Latest SASNET News

After attending the 45th South Asian Studies conference at Madison, Wisconsin, 21-23 October 2016, SASNET deputy director Lars Eklund did not return immediately to Sweden (read his report from Madison). Instead he travelled to the nearby metropolitan city of Chicago in order to visit the University of Chicago and its Center for South Asian Civilizations and Culture (SALC), located in the impressive and beautiful late 19th century building Foster Hall. The SALC Department offers graduate and undergraduate programs with a focus on the study of the textual traditions of South Asia and its languages as a basis for a fuller understanding of the civilizations of the Indian subcontinent and surrounding areas. He met Gary Tubb, Anupama and Guru Ramakrishnan Professor, Chair of the SALC Department (and a renowned Sanskrit scholar); Associate Professor Whitney Cox; Associate Professor Rochona Majumdar; and Assistant Professor Thibaut d'Hubert. Read more...

On Monday 10 October 2016, the Swedish South Asian Studies Network (SASNET) held its final board meeting as an autonomous unit of Lund University. On 1 January 2017, an organizational change takes place, and SASNET will merge with the Centre for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES), and become a subdivision of CMES.
The focus of SASNET henceforth will be on South Asia related research and teaching at Lund University. The members of the board approved the new organisation, but added that they hope that SASNET's brand continues to be independent and suggested that a reference group should be appointed with representatives from several faculties. The Board also emphasized the importance of SASNET’s national network function, and that it somehow may survive. SASNET should also be active in the upcoming new Asia strategy at Lund University.
Both Director Anna Lindberg and Deputy Director Lars Eklund retire, Anna from 1 November 2016, and Lars from 1 January 2017. They were warmly thanked for their many years in SASNET service - Anna since 2007 and Lars since the launch of the network in January 2001. Dr. Andreas Johansson is now proposed to take over the chair position, and the board agreed to let Andreas become Acting Director (ställföreträdande föreståndare) already from 1 November. Two young post-doc researchers will also be employed as of January 1, 2017, on one-year project positions with a focus to seek external funding.
Since SASNET now will merge with CMES, this meeting was also the final one for the board that has been in charge of business since 2013 (information about SASNET’s board). From January 2017, the board of CMES takes over the responsibility.
Read the verified Minutes from the October 2016 meeting (in Swedish only). 

Anna Lindberg and Lars Eklund

On 31 October 2016, SASNET director Anna Lindberg will retire from her position after nine years; and two months later - on 31 December - deputy director Lars Eklund will also retire after 16 years in SASNET service. The replacement of these key SASNET staff is currently in process and will soon be announced. Additionally, Lund University now announces two positions as Researchers to be based at SASNET.
The first is a 100 % position for a person who will contribute to the development of research at SASNET and especially promote research on South Asia and the Middle East in Sweden. The candidate is expected to use his background and skills to use different research methods to examine and test the knowledge of the perception of migration and asylum in Sweden. With a strong focus on the regions of South Asia / Middle East research, he/she should contribute to an increased cooperation between SASNET and the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Lund University. In addition to conducting research, it is expected the candidate to apply for funding of Swedish scholarship providers to extend their service of SASNET.  The post is a 1-year project services. Candidates should have a PhD in the Humanities or Social Science-oriented area, and also be familiar with how the Swedish allocation systems work, and master Swedish language in both speech and writing. Full information (in Swedish only)
The second researcher position is on 75 %, and the requirements are similar, a PhD in the humanities or social-oriented area with a focus on South Asia. He/she should also have training in media and communications at the college or university level. Part of the service includes, in addition to research, to seek funding from the major sources of funding in Sweden and Europe. Therefore it is also important that the candidate is familiar with how the Swedish allocation systems work. Candidates should be proficient in Swedish and English in speech and writing. It is also preferable that the candidate has international research experience, and have good intercultural communication skills and experience of international cooperation. It is an advantage if the candidate has knowledge covering gender issues. Full information (in Swedish only)
Deadline for both applications is 31 October 2016.

Lars Eklund, Hari Maya Sharma, Bal Mukunda Bhandari and Elisabeth Axell.

On Tuesday 6 September 2016, Dr. Bal Mukunda Bhandari, Director, International Office, Tribhuvan University, Nepal, made a courtesy visit to Lund University, along with Hari Maya Sharma, Lecturer at Tribhuvan University and also a PhD Student connected to Aarhus University, Denmark. The visit was made in connection with a week-long stay in Denmark. Dr. Bhandari is in charge of the different collaboration programmes and MoUs that TU has with foreign universities, including several Danish universities, especially Aarhus, Aalborg and Roskilde.
In Lund Bhandari and Sharma met with Elisabeth Axell, Regional Coordinator for South and Central Asia at the Division for External Relations, Strategic Partnerships and Networks, Lund University, and SASNET deputy director Lars Eklund, both old acquaintences of Bhandari, who was involved in the 2012 Erasmus Mundus Action 2 Asia Regional mobility programme EMEA coordinated by Lund University (with TU being a partner university). More information about EMEA and other South Asia related Erasmus Mundus Action 2 programmes.
Lars also met Bhandari during an official SASNET visit to Tribhuvan University in 2012. Read more about the Kathmandu visit.
While at Lund Univerity, a meeting was also held with Associate senior lecturer Henrik Davidsson at the Department of Architecture and the Built Environment, discussing a Capacity Building project involving Tribhuvan University.

The current Danish-Nepalese collaboration projects are both partly funded by the Danish development assistance agency Danida. One project, MAGART, involves besides three Danish universities and Tribhuvan also one university in Kenya and one in Uganda.
A second project is The Platform for Stability, Democracy & Rights (PSDR). It has as its goal to strengthen human and institutional capacity in partner universities in line with the overall objectives of the Building Stronger Universities (BSU) initiative, and with a specific focus on academic focus areas that can feed into three of the priorities identified in the newly revised strategy for Denmark’s development cooperation, namely: 1) Freedom, Democracy and Human Rights; 2) Gender Equality; and 3) Stability and Fragility.
In Nepal, the Platform has identified three units as initial entry points for collaboration, namely the multi-disciplinary research institute Centre for Nepal and Asian Studies (CNAS) at TU, and two constituent campuses located in the Western Development Region, namely the small Gorkha Campus and the larger Prithvi Narayan Campus, Pokhara. More informtation about the project.

Dea Busk Larsen and Nashfa Hawwa.

Ms. Dea Busk Larsen, Masters student in Social Anthropology at Lund University; and Ms. Nashfa Hawwa, Masters student at the at the Environmental Management and Policy programme, also Lund University, have been selected by SASNET for a scholarship to be carried out in South Asia with the assistance of CREST, Centre for Research and Education for Social Transformation, in Kozhikode, Kerala, India. 
Dea will carry out her masters thesis work during early 2017, on a project entitled ”Living Caste: Educated Rural Dalit Women’s Lived Experiences in Urban South India”, focusing on the informal sphere of young educated dalit women’s lived experiences especially the aspect of migrating from rural to urban India. Dea has previously lived in the Indian states of Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu for 16 months in total.
Nashfa has carried out her field work during the summer 2016. After a few weeks staying at CREST in Kozhikode, she has spent time in Male, the capital city of the Maldives, working on a project entitled ”Establishing a Deposit-Refund System in the Maldives – an ex-ante Evaluation”, The project deals with the management of polyethylene-terephthalate (PET) plastic waste, a complex issue for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) such as the Maldives. This is because of the geographical complexity, small landmass, and  lack of infrastructure and resources. Furthermore, changes from subsistence lifestyles to increased consumerism, increased imports, and population growth has escalated the number of PET bottles in the waste stream. While PET is deemed as the most optimal plastic for beverage bottles, and for recyclability, the Maldives lacks vital technical infrastructure to manage the PET waste in an environmentally sound manner. For her thesis, she seeks to conduct a research assessing the feasibility of implementing a deposit-refund system in the Maldives. 

A fascinating Indian dance and song performance took place at Theatre Sagohuset in Lund on Tuesday 19 April 2016, at 18.00.
The two artists Parvathy Vijayan Roshini (photo) and Anju Jacob gave a traditional Keralite performance, through song and dance. Snacks and soft drinks were served after the performance. The event was jointly organised by SASNET and Theatre Sagohuset. 
The dance performed by Parvathy was “Mohiniyattam”, the classical dance form of Kerala, which was taught to her by the “guru” (teacher) Aswathy Nair, who herself is an exponent of Mohiniyattam. Parvathy describes dance to be like a prayer to God which gives peace and pleasure to my mind.
Mohiniyattam is a very graceful form of dance with gentle and swaying body movements meant to be performed by women. The name itself says it as ‘the dance by beautiful women’, ‘Mohini’ means beautiful women and ‘aatam’ means dance movements.
Anju and Pavathy are students of Journalism at Kerala University in Thiruvananthapuram, currently being exchange students at the Dept. of  Communication and Media (KOM) at Lund University through a Linnaeus Palme collaboration project with their department at University of Kerala. SASNET has been instrumental in this ongoing Linnaeus Palme programme.

SASNET and the Association of Foreign Affairs in Lund (UPF) jointly organize a seminar on “Tibet as an (Inter)National Problem” – focusing on China’s and India’s respective roles in Tibet, on Wednesday 20 April 2016, at 19.00. The speaker is Dr. Dibyesh Anand, Associate Professor in International Relations and the Head of the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Westminster in London, UK. Venue: Café Athen, Sandgatan 2, Lund.
In his presentation, Dr. Anand describes the failed negotiations between Beijing government and the Dalai Lama; the change of leadership in China; the advancing age of the Dalai Lama; and the democratization process in the exile. He alsopoints out the desire of foreign powers to work with China due to its growing economic might, the unresolved border dispute between India and China, and other factors adding to the acuteness of the contested question of politics and geopolitics of Tibet. The lecture will highlight the key aspects of the contested Tibet question and analyse how changing dynamics of relations between China, India and the West are relevant and how these relations in turn get affected by the internal politics of Tibet.
In 2015, Dibyesh Anand held a well-attended SASNET seminar on Kashmir. More information.

SASNET and the Department of Political Science at Lund University jointly organize a seminar on ”The Role Prestige plays in a State’s Decision – the cases of India and Iran” on Thursday 12 April 2016, 13.15 – 15.00.  The speaker is PhD candidate Kanica Rakhra from the Centre for International Politics, Organization and Disarmament (CIPOD) at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi. There she is an ICSSR doctoral fellow and a member of the Early Career Committee at ISPP. Currently she spends two months at Lund University on a visiting fellowship from SASNET. Venue: Conference room 367 at the Political Science department, Paradisgatan 5 H (House: Eden).
In her presentation, the role prestige plays in a state’s decision making will be discussed, specifically how it influences the nuclear programs of India and Iran. Prestige, as a concept, has been an underlying factor in state decision making and nuclear programs, specifically, have been associated with the notion of prestige. This seminar seeks to understand how the notion of prestige is viewed and interpreted by states and its relation with the security of a state. It aims to understand whether a state’s decision to have a nuclear program is linked to its idea of itself, and understand the determinants in this idea of its ‘self’. Two case studies of India and Iran are taken to interrogate this argument.  

On Friday 19 February 2016, from 17.00 – 20.00, the South Asian Students’ Association (SASA) in collaboration with SASNET screened the award-winning film The Sky Below by Indo-American film director Sara Singh, specially invited to Sweden for this event. The film deals with the Partition of India, and was screened at Edens Hörsal, House Eden, Paradisgatan 5 H in Lund. See the poster. The event was well attended by students and scholars from Lund University. After the film a constructive discussion took place about Partition, the obstacles arisen when shooting a film on both sides of the India-Pakistan border while Singh's upcoming movie projects were also discussed.
This courageous and moving film evokes painful memories and raises powerful issues that continue to trouble the South Asian subcontinent. Lyrically shot on both sides of the Indo-Pak border, the film should be watched by those who care about the legacy of Partition as well as those trying to understand the complexities of fighting wars in those lands. Sara was born in India into the Patiala royal familyin Punjab, now spending her time primarily between New York and South Asia. Her work has been exhibited all over the world including the Victoria & Albert Museum in London; the Asian Civilizations Museum; the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; and at universiites such as Oxford and Stanford. This was the first screening in the Nordic countries. More information about the movie and Sara Singh.

Olle  Qvarnström and Martin Gansten.

Professor Olle Qvarnström and Associate Professor Martin Gansten, researchers in History of Religion at the Centre of Theology and Religious Studies (CTR), Lund University, held a SASNET/CMES lecture at Lund University on Thursday 25 February 2016, 15.00–17.00. The seminar was organised in collaboration with the Center of Middle Eastern Studies (CMES), and was entitled ”Hindu Reception of Perso-Arabic Traditions of Knowledge and the Role of Jainism in Cultural Transmission”. 
The seminar was based on an ongoing research project carried out by Qvarnström and Gansten, in a field where, till now, almost no research has been done. They focus on Sanskrit-language reception of Islamic divination/astrology. The few studies which have been made generally relate to Jaina-Muslim relations in later periods in history. The Lund University project therefore constitutes vital foundational research. The research work, dealing chiefly with medieval textual sources and based on philology and historical criticism, is related to the areas of previous research and specialist competence of the applicants, with regard both to reception history and interreligious relations. Research results will be published as English-language articles and at least one monograph. Qvarnström and Gansten will also participate in international research networks focussing on Persian-Indian cultural exchanges, history of astral disciplines, and Jainology.  Read more about the research project.
The seminar is part of a joint SASNET/CMES seminar series during the spring 2016. View full program here.

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