Dialogues is a Fortnightly Seminar Series hosted by Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Gandhinagar. It is an open forum for sharing research and for engaging in critical deliberations on themes in Humanities and Social Sciences. Dialogues hosts talks by scholars from IIT Gandhinagar as well as from other institutions from different parts of the country.

Talks 2018

”Anatomy of a Crisis: Explaining Inter-State Crisis Onset from India and Pakistan” by Emily Tallo and Akriti Vasudeva, 17th September, 2018

Abstract: During the past few decades several potential crisis events have punctuated the India-Pakistan rivalry, but only some of these have escalated to the level of an international crisis. Why then do some events trigger a crisis episode while others do not? This presentation will provide an overview of a study led by Sameer Lalwani and Hannah Haegeland at the Stimson Center on this analytical puzzle, unpacking the history of crises and non-crises in South Asia, as well as the generalizable findings of the preliminary study and plans for future research.


Speakers: Emily Tallo is a Research Assistant with the South Asia Program at the Stimson Center and the Deputy Editor of South Asian Voices. Her research interests include India-Pakistan relations and crisis dynamics and the internal conflicts in Kashmir and Afghanistan. She holds a B.S. in International Studies from the Indiana University School of Global and International Studies, where she authored two undergraduate theses on the situation in Kashmir. Previously, she was an intern with Stimson Center’s South Asia Program and the Ananta Aspen Centre in New Delhi.

Akriti Vasudeva is a Research Associate with the Stimson Center’s South Asia Program. She is the Managing Editor of South Asian Voices, an online magazine featuring strategic analysis and commentary from rising South Asian analysts and scholars. Her research focuses on U.S.-India defense cooperation, geopolitics of South Asia and the Indo-Pacific, and Indian foreign policy. Previously, she worked as a print journalist in India, writing on environmental issues for The Indian Express in Mumbai, and on education policymaking for Hindustan Times, New Delhi. She holds an M.A. in Asian Studies from the Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University.

Etched in Stone: Early Urdu Epigraphy in Gujarat and the Deccan - Walter N. Hakala, July 23, 2018


Hindi-Urdu (H-U) was just one among the many languages that emerged in the medieval period from the long shadows cast by Sanskrit and Persian. So-called languages of the land (deśya or desī) would eventually become symbols of and the media through which regional identities consolidated into ideologies of nationalism. But H-U, despite the efforts of its many notable regional chauvinists, never belonged to any single place. Though texts on paper and inscriptions on stone are preserved across the Indian subcontinent, the earliest examples of Urdu epigraphy are preserved in Gujarat and the Deccan. Beyond the courts, H-U functioned as a language of skilled trades, education, and commerce. Most histories of H-U, however, have focussed on its literature to the exclusion of all other linguistic forms. How might we construct a history of what Sheldon Pollock calls the more “documentary” forms of H-U in the Arabic script? What might be gained by writing a history of H-U that was based not on reconstructing the lives of a few great authors but rather the collective contributions of anonymous legions of scribes, inscriptionists, doggerelists, and children? Without the distraction of personality, I argue that an epigraphic approach permits a more rigorous analysis of H-U’s varied linguistic forms and range of communicative functions.


Prof. Walter N. Hakala is Associate Professor, in the Dept. of English, at SUNY, Buffalo. His research interests include Literature and languages of North India and Central Asia; lexicography; Mughal and early colonial South Asian history; South Asian Islam and Sufism

Towards the Field of Curiosity Studies - Arjun Shankar, July 13, 2018


In this talk, I will lay out some of the guiding ideas, questions, and potentials for the field of Curiosity Studies. What might be the guiding principles for the field? What methodological attention must we give? How might it re-shape our disciplinary commitments and open up new avenues for scholarly knowledge production? In addition, I will present some preliminary research on curiosity’s potential for student wellness in institutions of higher    education.


Arjun Shankar is an anthropologist, critical pedagogue, participatory methodologist, and media maker currently teaching at Hamilton College. His two primary intellectual projects have been to define and promote the field of curiosity studies and interrogate the practices of NGO-led development interventions. In Curiosity Studies: A New Ecology of Knowledge (w/ Perry Zurn, UMinnesota Press, 2019) curiosity, they frame the study of curiosity as an inherently political project by asking: who can be curious, about what, when and why? Whose curiosity is valorized and whose curiosity is demonised? His work has also been published in American Anthropologist, Visual Communication, and Anthropology & Humanism.

Que Sera Sera- stories about the future - Mathai B. Fenn, July 9, 2018


What will the future bring? To us, to humanity as a whole? Students of today should prepare for the world of tomorrow, although they may use the learnings from the past. Based on a paper (under review) submitted to the Journal of Design Science, this conversation introduces Narrative as a principle of cognitive organization, especially stories about the future. It goes on to explore certain powerful narratives about how technology shapes our future.


Dr. Mathai Fenn was a former visiting Professor of Psychology at IITGN.

Digital Humanities and Manuscript Studies: Extension and Activation by Arka Chattopadhyay, 6 April 2018

Abstract: The seminar will address the question of Digital Humanities as a critical framework to think through digital manuscript studies of 20th century literary texts. As texts, written at the peak of print-modernity in late 19th and early and late 20th centuries, become available in digitised forms in 21st century, using digital archives in research on and dissemination of these texts becomes important. This digital genetic material opens up a set of critical and ethical questions about how we see the manuscript in the digital environment. What is the digital manuscript? Is it text? Is it image? How different is it to read a manuscript in the library and on one’s computer screen at home? How are texts quantified in digital formats? What do these quantifications reveal about textual composition and strategies? Do we interpret the manuscript in relation to its published counterpart or see it independently? How do we theorise it in relation to the author’s writing practices? The talk hopes to discuss some critical directions about how the digital archive complicates questions of interpretation and how theories of a cognitivist orientation, such as enactivist narratology and extended mind hypothesis are mobilised to situate the work on digital manuscripts.

Speaker: Dr. Arka Chattopadhyay, assistant professor of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Gandhinagar, is a B.A., M.A., MPhil in English Literature, from Presidency College and Jadavpur University, India. He has finished his PHD from Western Sydney University. Arka has been published in books such as Deleuze and Beckett and journals like Miranda, Textual Practice, S, Samuel Beckett Today / Aujourd’hui and Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society.  He has co-edited Samuel Beckett and the Encounter of Philosophy and Literature and a Bengali critical compendium on the works of Nabarun Bhattacharya. Arka is the chief editor of the online literary journal Sanglap ( He has recently guest-edited the SBT/A issue on Samuel Beckett and the Extensions of the Mind. He has a piece forthcoming in Interventions: Journal of Postcolonial Literature and his first monograph, Beckett, Lacan and the Mathematical Writing of the Real, is slated for a December 2018 release from Bloomsbury.

Thick HCI-Thoughts on the Intersections of HCI and the Social Sciences by Dr. Nimmi Rangswamy, 23rd March 2018

Abstract: In this talk, I will briefly outline my journey  as a social anthropologist in the field of HCI. I will touch upon my early career research projects tracing the evolution of the anthropological lens in understanding and broadening technology adoption in the context of developing nations. Having spent the last decade doing ethnographic fieldwork on the use of new information technologies in India, I’ve encountered time and again a host of media practices that flagrantly defied stereotypical understanding and framing of ICT use in the global south displaying rich, informed and focused use of mobile and internet technologies.

I will bring together stories about crafting technologies anchored in low-cost but ubiquitous channels in the ‘developing’ world. As mobile technologies move beyond urban areas and the upper class who can afford them, it will be critical to see how the use of ICTs  provides an opportunity to question, discuss and modify some of the basic premises of technology use in development contexts.

Speaker: I am currently Associate Professor at the Kohli Centre on Intelligent Systems, Indian Institute of Information Technology, IIIT,  Hyderabad. I will be bringing an anthropological lens in understanding the impacts of  AI research and praxis. I teach courses at the intersections of society and technology and a foundational course in Human Computer Interaction. I am currently researching the domain of work automation and socio-economic  impacts on the outsourced job segments in India.

Formerly, I was a senior research scientist and lead the Human Interactions research area at the Xerox Research Center India. I worked in the building of technologies in the areas of consumer-centric heath care and urban mobility.  Previously, my job at Microsoft Research was a combination of theoretical analysis and ethnographic field research to understand technology use in developing countries.  These are studies of patterns of technology adoption in various social contexts and spaces in India, ranging from middle-class consumption of domestic media, the business models of cyber cafes and the use of mobile internet and Facebook among urban slum youth.

Data for a better world by Shivakumar Jolad, March 23, 2018

Abstract: Big data and data science are a buzz words these days.  In this talk, I will try to decode these buzz words with some illustrations from my work in demography, public health, education and public policy.  I will focus on how data analysis and visualisation can help us understand the society and use it for social good.  I will illustrate with examples on how data can reflect on the social, political and economic history. With examples from public health, I will show how data can help us trace the origin and of epidemics and prevents its spreading. I will stress on the importance of Data to build an informed society and make informed decisions, especially in the context of public policy.  I will show case some open source platforms through which everyone can be data activists or champion of data science.

Speaker: Shivakumar Jolad is an Assistant Professor in the discipline of Physics and Social Science at the Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar (IITGN). Trained as a Physicist and a Demographer, Jolad have ventured into various areas in Physics, Demography and Education. Jolad’s primary focus area is data and evidence based policy making focusing on education and public health. In education, his works include- small schools and school consolidation and analysis of Right to Education Act. In public health domain, he has worked on spatial and social determinants of maternal and child health care utilisation, and computational epidemiology with focus on vector borne diseases. He was one of the co-authors of Ahmedabad District Human Development Report 2016. Jolad has also worked with several Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO’s) such as Pratham, Akshara Foundation, AID-India, Asha for Education, and PHM (People’s Health Movement)-India on projects related to elementary education and public health.

Locating Assessments in education- tool for accountability by Ms.K.Vaijayanti, 13th March 2018

Abstract: Assessments are an integral part of education. The discussion is around the international assessments like PISA, national assessments like National Achievement Survey (NAS) and ASER survey (by Pratham) and local assessments like Gram Panchayat level math contests.

Speaker: Ms. K. Vaijayanti heads the Resource and Research group in the Foundation. A trained economist, she holds an M.Phil in Applied Economics from the Centre for Development Studies, JNU. She has worked in the health sector and decentralisation prior to venturing into the education field. In education she has extensively worked on issues ranging from Early Childhood education to School education in the Indian context. Most of the research works have been evidence based policy research in education sector. She also heads ASER- Karnataka since 2009. She has been a member of several committees set up by the Government of Karnataka on Elementary education, Human Development and ECCE. Vaijayanti has also anchored the preparation of NCF for ECCE- Karnataka.

”The co-evolution of life and Earth – Snowball Earth, the Cambrian Explosion and the origin of animals” by Professor Paul Smith, 26th February 2018

IIT Gandhinagar and British Council collaborate to host Professor Paul Smith, Director, Oxford University Museum of Natural History on 26th February 2018 (flier and announcement attached) at 4.00 PM. This lecture entitled, “The co-evolution of life and Earth – Snowball Earth, the Cambrian Explosion and the origin of animals” was organized under the aegis of ‘Great’ series of British Council Talks.  

Speaker: Professor Paul Smith is the Director, Oxford University Museum of Natural History, Oxford, England

From Invention of the Human to Digital Studies: Reading Bernard Stiegler by Rohit Revi and Angus McBlane, February 16, 2018

Abstract: Bernard Stiegler is a French philosopher whose works have profoundly influenced contemporary thought on technics and digital culture. He is the founder of the Institut de recherche et d’innovation in France, and a doctor of the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales. He has published over 30 books that engage with philosophical and political questions concerning technology. These works exist as an eclectic dialogue between disciplines such as palaeontology, psychology, European continental philosophy, critical theory, digital studies and the physical and natural sciences.

In my talk, I will attempt to chart a historical trajectory to his on-going work, while introducing some key themes such as exteriorization, tertiary retention, the digital-as-writing and negentropic Web. I will begin with his work on the role of technics in the evolutionary origin of the human and arrive at some of his arguments concerning “philosophical Engineering in the era of the Web”. I will then introduce his call for an epistemological revolution that is characterized by a reorganization of our digital and technological conditions. This revolution, he believes, will begin in the East, where “it is in the interest of Asia and Europe to part ways with the Californian model of networking”. I will conclude by describing “the stakes of Enlightenment philosophy in the era of the Web.”

Speakers: Rohit Revi is currently a PhD candidate in Cultural Studies at Queen’s University, Canada. He completed his MA in Society and Culture at the Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar.

Angus McBlane is a  Visiting Assistant Professor, Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar. His research interests include Cultural Theory, Embodiment, Environmental Humanities, Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology, Posthumanism, Posthumanist Philosophy, Science and Technology, Visual Culture.

India’s Cross-cultural Exchanges in Mathematics and Astronomy by Prof. Michel Danino, February 7, 2018


India has a long record of cross-cultural exchanges in the fields of mathematics, astronomy and medicine. With fairly dim beginnings going back to classical Greece, this presentation will move on to China, the Arab world and medieval Europe. It will also trace the discovery of Indian science by European astronomers and mathematicians from the 17th century onward some of them enthusiastic, others critical and dismissive which, despite or thanks to the controversies, did end up laying the foundations for the academic discipline of the history of Indian science.

Speaker: Prof. Michel Danino is a Visiting Professor at IITGN. His research interests include Archaeology and history of ancient India, History of Indian science and technology, Indian heritage, Cultural education.

Clinical Psychology: Australian Perspectives by Mitchell Stroiczs, 29th January 2018

Abstract: Mental health is an issue of considerable public importance in Australia. This discussion will introduce the practice of clinical psychology in Australia. Emphasis will be placed on methods of treatment, engagement with clients, and the factors that shape and influence treatment along with some examples of intercultural encounters in the clinic.  

Speaker: Mitchell Stroicz, a Registered Psychologist practicing in Sydney, Australia is the speaker. For the past 2 years he has worked in private practice for Uplift Psychological Services. Mitchell has studied psychology in Australia and abroad, and was awarded his Bachelor of Psychology (First Class Honours) from Latrobe University and his Master of Psychology (Clinical Psychology) from the University of Western Sydney. His areas of interest and specialty include: depression, anxiety, trauma, relationship issues, grief and loss, and personality difficulties; particularly among young adult, adult and senior clients. While his primary therapeutic approach is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), he also draws upon therapies from several evidence based approaches including Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT), and Motivational Interviewing (MI).

Human Evolution: of mosaic, hybrids, and braids by Dr Yann-Pierre Montelle, January 22-24, 2018

Human Evolution: of mosaic, hybrids, and braids

Recent major discoveries known as Masol, Naledi, Jebel Irhoud, Peștera cu Oase, and Denisovan are challenging established theories and narratives about the fascinating process of hominization. As a result, the linear and often simplistic model is being progressively replaced by a more complex braided stream-like model. For this lecture, I will focus on recent discoveries and discuss their impact on currently held theories on human evolution.

Homo faber: ubiquitous needs and cognition

Karl Marx once wrote that “man is a creature of needs”. Keeping this fundamental aspect of all hominids, I will discuss what I refer to as the basic biomechanical architectonics – the coping mechanisms and cost effective responses to these increasing needs – a signature of modernity and cognitive growth. I will briefly establish an index of some of these fundamental gestures and their resulting by-products and contextualise these in terms of cognition.

Homo aestheticus: But is it Art?

On Sunday 18 December 1994, the so-called Chauvet cave was discovered. Its iconography was so unexpected that it managed to single-handedly render a century of theoretical deliberation and deeply rooted a priori obsolete. It is, to date, the most vigorous challenge to linearity. For this lecture I will briefly survey the established theoretical frameworks and how these were so critically impacted by Chauvet. I will provide an opportunity to explore the cave and discuss what could have been the motivations for these paleospeleologists. But more importantly, I will discuss the problematic question: But is it art?  

Speaker: Dr Yann-Pierre Montelle completed his PhD at Brown University in Anthropology and Performance studies. A rock art researcher and speleoarchaeologist specializing in the human use of caves in prehistory, he has conducted international fieldwork and research in Australia, France, and New Zealand, and published on a variety of topics related to rock art. He has lectured in Human Evolution, the Archaeology of Pleistocene Rock Art, and Shamanism at Canterbury University, New Zealand. More recently, he has shifted his investigative interests towards India’s fascinating prehistory.  

Astronomy of Vedic literature by Dr.Koenraad Elst, 15th January 2018


Astronomical data in the Vedas and their auxiliary literature are few and far between. Still, they provide enough indications for a broad chronology: a time bracket markedly higher than the current Aryan-Invasion/Migration framework, yet lower than the fanciful chronologies current among some “history rewriters”. This application of archaeoastronomy offers a new and intriguing perspective into Indo–European studies and the vexed question of the age of the Rig-Veda.

Speaker: Dr. Koenraad ELST (born in Belgium 1959) is, as per his diploma title, a scholar of “Oriental Philology and History”. He graduated in Philosophy, Chinese Studies and Indo-Iranian Studies at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium. His original fieldwork in India led to a doctorate on Hindu nationalism, which he obtained magna cum laude in 1998. He made his name with research work on Ayodhya and the wider communalism controversy in India, on the fundamentals of world religions, and on the Indo-European origins debate. He has authored some thirty books in English and Dutch.

Talks 2017 (Sem 1, 2017-18)

Mobilizing the Materiality of Heritage: India and the World by Prof. Lynn Meskell and Prof Himanshu Prabha Ray, August 8-13, 2017

IIT Gandhinagar’s Archaeological Sciences Center had organized a  thought-provoking lecture series by Prof Lynn Meskell, Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Archaeology Center at Stanford University, and Prof Himanshu Prabha Ray, former Professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University, and Guest Professor, IIT Gandhinagar titled, “Mobilizing the Materiality of Heritage: India and the World.” August 8th to 13th (5 to 6:30 PM).

Drawing on the excavations and conservation efforts in various parts of the world such as Turkey (with the famous Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük), Cambodia and India, the eminent scholars discussed the meaning of archaeological materialities, the concept of transnational heritage, and the political ramifications of heritage. They also brought into relief the important implications of the new global order of heritage in the case of India, which is of special relevance in the context of Ahmedabad’s newly acquired status of World Heritage City. 

Nineteenth Century Gujarat and the making of Saraswatichandra by Prof Tridip Suhrud and Dr. Harmony Siganporia, August 23, 2017

The HSS department organized an interaction between Prof Tridip Suhrud and Dr. Harmony Siganporia on  “Nineteenth Century Gujarat and the making of Saraswatichandra.” Prof Suhrud is a well known Gandhian scholar and has translated into Gujarati (check of it is indeed into Gujarati) the four-volume novel Saraswatichandra by Govardhan Tripathi. The interaction situated the emergence of this novel in colonial Gujarat and discussed the engagement with the new forms of modernity in the period. Dr. Siganporia has worked on a well-known Parsi social reformer B.M.Malabari in the same period. 

Rerouting relations: Mobile anthropology within and beyond rural Gujarat by Dr. Sanderien Verstappen, August 24, 2017

‘Muslim areas’ in Indian cities and towns can be seen as centres of regional and transnational networking, but are usually portrayed as sites of isolation and ‘ghettoisation.’ Anthropologist Sanderien Verstappen shows how processes of marginalisation intersect with rural-urban and transnational mobility trajectories, through a case study of Sunni Vahora Muslims from Charotar in central Gujarat and among migrants from the region in the UK. Anand town in central Gujarat exemplifies a trend of migration and segregation in many Indian cities: after the violence of 2002, many Muslims from nearby villages and towns sought safety and comfort here. However, ethnographic research reveals that a sense of belonging to the wider region is maintained both among local Muslims and among those who migrated abroad. Social relations are maintained through visits, investments, and various kinds of social and material exchanges, while also adapting to changed circumstances. To understand such complex intersections of mobility trajectories, a methodological shift is proposed in the scale of attention of the research, from the neighbourhood-in-a-city to the neighbourhood-in-a-region and the neighbourhood-in-a-transnational-network. These wider translocal connections can be traced through the mobile anthropological research methods of ‘travel-along’ ethnography and ‘on the road’ oral history.

Dr. Sanderien Verstappen is a lecturer at the University of Amsterdam and a postdoctoral researcher at Leiden University. Her PhD research, completed in 2016, was carried out as a part of the Provincial Globalisation research programme, a collaborative research programme based at the National Institute of Advanced Studies in Bangalore and the University of Amsterdam. 

Globalization: Its Implication for Individuals: A Case of Reverse Culture Shock and a New Mechanism of Identity Formation by Dr. Kotona Motoyama and Dr. Shungo Kawanishi, September 7, 2017

Dr. Motoyama received her Bachelor’s degree from San Francisco State University, Master’s degree from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and Doctoral degree from Osaka University in Japan in the field of sociology with foci on minority studies, gender studies and family sociology.  She has been active both in academic and social domain contributing to the actual improvement of social conditions. She represents the network of scholars for the development of diversity studies project as the project leader. Dr. Kawanishi received his Bachelor’s degree from Keio University in Japan, Master and Doctoral degrees from the University of Georgia in Political Science with foci on global education development, area studies, methodology and several others. He has worked on global education curriculum development for more than 100 schools in Japan and the U.S. and is recognized as one of the founders of the field of global education. Using his broad research connections throughout the world, he works with Dr. Motoyama as the co-leader of the Diversity Studies project.  

Cascading Pedagogy: Developing Critical Consciousness & Transferable Skills Whilst Teaching Gender Studies by Prof Jyothsna Latha Belliappa, Sept 8, 2017

Prof Belliappa has taught Sociology and Gender Studies at Azim Premji University and the University of York, UK.  Her doctoral work, completed at the University of York, examined the experiences of women in the information technology industry in Bangalore and was published under the title of Gender, Class and Reflexive Modernity in India (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013). More recently she has been investigating the career narratives of school teachers from the minority Anglo-Indian community.  Her research interests include gender, work, education and the self.  She is also interested in the practice of experiential pedagogies in primary and higher education.  She currently teaches at Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology in Bangalore.

Climate Change, Health, and the Biocultural Experience of Resilience in the Indus Age of South Asia by Dr. Gwen Robbins, Sept 15, 2017

Dr. Gwen Robbins Schug is a Professor of Anthropology at the Appalachian State University. She has been conducting research in South Asia since 1999 and has been fortunate to work on skeletal collections spanning much of the Holocene (from 8500 to 700 BCE). She recently edited A Companion to South Asia in the Past (Wiley-Blackwell, 2016) and is the author of Bioarchaeology and Climate Change: A view from South Asia (University Press of Florida, 2011). Dr. Robbins Schug is an Associate Editor of the journal, Bioarchaeology International and has published 18 journal articles and book chapters in PLoS OneAmerican Journal of Physical AnthropologyInternational Journal of PaleopathologyAmerican Antiquity, and Journal of Archaeological Science, among others.

A Conversation with RJ Devaki by Prof Rita Kothari, Sept 20, 2017

The HSS department had organized a conversation with RJ Devaki and Prof Rita Kothari on Wednesday, 20th September 2017. Prof Rita Kothari and RJ Devaki were in conversation on the format of non-state radio, its challenges and freedoms, targeting audience in a city, and the use of language.

RJ Devaki has been working in radio for over 13 years and is one of Gujarat’s most popular radio jockey. She has received awards as the Best RJ of Gujarat and her show on Red FM 93.5 has been awarded as the best Gujarati show by the India Radio forum. Ladli Media Awards in association with Population First and UNFPA have awarded her for her work on radio in the area of gender sensitivity. With multiple local honours and awards, she was appointed as a youth icon by the Election Commission of India for her work related to increasing the voter turnout during the assembly elections. Her theatre experience of 20 years has allowed her to perform internationally at multiple theatre festivals like the Bharat Rang Mahotsav of the National School of Drama. She has acted in more than 30 full length plays. Her expertise in oratory skills, voice modulations, and her emotional connection with her audience makes her one of the most versatile radio talents in Gujarat.

Commodification, personhood and autonomy by Ms. Kelly Dhrutalk, Sept 21, 2017

A talk by guest speaker  Ms. Kelly Dhrutalk on “Commodification, personhood and autonomy”. Kelly has a degree in law (Oxford University) and recently completed a Fulbright-Nehru Master’s Fellow in Bioethics and Public Health Law from the Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard University. Kelly has previously conducted short courses on Law, Society & Technology at IITGN and other leading academic institutes in Ahmedabad.

Her talk focused on the question of commodification of the human body which raises deeper philosophical questions about the notions of autonomy and “human dignity” (which, some have argued, are the foundation of human rights), and what it means to be a “person” from the ethical (what does it mean anyway?) and legal perspective. The questions surrounding the nature of personhood seem to be getting more complex with the emerging healthcare solutions and biotechnologies such as the creation of human-animal chimaeras, brain-machine interface, regenerative medicine, stem cell research, and genetic engineering. The discussion-based lecture focussed on some of the leading debates surrounding the nature of personhood and autonomy, in the context of emerging biotechnologies.

Dialogue of Civilizations by The National Geographic Society, Oct 10, 11, 2017

In 2013, the National Geographic Society initiated a five-year annual conference called “Dialogue of Civilizations” to encourage scholarly and public discourse about five ancient, literate civilizations of the world: Egypt, Mesopotamia, South Asia, China and Mesoamerica. The conferences attempt to show how the study of the past can inform our present and future. 

The first conference in this series was held in Guatemala in 2013, followed by Turkey in 2014 and China in 2015. The fourth dialogue in this series took place in India from 8th to 15th October 2017. IIT Gandhinagar had the privilege of hosting the academic sessions on 10 and 11 October 2017

In attendance were international scholars such as Dr. Chris Thornton, Prof. Aslihan Yener, Prof. Tom Levy, Dr. Anabel Ford, Dr. Francisco Estrada-Belli, Prof. Monica Smith (all from U.S.A.), Prof. Barbara Helwing, Dr. Anna-Latifa Mourad (both from Australia), Prof. Augusta McMahon, Dr. Renee Friedman (both from UK), Dr. Yukinori Kawae (Japan), and Prof. LI Xinwei (China).

We were privileged to have scholars from India as well. Delegates representing leading organizations such as   the ASI, MS University (Baroda), Deccan College (Pune), TIFR (Mumbai), BSIP (Lucknow) and a few more institutions include: Dr. R.S. Bisht, Dr. Amarendra Nath, Dr. S.K. Manjul, Dr. Jitendra Nath, Dr. Bhuvan Vikrama, Prof. S.R. Walimbe, Deccan College, Prof. Vasant Shinde, Deccan College, Prof. Ajit Prasad, Prof. K. Krishan, Prof. R.N. Singh, Prof. Jeevan Kharakwal, Dr. Y.S. Rawat, Dr. K.S. Saraswat, Dr. Nisha Yadav, and Prof Michel Danino

From Clients to Citizens: Lessons from Brazil's Bolsa Familia for Delhi by Prof Manisha Priyam, Nov 01, 2017

The Humanities and Social Sciences department organized the talk “From Clients to Citizens: Lessons from Brazil’s Bolsa Familia for Delhi”  by Prof Manisha Priyam from the National Institute for Educational Planning and Administration, New Delhi on November 1st.

Multicultural Education in the United States: Do the Basic Assumptions Apply to Education in India? and Inequality and Access to Education in the United States by Prof. John Maddaus, November 13, 2017

A talk on Multicultural Education in the United States: Do the Basic Assumptions Apply to Education in India? and Inequality and Access to Education in the United States by Prof. John Maddaus, University of Maine. Dr. John Maddaus is Associate Professor Emeritus at the University of Maine, specializing in teaching and learning of multicultural education. Fifty years ago (1966-67), he worked at the Chembur Children’s Home in Mumbai as a Peace Core Volunteer. After returning to America, he taught sixth-grade social studies, with a focus on the cultures of Asia and Africa. He then earned a doctorate in the sociology of education at Syracuse University, and taught future and practising teachers in the State of Maine for thirty years. Now he continues to teach one online course per semester while collaborating on a research project in multicultural education.