The University of Iowa

Celebrating Urban Dharma: the Indra festival and the South Asian city

Date: Thursday, January 31
Time: 4:00 - 5:30 p.m.
Location: IP Commons
Presenter: Michael Baltutis, The University of Iowa


Languages and Cultures of Northern Pakistan

Date: February 7
Time: 4:00 - 5:30 p.m.
Location: IP Commons 

Presenter: Elena Bashir, University of Chicago


Massive Waves and Modern Water: Post-tsunami Hydro-logics in Coastal Sri Lanka

Date: February 21
Time: 4:00 - 5:10 p.m.
Location:   1100 UCC  (note change in location) 
Presenter:  Paul Greenough, University of Iowa


Re-thinking Historiography: Building Bridges between the Temple and the Classical in North Indian Music

Date: March 13
Time: 4:00 - 5:30 p.m.
Location: UCC-2520D, Conference Center on second floor of UCC
Presenter: Dr. Meilu Ho - Ethnomusicologist and Visiting Fellow
Center for Asian and Pacific Studies, University of Iowa


Ambedkar and the Politics of Minority

Date: March 27
Time: 4:00 - 5:30 p.m.
Location:  IP Commons
Presenter: Anupama Rao, Barnard College, Columbia University


Localizing News, Localizing Politics: The Case of the Amar Ujala and the Dainik Jagran

Date: April 10  
Time: 4:00 - 5:30 p.m.
Location:  IP Commons
Presenter: Anup Kumar, University of Iowa


Title TBA

Date: April 17
Time: 4:00 - 5:30 p.m.
Location:  IP Commons
Presenter: Arvind Rajagopal, New York University


Faqirs in the Colony

Date: April 24, 2008  
Time: 4:00 - 5:30 p.m.
Location:  IP Commons
Presenter: Timothy Dobe, Grinnell College


South Asian Studies Seminar

All seminars take place on Thursday afternoons unless otherwise indicated.

Chai and snacks will be served.  Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation to participate in this program, please contact Heidi Vekemans in advance at 319-335-3862.


"(Un)Wanted Outsiders: The Debate over Whether to Exclude American and British Law Firms From a Thriving Capital Market"

Date: Thursday, September 18
Time: 4:00 -5:30 p.m.
Location: 1117 UCC, IP Commons
Presenter: Jayanth Krishnan, William Mitchell College of Law and UI College of Law


Moral Dilemmas of an Immoral Nation: Gender, Sexuality, and Journalism in the Film Page 3

Date: Wednesday, October 1
Time: 3:30 -4:30 p.m.
Location: E254 AJB
Presenter: Radhika Parameswaran, Indiana University, Bloomington

Venturing into the yet uncharted terrain of journalism’s popular representations in India, this presentation examines the award-winning Indian film Page 3’s searing commentary on the newly emerging commodity of soft (entertainment/lifestyle) news, a genre of print journalism that has emerged in the past decade in the wake of India’s rapid integration into the global economy. The presentation situates Madhur Bhandarkar’s Page 3 within the historical, social, and economic contexts of recent developments in Indian journalism, contexts that shape the potential meanings of the film as a cultural critique of commodity journalism. Located within the theoretical perspectives of postcolonial feminism and scholarship on images of journalism in Hollywood films, my analysis of the film focuses mainly on its chief protagonist Madhavi Sharma, a woman reporter who lives in Mumbai and works for the tabloid section of the well-regarded English-language newspaper Nation Today. I argue in the end that the film Page 3's patriarchal subtext undermines its progressive class critique of both upwardly mobile Indian readers’ consumer tastes and the Indian newspaper industry’s misguided economic priorities.

Color, Commerce, and Cosmetics: The Epidermal Politics of Beauty in Globalizing India

Date: Thursday, October 2
Time: 4:00 -5:30 p.m.
Location: 1117 UCC, IP Commons
Presenter: Radhika Parameswaran, Associate Professor, Indiana University, Bloomington Indiana
Kavitha Cardoza, WAMU 88.5 FM, American University, Washington, DC

The hero of the blockbuster Tamil film Sivaji, the Boss embarks on a quest to lighten his skin color when the woman he wants to marry taunts him about his dark skin tone. In the film Traffic Signal, Damber, a poor boy who sells newspapers on Mumbai’s streets, spends most of his earnings buying creams to alter his skin color. The heroine of the Indian television drama Saath Phere—Saloni Ka Safar endures skin color discrimination within the family and the marriage market.


Globalizing India’s booming skin-lightening cosmetics industry operates in the midst of such recent public discourses that have tackled the epidermal politics of gender, beauty, selfhood, and success. Focusing on advertisements and television commercials for skin-lightening products, this presentation examines the rhetorical themes of bodily and personal transformation, modern and traditional science, and heterosexual romance that bolster the currency of light-skinned beauty in India. The presentation will situate advertising’s regulatory regimes of beauty within the sociology of colorism, the rapid economic growth in the fairness cosmetics sector in India, and discourses of resistance to the hegemony of light-skinned beauty.



Radhika Parameswaran is an associate professor in the School of Journalism and adjunct faculty in the cultural studies and India studies programs at Indiana University, Bloomington. Her areas of research include feminist cultural studies, gender and media globalization, South Asia, and postcolonial studies. She and co-author Kavitha Cardozas monograph on the cultural politics of skin color and beauty in advertisements for skin-lightening cosmetics in India has been accepted for publication in Journalism & Communication Monographs. Journal of Children and Media will publish a second co-authored article [with Kavitha Cardoza] on symbolic representations of gender and skin color in the Indian comic series Amar Chitra Katha.

Her most recent publication, a book chapter Reading the visual, tracking the Global: Postcolonial feminist methodology and the chameleon codes of resistance is featured in the 2008 Sage Handbook of Critical Indigenous Methodologies. A sample of her articles have appeared in Communication, Culture, & Critique, Journal of Communication Inquiry, Critical Studies in Media Communication, Communication Theory, Qualitative Inquiry, Communication Review, and Journalism & Communication Monographs.


“The Bio-materialisation of Medicine and the Asymmetrical Production of Pluralism”

Date: Thursday, October 23
Time: 4:00 -5:30 p.m.
Location: 1117 UCC, IP Commons
Presenter: Harish Naraindas, Jawaharlal Nehru University


"The Student Diploma Film and the Film and Television Institute of India"

Date: Thursday, November 6
Time: 4:00 -5:30 p.m.
Location: 1117 UCC, IP Commons
Presenter: Lalitha Gopalan, University of Texas at Austin

Lalitha Gopalan is an Associate Professor in the Radio- Television-Film Program at the University of Texas, Austin.  She is the author of Cinema of Interruptions: Action Genres in Contemporary Indian Cinema (British Film Institute, 2002) and Bombay (BFI Modern Classics, 2005), and the editor of The Cinema of India in the 24 Frames series (Wallflower Press, 2008).  Her research interests include national cinemas, international genre film, and experimental filmmaking practices.  She serves on the editorial boards of Film Quarterly, Camera Obscura, and the BFI Film Classics series, and has served as a jury member at international film festivals, including the One Billion Eyes Indian Documentary Film Festival in Chennai in August 2008. Professor Gopalan is currently working on a book about the range of artisanal practices for producing short films in India.


Details TBA

Date: Thursday, November 13
Time: 4:00 -5:30 p.m.
Location: IP Commons, 1117 UCC
Presenter: Nasreen Munni Kabir, Independent Documentary Filmmaker and Author


"The Outer World of Shahrukh Khan"

Date: Wednesday, November 12
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Location: UCC 1117
Presenter: Nasreen Munni Kabir


Nasreen Munni Kabir is a prominent London-based writer, producer, and director whose many writings and documentary films (produced by her company Hyphen Films) have played a crucial role in the introduction of Indian popular cinema to Western audiences, and in the legitimation of Indian popular culture as an important heritage for diasporic South Asians. Well in advance of recent scholarly attention to ³Bollywood² (popular Hindi cinema), Nasreen Munni Kabir¹s tireless efforts to record the history of Indian cinema are an invaluable archive of the world¹s largest film industry. Her work on the legendary actor-director-producer Guru Dutt has been especially important in establishing his status outside of India as one of the world¹s key filmmakers.


Nasreen Munni Kabir is the author of: Guru Dutt: A Life in Cinema (1996 and 2005); Talking Films: Conversations on Hindi Cinema with Javed Akhtar (1999); Bollywood the Indian Cinema Story (2002); Talking Songs: Javed Akhtar in Conversation (2005); Yours Guru Dutt: Intimate Letters of a Great Indian Filmmaker (2006); and The Immortal Dialogue of K. Asif¹s Mughal-E-Azam (2007).


Her dozens of films, many produced for Britain¹s Channel 4, include Movie Mahal, In Search of Guru Dutt, Lata in Her Own Voice, and The Inner and Outer Life of Shah Rukh Khan, an intimate portrait of the Hindi film superstar. She has also directed a documentary on the making of the stage musical Bombay Dreams for the BBC1 Omnibus series, and a profile of Bismillah Khan entitled Bismillah of Benaras for BBC4. She regularly programs an Indian film season for Channel 4 and has organized series for other venues, including Turner Classic Movies.


Among her many awards, Nasreen Munni Kabir won the 1999 Women of Achievement Award in Arts and Culture, and in 2000 became a Governor of the British Film Institute.


“Ramayana Remix: Two Hindi Film Songs as Epic Commentary”

Date: Thursday, December 4
Time: 4:00 -5:30 p.m.
Location: UCC 2520D (Seminar Room)
Presenter: Philip Lutgendorf, University of Iowa