South Asia Day: Commemorating 70 years of India's Independence with a Seminar on the theme Re-configuring power: looking back at the decades around independence

Conveners: Dr Karuna Dietrich-Wielenga and Prof Barbara Harriss-White

Speakers: Adam Lerner, Stefan Tetzlaff, Maya Tudor, Taylor C Sherman, Shashank Kela, Marcus Banks, Eleanor Newbigin, Shabnum Tejani, Karuna Dietrich Wielenga, Louise Tillin, Cressida Jervis Read, David Washbrook, David Hardiman, Devaki Jain, Matthew McCartney

This year India celebrates 70 years of independence. The country appears to be in a critical phase, with the Hindu right steadily gaining support, both electorally and on the ground, in terms of popularity. The political and economic landscape is being slowly reconfigured. However, the process has not been unchallenged.


Registration from 9.45am

10.00 – 10.10am: Welcome and Opening remarks

Prof. Barbara Harriss-White and Dr. Karuna Dietrich Wielenga

10.10 – 11.10am: India and the World

Chair: Dr. Kate Sullivan de Estrada, (Lecturer in Modern Indian Studies, SIAS/DPIR, Oxford)

Adam Lerner (PhD candidate, University of Cambridge) Nehru's Pre-Independence Foreign Policy Evolution: Imagining and Re-imagining a Non- Aligned Movement

Stefan Tetzlaff (Post-doctoral Research Fellow, German Historical Institute, London) Indo-British Business Deals and Economic Relations Beyond the Empire (c. 1940-50)

11.10 – 11.30: Coffee break

11.30am – 12.30pm: Identity, Nationalism and Politics

Chair: Prof. David Washbrook (Emeritus Fellow, St Antony’s College, Oxford)

Prof. Maya Tudor  (Associate Professor, Blavatnik School of  Government, Oxford) We the Hindus: India's Re-imagined National Identity

Prof. Taylor C. Sherman (Associate Professor, London School of Economics) A New Type of Revolution: the Development of Indian Socialism, c.1930s-1960s.

12.30 – 1.30pm: Lunch

Sandwiches will be provided.

1.30 – 2.15pm: Short Presentations

Chair: Prof. David Hardiman, (Professor Emeritus, University of Warwick)

Shashank Kela (Visiting Scholar, Wolfson College, University of Oxford) Managing forests: Environmental history, Political Economy and the Forest Department in South India

Prof. Marcus Banks (Professor, ISCA, University of Oxford) Photography and Memory Across the Decades: from ‘Ranji’ to the Present First Thoughts.

2.15 – 3.15pm: Questions of equality

Chair: Dr. George Kunnath, (Lecturer in Modern Indian Studies, SIAS, Oxford)

Dr. Eleanor Newbigin (Senior Lecturer, SOAS London) Hindu family law reform 1930s-1950s: the many lives of the Hindu Code Bill.

Dr. Shabnum Tejani (Senior Lecturer, SOAS, London) Why Secularism is about Caste: Ambedkar on Inequality and Identity after the Poona Pact, 1932 - 1956.

3.15 – 3.30pm: Coffee break

3.30 – 5.00pm:   Public Policy and Legislation

Chair: Dr. Judith Heyer (Emeritus Fellow, Somerville College, University of Oxford)

Dr. Karuna Dietrich Wielenga (Post-doctoral fellow, SIAS, University of Oxford) Labour, Law and Politics: A historical understanding of the making of the informal sector.

Dr. Louise Tillin (Senior Lecturer, King's College, London) Freedom from Want in India: Planning Social Security for the Post-War World.

Dr. Cressida Jervis Read (Research Associate, Faculty of History, University of Oxford) Eradication speculation: visions for the future and continuities with the past in post-Independence India's malaria control programme.

5.00 – 6.00pm: Final Panel

Chair: Prof. Barbara Harriss-White (Professor Emeritus of Development Studies, Oxford)

Prof. David Hardiman (Professor Emeritus of History, University of Warwick)

Dr. Devaki Jain (Feminist economist and eminent activist, India)

Prof. Matthew McCartney (Director of CSASP, SIAS, University of Oxford)

Prof. David Washbrook (Emeritus Fellow, St Antony’s College, Oxford)


To register for the South Asia Day please RSVP to Karuna Dietrich Wielenga at