Amitav Ghosh Visit

Through a series of public events on April 11 & 12, Dr. Amitav Ghosh, anthropologist and author of several highly acclaimed works of historical fiction, spoke about the challenges and rewards of interdisciplinary and trans-regional scholarship—and about his success in bringing the results of his anthropological and historical research to a broader public through fiction.  This visit was co-sponsored by the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America, Cogut Center for the Humanities, the Departments of American Studies, Anthropology, East Asian Studies, History, and Literary Arts, the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World, and the Watson Institute for International Studies.

Amitav Ghosh spoke to Brown students about Indians residing in Canton (Guangzhou) during the 18th and 19th centuries.Amitav Ghosh spoke to Brown students about Indians residing in Canton (Guangzhou) during the 18th and 19th centuries.















April 11

1:00 PM-2:30 PM
Where China and India met: Canton (Guangzhou) in the 18th and 19th centuries
Lecture by Amitav Ghosh
Hillel Building, Englander Beit Midrash Room (2nd floor)
80 Brown Street

Indians were probably the single largest group of foreigners in Canton (Guangzhou) in the 18th and 19th centuries. The Canton of that time was an extraordinarily cosmopolitan place and its influence extended far beyond China. Here, Canton's Foreign Enclave is explored through the work of 18th and 19th century artists and photographers.

4:30 PM- 6:30 PM
Telling stories beyond the nation: India and China in conversation featuring Amitav Ghosh
Stephen Robert '62 Campus Center, Petteruti Lounge
75 Waterman Street

4:30 PM Reception
5:00 PM Moderated by Prof. Lina Fruzzetti. Dialogue between Amitav Ghosh and Christopher Lydon, of Radio Open Source 
5:45 PM Reading by Amitav Ghosh and Q&A 

To view full video, please visit Brown University on YouTube

April 12
12:00 PM *Lunch included
The Fiction of Borders: The Borders of Fiction, featuring Amitav Ghosh, Ha Jin, David McKirdy, and Xue Di
John Nicholas Brown Center Library
357 Benefit Street

This lunch time talk (lunch included) explored several of the topics traversed in Amitav Ghosh’s writings: the intersection of anthropology and history, travel and autobiography; the relationship between fieldwork, archival work, and telling histories (or fictions); and stories without borders. 

The panel discussion featured award-winning authors Amitav Ghosh and Ha Jin, renowned Hong Kong poet, David McKirdy, author of "Accidental Occidental," and award winning Chinese poet and Brown University staff member, Xue Di. Moderated by Professor Robert G. Lee chair of the Department of American Studies.

This panel discussion also considered the theme "Resident alien: outsider as insider." The alien, the outsider who resides inside, is the liminal stranger valued as a bridge between markets and cultures, a two-way mirror into the Other, and simultaneously suspected as an agent of a foreign power or as having “gone native.”  Whether indentured laborer, self-exiled student or expat businessman, the resident alien is always poised to trouble the narrative of the nation bringing the global into the local.  How is the alien situated across nationally defined time and space?  What is the constitutes the narrative power of the permanent resident alien as a literary figure?

To view the full panel please visit Brown University on YouTube. 

3:30 PM
China and the Making of Modern India: A Story of Fantasy, Abuse and Recovered Memory
Lecture by Amitav Ghosh
Hillel Building, Meeting Room (2nd floor)
80 Brown Street

The effects of opium on 18th and 19th century China have been extensively studied and it is now widely acknowledged that the drug trade had momentous consequences, for China and for the world at large. That this trade also had a powerful impact on India, which was the world's leading opium-producing country under the British Raj, has been largely overlooked (or delibarately ignored). This talk attempts to explore some aspects of this subject, including Chinese influences on Indian arts, crafts, tastes and styles.

Biography of Amitav Ghosh:

Amitav Ghosh was born in Calcutta and grew up in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. He studied in Delhi, Oxford and Alexandria and is the author of The Circle of Reason, The Shadow Lines, In An Antique Land, Dancing in Cambodia, The Calcutta Chromosome, The Glass Palace, The Hungry Tide, and Sea of Poppies, which is the first volume of a projected series of novels, The Ibis Trilogy. The Circle of Reason was awarded France’s Prix Médicis in 1990, and The Shadow Lines won two presitigious Indian prizes the same year, the Sahitya Akademi Award and the Ananda Puraskar. The Calcutta Chromosome won the Arthur C. Clarke award for 1997 and The Glass Palace won the International e-Book Award at the Frankfurt book fair in 2001. In January 2005 The Hungry Tide was awarded the Crossword Book Prize, a major Indian award. His novel, Sea of Poppies (2008) was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, 2008 and was awarded the Crossword Book Prize and the IndiaPlaza Golden Quill Award.

Amitav Ghosh’s work has been translated into more than twenty languages and he has served on the Jury of the Locarno Film Festival (Switzerland) and the Venice Film Festival (2001). Amitav Ghosh’s essays have been published in The New Yorker, The New Republic and The New York Times. His essays have been published by Penguin India (The Imam and the Indian) and Houghton Mifflin USA (Incendiary Circumstances). He has taught in many universities in India and the USA, including Delhi University, Columbia, Queens College and Harvard. In January 2007 he was awarded the Padma Shri, one of India’s highest honours, by the President of India. In 2010, Amitav Ghosh was awarded honorary doctorates by Queens College, New York, and the Sorbonne, Paris. Along with Margaret Atwood, he was also a joint winner of a Dan David Award for 2010.

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