Space and Sovereignty in South Asia

Fri, Apr 21, 2017, 9:15 am

The Princeton South Asia Conference 2017 will be held on Friday, April 21 and Saturday, April 22 in Rm. 217 Julis Romo Rabinowitz Building. The theme of the conference is "Space and Sovereignty in South Asia". 

The keynote address, titled "Space, Sovereignty, and Climate on South Asia's Coastal Frontiers", will be delivered by Prof. Sunil Amrith (Harvard University). 


We encourage attendance from the Princeton community: faculty, staff, graduate, and undergraduate students. For more information please visit, or contact us at ( 


Friday April 21


8:45 - 9:00 Introductory Remarks

9:00 - 10:30 Rethinking Sovereignty

Devika Shankar (Princeton), Shifting Sands and Fluid Frontiers: Cochin State and the Development of British Cochin 1850-1920

Madihah Akhter (Stanford), Sovereignty and Starvation: Zenana Hospitals in princely Bhopal

Abhilash Mehdi (Brown), Infrastructural Contingencies and Contingent Sovereignties on the Indo-Afghan Frontier

10:45 - 12:15 The Region, Decentralization, and Authority

Shayan Rajani (Tufts), Of Approbation and Imprecation: The Growing Stakes of Regional Affiliation in Eighteenth Century South Asia

Neelam Khoja (Harvard), 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

12:30 - 1:30 Lunch

1:30 - 3:30 Circuits of Capital

Nethra Samarawickrema (Stanford), Ties across the ocean: Trust and Secrecy in the Transnational Trade of Sri Lankan Gems

Misha Mintz-Roth (Johns Hopkins), Accounting for Inequality: Business partnerships and Religious Community among Indian Merchants in Interwar Nairobi, 1920-38

Shatam Ray (Emory), 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

3:45 - 5:15 Violence and the Geobody

Samreen Mushtaq (Jamia MIlia University), Home as the Frontier: 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

Saturday, April 22

9:30 - 11:00 Place and Political Belonging

Swati Chawla (University of Virginia), Tibetan Buddhist Monastics and the Problem of Itinerancy in Indian Citizenship Laws, 1940s-1960s

Sahana Ghosh (Yale), 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

11:15 - 1:15 Fashioning State Spaces

Samina Sirajjudowla (City University of New York), Sedition, Equality, and Love: Anticolonialism in the Literary Corpus of Kazi Nazrul Islam 1900-1930

Chris Moffat (Queen Mary University of London), Archaeological Space and the Politics of Heritage in Contemporary Pakistan

Michelle Grise (Yale), 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


Julis Romo Rabinowitz Building, Room 217