AIIS has been holding its annual Dissertation to Book workshops for scholars early in their academic careers for twelve years, normally at the Madison South Asia Conference in October. The workshops, which have been supported by the Council of American Overseas Research Centers and co-sponsored by the American Institute of Bangladesh Studies, the American Institute of Pakistan Studies, and the American Institute of Sri Lanka Studies, have led to the publication of a number of important books. However in 2020, as with everything else, AIIS had to do things differently. Sarah Lamb (Brandeis University), the workshop organizer and AIIS Publications Committee co-chair, with her characteristic aplomb, was not going to let a global pandemic stand in the way of providing this valuable opportunity to scholars eager to learn how they could convert their Ph.D. dissertations into a publishable manuscript. Furthermore, the workshop—which was conceived and led for many years by Professor Susan Wadley (Syracuse University)—has become a cherished AIIS tradition.
The workshop was held virtually via Zoom, on October 14-15, 2020, with 25 participants—chosen from a remarkable 52 applicants—and seven faculty mentors.
The workshop opened on October 14 with introductions and a presentation followed by Q & A on “The Secrets of Publishing” that included tips on choosing and approaching presses, how to pitch manuscripts, timing, publishing rights and useful strategies.
On the second day there were three groups, each led by two or three mentors. Each project was discussed by the group, each member of which was tasked with reading the chapter submitted by each group member. Each participant was assigned one other group member’s project to present and lead a discussion. The project’s author was later given time to respond to the discussion of their project and to solicit further feedback. The workshop concluded with a virtual social event.
Many participants expressed their gratitude for the program. One said, “I would love to share just how helpful I found this workshop to be. It set me up for writing my book in many ways, from giving me inspiration to keep going, to connecting me with others who want to create a writing support group, etc.” Another said, “”Thank you so much for organizing this workshop and mentoring our group. The last two days were energizing. I appreciate your thoughtful engagement with each of our projects. What a special opportunity. Returning now to writing with much momentum.” Sarah Lamb said, “I tremendously enjoyed participating in this year’s virtual dissertation-to-book workshop. I and all the mentors benefit ourselves from the opportunity to engage with the exciting work from this newest generation of South Asianists. We were all able to carry out intensive virtual discussions and meaningful work and connections, despite the pandemic. We even gathered for a breakout-room-hopping fun cocktail hour to culminate the workshop. I look forward to seeing all the impressive publications to emerge from the 2020 group of authors!”
In addition to Sarah Lamb, the organizer, the mentors were Projit Mukharji (University of Pennsylvania), Jyoti Puri (Simmons University), J. Barton Scott (University of Toronto), Bhrigupati Singh (Brown University), Harleen Singh (Brandeis University), and Anand Yang (University of Washington).
Andrew Amstutz (Cornell Ph.D. 2017, currently assistant professor History, University of Arkansas-Little Rock) “Between Science and Art: Urdu and the Technologies of Muslim Knowledge in South Asia, 1913-1961”
Mou Banerjee (Harvard Ph.D. 2018, currently assistant professor History, University of Wisconsin) “Questioning Faith: Christianity, Conversion and Social Reform in India, 1813-1907”
Shivani Bothra (Victoria University of Wellington Ph.D. 2018, currently post-doctoral fellow in Jain Studies, Rice University) “The Next Generation of Jains: Revisiting Religious Education and Identity”
Jessica Chandras (George Washington University Ph.D. 2019, currently visiting assistant professor of Anthropology, Kenyon College “Mother Tongue Aspirations: Language, Privilege, and Education in India”
Deepti Chatti (Yale University Ph.D. 2019, currently assistant professor Environmental Studies, Humboldt State University) “Changing Hearths and Minds in Rural India: Energy Access, Technology, and Climate Change”
Padma Chirumamilla (University of Michigan Ph.D.2019, currently post-doctoral Fellow, Center for Advanced Research in Global Communication, University of Pennsylvania) “Producing TV(s): The Multitudinous Life of Television in South India”
Julia Corwin (University of Minnesota Ph.D.2018, currently assistant professor Geography and Environment, London School of Economics) “Analog Work in a Digital World: E-waste in India and the Politics of Repair”
Karishma Desai (Columbia Ph.D.2017, currently assistant professor of Education, Rutgers University)“Learning to Aspire: Girls, Skills, and Fantasy Futures in New Delhi”
Camille Frazier (UCLA Ph.D. 2018, currently assistant professor of Anthropology, Clarkson University) “The Unlivable City: Food and the Urban Future in India”
Julie Hanlon (University of Chicago Ph.D. 2018, currently lecturer, University of Chicago) “Reconstructing the Early History of Jainism in South India”
Maira Hayat (University of Chicago Ph.D. 2018, currently postdoctoral Fellow, Stanford University, Anthropology and Woods Institute for the Environment) “Ecologies of Water Governance in Pakistan: The Colony, the Corporation and the Contemporary”
Sravanthi Kollu (University of Minnesota Ph.D.2019, currently Harvard College Fellow, South Asian Studies, Harvard University) “On Common Language: Vulgar Speech, Vernacular Literature and Communal Selves”
Amanda Lanzillo (Indiana University Ph.D. 2020, currently Princeton University Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts) “Imagining Islamic Industries: Muslim Artisans and Technological Change in Colonial India”
Zak Leonard (University of Chicago Ph.D. 2019, currently teaching fellow, University of Chicago) “Ethical Empire? India Reformism and the Critique of Colonial Misgovernment”
Tapsi Mathur (University of Michigan Ph.D. 2018, currently assistant professor History, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore) “Known Geography: Empire and the Making of a New Discipline”
Darshana Mini (University of Southern California Ph.D. 2020, currently assistant professor of Communication Arts, University of Wisconsin) “Rated A: Soft-Porn Cinema and Mediations of Desire in India”
Ameera Nimjee (University of Chicago Ph.D. 2019, currently assistant professor Ethnomusicology, University of Puget Sound) “Dancing Creative: Flexibility as Agency in Indian Performance Economies”
Kritish Rajbhandari (Northwestern University Ph.D.2019, currently assistant professor of English and Humanities, Reed College) “Anarchival Drift and the Limits of Community in Indian Ocean Fiction”
Natasha Raheja (New York University Ph.D. 2018, currently assistant professor Anthropology Cornell University) “From Minority to Majority: Pakistani Hindu Claims to Indian Citizenship”
Swapnil Rai (University of Texas Ph.D. 2017, currently assistant professor of Film, Television and Media, University of Michigan) “Networked Bollywood: Star Switching Power and the Global Flows of Indian Cinema”
Jeffrey Roy (UCLA Ph.D. 2016, currently assistant professor Liberal Studies, California Polytechnic Pomona) “Jamming the Script: Towards Queerer Possibilities of Ethnomusicological Filmmaking in India’
Sreyoshi Sarkar (George Washington University Ph.D. 2017, currently assistant professor English, Ball State University) “Conflict Ecologies: Human-Nonhuman Encounters in Postcolonial South Asian Literature and Film”
Pemaratana Soorakkulame (University of Pittsburgh Ph.D. 2017, currently post-doctoral fellow Religious Studies University of Pennsylvania) “The Buddha with Many Arms: Versatile Roles of the Buddha in Modern Sri Lanka”
Adeem Suhail (Emory Ph.D. 2019 currently postdoctoral Research Fellow, Anthropology and the Dornslife College of Humanities, University of Southern California) “Machines of Violent Desire: Transnational Gangs and Other Broken Objects in Urban Pakistan”
Dominic Vendell (Columbia University Ph.D. 2018, currently post-doctoral research associate, History, University of Exeter) “Allied to Empire: Maratha Sovereignty and the Practices of Diplomacy in Eighteenth-Century India”