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“The Study of Sanskrit and the American Caste System”

4/9/2019 4:30 PM

“The Study of Sanskrit and the American Caste System”
Anand Venkatkrishnan - "The Study of Sanskrit..."
TUESDAY, APRIL 9, 2019, 4:30 – 6PM EDT
Location Bowden Hall 116
Department / Organization Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies
Meeting Organizer/Sponsor South Asia Seminar Series
Speaker/Presenter Anand Venkatkrishnan
Cost Free
More Info / Register mesas.emory.edu…

Anand Venkatkrishnan, Preceptor in Sanskrit, Harvard University

“The Study of Sanskrit and the American Caste System”

If caste and gender are the fundamental fractures in the sociology of Sanskrit, fractures of race and gender define its study in America. A pedagogical interest in redressing these inequalities prompts me to think about their genealogy. Is there a fault line that runs through this field, in both its philological and area studies guises, that we can trace historically? Is this a question of research method or, also, a research imperative? This talk features elements of my research into the papers of Charles Rockwell Lanman and the early study of Sanskrit at Harvard and Radcliffe. I draw particular attention to the number of women who populated the turn-of-the-century Sanskrit classroom, and attempt to follow the threads of their careers. I also briefly investigate the role that Sanskritists played in constructing racial categories particular to the American experience. Ultimately, I suggest that we think of American Sanskritists not just as Orientalists but as Americans. In doing so, I propose an alternative history of South Asian Studies, not according to macro-narratives that tell of the shift from philology to area studies, but through attention to the field's unheralded acts of occlusion, forgotten but always present.

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