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Sumathi Ramaswamy organizes conference at Duke

Sep 28, 2017

From September 29-30, the interdisciplinary arts and media conference “China Rising? India Shining? – The Art of Comparison” took place at Duke University, USA. It was organized by Sumathi Ramaswamy and features talks by several Cluster members.

It has become something of an academic fashion in the last decade or so to bring China and India, these two “Asian” giants and fast-growing global economies, into the same comparative framework. These acts of comparison have generally focused on politics and economics, and especially international relations and current affairs. Benefitting from the insights of this scholarship and also building on a landmark 2010 exhibition in Shanghai, the conference “China Rising? India Shining?  – The Art of Comparison” moved the focus of academic conversation to the visual arts and media practices. The conference also served as the inaugural event of a month-long exhibit of recent art works of Indian artist Gigi Scaria, who lives and works in New Delhi.

Several members of the Cluster “Asia and Europe” and the Heidelberg Center for Transcultural Studies (HCTS) participated in the conference at Duke University:

Prof. Christiane Brosius gave a talk on “Lost and Found in the Turbulent City: Artistic Engagements with Urban Ecologies” where she will focus on Delhi artists like Sheba Chhachhi and Gigi Scaria.
Prof. Monica Juneja investigated the role of images in the context of nation-building and iconography in her talk “To Enter the Icon: N. Pushpamala’s Embodiment of Liberty”.
Profs. Barbara Mittler and Sumathi Ramaswamy gave a joint presentation titled “Déjà Vu? Gandhi and Mao in Gigi Scaria’s No Parallel (and Beyond)”, in which they discussed the narratives of these two “Fathers of the Nation” in India and China.

Sumathi Ramaswamy is Professor of History and International Comparative Studies at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, USA. She studied ancient Indian history at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, before taking her Ph.D. in History from University of California, Berkeley. She is a cultural historian of South Asia and the British Empire with a research focus on visual studies, the history of cartography, and gender. Her work in popular visual history has led her to co-establish a trans-national digital network for popular South Asian visual culture called Tasveer Ghar together with Christiane Brosius.

In September 2016, Prof. Ramaswamy was awarded with the renowned Anneliese Maier Research Prize by the Alexander von-Humboldt-Stiftung and is a now visiting scholar at the Heidelberg Center for Transcultural Studies (HCTS).


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