On Friday, September 18, 2015, Houstoun Professor Karen Fang, Associate Professor in the English Department and a member of the Empire Studies collective, spoke to faculty and graduate students, with a reception following. The subject of her talk, part of a current research project, was “Arresting Cinema: Surveillance Society and Hong Kong Film.”
On Wednesday, October 8, 2014, Film Critic and Curator Sam Ho, formerly of the Hong Kong Film Archive, spoke to faculty and graduate students on Hong Kong film, with a reception following.
On Tuesday, April 29, 2014, we welcomed Laura Ellinghausen, from the English Department at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. She led us in a discussion of her in-progress essay, “‘We are of the Sea!’: Class, Nation, and Global Identity in Robert Dahorn’s A Christian Turned Turk.”
On Friday, April 18, 2014, empire studies faculty and graduate students gathered to discuss Chandra Talpade Mohanty’s essay “U.S. Empire and the Project of Women’s Studies: Stories of Citizenship, Complicity, and Dissent.”
India Studies Conference
In September, 2012, the Empire Studies collective was delighted to sponsor a working conference focusing on India Studies and featuring keynote speaker Ania Loomba, the Catherine Bryson Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania. Loomba has authored many books and articles that speak to the effects of empire in Early Modern England as well as today, including Colonialism/Postcolonialism (Routledge, 1998; second edition, 2005, with Italian, Turkish, Japanese, Swedish and Indonesian editions) and Shakespeare, Race, and Colonialism (Oxford University Press, 2002). Her talk was entitled “Caste, Sexuality, and the Limits of Liberalism.”
We also welcome four featured speakers whose work-in-progress we discussed in seminar format:
- Benjamin Conisbee Baer, Yale University, “Other Strikes: Gandhi, Nonviolence, Literature”
- Sukanya Banerjee, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, “Troubling Conjugalities: The First Indian Novel in English”
- Simon Potter, University of Bristol (UK), “A Public Sphere for the Angloworld? The Commercialization of Culture in the British Empire”
- S. Shankar, University of Hawai’i at Manoa, “The Challenges of Reading Empire Otherwise: Thugs, Poor and Solitary Hindus, and Other Illustrations”
On Saturday afternoon, along with interested people from the Houston community, we viewed the Bollywood film “The Dirty Picture,” directed by Milan Luthria and followed by a panel discussion led by Nandini Bhattacharya, Sucheta Choudhuri, Karen Fang, and S. Shankar. We thank all of our guests for an enormously fulfilling weekend of study, reflection, and exchange.
Empire Studies Today
For our first working conference in 2009, “The Current State of Empire Studies,” we assembled faculty from Rice University and the University of Houston who work in the area of Empire Studies to participate in brief panel discussions about the current state of the field. We invited Saree Makdisi, Professor of English and Comparative Literature at UCLA, as a keynote speaker and expert consultant. As the author of Romantic Imperialism: Universal Empire and the Culture of Modernity (Cambridge University Press, 1998) and Palestine Inside Out: An Everyday Occupation (Norton, 2008), Makdisi has addressed many of the crucial issues of empire, both in the past and in contemporary culture. His talk was entitled “At the Limits of Empire Studies.”