American Institute of Indian Studies

Bernard Bate Tamil Language Student Scholarship

Barney BateAIIS and the friends and colleagues of the late Bernard Bate announce the establishment of the Bernard Bate Tamil Language Student Scholarship in partnership with the longstanding AIIS language program. Donations to the scholarship fund will go towards the support of students dedicated to the intensive study of Tamil language and culture at the AIIS language center in Madurai, Tamil Nadu.

This scholarship honors the memory of Professor Bernard Bate who, tragically, died suddenly in the prime of life in March 2016.

Donations can be made by clicking here. Please select Language Programs and enter “For Bernard Bate Scholarships” when prompted to add special instructions.

Tamil is a South Indian language belonging to the Dravidian language family. Boasting a classical literature that dates back at least to the beginning of the Common Era, it has more than 70 million speakers today. Barney Bates’ longtime love of Tamil, and remarkable proficiency in this beautiful language, were fostered by the year he spent as a student and recipient of a fellowship for the AIIS Advanced Tamil Language Program in Madurai in 1988-89. A donation through AIIS to support instruction in this less commonly taught language that Barney loved is an excellent way to honor his memory and celebrate his scholarly career.

CLICK HERE  to see a short video of Barney on the importance of studying Tamil language.

About Professor Bernard Bate

Bernard Bate explored the theory, ethnography, and history of political oratory and rhetoric in the Tamil worlds of South Asia. The author of Tamil Oratory and the Dravidian Aesthetic, (Columbia, 2009/Oxford India, 2011), he was a member of the inaugural faculty of Yale-NUS College, National University of Singapore.

At the time of his passing, he was a Stanford Humanities Center Fellow where he worked on his book project Protestant Textuality and the Tamil Modern: Political Oratory and the Social Imaginary in South Asia. This work offers a genealogy of Tamil political oratory and the emergence of vernacular politics in the Tamil-speaking lands of India and Sri Lanka. The book argues that sermonic genres introduced by Protestant missionaries in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, fused with culturally and historically deeper forms and aesthetics of language, provided the communicative infrastructure that enabled a new kind of agent, the vernacular politician, to address and mobilize a modern Tamil people within a distinctive social imaginary. Barney had received an NEH-supported AIIS Senior Research Fellowship in 2008-09 for the project “Speaking the Public Sphere: Tamil Oratory and Linguistic Modernity,” that resulted in his book. Professor Bate was a Linguistic Anthropologist with a PhD from the University of Chicago.

The photograph above is of Barney attending the Chittrai-Alakar festival in Madurai, 1982 and is courtesy of Richard Davis who was on the AIIS Tamil Language program when this photo was taken.

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