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April 12, 1999

International conference on Indian arts and culture draws world-class scholars and performers to UCSC

By Barbara McKenna

The idea of "Sarira" is a metaphor central to numerous Indian religious and secular cultures and, in recent years, has been the focus of much academic attention as well. Literally meaning "body," Sarira is, in more figurative terms, the manifestation of spiritual ideas in such embodiments as art, theater, and music.

On May 14-16, eminent scholars from around the world will convene at UCSC for the conference "Sarira: Aspects of Embodiment in the Arts and Cultures of India."

In keeping with the theme of art and culture, the conference will also feature performances of classical music by musicians from India, the screening of a new film in the presence of its director, Sandip Ray, a special Indian dinner with distinguished guests, and exhibitions of works of art, photography, and puppetry (see performance schedule). The conference is free and open to the public. Advance reservations are required for the dinner.

The three-day conference features experts on Sarira from traditional Indian disciplines such as Ayurveda and Tantra, as well as Western disciplines such as neurophysiology. Scholars will also speak on Vedic and post-Vedic texts, the Epics and the Vaisnavism, and Islam. The conference will place a major emphasis on visual and performance arts--dance, film, music, art, photography--as well as on the poetics and politics of colonial and postcolonial representation of the body. Such perspectives as class, gender, religion, and nationalism will be explored.

The conference also celebrates the launching of the Chandra Bhandari Endowed Chair in India Studies and recent initiatives at UCSC to expand its South Asian studies program.

"We are delighted to see this convergence of exceptional scholars and artists coming together for such an important event," said Narpat Bhandari, whose gift to UCSC established the Bhandari Chair in 1997. "The result should be an exciting and informative dialogue on the rich and vital cultures of India. Such a conference is especially valuable for second generation Indo-Americans who have not had many opportunities for direct exposure to their culture."

The conference is sponsored by the Chandra Bhandari Endowed Chair in India Studies. Cosponsors are the UCSC Arts and Humanities Divisions; Satyajit Ray Film and Study Collection, UCSC; Center for South Asia Studies, UC Berkeley; and Indian Council on Cultural Relations, New Delhi.

The conference will be held at the Performing Arts Center at UCSC. A special three-day hospitality package is available for out-of- towners. For local hospitality package, banquet reservation, and other conference details, please call (831) 459-2242 or send e-mail to cheryl_ridgway@macmail.ucsc.edu.

For tickets to the music and movie shows, please call (831) 459-2159 or send e-mail to tickets@cats.ucsc.edu.

For a conference update, please visit the Bhandari Chair Web site.

See the performance schedule

See a list of conference participants

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