South Asia Initiative Events

Winter Quarter 2020

Citizenship and Protest: A Panel Discussion on India’s CAA

Monday, 3 February 2020 @ 5PM

Spiro Library, SSB 269

Speakers: Huma Ahmed-Ghosh (Professor Of Women’s Studies, SDSU), Gareth Nellis (Professor Of Political Science, UCSD), and Damini Pant (Graduate Student, UCSD)

Image result for CAA protest

(Google Images)

Moderator: Aftab Jassal (Professor of Anthropology, UCSD)

In December 2019, India’s Parliament passed the Citizenship Amendment Act. The Act sparked controversy for its use of religion as a factor to fast- track citizenship for asylum seekers in India. Since its passage, there have been mass protests, largely led by students in Indian universities. Join us for a lively discussion about the Act and its implications.

For those who wait: Queues and Infrastructures in Manipur, North-East India

Thursday, 6 February 2020 @ 5PM

Spiro Library, SSB 269

Speaker: Nima Lamu Yolmo (PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology, UC Irvine)

Related image

(Google Images)

Long hours of waiting in front of banks and ATMs to access money is a common phenomenon across the North-East region of India. In Manipur, one of the eight states comprising the region, the situation is further complicated by concerns related to economic breakdowns and political strife. Banks are regularly beset with “link-failure” and ATMs are replenished with cash only once a day for “fear of insurgents”. Those waiting in the long queues habitually exchange anecdotes and anxieties over access to cash, and conversations tend to meld seamlessly into concerns around rising commodity prices, state neglect, corruption, military action, human rights abuse, and taxations by armed groups. In this presentation, I draw from ethnographic research to show how these inordinately long lines and the ensuing conversations reflect a distinctive feature of infrastructural failure in Manipur that configures money, labor, time, sociality, and critiques of the state. Attending to the realities of money practices in Manipur affords us crucial insights to the workings of money infrastructures in post-colonial India where conflict and violence have infused state-led efforts to include citizens symbolically and materially into the market, time, and territory of the nation-state.

Countertechnologies at the Edgelands

Thursday, 20, 28-29 February 2020 @ 5PM

UCSD (see links below for details)

Co-sponsored by UCSD SAI

Launch event (Feb 20, 5pm, UC San Diego): 

AI at the Edgelands: Data Analytics in States of In/Security

Keynote: Dr. Lucy Suchman (Lancaster University) 

Suchman is a leading expert on the automation of war, having testified at the United Nations, as well as a SIGCHI Lifetime Achievement Award winner, former president of the Society for Social Studies of Science, and a member of the Advisory Board of AI Now. See the abstract, detailed schedule, and RSVP here

A panel following the keynote will discuss how data analytics and surveillance technologies already affect life in the San Diego and Tijuana region.

Community panel: 

  • Graciela Zamudio, Executive Director and Founder of Alma Migrante (Tijuana) will speak about data and human rights in Mexico
  • Paul Khalid Alexander, Professor, City College, and Founder, Pillars of the Community (San Diego) will speak about the history of gang databases and surveillance
  • Tina Givens, Driver and Organizer, Rideshare Drivers United (San Diego/Tijuana) will speak about data surveillance, algorithmic decision making, and gig workers

Conference (Feb 28, San Diego & Feb 29, Tijuana): 

This AI-focused event launches our cross-border conference, Counter-technologies at the Edgelands (February 28 & 29, 2020) to be held in San Diego and Tijuana. For more details about the conference and registration, visit:

Co-sponsored by UCSD Institute for Practical Ethics, Design Lab, Division of Social Sciences, Communication, History, Anthropology, Ethnic Studies, Science Studies, Arts and Humanities, International Institute, Institute of Arts and Humanities, Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute, SPACES, South Asia Initiative, Cross Cultural Center, Groundwork Books; and Instituto Municipal de Arte y Cultura (Tijuana).


En español:

Generations of Asians in the U.S.: Gen Z and Competition in the New Millennium

Thursday, 27 February 2020 @ 5PM

Seuss Room, Geisel Library

Speaker: Shalini Shankar (Professor of Anthropology, Northwestern University)

More details to come… 

Moral Security: Anti-trafficking and the Violence of the Humanitarian State in India

Thursday, 12 March 2020 @ 5PM

SSB 107

Speaker: Kim Walters (Assistant Professor of International Studies, Cal State Long Beach)

Image result for anti trafficking shelter in india

(Google Images)

The latest global panic over sex trafficking has animated a mode of global governmentality that has fused together otherwise contradictory registers of care and punishment in the disciplining of women who sell sex. This mode of governmentality, which I term moral security, foregrounds feminine sexuality as the site of greatest social risk and needful intervention. By conflating sex work with sex trafficking, moral security enables the humanitarian state to categorize all women who sell sex as victims requiring rescue, even if only from themselves. The urgency and fervor of the trafficking panic allows moral security to fuse together apparent contradictions into unwieldy amalgams: criminal-victim, forced rescue, and caring punishment. A patchwork of highly variable and often arbitrarily administered trafficking initiatives—whose largest sponsors are tech giants, Christian non-profits, and nation-states in the global north—taken in aggregate produce a state effect in which India as a whole is assessed, ranked, deplored, or petted by transnational philanthrocapitalists and other more powerful states. The state violence experienced by sex workers targeted by anti-traffickers becomes the basis for India’s claim to good governance within the framework of moral security. Action “against trafficking” is translated into numbers of shelters built, victims rescued, and families reunited, which provide easily legible metrics that add evidentiary flesh to the bones of India’s place in a global moral hierarchy of states.


ArtPower Events Co-Sponsored by SAI

Red Baraat Festival of Colors

Thursday, 20 March 2020 @ 8PM

Price Center East Ballroom: 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093

(via ArtPower)

Red Baraat Festival of Colors is an immersive celebration of the Hindu holiday of Holi through music, dance, and visuals. Red Baraat has taken the spirit of the festival to the next level: a year round show of communal revelry that brings together what NPR has called “the best party band in years,” a montage of classic Bollywood visuals, and a fiery dancer.

Traditionally, Holi is marked by public gatherings of families and strangers sharing songs, dance, and the exchange of “colors”— colorful dry powder or colored water playfully thrown among the crowds of revelers. It signifies the victory of good over evil, the arrival of spring, and for many, a festive day to meet others, play and laugh, forget and forgive, and repair ruptured relationships.

Red Baraat Festival of Colors debuted in 2012 at a sold out Le Poisson Rouge in New York City, and it has since expanded to over a dozen cities in the United States. Returning to its roots of just brass and drums and complete in colorfully painted white jumpsuits plus a dancer, Festival of Colors is a full- blown immersive experience as the band, the visuals, the dancer are like a mélange of colors, each bold on its own but commingling to form a stunning panorama.

Tickets and More Information

Yumi Kurosawa with Special Guest Anubrata Chatterjee

Wednesday, 29 April 2020 @ 8pm

The Loft at UCSD: 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093

(via ArtPower)

Koto visionary Yumi Kurosawa teams up with world-renowned tabla player Anubrata Chatterjee for a program that brings together two expressive musical traditions, bridging the cultures of Japan and India. The duo spin mesmerizing musical tales as they enchant the audience and reinforce the powerful idea of music as a means to enhance the collaborative spirit of our global community. Their performance illuminates the deep-rooted similarities of their craft while highlighting their affinity and respect for one another as virtuosic performers furthering their own timeless musical traditions.

Tickets and More Information