Ronapalooza, Sepoy’s short hand name for the conference to honor Ronald Inden, begins this afternoon. From the conference site, here is a brief statement on the conference:
This conference to honor the scholarship and mentorship of Ronald B. Inden revolves around some of his central concerns and themes in history and religion of India: imperial formations and agency in Indian history, production and consumption of texts in their environments, historical constructions and representations in Orientalist and post-Orientalist scholarship, historiography and the ideas of history. Our primary focus is on critical transformations in South Asian religious traditions, a topic we believe to be of contemporary relevance given the increasingly complex and contested intersections between religion and polity in the world today. All the papers of this conference will seek to conceive of these transformations in ways occluded by the recent post-Orientalist emphasis on the colonial encounter and the ‘invention’ of tradition. By concentrating on empirical studies of pre-modern and modern processes, our objective is to follow the precedent of Professor Inden’s own appeals for scholarship that represents the agency of real historical agents in shaping and intervening in the worlds which we study, as well as to provide a challenge to reification of religious traditions within modern South Asia.
My panel entitled ‘Searching for Sacred Cows among Kings, Brahmins and
Viraktas of Vijayanagara’ is tomorrow afternoon. Ajay Rao (of Chicago, Harvard and Toronto!) and Michael Rabe (St. Xavier, Chicago) are my fellow panelists, in our collective quest to speak on Vijayanagara and Hinduism. I have never been on a proper south Indian history panel before and this would be a fun experience, especially given all the medieval scholars we expect to be present in the audience.
The highlight of the conference for me will be listening to Charlie Hallisey (An Agent in Time: Buddhist Historiography as an Ethical Genre) and Vinay Lal’s key note address ( Intolerance for ‘Hindu Tolerance’: Hinduism, Religious Violence in Pre-modern India, and the Contours of Public Discourse).