event announcement: Sita Symposium

David Magier magier at COLUMBIA.EDU
Sat Apr 25 13:24:40 UTC 1998

I have been asked to forward the following event announcement to your
listserv or newsgroup. Apologies for any cross-posting or
duplication. For any further information, PLEASE CONTACT EVENT
ORGANIZERS DIRECTLY (as below). Do not send such queries to me. Thank
you. David Magier, SARAI

Dear Friends,
We hope that many of you in the Tri-State area will join us for all or
part of this Sita Symposium, and encourage your students to attend.  For
the rest of you, we tempt you with this marvelous program and hope to have
the opportunity to share it with you in some form in a publication that
will result from the symposium.

The schedule of talks is slightly changed from that previously sent out
and on our web-page and there may be a little bit more fine-tuning over
the weekend, but otherwise the schedulely is pretty much settled.  If you
have read the description of the conference already, just skip beyond it
to the section that lists sessions, speakers, and performances.

Mary McGee
Department of Religion
Columbia University
mm383 at columbia.edu

Columbia University in the City of New York

APRIL 30-MAY 2, 1998

Sita, the idealized woman and wife of Indian myth and imagination, has
been upheld as a role model for many Hindu females who throughout history
have been counseled to "Be Like Sita!"  The stereotype of the Sita model
came to be identified with the patient, the all-suffering, the ever-
faithful, the ever-pure wife, and this stereotype has been perpetuated in
religious tracts, literature, social conventions, politics, and
scholarship.  It is not surprising that this Sita stereotype has been
increasingly criticized in the recent decades of women's empowerment and
feminist scholarship, even as it continued to be promoted by various
"traditionalist" voices.  The name "Sita" evokes a range of responses.
But for many women, Sita is neither a political figure nor an oppressive
cultural stereotype but rather a familiar figure, whose strength and
poignancy instill feelings of confidence, connection, and affection.

There is no doubt that the Sita ideal has deeply influenced cultural
expectations of womanhood in India, and that the dominant models have been
oppressive of women.  But it is simplistic to think that the oppression
would be relieved by rejecting models such as Sita.  To dismiss Sita is to
dismiss the identity and imagination of a substantial proportion of the
Hindu population, both male and female.  Increasingly, efforts to
recognize and celebrate the strengths of Sita suggest ways that oppressive
images and attitudes towards women can be creatively transformed.  These
efforts arise from attentive listening to appreciate more fully how Sita
exists in the lives of women and men.  In this symposium we will reflect
on the process of embracing, rejecting, and transforming role models, and
in particular Sita.  By drawing together a range of perspectives and
presentations on Sita, we hope to gain a better understanding of the
exhortation to "Be like Sita!"  in several different historical, cultural,
religious, and textual contexts, and to discern the power of this role
model over time and across cultures.

Opening Address and Reception
6:00 P.M.
The Asia Society
725 Park Avenue (at 70th St.)

Reforming Sitas vs. Reforming Rams
by Madhu Kishwar, Manushi

$7.50 Asia Society Members
$10.00 Non-members

Friday, May 1st
Dag Hammarskjold Faculty Lounge
6th Floor International Affairs Building
Columbia University, 420 West 118th St.

9:30 a.m.
Welcome & Introduction
Mary McGee

Morning Session: SITING SITA
introduced & moderated by
Laurie Patton

10:00 a.m.

Women's Retellings of the Ramayana
        Nabaneeta Dev Sen

10:50 a.m. Break

11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Re-siting Sita: Gender and Narrative in Valmiki's Sundarakanda
      Sally Sutherland Goldman

Like Mother, Like Son: Sita and Hanuman
     Philip Lutgendorf

12:30 p.m.  Lunch Break

Afternoon Session
introduced and moderated by Susan Wadley

1:30 p.m.
Film-maker Aparna Sen will speak on her work-in-progress
a screen-play about Sita

The Iconography of Sita in Classical Indian Art
     Vishakha Desai

2:50 Break

Grinding Millet and Singing of Sita
      Usha Nilsson
Letters from Sita...
      Paula Richman

4:00-5:00 p.m.  Stories of Sita
Alamelu Iyengar
     Sunita Sunder Mukhi
        Nabaneeta Sen
                and others

5:00 p.m. break

5:15-6:15 p.m.
Atschul Auditorium
4th Floor, International Affairs Building

 From SITA:
the premiere of a new performance piece
by Ananya Chatterjea

Saturday, May 2nd
Alice Stetton Lounge
6th Floor, International Affairs Building

Morning Session 9:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
introduced and moderated by John Stratton Hawley

9:00 a.m.

Once Upon a Time...Sita Slew Ravana
    Tom Coburn

Rejecting Sita:
Indians Respond to the 'Ideal Man's" Cruel Treatment of his "Ideal Wife"
       Linda Hess

The Arya Sita and the Power of Self-Sacrifice
        J.E. Llewellyn

Relocating Ramarajya: Perspectives on Sita's Kitchen in Ayodhya
      Phyllis Herman

12:30 p.m. Lunch Break
>From lunch please go directly to Low Library Rotunda
for Sita in the City exhibit and gallery talk

Afternoon Session
introduced and moderated by Mary McGee

1:30 p.m. -- Low Library Rotunda

Sita in the City: Images and Ideas of Sita in the New York Metropolitan
    A Gallery Talk
    Anne Murphy & Shana Sippy

return to
Alice Stetton Lounge
6th Floor, International Affairs Building

2:45 p.m. -- Alice Stetton Lounge, IAB
Importing Sita: Immigrant Mothers and the Second Generation in the U.S.
     Anju Bhargava

Fidelity in Exile: Telling Sita's Story in the U.K.
      Jacqueline Hirst

4:15-5:30 p.m.
Concluding Remarks & Discussion
moderated by Mary McGee and Madhu Kishwar

an exhibit of images and ideas of Sita in the Metropolitan New York Area
curated by Anne Murphy and Shana Sippy

Columbia University Low Library Rotunda April 16-May 4, 1998 9:00
a.m.-5:00 p.m.

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