Lars Eklund visited SALC at University of Chicago

Thibaut d’Hubert, Whitney Cox and Gary Tubb in front of the Oriental Institute Museum at Uni. f Chicago.

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 on invitation from Professor Dipesh Chakraborty who recently visited Lund University as the keynote speaker for the SASNET conference on Modernity in South Asia (more information).
Unfortunately Prof. Chakraborty was out of station at the time, but he had made arrangements for Lars to visit the prime institution of interest, namely the Center for South Asian Civilizations and Culture (SALC), located in the impressive and beautiful late 19th century building Foster Hall (photo below). 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. Full information about SALC.
Gary Tubb, Anupama and Guru Ramakrishnan Professor, Chair of the SALC Department (and a renowned Sanskrit scholar), hosted a lunch meeting with Lars on Thursday 27 October, a meeting also attended by Associate Professor Whitney Cox, another Sanskrit language scholar who is also a specialist on premodern Tamil language and literature, as well as the history of medieval South India. They discussed various forms of possible collaboration between SASNET/Lund University and University of Chicago. Lars had a mission to explore this issue from SASNET new acting Director, Dr. Andreas Johansson, who is actively searching for new partners in developing South Asian studies in Lund. 
In a separate meeting, Lars met Associate Professor Rochona Majumdar and Assistant Professor Thibaut d'Hubert (photo to the right). Rochona is the Director of Graduate Studies in SALC, and Thibaut Director of its Undergraduate Studies. Besides, Rochona is involved in research on History of gender, marriage, and family in India; modern Indian cultural and political history, modern Bengal, Indian cinema, and postcolonial history and theory; and Thibaut specializes on Bangla language and literature, history of translation, Indo-Persian culture, Sufism, and cultural interactions between South and Southeast Asia.

The discussions in this meeting focused on possible ways to offer students from Lund University and other Swedish universites a possibility to do language training at SALC, and participate in its conferences. SALC currently offers language training in nine South Asian languages, namely Hindi, Urdu, Bangla, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, Tibetan, Pali and Sanskrit. A tenth language - Malayalam - is also regularly taught, but is not available at the moment. Training in South Asian languages - four years minimum for the language of concentration, two years minimum for the secondary language - is seen as an integral part of the department's program. However, SALC is willing to accept foreign students coming for shorter periods, for example one or two semesters (of the three semesters in a calendar year).

Another possible way to collaboration would be letting Swedish students participate in the eminent Annual South Asia Graduate Student Conferences (SAGSC), its thirteenth conference held in March 2016 with the theme ”Dying in South Asia”. More information.
It also turned out that d’Hubert and Majumdar both have strong connections, d’Hubert with late Professor William Smith at Stockholm University, the one and only scholar that used to teach Bangla at university level in Sweden; and Majumdar knows Prof. Gunnel Cederlöf, previously at Uppsala University, now at Linnaeus Universuty in Växjö, well.

It should be mentioned that SALC is the mother institution of  several other researchers of fame, and most well-known among them is certainly Wendy Doniger, Mircea Eliade Disitnguished Service Professor of the History of Religions in the Divinity School at SALC. Doniger wrote the scholarly masterpiece on Indian religion, The Hindus (Penguin 2009) that unfortunately created an uproar in India.
University of Chicago also houses the famous Oriental Institute with a museum featuring exciting archaeological finds from the ancient Middle East - Babylonia, Assyria, Egypt, Persia, etc. A must to visit for every visitor to University of Chicago, so also for SASNET’s Lars Eklund, completing the day with this museum.