2016 Sardar Patel Award Ceremony

Presentation of the prestigious Sardar Patel Award, awarded to the best dissertation on modern India in 2015-2016.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

2:00 PM - 5:30 PM
Ackerman Viewpoint Conference Room



2:00 PM to 3:30 PM: Sardar Patel Award Presentation 
3:30 PM to 4:30 PM: SarDesai Memorial Lecture, Presented by James McHugh 






Lecture by James McHugh

Ink, Leaves, and Time:
The Material and Social Networks of Religious Manuscripts in Pre-Modern Hindu South Asia.
This paper will focus on sacred manuscript production as represented in the twelfth century Sanskrit Ocean of Giving (Dānasāgara) by King Ballālasena, a large compendium concerning religious gifts. The paper begins by considering the networks involved in the production of a religious manuscript, which can be considered as much an event as a thing. This “manuscript event” involves an assemblage of materials and persons: prepared palm leaves, special ink, pen, copy stand, binding strings, as well as incense and other materials used to adorn the manuscript. Making a copy implies the existence of another manuscript, and editing procedures imply collections of texts, or possibly libraries and other institutions. Numerous persons are involved: the donor, the copyist, and the audience for the performance, not to mention all those who create and process the materials for the manuscript. The copying itself, as well as the donation and the recital are presented in this text as ritualized processes, taking place at auspicious times and frequently interrupted for minor rites and declarations. At every stage, from the selection of a text to the final performance, the manuscript has having a remarkably complex biography, embedded in a multisensory material, social, political, and above all religious network. 

Dr. James McHugh is Associate Professor in the School of Religion at the University of Southern California. He studied philosophy at Cambridge University and Classical Indian Religions at Oxford University before doing a Ph.D. in Sanskrit and Indian Studies at Harvard University, graduating in 2008. Dr. McHugh is interested in the material culture of religions and the role of the senses in religion in South Asia. His first book “Sandalwood and Carrion: Smell in Indian Religion and Culture” was published with Oxford University Press in 2012. He is also interested in the technology of writing materials; gemstones in South Asian religions, and he is currently working on another monograph on alcohol in South Asian history and religion, titled “An Unholy Brew.”

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