Centre for South Asian Studies Graduate Symposium

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Bringing together graduate student research on South Asia from across the University of Toronto

About this Event

The first ever graduate symposium in South Asian Studies at the University of Toronto, this event was conceived by students at the Centre for South Asian Studies in the Asian Institute at the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy as a platform for students engaging in critical research connected to South Asia. As the pandemic disrupts our societies, it serves as a stark reminder of the importance of social relations and the need to transform the “normal.” Presenters in the conference draw our attention to a range of lenses to observe and imagine possibilities within history, religion, politics, and technology. We invite students, faculty, professionals, and practitioners of South Asian Studies from across geographies to engage with and learn about emerging research in the field.



Manan Ahmed

Associate Professor, Department of History, Columbia University

Registrants must register separately for the keynote address:


In addition to the opening remarks and keynote address (registration link above), which will be presented as a Zoom webinar, there will be one Zoom meeting link for the panel presentations portion of Day 1 and one Zoom meeting link for Day 2 of the symposium. A few days prior to the symposium, registrants will receive the Zoom meeting links by email.



Day 1 | Thursday, April 22, 2021 | 10:00 AM – 4:20 PM EDT

10:00 AM – 10:15 AM | Opening Remarks and Welcome: Christoph Emmrich (Director, Centre for South Asian Studies; Associate Professor, Department for the Study of Religion, University of Toronto)

10:15 AM | Introductory Remarks: Bhavani Raman (Associate Professor, Department of Historical and Cultural Studies, UTSC)

10:15 AM – 11:20 AM | Keynote Address: Professor Manan Ahmed (Department of History, Columbia University)

11:20 AM – 11:30 AM | Break

11:30 AM – 1:00 PM | Panel 1: Critical Perspectives on the History of South Asia

  • Siddharth Sridhar (Department of History): Empire and Value: The Circulation of Chettinad in the Bay of Bengal
  • Shweta S Banerjee (Department of History): Mint, Money and Bankers in Colonial Benaras 1781-1830
  • Parnisha Sarkar (Department of History): The Information Grid: Office Organization in the Late Colonial Administrative Office
  • Aqeel Ihsan (Department of History): Voice to the Voiceless: The Untold Story of Partition

1:00 PM – 1:30 PM | Lunch Break

1:30 PM – 2:50 PM | Panel 2: Politics and Religion in South Asia

  • Manvinder Kaur Gill (Faculty of Social Work): Tense Misalignments: Re-Imagining Colonial Binaries in Understanding the Relationship between Sikhi and Alcohol
  • Ayub Khan (Department of Political Science): The Role of Religion in Political Under-Representation and Rural Economic Development: Evidence from West Bengal, India
  • Janani Mandayam Comar (Department for the Study of Religion): Outside the Temple Gate: A look at the Story of Nandanar and its Significance in Jaffna
  • Liwen Liu (Department for the Study of Religion): Killing as Apologetics: Animal Sacrifice in the Manubhāṣya of Medhātithi

2:50 PM – 3:00 PM | Break

3:00 PM – 4:20 PM | Panel 3: Culture in South Asia

  • Aaisha Salman (Department for the Study of Religion): The West and the Feminist: Contemporary Feminist Activism in Pakistan and the Politics of National Culture
  • Ganga Rudraiah (Cinema Studies Institute): From Sangam to Cinema: Reading Tinai and Thought in Song and Dance
  • Victoria Sheldon (Department of Anthropology): To Do Nothing: Repairing Ill Bodies and Reviving Pre-toxic Pasts at a Kerala Nature Cure Home
  • Aditi Bhatia-Kalluri (Faculty of Information): E-commerce for Micro-Entrepreneurs: Mapping Cultural Restrictions, Ecologies of Use and Trends for Development

Day 2 | Friday, April 23, 2021 | 10:00 AM – 3:30 PM EDT

10:00 AM – 10:05 AM | Opening Remarks and Welcome: Professor Francis Cody (Director, Dr. David Chu Program in Contemporary Asian Studies; Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology and Asian Institute at the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy, University of Toronto)

10:05 AM – 11:40 AM | Panel 1: Mapping Educational Needs and Debates across South Asia

  • Gauravi Lobo (Social Justice in Education, OISE): Seeking Alternatives: The Need for a Post-Secular Turn to Education in India
  • Adrian Ashraf Khan (Department of Geography and Planning): The Quest for Social Capital: Higher Education Transitions of Trans-Himalayan Children and Youth Within and Outside of South Asia
  • Sameer Kapar (Social Justice in Education, OISE): A Curricular Framework for Social Justice Education in STEM
  • Shahrman Khattak (Adult Education and Community Development, OISE): Social Scientists of Pakistan and their Declining Academic Sense of Place
  • Sunandha Shanmugaraj (Social Justice in Education, OISE): The Anglicization of Names in the Classroom: A Tool for Assimilation

11:40 AM – 11:50 AM | Break

11:50 AM – 1:10 PM | Panel 2: The Global Pandemic and Educational Ramifications in South Asia

COVID – 19 and the Unconventional Leadership Strategies to Support Student Learning in South Asia: Commentaries from Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan

  • Neelofar (Educational Leadership and Policy, OISE)
  • Prerana (Curriculum, Teaching, Learning, OISE)
  • Sarah Alam (Social Justice in Education, OISE)
  • Shahidul Islam (OISE)

1:10 PM – 1:40 PM | Lunch Break

1:40 PM – 3:20 PM | Panel 3: Rethinking Individual and National Identities in South Asia

  • Atif Khan (Department of Geography & Planning): Of Human Life and Drone Death: Visualizing Exhausted Geographies in the Borderlands of Afghanistan & Pakistan
  • Sanniah Jabeen (Department of Art History): ‘Seeing’ Beyond Borders: The Ajrak of Sindh
  • Ashleigh E. Allen (Social Justice in Education, OISE): Identities in Opposition: Queering Sexuality and Religion in Netflix’s Never Have I Ever
  • Hassan Asif (Faculty of Information): Discursive Identities: Media Remix and Digital Technocultural Practice in Pakistan
  • Nilofar Noor (OISE): Theorizing South Asian new immigrants’ civic engagement in Canada: Reflections from a community-based project in Toronto

3:20 PM – 3:30 PM | Concluding Remarks: Asmita Bhutani and Sarah Alam (Conference Co-Chairs)

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