Washington South Asia Report
South Asia & Evans School graduate student, Kevin Johnson, has published his piece, "A Review of Poverty Capital: Microfinance and the Making of Development," in the Evans School Review.
Read it here.
Recent grad, Kristen Zipperer, has published an article,"Smugglers' Paradise: Life and Lucre on the Open Border Between Nepal and India," based on her JSIS honors thesis in HIMAL.
Read it here.
Roots & Reflections: South Asians in the Pacific Northwest by Amy Bhatt and Nalini Iyer
Review by Kathryn Zyskowski
Roots and Reflections is the culmination of a multiple year South Asian Oral History Project run by the University of Washington libraries. Setting out to document the narratives of South Asia migrants to the Pacific Northwest, this book maps out migration periods, immigrant narratives, and the diaspora experience in the Pacific Northwest. Originally, the project aimed to capture the life histories of a few migrants to the PNW during the 1940s and 1950s. This end result of this project, however, is a collaborative endeavor of South Asian diaspora, the MOHAI museum, the University of Washington libraries, and authors Amy Bhatt and Nalini Iyer. What emerges is a blueprint for innovative collaborations across public institutions, local community members, and the academy.
The book traces the migrations to the Pacific Northwest through labor—first, at the beginning of the 20th century the timber and forestry industry, and later the aerospace, biomedical, and technology industries. The narratives trace movement as well as settling down, and argue for South Asians to be a central part of PNW history in the 20th century—as Superintendents, Microsoft workers, UW students, and Imams. Furthermore, the trajectories from South Asia to the PNW were also diverse—some through Madagascar, others through the East Coast. Chapters One, Two, and Three covers historic shifts in the reasons and forms of travel of South Asians to the Pacific Northwest, starting with Punjabis migrating for work in the lumber mills at the turn of the 20th century. Through tracing the narratives of leaving, the experience of travel, and of arriving—these chapters draw together commonalities of this immigrant experience across generations and regions. Chapters Four, Five, and Six focus more on the narratives of shipping and multiple identities attendant to the migration experience. Here, the process of making a home and understanding oneself in the Pacific Northwest is central. Each chapter focuses on a different migrant demographic, such as the professional or the woman. The final chapter focuses on the processes of South Asian communities in the Pacific Northwest building community. This traces the growth of South Asian food and retail outlets, student clubs on campuses, as well as South Asian cultural and religious organizations in the Pacific Northwest.
Many of the immigrant narratives stories carry excitement, newness, and adventure. Narratives tell of the thrill of travel on a ship, and of the excitement of finding the environment so drastically different that one’s home. Besides the joys of discovering a new place, a common experience of migrants is also one of racism and exclusion. Noting the first riots towards South Asians, the authors note that South Asians have avoided Whatcom County since the 1907 riots. Much later, South Asian students at the UW all share stories of stark moments of realization of how little Americans new of their country, and of the offensive experiences stemming from that. One man relates how his professor gave him a zero on a paper, only because he didn’t believe that he had written it, claiming that migrants must not know English. Another relates having fellow students ask if the Taj Mahal was her family’s home. Experiences like these both ostracized migrants, and made them realize how little many did know about the region they came from.
Authors Bhatt and Iyer contextualize the book by front-loading their own positionality. Framed within a feminist praxis, reflecting on how their perceived positionality—as part of the Indian diaspora themselves—and as scholars, affects their relationships with interviewees, and the process of research, throughout this process. While this book contributes to the growing body of literature on the South Asian Diaspora in the United States, I would have liked to see it situate the South Asian Diaspora within other migrant communities in Seattle more, and to compare the South Asian Diaspora in the Pacific Northwest to those of Chicago, New York, and the Bay Area. This book will be a useful addition to American studies, history, or South Asian studies courses. Additionally, I think that this book will find an audience within the broader Seattle community.
AIIS 2013 Book Prize Awarded to South Asian Studies Professor Sunila Kale for Electrifying India
The American Institute of Indian Studies is pleased to announce that its 2013 Joseph W. Elder Prize in the Indian Social Sciences has been awarded to Sunila Kale of the University of Washington for her book manuscript, Electrifying India: Regional Political Economies of Development. The book is under contract with Stanford University Press.
In the book, Professor Kale investigates why, more than six decades after independence, so much of India—especially rural India—is still not electrified or has intermittent and poor quality electricity delivery. Throughout the 20th century, electrification was considered to be the primary vehicle of modernity and development, as well as its quintessential symbol. In India, electricity was central to the conceptualization of Indian modernity by early nationalists and planners and huge sums were spent on electrification from then until now. Yet despite all this, today nearly 400 million Indians have no access to electricity.
The author offers three in-depth case studies of the states of Maharashtra, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh, telling the story of the history of electrification and electricity supply in each, as well as offering a careful analysis of the various interest groups in each state which stand to gain from cheap electricity provision, such as sugar cane farmers in the districts to the east of Mumbai. The author has spent considerable time trying to reconstruct, from often scanty records in the State Electricity Boards, the history of electrification, investments and policies in each of the three states. The author argues that ‘the axiomatic view of Indian federalism’ as highly centralized is overstated. In the case of electrification, and the history of the policies that have been pursued to bring it about, there has been enormous variation among states. The key factor has been whether and in what ways rural political coalitions have developed. The history of these politics and their effects on policy and practice regarding the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity in the long period of the interventionist state, up to the beginning of the 1990s, are shown to have had a profound influence upon the responses of different states in the present era of privatization.
Professor Kale argues that the earlier period of an advancing state apparatus conditioned in important ways the manner of the state’s retreat in the contemporary moment of market reforms. In those parts of the countryside that were successfully electrified in the decades after independence, the gains were due to neither nationalist idealism nor merely technocratic plans. Instead, rural electrification occurred either when rural constituencies became politically influential in state governments, or when farmers emerged to demand a larger share of development resources. Electrifying India explores the political and historical puzzle of uneven development in India’s vital electricity sector.
Sunila S. Kale is an assistant professor in the Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington, where her teaching and research focus on Indian and South Asian politics and the political economy of development. She obtained an undergraduate degree from the University of Chicago and a doctoral degree from the University of Texas, Austin.
UW Professor Heidi Pauwels coedits new volume: Indian Satire in the Period of First Modernity
Satire reveals fault lines and incongruities between ideal and practice. Satirical discourse may be independent or invade and parody literary genres. It unmasks, ridicules and thereby deconstructs evil and hypocrisy to reconstruct honesty and reason, and at its farthest end may amount to moral utopia.
The volume edited by Monika Horstmann and Heidi Pauwels brings together essays on satire in the Indian vernaculars and in painting, mainly from the period of first modernity (ca. mid-fifteenth to mid-eighteenth century). These are framed by a contribution on the more ancient Tamil Jain satire and two essays on colonial satire. Among the contributing researchers are Purshottam Agrawal, France Bhattacharya, Ludwig Habighorst, Hans Harder, Monika Horstmann, Hephzibah Israel, Rohini Mokashi-Punekar, Anne E. Monius, Christina Oesterheld, and Heidi Pauwels.
UW Affiliate Professor Publishes New Book on Afghan Musical Traditions
"Afghanistan Encounters with Music and Friends" is a personal account based on
the author’s past fieldwork experiences in different regions of Afghanistan and more recent work in Kabul spanning some forty-four years from 1966 to 2010. Although the fieldwork is ostensibly about music, it is the fieldwork experience that becomes the focus of the book. The individual journeys described in the book are more than simply routes or pathways from one place to another; they are about connections and encounters with Afghans who become the travel guides along the way and at destinations. The guides reveal the importance about being an Afghan; they convey their concepts of time, place, identity and music; they express their moral and ethical values; and they willingly share their customs and worldviews with the researcher who seeks a common bond with them. Readers who accompany the author on her journeys will gain a perspective of Afghanistan that is often overlooked or sorely lacking in the current popular discourse on the war in Afghanistan.
For the general reader the book is first and foremost about travels and encounters, and secondly about the music that necessitates the travels. For the ethnomusicologist, the book is about the music and the fieldwork experience. The main framework of the book is geographical and chronological, yet chapters include leaps in time and place to illustrate connections between the past and present, and between one place and another including Tajikistan, Kirghizstan, Pakistan and India.
The book is divided into three parts; the first two are about two extended periods of research in Afghanistan. The third part covers brief periods of research and projects in Kabul and outside Afghanistan in Pakistan and the United States. Ethnomusicologist Mark Slobin writes the foreword to the book. The work is illustrated by a political map of Afghanistan and three travel routes in the provinces, and by more than thirty photographs of people, places and events taken during fieldwork in Afghanistan. Song texts are transcribed and translated, including a translation of the late Ustad Sarahang’s rendition of "jan-e kharabatam" by author and translator, Dick Davis. A glossary of Persian terms used in the book is also included.
Hiromi Lorraine Sakata
Hiromi Lorraine Sakata is Professor Emerita of Ethnomusicology at UCLA. Before joining the UCLA faculty as Professor and Associate Dean of the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture, she was Professor of Music and Head of the Ethnomusicology Division in the School of Music at the University of Washington. She is the author of "Music in the Mind: The Concepts of Music and Musician in Afghanistan" and the producer of the recording, "Ustad Mohammad Omar: Virtuoso from Afghanistan for Smithsonian Folkways." In addition to Afghanistan, she has conducted music research in Pakistan, India and Tajikistan.
"Indology is a fascinating ocean..."
A chat with Heidi Pauwels, Professor, Asian Languages and Literature
When Agatha Christie’s ace detective Hercule Poirot took up new cases in London, he always made it clear to his employers – “I’m not French, I’m Belgian.” Prof. Heidi Pauwels had to maintain a similar line of defense in her virginal days of research at Vrindavan in North India, when she was accused of being an “Angrez.” – “I’m not Angrez, I’m Belgian,” was her reply, trying to wrestle out historical encumbrances. Some of those sleuth-like qualities would come handy in her current mission to uncover the poetry and miniatures of the 18th century crown Prince of Kishangarh, Nagaridas. The South Asia Bulletin met her for a chat in her office - the same Gowen Hall room that once belonged to the legendary Prof. Alan Entwistle. UW’s eminent South Asian medievalist Prof. Pauwels tells us that Indology is a fascinating ocean that a student can make a meaningful contribution to - by simply editing and translating just about any pre-colonial manuscript. Click here for the full interview
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