South Asian Studies Council Begins Summer with Workshops in Pakistan and Nepal

June 25, 2024

After a whirlwind semester that saw South Asian Studies Council faculty affiliates receive prestigious awards, popular acclaim, and academic recognition for their work, SASC kicked off the summer months with two conferences held in South Asia: the Modern South Asia Workshop, held this year in Kathmandu, Nepal; and the Workshop on Water and Climate Justice in South Asia, hosted jointly with the Mushtaq Ahmad Gurmani School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Lahore University of Management Sciences in Lahore, Pakistan.

The 14th annual Modern South Asia Workshop (MSAW) ran from 27–28 May at Yalamaya Kendra in Kathmandu. Nineteen emerging scholars (in the advanced stages of a PhD program) focused on South Asia were invited to share their research in the social sciences and the humanities with each other and receive constructive feedback from peers and established scholars. Yale faculty members Anthony Acciavatti, Diana Balmori Assistant Professor at Yale School of Architecture; David Engerman, Leitner International Interdisciplinary Professor of History; and Jane Lynch, Lecturer and Associate Research Scientist in the Department of Anthropology, served as discussants. The workshop’s five panels focused on development; anthropologies of labor and business; marriage, gender, and social norms; caste and religious experience; and environment and infrastructure. 

Kasturi Gupta, Director of Programs and Institutional Partnerships, and Tara Giangrande, Program Manager, facilitated the workshop. This year’s MSAW continued the new tradition of being held in South Asia, rather than in the United States, in order to facilitate travel and accessibility for scholars working in the region. Participants traveled from institutions across South Asia, as well as in Germany, Finland, and the United States. The event was supported by Priyankar Bahadur Chand YC ’16.

Shortly after the conclusion of the Modern South Asia Workshop, South Asian Studies Council faculty and staff traveled to LUMS in Lahore, Pakistan, to help organize the Workshop on Water and Climate Justice in South Asia. The workshop brought together faculty from Yale and across Pakistan to “explore multiple dimensions of climate justice and injustice in relation to water.”  

Sunil Amrith, Renu and Anand Dhawan Professor of History and Chair of the South Asian Studies Council, and Maya Prabhu, Clinical Associate Professor (Adjunct) of Law at Yale Law School and an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine, joined Acciavatti, Gupta, and Giangrande in attending and organizing the conference. On May 31st, the first day of the conference, Prabhu moderated a session on “Water, Climate, and Inclusive Economic Growth.” Later that evening, Amrith and Acciavatti delivered a presentation on “Groundwater Earth: The World Before and After the Tubewell,” which was placed in conversation with “River Ravi – A Short Film” by Bakht Noor, Hasan Karrar, Mohid Assan, and Noor Bokhari. The following day, the workshop went on to explore multiple dimensions of water politics, economics, and ecology, through panels moderated by LUMS colleagues. Conversations focused particular attention on climate risk and water’s social impacts, and on articulating potential solutions to South Asia’s layered water crises.

In the coming months, SASC faculty, staff, and students will be traveling to South Asia for continued scholarship, research, and academic engagement, and look forward to deepening existing ties and forging new connections with colleagues across the region.

Byline: Daevan Mangalmurti