29 April

Professor Sanjay Seth, Distinguished Visiting Scholar from Goldsmith College, London
The ‘woman question’ in India and China

When: 4-6pm, Tuesday 29th April
Where: Room 203, Level 14, Building 10 (235 Jones Street), University of Technology, Sydney
RSVP: Jo.Bu@uts.edu.au

The nationalist struggle to bring about the end of colonial rule in India, and the Republican and communist struggles to arrest and reverse the humiliation and the “carve-up” of China by foreign powers, were both closely allied to the struggle to become modern. Indeed, the two goals were usually seen to be so closely related as to be indistinguishable: a people had to start becoming modern if they were ever to be free of foreign domination, and they had to gain sovereignty and state power in order to undertake the laborious but necessary task of building a strong, prosperous, and modern nation. Thus in India, as in China, political movements from the latter nineteenth century sought to found a sovereign nation free from domination by a Western power or powers, and also sought to make this putative nation and its people ”modern,” both as a necessary means towards the nationalist end and as an end in itself. This paper explores the differing ways in which this was done, with reference to ‘the woman question’, which it argues became a critical site for the elaboration of the desire for modernity and nationhood.

About Professor Sanjay Seth
Sanjay is Professor of Politics from Goldsmiths, University of London. He has published in the fields of modern Indian history, political and social theory, postcolonial theory and international relations. He’s particularly interested in how modern European ideologies, and modern Western knowledge more generally, ‘travelled’ to the non-Western world- and what effects this had both on the non-Western world, and on modern, Western knowledge. He’s current work is focused on whether the presumptions that inform our modern knowledge are ‘universal’, meaning adequate to all times and places- as is usually supposed- or whether they are in fact parochial, presumptions that are specifically modern and Western but that illegitimately pass themselves off as universal.


Respondent: Prof Louise Edwards

About Professor Louise Edwards

Louise Edwards is Professor of Chinese History at UNSW Australia. Her publications include Gender, Politics, Democracy: Women’s Suffrage in China (Stanford, 2008) and numerous articles discussing issues of women, nationalism and modernity in China that have appeared in Pacific Historical Review, Women’s Studies International Forum, Asian Studies Review and Twentieth Century China. She is also publishing in the area of gender, war and militarism with recent articles on this topic appearing in the Journal of Asian Studies and The China Quarterly. Edwards is a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia, the Australian Academy of the Humanities and the Hong Kong Academy of the Humanities.


20 May

Professor Sanjay Seth, Distinguished Visiting Scholar from Goldsmith College, London
Higher Education in India and its discontents

When: 12:00-2:00pm, Tuesday 20th May
Where: Room 201, Level 14, Building 10 (235 Jones Street), University of Technology, Sydney
RSVP: Jo.Bu@uts.edu.au

This paper examines the place that modern western knowledge, and the university, the institution tasked with disseminating this knowledge at its higher levels, has occupied in the Indian social imaginary. When the first Indian universities were established some 150 years ago, Indian elites, as well as their colonial masters, invested higher education with huge symbolic significance-despite the minuscule numbers directly affected. Today education is an everyday aspect of the Indian social landscape, and the numbers affected are much larger, and growing; but discourses surrounding it indicate that it is still invested with a symbolic load disproportionate to any ‘realist’ or instrumental measures of its significance. This paper enquires into the nature of this symbolic investment, the ways in which it has changed over time, and concludes by speculating as to whether we may be reaching the point where higher education becomes incapable of being the bearer or carrier of such symbolic investments, with the prospects of a crisis ensuing that goes well beyond the confines of the university.

About Professor Sanjay Seth
Sanjay Seth is Professor of Politics from Goldsmiths, University of London. He has published in the fields of modern Indian history, political and social theory, postcolonial theory and international relations. He’s particularly interested in how modern European ideologies, and modern Western knowledge more generally, ‘travelled’ to the non-Western world- and what effects this had both on the non-Western world, and on modern, Western knowledge. He’s current work is focused on whether the presumptions that inform our modern knowledge are ‘universal’, meaning adequate to all times and places- as is usually supposed- or whether they are in fact parochial, presumptions that are specifically modern and Western but that illegitimately pass themselves off as universal.


Respondent: Dr Tim Allender

About Associate Professor Tim Allender

Tim’s principal work concerns colonial education focusing on India using post-colonial and feminist paradigms. He has published international articles on these topics and his book, Ruling Through Education analyses, in post-colonial perspective, colonial education in north India in the late nineteenth century. Tim has developed a course on cross-cultural education which has enabled his students to undertake international fieldwork research in Asia, Canada and Europe. He is also currently using the model of ‘knowledge transfer’ and gender for two research projects. He is currently working on a University of Sydney Social Inclusion project concerning History teachers and another project on ICT in the classroom. As well, he is researching a project concerning Global Education language and its socio-cultural predictions in Australia compared to other countries in Asia.


19 November

Borders, Power and Environmental Futures: India, China and Burma


Boundaries may seem to be the obvious separation between humans who claim or secure authority over a specific and delimited space. They are physically and rhetorically argued as if God-given, of ancient origins, and with empirical proof attached. Yet even the most heavily guarded international borders – like those between India, China and Burma –  are negotiated on a daily basis by people living in theirvicinity.

The last couple of hundred years’ struggle for the establishment of nation states, where proponents for exclusive ‘nations’ have claimed territorial sovereignty, may have provided us with historical blinkers. Modernity has come to be associated with processes of nation state formation, post-modernity with many violent ethno-nationalisms, and historians have tended to associate fixed borders with equally immobilelandscapes. Yet realities may counteract such notions, both with regard to changing ecologies, negotiated networks of socioeconomic control, and flexible livelihoods.

This makes the lands east of the large Brahmaputra River all the more interesting to research for its mobileenvironments. This area forms the border between India, China and Burma buthowever heavily guarded today, these lands are unstable. Large-scale annualinundation, erosion in the meandering rivers, and sedimentation causing blockages, river islands and the spreading of tons of sand and silt on agrarian lands have produced “a landscape on the move” to paraphrase David Ludden. Just as sand and water are as much part of a river as of the surrounding lands, constantly reshaping the course of the river through the landscape and the socioeconomic life depending on it, socio-political borders have been constantly renegotiated. We may say that movements have defined boundaries and flexibility ensured the stability of polities.

A growing field of research into Bengal’s pasts explores how boundaries were porous. Rather than forming singular lines, they were often made up of points of specific significance,like narrow passages of a river for custom check-points, heights or other easily defended places where enemies could be spotted at a distance, or an economically strategic position just beyond a market place. Demarcations between two polities may not have been manifested in a boundary line at all, and polities did not need to be enclosed by a border, yet the landscape could still be bounded. Or the other way around; if we think of a region as unbounded, it could still have included borders which were routinely trespassed.

About Professor Gunnel Cederlof

Gunnel’s research interests span three intersecting fields: Environmental history, Indian early modern and modern history and Legal history. Over the last fifteen years her research has focused on the transformation of agrarian bondage in modern south India and social mobilisation among landless “dalit” labourers, the formation of land law in conflicts over territory under early colonial rule, and the clash between nature, commerce and sovereign rights during colonial conquest of Bengal and NE India.

23 September

Rethinking Invasives: Ramesh Kannan on Lantana and ‘weeds’ in India and Australia.

In this seminar Ramesh Kannan will provide a history of Lantana introduction and its spread in the Indian subcontinent and present case studies on local adaptation and livelihood.


6 August

Professor Anatol Lieven, King’s College, London

US policy towards Afghanistan and Pakistan: Where we stand

9 May


Professor Ujjwal Kumar Singh

‘Cat and Mouse’ Games: Hunger Strikes and Political Prisonerhood

Political imprisonment is a useful frame and conceptual tool for a historical and ethnographical exploration of the modern state. The definition of political crime, and by implication, a political prisoner, has always been a matter of contestation. In this paper, an attempt has been made to examine this multilayered and contested terrain by focusing on the ‘hunger strike’ as a mode of resistance and reclamation of the self within totalizing prison regimes. The manner in which hunger strikes are executed and the meanings they offer are varied. Correspondingly, the response of the state is also distinct for each group of prisoners, and different versions of the ‘cat and mouse game’ are played out with different intents, ranging from freeing hunger-striking suffragettes from prison, only to re-incarcerate them, permitting Irish republicans to ‘court death’, the forcible feeding of socialist revolutionaries in India and a conundrum over how to respond to the Gandhian ‘fast’ to purge the nation. Hunger striking prisoners, in some cases, such as the Hindustan Socialist Revolutionary Army prisoners, and more recently Naxalites in India, have focused on changing repressive prison regimes and for a recognition of political prisonerhood; others like Anna Hazare and Irom Sharmila, have, albeit in different ways and to different effects, sought to draw attention to political wrongs, through their individual ‘fasts’.

Professor Ujjwal Kumar Singh is currently ICCR’s Rajiv Gandhi Chair Professor in Contemporary Indian Studies at the University of Technology in Sydney. He is involved in teaching two courses on Global Politics From Above and Below, and, Ideas of Change: Ideologies, Beliefs, Visions, respectively. Professor Singh will be delivering seminars and public lectures during his stay at the UTS campus. A Professor in the Department of Political Science, University of Delhi, Delhi, India, he obtained his Masters degree from Delhi University, and PhD from School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. He was earlier a Fellow at the Centre for Contemporary Studies, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, Teen Murti Bhavan, New Delhi, and has also taught at Hindu College, Delhi University. He is the author of the books Political Prisoners in India (Oxford University Press, 1998, paperback 2001) and The State, Democracy and Anti-Terror Laws in India (Sage, 2007). He has co-edited Towards Legal Literacy: An Introduction to Law in India (Oxford University Press, 2008) and is the editor of the book Human Rights and Peace: Ideas, Laws, Institution and Movements (Sage, 2009). His articles have appeared in Economic and Political Weekly, Critical Asian Studies, Diogenes, Scienza & Politica, Ethnic Studies Report, Contemporary India and Indian Journal of Human Rights.

24 May

IOSARN Seminar

Anupama Roy

Citizenship’s Globality: ‘simultaneous inhabitation’ or ‘crisis’ in citizenship?

The paper pegs itself onto the most recent amendments in the Citizenship Act of India (2003, 2005) which inserted the ‘Overseas Citizen of India (OCI)’ as a separate category of Indian citizens. The OCI, it is argued, may be seen as embodying citizenship’s globality.  Globality is postulated as a conjuncture, which is a point of coincidence of several indeterminate tendencies – a point – which may be seen as manifesting a condition of sustained and simmering volatility and liminality. The Citizenship Amendment Acts of 2003 and 2005 constitute a point of coalescence of diverse and dissonant strands in the practice of citizenship in India. In order to understand these dissonances and multiplicity of contested meanings associated with citizenship, the idea of the conjuncture as the volatile and dynamic moment in which the past, present, and future coalesce becomes important. Moreover, since globality represents a specific conjunctural condition which claims to hold out a promise of universality, it is important to identify the areas of tension that this promise generates in specific contexts.  The paper, therefore, examines the category of the OCI as a peculiar product of globality, imbued with the promise of transnationality and freedom from spatial constraints that the global condition claims to have brought in, and the tensions that the resultant ‘duality’ of citizenship brings in its wake.  More significant, however, is the manner in which dual and transnational citizenship generate anxieties around a ‘crisis in citizenship’, which is expressed differently in specific national locations with corresponding notions of resolution of crisis.

Anupama Roy is Associate Professor at the Centre for Political Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, India.  She obtained her PhD from the State University of New York at Binghamton, USA.  She has taught earlier at Panjab University, Chandigarh, was Sir Ratan Tata Fellow at the Institute of Economic Growth, and a Senior Fellow at the Centre for Women’s Development Studies.  She has been studying and writing on debates around citizenship. In this context she has been looking at changes in the laws relating to citizenship, shifts in its ideological basis, and the manner in which it has unfolded in practice.  She is the author of the books Mapping Citizenship in India (Oxford University Press, 2010), Gendered Citizenship (Orient Longman, 2005) and has co-edited Poverty, Gender and Migration (Sage, 2006).   Her research articles have appeared in various journals including Contributions to Indian Sociology, Indian Journal of Gender Studies, Economic and Political Weekly, Critical Asian Studies, Indian Social Science Review and Contemporary India.


2 November

Dr Laura Zimmer-Tamakoshi (PNG National Research Institute)

‘Natural or Unnatural Partners? The effects of inequality on Gende society and their relations with mining companies’

Dr Laura Zimmer-Tamakoshi has been working as an anthropologist with the Gende people of Madang Province in Papua New Guinea since the early 1980s. The Gende have long been affected by mining, and Laura’s work focuses on interactions with mining companies (see abstract and bio attached). Laura will be in Sydney on Tues 2 November and is available to talk about her work over lunch.

12 October

Professor Nakamura Kazue
Meji University, Tokyo, Japan

‘Em-Butterflying Japanese: A Comparative Reflection on Australia’s Oriental Fantasies’

Stereotyped images of Asians is a popular trope in Australian cultural history. Discourses of the ‘Yellow Peril’ in Australia include notions of promiscuity, fertility and effeminacy, all of which make Asians the site both of desire and repulsion. Asians are ‘brown rabbits’ invading white Australia with their fecundity and huge population numbers but they are also effeminate or ’em-butterflied’. Interestingly, however, Japanese studies on the ‘Yellow Peril’ often underestimate, or even disregard, the role of Australia in this problematic. This seminar explores the tenacious fantasy of the ‘Asian’ other from a Japanese viewpoint, comparing them with indigenous images of the Japanese, and using amongst others, Charles H. Pearson’s famous National Life and Character (1893), Milca Eliade’s Maitreyi (1933) and Alison Tilson’s recent film Japanese Story (2003).

Nakamura Kazue specializes in the study of Postcolonial Literatures in English and comparative studies of literature and culture, with a special interest in ethnic and sexual minorities. She is the author of the collection of poetry Lazrus the Lizard as well as two collections of columns and essays. She has published short stories, translated Caribbean, Black British and other transcultural literatures in English. She is currently a visiting researcher at the Japanese Studies Centre at Monash University, Melbourne.

22 September

Dr Michael Titlestadt, WISER, University of the Witwatersrand: Precarious authority: reading the narratives of the wreck of the Wager (1741)

12.30 to 2 pm, UTS Bldg 10 (235 Jones St), Level 3, Room 330

My presentation explores a crisis of captaincy in the Georgian Royal Navy: the events following the wreck off the coast of Chile in 1741 of the Wager, a supply ship in the Anson expedition. The wreck and the fate of her castaways are recounted in four narratives: three written by her midshipmen (John Byron, Alexander Campbell and Isaac Morris) and one co-authored by two of her warrant officers, the gunner, John Bulkeley, and the carpenter, John Cummins. These narratives have formed the basis of two popular histories, by S.W.C. Peck (1964) and Peter Shankland (1975) respectively, they have been interpreted in an excellent essay by Philip Edwards (1994), and have been discussed most recently in Glyn Williams’ The Prize of All the Oceans (1999), an authoritative study of the Anson voyage and the fortuitous seizure of the Spanish treasure galleon, the Nuestra Señora de Covadonga. Although the story of the Wager has been fully documented, I will offer a skeletal account of the wreck, the subsequent behaviour of Captain Cheap and the dramatic mutiny of the crew. This provides the basis to ruminate on the loss of authority in shipwreck more generally, using the analytical lenses of the writing of Greg Dening, Josiah Blackmore, Barrington Moore and Marcus Rediker. In the final section of my presentation I will consider Patrick O’Brian’s idiosyncratic use of the Wager historical sources in his novel, The Unknown Shore (1959). This exploration provides a basis for conjecturing – perhaps in excess of any evidence I provide – about the representation of naval authority in popular maritime fiction, and the notable conservatism of the genre.

RSVP is required: Cornelia.Betzler@uts.edu.au

27 May

Duncan McDuie-Ra, Development Studies, UNSW: The Dilemmas Of Pro-Development Actors: Viewing State-Ethnic Minority Relations And Intra-Ethnic Dynamics in Northeast India’s ‘tribal areas’

12-2 pm, UTS Bldg 3, Level 4, Room 402

Studies of ethnic minority peoples in India have long focussed on the relations between ethnic minority communities and the modern state and the role of development in shaping these relations. This paper is concerned with how ethnic minorities respond to the state-led development. While there are numerous studies focussing on the collective agency of ethnic minorities opposing development projects, few studies consider the agency of pro-development actors. Pro-development actors are usually dismissed as coopted, manipulated, inauthentic, or elite-driven, yet they can offer crucial insights into understanding state-ethnic minority relations and particularly intra-ethnic minority relations. This paper concentrates on pro-development groups from Northeast India to make four interlinked arguments. First, examining pro-development actors breaks the homogenous view of state-ethnic minority relations and shifts the focus to intra-ethnic relationships. Secondly, collective agency of ethnic minorities is not fixed in a particular relationship with the state nor does it have a particular position on development. Thirdly, the long term experience of development is vital in understanding how ethnic minorities manoeuvre and alter their position on contentious projects. Lastly, analysis of pro-development actors creates major dilemmas for researchers which are not easily overcome.

Please RSVP: Cornelia.Betzler@uts.edu.au

Past Seminars in 2009/2010

20 April

Safeena Husain, Independent Foundation to Educate Girls Globally (FEGG): Educating Girls and Genuine Development: A report from India

Safeena Husain, founder of the independent Foundation to Educate Girls Globally (FEGG), speaks about her successful model for expanding girls’ education in India, and how educating women can impact some of the most pressing root causes of poverty, particularly health. Safeena’s organisation currently works in 2,400 schools in Rajasthan, serving over a quarter of a million children.

We also hear from Amelia Cleary, a BA Comm (Social Inquiry) student, who spent 3 months working with FEGG, who will share her experiences with doing development work overseas. Both speakers can advise students interested in volunteering in India.

25 September

Reena Dobson, CCR/UWS:Towards Mauritianité: Negotiating the Ethnic and the National in Mauritius

Please click here for the seminar abstract.

11 September

Adrian McNeil, Macquarie University: Hindustani musicians in Kolkata negotiate Globalisation: innovative, intercultural and in your face

Please click here for the seminar abstract and Adrian’s biography.

14 August

Sumant Badami, Macquarie University: The Agency of Death: Health and Spirituality for the Paniya of Wayanad, a Marginalised Tribal Community in Southern India

Please read here for Sumant’s abstract and biography.

28 May

Anjali Roy, Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, India, Planet Bollywood

8 May

Dr. Sheleyah Courtney, Anthropology, University of Sydney, From Plundering the Golden Temple to remittances for Rama: Princes, Paupers, Politics, and Temple and Nation Building in Varanasi

3 April

Stephanie Jones, University of Southampton, UK, Indian Ocean belongers, 1668-1008

1 April

Souchou Yao, University of Technology, Sydney , Traveling Ethnography: finding the truth in brief encounters

10 March

Meg Samuelson, Stellenbosch University, SA, Protean Constructions of Self and Nation: the Sea as Archive and Trope in Post-Apartheid South African Literature and Culture

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3 Responses to “Seminars”

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