the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies; Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies; Center for Human Values; Council of the Humanities; Department of Near Eastern Studies; Department of Religion; Department of Comparative Literature; Center for the Study of Religion; Program in Law and Public Affairs; Department of English, Department of Psychology


Friday April 6, 2018

Bowl 001, Robertson Hall

8:30 – 9:00                      Breakfast

9:00 – 9:15                      Opening Remarks

9:15 – 11:15

Empire on Edge

Zak Leonard, University of Chicago

Off the Rails: India Reformism and the Public Works Debacle

Joppan George, Princeton University

Cartographic Anxiety: Mapping the North-West Frontier Province from the Air, 1919-1939

Meghna Chaudhuri, New York University

The People’s Capital: Fiscal Anxiety and State Developmentalism, 1870-1910

Zaib Aziz, Yale University

Regimes of Angst: Imperial Responses to the Rise of Transnational Anti-Colonial Movements

11:15 – 11:30                     Coffee

11:30 – 1:00    

Numbering the Nation

Nikhil Menon, University of Notre Dame

Planning Anxiety: The Intellectual Infrastructure of India’s Five-Year Plans

Sayori Ghoshal, Columbia University

Counting Anxiety: A history of the formation of religious minority in colonial India

Aprajita SarcarQueen’s University

Hum Do Hamare Do: Creation, Circulation and Afterlife

1:00 – 2:00                     Lunch

2:00 – 4:00  

Fraught Frontiers

Uzma Falak Mehraj, University of Heidelberg

Anatomy of an Anxious Empire: Understanding the Mechanism of Anxiety and its Manifestation in the Everyday in Indian controlled Kashmir

Mahvish Ahmad, University of Cambridge

Anxiety as a Technology of Rule: The Violent Crafting of Subject and Territory in Balochistan

Akshaya Tankha, University of Toronto

The commemorative monolith as political form: the aesthetics of Naga nationalism in northeast India

Hayden Kantor, Cornell University

Fields of Suspicion: Caste Conflict in Rural Bihar

4:00 – 4:15                     Coffee

4:15 – 5:45  

Narrating Nature

Sarah Carson, Princeton University

Disciplining Nature’s Disasters: The Establishment of State Meteorology in British India

Madhuri Karak, CUNY Graduate Center

Outsiders, Intermediaries and Wild Men: The Production of Difference in an Indian Resource Frontier

Joya John, University of Chicago

From Affect to Climate: The Literary Atmospherics of Coal in Hindi Fiction

5:45 – 6:00                     Break

6:00 – 7:00


William Mazzarella, Neukom Family Professor of Anthropology and of Social Sciences, University of Chicago

Approximately 52 Seconds: the Time of Prior Commitment

Saturday April 7, 2018

Bowl 001, Robertson Hall

8:30 – 9:00                         Breakfast

9:00 – 10:30

States of Suspicion

Maryam Sikander, SOAS, University of London

Colonial Punches: Print, Satire and Surveillance

Pragya Dhital, IAS, University College London

Anxiety in the Archives

Ankita Deb, Jawaharlal Nehru University

An ecology of anxiety: 1970s Bombay Cinema

10:30 – 10:45                      Coffee

10:45 – 12:15

Mediating Movements

Tupur Chatterjee, University of Texas at Austin

Anxious Landscapes: Gender and Urban Space in the Delhi “Multiplex Film”

Kalathmika Natarajan, University of Copenhagen

The Privilege of the Indian Passport (1947-67): Caste, Class and the Anxieties of the Nation-State

Noopur Raval, University of California Irvine

Algorithmic Authority and the Remediation of Urban Space in India

12:15                                       Concluding Remarks and Lunch



The organizing committee of the 2018 South Asia Conference would like to acknowledge the generous support of Aparajita Ninan for the image used above for this year’s conference. To see more work, write to the artist at

 All images © Aparajita Ninan