Another foundational South Asia scholar has alas left us, around two months ago now. Eugene F. “Gene” Irschick was the smartest, kindest, and most inspiring dissertation supervisor that this clueless UC Berkeley graduate student could have ever hoped for. He repeatedly guided my progress when my regular advisor, Tom Metcalf, was away or on leave.
Born in Kodaikanal (Tamil Nadu, India), Gene grew up speaking Tamil and Telugu, but picked up Hindi while traveling and using archives in the north of India. Those were the days of NDEA Title VI money to study the non-West, so he had to deal with over a dozen obtuse grad students like me. However, his lectures, seminars, and dissertation guidance set an example of attentiveness and thoroughness. Summer language study finances involved deadlines and pleading applications (I knew Hindi, but Urdu and Persian suited my 18th-century interests, so my summers were spent at Chicago, Urbana, and Ann Arbor.). He was always there for us when we made typically last minute requests for recommendations.
Graduate students partied at his house, where he showed us the very small desk he used to write the first of his four books: Politics and Social Conflict in South India, the Non-Brahman Movement and Tamil Separatism, 1916-1929 (University of California Press, 1969), Tamil Revivalism in the 1930s (Crea Publications, 1986), Dialogue and History: Constructing South India, 1795-1895 (University of California Press, 1994), and A History of the New India (Routledge, 2015).
Gene always kept my focus on scholarship, even when it seemed more urgent to stop the Vietnam War. And he celebrated when I got a job, and then tenure at the University of Virginia. Once when we both were living in New Delhi, we had him and his then wife Ann over for dinner. Gene stepped into the dining room, but then suddenly dashed ahead of us to gather up displays of glassware, to keep Duncan, their two-year-old, from handling it. No yelling, no panic, just the tactful and nurturing parent. He carried this same spirit with him wherever he went.
Rest in peace, dear friend.
Prof. Richard Barnett
Associate Professor Emeritus
University of Virginia
Click HERE for a tribute written by Cathryn Carson, Professor and Chair of the Department of History
Aajkal for Spring 2023 is out! Click HERE to read about all the public lectures, conferences, talks, readings, workshops, student presentations and one-on-one conversations scheduled for this semester. We look forward to welcoming you to the Institute soon!
The Institute for South Asia Studies will receive $1,015,380 for NRC and $990,400 for FLAS. The ISAS is the only South Asia Institute that is a National Resource Center and also houses a Center for Bangladesh Studies, a Center for Contemporary India, as well as interdisciplinary and cutting-edge initiatives on Pakistan, Nepal and the Himalayas, South Asian art, Rabindranath Tagore and climate change. Read more about T6 grants to UC Berkeley HERE
In Fall 2022, the Institute for South Asia Studies at the University of California, Berkeley launches a multi-year Climate Change Initiative that brings together academic programs and think tanks from across UC Berkeley and in South Asia to foster interdisciplinary research and transformative policy impacts on climate change in the region. The inaugural programs of the Initiative include a Zoom webinar on Climate Resilience in the Global South with academics and activists from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Register for the Zoom webinar or read more about the program HERE
The Institute mourns the passing of Professor Emerita Joanna G. Williams, distinguished scholar of South and Southeast Asian art, who passed away at her home in Berkeley on June 16, 2022, at the age of eighty-four. She was one of the foremost scholars of South and Southeast Asian art and architecture and, indeed, one of the most well-regarded for her seminal work on fourth- and fifth-century sculpture and architecture as well as later folk traditions. Read more HERE.
Former vice chair of the Institute, Dr. Daisy Rockwell's translation of Geetanjali Shree’s Tomb of Sand has been awarded the 2022 International Booker Prize. Tomb of Sand is the first novel translated from an Indian language to win the award. Dr. Rockwell is a painter and translator of Hindi and Urdu literature, living in northern New England. She paints under the takhallus, or alias, Lapata (pronounced ‘laapataa’), which is Urdu for “missing,” or “absconded,” as in “my luggage is missing,” or “the bandits have absconded.” She posts her paintings regularly to Flickr, and has shown her work widely. Read more here.
The Institute is proud to announce that Prof. Raka Ray, dean of the Division of Social Sciences and former Director of the ISAS, has joined the prestigious Social Science Research Council (SSRC) as a member of its Board of Directors for a three-year term. Established in Manhattan in 1923, the SSRC is a US-based, independent, international nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing research in the social sciences and related disciplines. Read more HERE
It is with extreme sadness that we announce the passing of Prof. Jyotirindra (“Jyoti”) DasGupta, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at UC Berkeley, at the age of 88 on March 17, 2022.
Professor DasGupta spent 61 years of his life in Berkeley; he loved both the university and the town. He first came to Berkeley from Kolkata, India as a doctoral student in August of 1961. He completed his PhD in 1966, joined the faculty in 1965, and taught in the department until his retirement as a full Professor of Political Science in 1995. His accomplishments were many, among them establishing and chairing the Development Studies program, his groundbreaking work on language politics and ethnicity in South Asia, and his work with the Center for South and Southeast Asian Studies (now the Institute for South Asia Studies), which he also chaired for a short time. He served in the Faculty Group in Asian Studies and on the board of the journal Asian Survey for many years as well. As Professor Emeritus, he kept up in his field, published regularly, and advised graduate students for decades after his official retirement. A fixture at the old Barrows Hall, he spent nearly 60 years of his life walking the halls of that building and kept an office there until just a few years ago. His most recent works focused on issues of federalism and elections in India.
Our heartfelt condolences go out to his wife of 57 years, Rupasree, daughter Modhurima (Rima), son-in-law Jonathan Eldridge, and his beloved granddaughter, Mira.
If you'd like to drop a condolence note to his family, please write to Rima DasGupta at email@example.com
We are delighted to announce that Dr. Amna Qayyum is the recipient of the 2021 S.S. Pirzada Prize in Pakistan Studies. Many congratulations to her for her dissertation, The Demographic State: Population, Global Biopolitics, and Decolonization in South Asia, c. 1947-71. Congratulations also to Dr. Ghazal Asif Farrukhi for receiving an Honorable Mention for her dissertation, Marvi's Sisters: Hindu Belonging and the Muslim State in Pakistan. Read more HERE
Aajkal for Spring 2022 is out! Please click on the link below to find out about our Zoom lineup of public lectures, conferences, workshops, and one-on-one conversations for this semester! Looking forward to seeing you virtually at one of them. In the meantime, please stay safe!
Thanks to the generous support from Dr. Vijay Janakiraman, representing Tamil Chair, Inc., we are on our way to creating a one million dollar endowment to teach Tamil language at UC Berkeley. Dr. and Mrs. Janakiram, holding the check, with (from left) Prof. Bharathy, Mr. Abu Khan, Mr. Kumar Kumarappan, Prof. Sugata Ray, Prof. Munis D. Faruqui, Prof. Paula Versano, Dr. Sanchita Saxena, and Robin Satori.
Congratulations to Prof. Sugata Ray, Associate Professor of History of Art and of South & Southeast Asian Studies and the Interim Director of the Institute for South Asia Studies, for being selected as this year's winner of the Alice Davis Hitchcock Medallion for his book, Climate Change and the Art of Devotion: Geoaesthetics in the Land of Krishna, 1550-1850 (University of Washington Press, 2019). In nominating him, the selection committee recognized "the innovative and paradigm shifting nature of this book, the author’s command and synthesis of multiple epistemologies that connected architecture and the environment, and its potential to open up avenues for architectural history as a global discipline."
The Alice Davis Hitchcock Medallion has been awarded annually since 1959 to a monograph that makes an outstanding contribution to the study or knowledge of architectural history. Read more HERE
For the first time, UC Berkeley has taken the No.1 spot on Forbes magazine’s annual list of America’s top colleges, beating out several elite private universities, including Yale in second place and Princeton in third. As the first public university to win Forbes’ top ranking — if you count out West Point — Berkeley was noted for its affordability, excellence and “rich tradition of leading technological and social change.”
Read more >>HERE
American-born Indian scholar and UC Berkeley alum, Dr. Gail Omvedt passed away on August 25, 2021 after a prolonged illness at her residence in Kasegaon village of Sangli district in Maharashtra. The Dalit-Bahujan, Adivasis, women and human rights champion was 81.
An Indian citizen since 1983, Dr. Omvedt earned her PhD in sociology from UC Berkeley in 1973 for her dissertation titled, "Cultural Revolt in a Colonial Society: The Non-Brahman Movement in Western India, 1873-1930."
Dr. Omvedt authored over 25 books, including In Colonial Society – Non-Brahmin Movement in Western India, Seeking Begampura, Buddhism in India, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, Mahatma Phule, Dalit and the Democratic Revolution, Understanding Caste, We Will Smash the Prison and New Social Movement in India.
Dr. Omvedt is survived by her husband Dr Bharat Patankar, daughter Prachi, son-in-law Tejaswi and granddaughter Nia.
Of the many tributes bestowed to Dr. Omvedt, here are two from The Hindu and The Indian Express.
The Institute mourns the passing of our revered colleague, teacher and friend, Prof. Padmanabh Srivarma Jaini. Scholar of Buddhist and Jain Studies, Prof. Jaini passed away peacefully in his home in the Berkeley Hills on Tuesday May 25, 2021, just five months shy of what would have been his 98th birthday. Our heartfelt condolences go out to his son Arvind and his grandson Ashvin.
Please read a tribute to him by Prof. Alexander von Rospatt, Click here to listen to a lecture delivered by Prof. Jaini at a UC Berkeley symposium organized in 2013 to celebrate and honor his scholarship and academic contributions. Read Ramachandra Guha's review of Prof. Jaini's 2019 memoirs titled, Yogāyoga or “Coincidences” on pages 8-9, of our annual newsletter, Khabar.
The Institute has been following the Covid-19 news from India with growing alarm. In response, we have begun compiling a list of organizations that are providing badly needed relief work. And please consider giving, if you can. We also have a page for past Covid-19 related resources.
Many congratulations to Maryam Hina Hasnain for being awarded the UC Berkeley South Asia Artist Prize and to Dr. Aparna Kumar for being awarded the UC Berkeley South Asia Art & Architecture Dissertation Prize. The award ceremonies and lectures will take place on April 21 and 22 respectively.
We are delighted to announce that Dr. Ahsan Kamal is the recipient for the 2020 S.S. Pirzada Dissertation Prize for Pakistan Studies! Many congratulations to him for his dissertation, Saving Sindhu: Indus Enclosure and River Defense in Pakistan (UNC-Chapel Hill, 2019). The award ceremony and lecture took place on April 12 at 9am.
The Institute mourns the sudden passing of Kimi Bhattacharya on Jan 5, 2021. Kimi was an avid supporter of the Institute and played a major role in the formation of the Bangla Initiative and the Bhattacharya India Fund. Our heartfelt condolences go out to her husband, son, family and her wide circle of friends.
Congratulations to Prof. Atréyēē Gupta on being awarded the Hellman Fellowship for 2020!!! Professor Gupta’s Hellman-funded research will support a book project that examines the artistic and intellectual resonances of the 1955 Afro-Asian Bandung Conference and the 1961 Non-Aligned Movement, using India as a case study.
Congratulations to Prof. Sugata Ray on being awarded the Religion and the Arts Book Award for 2020 by the American Academy of Religion (AAR) for his book, Climate Change & the Art of Devotion: Geoaesthetics in the Land of Krishna, 1550–1850. Read more about the award and what the AAR's jury said in selecting Prof. Ray.
We are thrilled to announce that Interim Dean Geeta Anand has been appointed as the Dean of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism effective immediately. Please join us in congratulating Dean Anand on this well deserved promotion. We look forward to supporting her and her vision for the future of Berkeley Journalism.
The Institute is thrilled to announce the establishment of the Dr. Ranjit Singh Sabharwal Endowed Fund for Sikh Studies. Generously funded by the friends and family of Dr. Ranjit Singh Sabharwal, as well as those committed to the furthering of Sikh Studies, this fund will support the creation of a semester-long visiting lecturer program.
Aajkal for Fall 2020 is out! Please click on the link below to find out about our Zoom lineup of public lectures, conferences, workshops, and one-on-one conversations for this semester! Looking forward to seeing you virtually at one of them. In the meantime, please stay safe!
Congratulations to Sen. Kamala Harris, our first Sarah Kailath speaker, on being chosen as the running mate of Former Vice President and presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden. Harris could become the first woman and the first person of color to hold the office of vice president. Read about her Indian heritage.
The Institute mourns the passing of Prof. Kirk R. Smith, a pioneering researcher on the impact of household energy use in developing nations. Professor of Global Environmental Health and Director of the Collaborative Clean Air Policy Centre in New Delhi, Prof. Smith is best known for his work on the effects of indoor air pollution from cook stove fires. Prof. Smith died on June 15 at the age of 73 at his Berkeley home.
Much needed analysis by CSAS' very own, Sanchita Saxena.
Read Dr. Saxena's recent Op-Ed in the New York Times on the impact of US trade policies on Bangladesh's garment factory workers.
A South Asia scholar from Columbia University, known for his affinity with students and potential donors alike, Nicholas Dirks, has been selected as the 10th chancellor of UC Berkeley.
Read CSAS Chair, Lawrence Cohen's comments on the immense importance of this appointment.
At the memorial to the 1964 Free Speech Movement on the campus of University of California, Berkeley, students, led by Professor of English, Poulomi Saha, stand in love and solidarity with JNU. #standwithJNU.
We are proud to announce that Prof. Raka Ray, the former Director of the Institute for South Asia Studies, has been selected as the next dean of the Division of Social Sciences in the College of Letters and Science. We wish her all the best as she takes on this new role. Read more about Prof. Ray and her new role .