The Mahabharata in Modern Intellectual History: Perspectives from South Asia, Europe, and East Asia

The Mahabharata in Modern Intellectual History: Perspectives from South Asia, Europe, and East Asia

Milinda Banerjee, Japan Zentrum, Ludwig-Maximilians Universität Munich
W 401
Professor-Huber-Platz, Munich
From - Until
24.11.2018 -
Milinda Banerjee

The Mahabharata has played a momentous role in inciting the birth of political thought in modern India and Nepal, as well as in provoking philosophical reflections in Europe and East Asia. This workshop brings to the fore these modern political stakes and avatars of the Mahabharata: not by regarding it as a singular (elite canonical) text, but by seeing it as a polyvalent signifier linked to multiple written, oral, and liturgized corpora with plural and raucous lives. The Mahabharata is analysed as a locus for the production of dominant political concepts, such as relating to sovereignty and statehood, empire and nationalism, as well as a site for the manufacture of revolutionary counter-power and militant theory, particularly via female, subalternized (along lines of class, caste, and community), and minority voices. The Mahabharata is studied for the ways in which it has enunciated lordship, possession, violence, and agonism, as well as for the manner in which it has inspired new democratic and decolonial horizons, and even practices of insurgent gathering. Further, the workshop intervenes within recent debates in global intellectual history by positing new optics for bridging transregional discursive width with the rigour of deep sight that transtemporal orientation demands.


Opening Remarks by Milinda Banerjee, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität
Panel I: The Mahabharata as Political Philosophy
Ananya Vajpeyi, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies
(to be confirmed)
‘My Birth is My Fatal Accident': Re-Reading Ekalavya in the Age of Rohith Vemula
Paulus Kaufmann, Universität Zürich
German Philosophers about Indian Philosophy and the Mahabharata
10.30-11.00 Discussion
11.00-11.20: Break
Panel II: Decolonial Expropriations I: From Anti-British Resistance to Subaltern Democracy and Theory
Shuvatri Dasgupta, University of Cambridge
Beyond 'Ethics and Epics': Rethinking the Mahabharatas Transtemporally through the Affective Politics of Religion, Caste, and Gender
Simon Cubelic, Universität Heidelberg
The Mahābhārata and the Political Idiom in Nepal’s Time of Crisis, c. 1806- 1846

12.20-12.50 Discussion
12.50-2.00: Lunch
Panel III: Decolonial Expropriations II
Milinda Banerjee, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität/Presidency University, Kolkata
Assembling between Sovereignty and Justice: Mahabharata, Dharmarajya, and the Opening of Autonomy in Bengal
Melanie J. Müller, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität
The Production and Deconstruction of the 'Ideal Indian Woman' through the Mahābhārata in the 20th Century
3.00-3.30 Discussion
3.30-50: Break
Panel IV: The Mahabharata in Global Intellectual History
Egas Moniz-Bandeira, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
East Asian Uses of Indian Philosophy: Some Refractions of the Mahabharata in China and Japan
Philipp Sperner, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität
Heroic (Hi)story and Universal Song: Some Comparative Thoughts on the Reception of the Mahabharata in Early 20th-century Hindi Literature/Criticism and Early 19th Century German Romanticism
4.50-5.20 Discussion
Break: 5.20-5.40 Concluding Discussion: 5.40-6.40

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Milinda Banerjee

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