October 28, 2002 – Gauri Viswanathan: “Colonialism, Hinduism, and the Problem of Historiography”

Monday, October 28
4pm, Oakes Mural Room

The Religion and Culture Cluster continues its lecture series this fall with a presentation by Professor Gauri Viswanathan, whose fields of interest are intellectual history; education, religion, and culture; 19th-century British and colonial cultural studies; and the history of disciplines. Her recent book, Outside the Fold: Conversion, Modernity, and Belief (Princeton, 1998), is a major reinterpretation of conversion. Centering on colonial subjects in British India and on minority communities within Britain, she sees in religious conversion both a mode of resistance and an alternative epistemology. Outside the Fold won numerous prizes, including the 1999 Harry Levin Prize awarded by the American Comparative Literature Association for best book in comparative literature, the James Russell Lowell Prize awarded by the Modern Language Association for best work of literary criticism, and the 2000 Ananda K. Coomaraswamy Prize awarded by the Association for Asian Studies. Her first book was Masks of Conquest: Literary Study and British Rule in India (Columbia, 1989), which demonstrated how the colonial and imperial context shaped the formation of English literary study as a field of knowledge. Professor Viswanathan recently guest-edited a special issue of Ariel: A Review of International English Literature on “Institutionalizing English Studies: the Postcolonial/Post-independence
Challenge”. She has received Guggenheim, NEH, Mellon, and American Institute of Indian Studies fellowships, and is currently research collaborator on a major international project on globalization and autonomy, based in Toronto and Hamilton, Canada.

Co-sponsored by the History of Consciousness Department