Swati Moitra explains how reading can be a subversive and even revolutionary act in certain socio-historical contexts. She draws especially from her own work in the history of women’s reading practices in nineteenth and early twentieth century India, in particular the region of Bengal. She talks about the dual indices of literacy and pleasure in her work, and its affiliations to fields like book history and print cultural studies.
Swati Moitra (M.Phil., Ph.D.) is Assistant Professor at the Department of English at Gurudas College, University of Calcutta. Her areas of interest include book history and histories of readership. She is the recipient of the SHARP Research Development Grant for BIPOC Scholars 2022.
Image: © 2023 Saronik Bosu
Kareem Khubchandani talks about aunties, figure across culture that stand for inquiry and succor, at limits of, or outside of traditional family structures. The conversation spans across genres and contexts, mainly focusing on work in the new field of Critical Aunty Studies.
Kareem Khubchandani is the Mellon Bridge assistant professor in theater, dance, and performance studies, and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies at Tufts University. He is the author of Ishtyle: Accenting Gay Indian Nightlife (University of Michigan Press, 2020), which received the 2021 Association for Theatre in Higher Education Outstanding Book award, 2021 Dance Studies Association de la Torre Bueno book award, 2021 MLA/ASA Alan Bray Memorial Prize honorable mention, and the 2019 CLAGS: Center for LGBTQ Studies Fellowship. Kareem is also co-editor of Queer Nightlife (University of Michigan Press, 2021) and curator of criticalauntystudies.com.
Image: © 2022 Saronik Bosu
Music used in promotional material: ‘Like Swimming’ by Broke for Free
Abhishek Avtans talks about the apabhraṃśa, a word that refers to the middle stage of the Indo-Aryan languages, crucial links between ancient languages like Sanskrit, and modern South Asian languages such as Hindi, Bangla, Bhojpuri, Punjabi, Marathi, Nepali, and others. The first mention of apabhraṃśas is in Mahabhasya, a 2nd century BCE text by Patanjali, where the author refers to languages considered deviations from Sanskrit. However, research into apabhraṃśas, for the same reason, has become crucial in dispelling notions of linguistic purity and politics that is dependent on these notions.
Abhishek Avtans is a lecturer of Indic language/s at Leiden University in the Netherlands. He
loves to work on literature and linguistics of languages spoken in south Asia. He has contributed
in making dictionaries of Great Andamanese, Bhojpuri and Brajbhasha. He writes a column
Dialectical for the Himal SouthAsian Magazine. He tweets at @avtansa.
Image: © 2021 Saronik Bosu
(the stanza of verse in the image comes from the text of Bāhubalī rāsa by 13th Century AD Jain poet Shalibhadra Suri, it is an onomatopoeic stanza that describes the activities done by elephants, soldiers and horses.)
Music used in promotional material: “Rajasthani Folk Instrumental Music” by Rupayan Sansthan, Jodhpur, from the collection of Shri Komal Kothari