Space and Sovereignty in South Asia | April 21-22, 2017

Faculty Sponsor: Professor Isabelle Clark-Deces, Director of Program in South Asian Studies, Princeton University

Sponsored by: Program in South Asian Studies at the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies; Center for Human Values;  Council of the Humanities; Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination; Office of Population Research; The Mamdouha S. Bobst Center for Peace and Justice; Department of Near Eastern Studies; Department of Sociology; Department of Anthropology; Department of Comparative Literature; Department of Religion; Program in Law and Public Affairs; Princeton-Mellon Initiative in Architecture, Urbanism & the Humanities.


Friday April 21, 2017

Room A17, Julis Romo Rabinowitz Building

8:15 – 8: 45                      Breakfast

8:45 – 9:00                      Opening Remarks

9:00 – 10:30                      

Rethinking Sovereignty 

Devika Shankar, Princeton University

Shifting Sands and Fluid Frontiers: Cochin State and the Development of British Cochin 1850-1920

Madihah Akhter, Stanford University

Sovereignty and Starvation: Zenana Hospitals in princely Bhopal

Abhilash Medhi, Brown University

Infrastructural Contingencies and Contingent Sovereignties on the Indo-Afghan Frontier

Discussant: Divya Cherian, Princeton University

10:30 – 10:45                     Coffee

10:45 – 12:15                     

The Region, Decentralization, and Authority

Shayan Rajani, Tufts University

Of Approbation and Imprecation: The Growing Stakes of Regional Affiliation in Eighteenth Century South Asia

Neelam Khoja, Harvard University

Reconsidering the “Invading Other”: Afghans in 18th Century Punjab

Elizabeth Thelen, University of California, Berkeley

Where Will the Water Buffalo Drink? The Limits of Shared Space in Eighteenth-Century Marwar

Discussant: Daniel Sheffield, Princeton University

12:30 – 1:30                     Lunch

1:30- 3:30                     

Circuits of Capital

Nethra Samarawickrema, Stanford University

Ties Across the Ocean: Trust and Secrecy in the Transnational Trade of Sri Lankan Gems

Misha Mintz-Roth, Johns Hopkins University

Accounting for Inequality: Business partnerships and Religious Community among Indian Merchants in Interwar Nairobi, 1920-38

Shatam Ray, Emory University

Laboring the Frontier: Opium Cultivation and the Limits to Border-Control in Nineteenth Century Malwa

Sukhalata Sen, Jawaharlal Nehru University

The Sovereignty of the Rupee: Spaces of Circulation or Contestation

Discussant: Johan Mathew, Rutgers University

3:30 – 3:45                     Coffee

3:45 – 5:15                   

Violence and the Geobody

Samreen Mushtaq, Jamia Milia University

Home as the Front-line: Everyday Realities and Gendered Constructs of Militarized Violence in Indian held Kashmir

Mahendran Thiruvaragan, City University of New York

Postcolonial Cosmopolitics: Re-thinking Sovereignty in the North and East of Sri Lanka

Aditya Kakati, Graduate Institute of Geneva

Of Guns, Gifts and Guerrillas: Objects, Knowledge and State-making in Imperial Frontiers During the Second World War on the India-Burma Borderlands

Discussant: Joppan George, Princeton University

5:30 – 6:30


Sunil Amrith, Mehra Family Professor of South Asian Studies, Harvard University

Space, Sovereignty, and Climate on South Asia’s Coastal Frontiers

Saturday April 22, 2017

Room A17, Julis Romo Rabinowitz Building

9:00 – 9:30                         Breakfast

9:30 – 11:30

Place and Political Belonging

Swati Chawla, University of Virginia

Tibetan Migrants in the Search of ‘Original Nationality’ on Himalyan Borderlands

Sahana Ghosh, Yale University

Changing Residence, Changing Residents: Aligning Place, Identity, and Citizenship Across the India-East Pakistan/Bangladesh Border

Carola Lorea, International Institute for Asian Studies

Migrating Repertoires in the Middle of the Ocean – Oral Traditions of East Bengal Refugees Resettled in the Andaman Islands

Samina Sirajuddowla, City University of New York

Sedition, Equality, and Love: Anticolonialism in the Literary Corpus of Kazi Nazrul Islam 1900-1930

Discussant: Nabaparna Ghosh, The Cooper Union

11:30 – 11:45                      Coffee

11:45 – 1:15

Fashioning State Spaces

Chris Moffat, Queen Mary University of London

Archaeological Space and the Politics of Heritage in Contemporary Pakistan

Michelle Grise, Yale University

Science, State, and Secrecy: The Development of Nuclear Weapons and the Transformation of Scientific Culture in Pakistan

Brandon Williams, University of California, Berkeley

The International Labor Organization’s Webs of Labor and Sovereignty Development in Postcolonial India and South Asia

Discussant: Amna Qayyum, Princeton University

1:15                                       Concluding Remarks and Lunch

The organizing committee of the 2017 South Asia Conference would like to acknowledge the generous support of Sunil Garud for the image used above for this year’s workshop. More artwork displayed at

All images © Sunil Garud