Upcoming Lecture

Spring 2015 Lecture

Thursday, March 5, 2015
5:00-7:30 pm
Usdan International Lounge

Portuguese Cultural Heritage in South Asia

Featuring Professor Filipe Themudo Barata, Department of History, Évora University Portugal, and Professor João Magalhães Rocha, Department of Architecture, Évora University Portugal

Lecture Summaries

Arindam Dutta
Architectural Exchanges
Aruna D'Souza
Inderpal Grewal
Mohsin Hamid
Bina Agarwal
Jyoti Puri
Vijay Prashad
Corey Creekmur
Soli Sorabjee
Paromita Vohra
Sugata Bose

Lecture Faculty and Staff Coordinators

Prof. Talinn Grigor
South Asian Studies/ Fine Arts
Mandel 207

Alyssa Fabrizio
Academic Administrator
South Asian Studies Program
Shiffman 116

Soli Sorabjee Lectures in South Asian Studies

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This lecture series engages with themes of "justice" -- broadly defined to include the interrogation of human rights, historical narratives, literary and political representations, gender and social justice, citizenship and democracy, and cross-border connections between the nations of South Asia. Our goal is to expose students at Brandeis (and the larger public) to the scholarship being conducted in the multidisciplinary fields of South Asian Studies, both in the United States and in South Asia itself, as well as to the vast range of South Asian intellectual and artistic traditions. The series is sponsored by the South Asian Studies Program and the Brandeis-India Initiative. It was named after the honorable Soli J. Sorabjee, former attorney general of India and a friend of Brandeis University.

Fall 2014 Lecture

Monday, November 17, 2014 

5:30-7:00 pm

Presentation Room, Shapiro Admissions Center, Brandeis University

Peer Review / Censorship

Professor Arindam Dutta, Associate Professor of Architectural History. He is the Director of the History, Theory, Criticism Program in Art and Architecture, and the SMArchS Program at MIT.

Debates regarding censorship tend to paint the censor in the form of a supervening power (the state, a bureaucracy, the demotic mob, corporate media, etc.) producing a barrier between something called “free speech” and its untrammelled, unmediated reception by the public sphere. A world without censorship, one would thus assume, would be a world without communicational turbulence, where speech impeccably mirrors certain truths that are then received by their audiences sans noise or interference. This talk contests such a conception of free speech, one whose rights would seem to stem from outside precinct of “nature” and natural right: censorship is not so much an obstruction in some linear passage of self-evident, pre-political truths from addressor to addressee but reflects a contest over the political domain as such, a battle over the composition of the state rather than against it. The talk takes up a string of recent examples of censorship in India, pertaining to works of art or scholarship, particularly those driven by the religious (Hindu) right. It argues that the liberal critique of censorious cultural nationalisms – however necessary – nonetheless occludes a more robust questioning of the inherent complicities between free speech and censorship. Rather than proclaim, yet again, an end to censorship, the talk invites us to think of democratic politics as necessarily mediated by various forms of censorships to which various groups willingly subscribe. Censorship, simply put, must be seen as inherent in any kind of social contract. Academic peer review, where a “community” of “qualified” scholars/censors hides behind the veil of anonymity to pronounce on the verifiability of scholarly propositions, is an example in point. It also instantiates precisely the problem in question.


 Spring 2014 Conference

Architectural Exchanges in South Asia: Medieval to Contemporary Period

Soli Sorabjee Lecture in South Asian Studies and The Richard Saivetz '69 Annual Memorial Architectural Symposium

Presented by the South Asian Studies Program and the Department of Fine Arts

Chair: Prof. Talinn Grigor, Department of Fine Arts, Brandeis University

Friday, April 4, 2014


Presentation Room, Shapiro Admissions Center, Brandeis University

On April 4th 2014, a merging of two lecture series—The Soli Sorabjee Lectures in South Asian Studies and the Richard Saivetz ’69 Annual Memorial Architectural Symposium, sponsored by the South Asian Studies program and the Department of Fine Arts—was presented to a group of eager Brandeis students and scholars of South Asia and fine arts.


 Fall 2013 LectureAruna D'Souza

"Ingesting Culture: Cooking, Colonialism, and the Construction of Indian-ness"

Dr. Aruna D'Souza

Thursday, October 10th, 2013 at 5:00pm
Shapiro Admissions Center

Our Fall 2013 lecture featured Professor Aruna D'Souza, a writer, critic, historian of modern and contemporary art, and a cultural critic who writes on food’s relation to memory and trauma. Professor D'Souza's research interests include issues of feminism, post colonialism, and globalization. She is currently finishing two projects: a book titled Open Secrets: Intimacy Between Street and Home, and a memoir-slash-cookbook, Kitchen Stories: Essays on Food, Love, and Loss. She is the author of Cézanne’s Bathers: Biography and the Erotics of Paint, and co-editor of the 2013 volume Art History in the Wake of the Global Turn. Her criticism has been published in Art in America, Bookforum, Time Out New York, and Art Margins.

videoVideo of the Lecture


Spring 2013 Lecture

"Bureaucracy and Masculinity in India after Independence"Inderpal Grewal

Prof. Inderpal Grewal from Yale University

Thursday, February 28th at 5:00pm
Shapiro Admissions Center, Presentation Room

Our Spring 2013 lecture featured Professor Inderpal Grewal from the Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Department at Yale University. Her research interests include transnational feminist theory; gender and globalization, human rights; NGO’s and theories of civil society; theories of travel and mobility; South Asian cultural studies, and postcolonial feminism.  She is the author of Home and Harem: Nation, Gender, Empire and the Cultures of Travel (Duke University Press, 1996) and Transnational America: Feminisms, Diasporas, Neoliberalisms (Duke University Press, 2005). Currently she is working on a book length project on the relation between feminist practices and security discourses.

video Video of the Lecture


 Fall 2012 Lecture

"Constructing Fictions: Prose, Politics, and Pakistan"Author, Mohsin Hamid

Author, Mohsin Hamid

Wednesday, October 17, 2012 at 5:00pm
Mandel Center Forum

Our Fall 2012 lecture featured Mohsin Hamid, author of the novels Moth Smoke, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, and the forthcoming How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia. His fiction has been translated into over 30 languages, shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, featured on bestseller lists, and adapted for the cinema. His short stories have appeared in Granta and the Paris Review, and his essays in the Guardian, the New York Times, and the New York Review of Books. Born in 1971, he has lived about half his life, on and off, in Lahore.

video  Video of the Lecture


Spring 2012 Lecture

"Gender and Forest Governance: A History of Absence, the Impact of Presence"

Bina Agarwal Prof. Bina Agarwal from The Institute of Economic Growth, University of Delhi

March 19, 2012

Our Spring 2012 lecture featured prize-winning economist Bina Agarwal, Director and Professor of Economics at the Institute of Economic Growth, New Delhi, India. Ms. Agarwal gave an inspiring lecture in Rapaporte Treasure Hall, Goldfarb Library, drawing upon her most recent book, Gender and Green Governance. She spoke of the historical absence of women from forest governance and in particular the impact of women's presence in making a significant change in environmental preservation. 

We regret that streaming video is not available for this lecture.


Fall 2011 Lecture

"Racialized Communalisms, Criminalized Queers, and the Police in Contemporary India"

Jyoti PuriProf. Jyoti Puri from Simmons College 

November 2, 2011

Our Fall 2011 Lecture featured Professor Jyoti Puri, sociology professor at Simmons College. She lectured to a packed atrium in the Mandel Center for the Humanities, on her fieldwork among police in New Delhi. Her presentation explored the enforcement of sodomy law, or Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. She analyzed the discourses through which Delhi police name some groups as consistently queer and criminal even while allowing for the possibility of the decriminalization of homosexuality. 

videoVideo of the lecture


Spring 2011 Lecture

Prashad"The Day Our Probation Ended"

Prof. Vijay Prashad from Trinity College 

March 3, 2011

Our Spring 2011 lecture featured acclaimed author Vijay Prashad, George and Martha Kellner Chair in South Asian History and Professor of International Studies at Trinity College, Hartford. Professor Prashad gave a rousing lecture at Rapaporte Treasure Hall, Goldfarb Library on the desi communities reaction to 9/11 and subsequent events. 

PrashadVideo of the lecture


Fall 2010 Lecture

Corey Creekmur"Experiments with Truth: Confronting Colonial History in Popular Indian Cinema"

Prof. Corey Creekmur from the University of Iowa

October 28,2010

Our Fall 2010 lecture featured Professor Corey Creekmur, head of Film Studies at the University of Iowa, and an expert in international popular cinema. Professor Creekmur lectured in front of a crowd of over 100 in the Mandel Center for the Humanities on the recent portrayal of colonial history in Indian cinema.

videoVideo of the lecture


Special Spring Lecture

Soli Sorabjee"Rule of Law: A Moral Imperative for South Asia and the World"

Delivered by Soli Sorabjee

April 14, 2010

Our Spring 2010 lecture featured a special visit by Mr. Sorabjee to Brandeis. Mr. Sorabjee delivered an inspiring speech to a packed crowd in Rapaporte Treasure Hall on how the "rule of law" has been applied across India and elsewhere to moderate the forces of extremism and tyranny. 

videoAn Interview with Soli Sorabjee

videoVideo of the lecture (temporarily unavailable)


pdfFull text of the speech


Spring Lecture

Paromita Vohra"An Evening with Filmmaker/Writer Paromita Vohra"

February 25, 2010

The spring lecture was held on February 25, 2010. Our guest was Paromita Vohra, one of India's leading documentary filmmakers. Ms. Vohra screened two of her recent films, met with students, and answered questions from the audience.

The co-sponsors for this event included the Department of English, the South Asian Studies Program, the Program in Women's and Gender Studies and the Program in Cultural Production.

videoAn Interview with Paromita Vohra


Inaugural Fall Lecture

Sugata Bose"Different Universalisms, Colorful Cosmopolitanisms: The Global Imagination of the Colonized"

Prof. Sugata Bose, Gardiner Professor of Oceanic History and Affairs, Harvard University

November. 16, 2009

The inaugural lecture was held on November 16, 2009.  Prof. Sugata Bose,  Gardiner Professor of Oceanic History and Affairs at Harvard University, delivered a lecture entitled "Different Universalisms, Colorful Cosmopolitanisms: The Global Imagination of the Colonized."

videoVideo of the lecture