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The Nehru Memorial Museum & Library


‘Spaces of Water: New paradigms in ecocritical enquiry’ ,24th -25th July, 2014

                                                For more information, please see the conference microsite:

Concept Note:

The reciprocal relationship between global water systems and cultures of spatiality in constituting historical events across time and space has received little attention in eco-histories of India. Spaces of Water: New Paradigms in Ecocritical Enquiry is an attempt to address this opacity in environmental studies by bringing together leading scholars, artists, architects, and activists from India, Europe, and the United States to articulate new forms of ecocritical thinking that reads the cultural as both determining and being determined by the environmental. How does the environment shape, and is shaped by, the ontological domain of affective spatialities? Over two days, speakers will rethink the intersections between water systems and the phenomenology of spatial cultures in early modern, colonial, and contemporary India to explore the topographies of the concept-term waterscape in the wake of environmental histories and ecocriticism more broadly. It is, indeed, one thing to historicize the way in which water has been contained within tangible spatial volumes. It can be quite another thing to consider the manner in which water contains and is contained by the affective. If the former requires a close analysis of architectural and spatial practices that serve to control, divert, or manage water as a natural resource, the latter necessitates an exploration of the manner in which immaterial but phenomenally conceivable essences imbue water with diverse forms of value. How, then, might we engage with the liquescence of water as simultaneously constituting a ground for living, a demonstrative setting for articulations of sovereignty, as global sites of circulation, and the transmitter of sacrality? How might art history, geography, history, environmental studies, and art and architecture practice collaboratively engender an expanded field of ecocritical enquiry? What kind of trans-disciplinary approaches might such a move entail? Demarcating horizons, systems, thresholds, memory, and processes as thematic frames, Spaces of Water addresses the ways in which technological, representational, and aesthetic acts of envisioning imaginative geographies and flow destabilizes water as only a commodifiable natural resource and a product and effect of environmental governance.

Programme Schedule:                  Thursday, 24th july, 2014

9.00 a.m. – 9.05 a.m. Opening Remarks: Prof. Mahesh Rangarajan,
Nehru Memorial Museum and Library,
New Delhi
9.05 a.m. – 9.15 a.m. Introduction: Dr. Venugopal Maddipati,
Ambedkar University,
Prof. Sugata Ray,
University of California,
Berkeley, USA.
9.15 a.m. – 10.45 a.m. Session 1
Chair: Prof. Kavita Singh,
Jawaharlal Nehru University,
New Delhi.
Speakers: Prof. Rila Mukherjee,
Institut de Chandernagor and University of
‘Water Histories: Oceans into rivers’

Dr. Hannah Baader,
Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz –
Max-Planck-Institut, Italy,
Forum TransregionaleStudien, Berlin.
‘Oceanic Waters, Spatical Orders: Architecture and the sea’
10.45 a.m.-11.00 a.m. Tea /Coffee
11.00 a.m. – 12.30 p.m. Session 2
Chair: Mr. Madhav Raman,
Anagram Architects,
New Delhi.
Speakers: Prof. Tamara Sears,
Yale University,
‘Rich in Honey: Architecture and water in the central Indian frontier’

Prof. James Wescoat,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
‘From Nallah to Nadi , Sewer to Stream: Urban waterscape inquiry in India and the US’
12.30 p.m. – 1.30 p.m. Lunch
1.30 p.m. – 3.00 p.m. Session 3
Chair: Dr. Tripta Wahi,
Former Affiliate Fellow,
Speakers: Dr. Dipti Khera,
New York University,
‘Looking at the Lake-Palaces: Worlds of pleasure and power in eighteenth-century Udaipur’

Dr. Sugata Ray,
University of California,
Berkeley, USA.
‘Water is a Limited Commodity: The case of Vishram Ghat, Mathura’
3.00 p.m. – 3.20 p.m. Tea/Coffee
3.20 p.m. – 4.15 p.m. Coda:
Chair: Dr. Venugopal Maddipati,
Ambedkar University, Delhi
Speaker: Mr. Atul Bhalla,
New Delhi.
                                            Friday, 25th July, 2014
9.00 a.m.- 10.30 a.m. Session 4
Chair: Dr. Vasudha Pande,
Speakers: Prof. Catherine B. Asher,
University of Minnesota,
‘Water: Its meanings and powers in the Indian Sufi tradition’

Dr. Venugopal Maddipati,
Ambedkar University,
‘A History of Coincidence by the Dham River: Vinobha Bhave at Paunar’
10.30 a.m.- 10.50 a.m. Tea/Coffee
 10.50 a.m. – 12.20 p.m. Session 5
Chair: Dr. P.K. Datta,
University of Delhi,
Speaker: Dr. Suhas Paranjape,
Society for Promoting Participative Ecosystem
Management, Pune.
‘Water as Nature: Resisting capitalisation’

Dr. Gopa Samanta,
University of Burdwan,
West Bengal.
‘Governing Water in Cities: A critical look into the existing paradigm’
12.20 p.m.- 1.30 p.m. Lunch
1.30 p.m. -3.00 p.m. Closing Round Table
Chair: Dr. Venugopal Maddipati,
Ambedkar University, Delhi,
Dr. Sugata Ray,
University of California,
Berkeley, USA.
Speakers: Dr. Amita Baviskar,
Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi,
Dr. Vasudha Pande,
Mr. Madhav Raman,
Anagram Architects, New Delhi,
Dr. Tripta Wahi,
Former Affiliate Fellow,
3.00 p.m. - 3.30 p.m. Tea/Coffee


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