New York University Tisch School of the Arts and its Department of Cinema Studies have announced that the first international conference ever organized to explore and celebrate Indian cinema will be held in New York next month. Entitled The Social and Material Life of Indian Cinema: An International Conference, the four-day gathering will assemble for the first time more than 25 scholars from India, the United States, and Europe to reflect on Indian cinema’s complex form and its larger social and cultural context.

The conference, which runs April 20-23, 2006, is open to the public and will take place at NYU’s King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center and at 19 University Place. There is no admission charge. Conference registration will take place on Thurday and Friday, April 20 & 21, between 9:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. For detailed information and the full schedule of events, visit

In addition to seven panel discussions, conference highlights include: a keynote address by Partha Chatterjee, professor of political science at the Center for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta, India and professor of anthropology at Columbia University, and two East Coast feature-film premieres to be screened at the Asia Society. The films are Hebert (2005) by Suman Mukhopadhyay, and Parzania (2005) by Rahul Dholakia. The directors of both films will be in attendance.

“It’s only fitting that one of this country’s premiere departments for the study of the history, theory, and criticism of cinema has undertaken the job of conceiving, organizing, and hosting this important conference,” said Mary Schmidt Campbell, dean of the Tisch School of the Arts and associate provost for the arts at NYU. “Indian cinema resonates throughout the world, not only in the obvious geographic locations but in places where non-native speakers appreciate its unique choreography of music, melodrama, fantasy, and spectacle.”

“Over the past decade we have seen a wide spectrum of research on Indian cinema,” said Richard Allen, associate professor of Cinema Studies at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and one of the conference organizers. “This conference brings together most of the major scholars on Indian cinema from around the world, as well as new and emerging scholars in the field, in order to take stock of current work and outline directions for future research in the field.

“Moreover, the conference is designed to combine existing approaches to Indian film with new perspectives that recognize the transformative power of globalization on the aesthetic, social, and cultural value of cinema, and thereby foster new ways of thinking about the present and the past. We hope this unique gathering of scholars from India, Europe, and North America will initiate new collaborations across disciplines and within specialist subject areas, thus expanding the parameters and boundaries of Indian film studies,” he added.

In addition to Allen, the conference committee comprises Ranjani Mazumdar, associate professor at the School of Arts & Aesthetics at Jawaharlal Nehru University and an independent filmmaker, and Aparna John, doctoral candidate in the Department of Cinema Studies at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.

The Social and Material Life of Indian Cinema has been organized by the Department of Cinema Studies, Skirball Center for New Media and Film at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. It is made possible by the generous support of Merrill Lynch and the Ford Foundations, together with many institutions across NYU, including the International Center for Advanced Studies, The Humanities Council, The Center for Media, Culture, and History, The Center for Religion and Media, and the Kervorkian Center.

Conference participants are: Anna McCarthy, NYU; Arvind Rajagopal, NYU; Ashish Rajadhyaksha, author and scholar; Bhaskar Sarkar, University of California, Santa Barbara; Corey K. Creekmur, University of Iowa; Dana Polan, NYU; Gyan Prakash, Princeton University; Ira Bhaskar, Jawaharlal Nehru University; Jyotika Virdi, University of Windsor, Ontario; Kaushik Bhaumik, Ferguson Centre for African and Asian Studies, UK; Lalitha Gopalan, Georgetown University; Jonathan Kahana, NYU; M.S.S. Pandian, Centre for Studies in Developing Societies, Delhi; Madhava Prasad, Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages, Hyderabad; Manishita Das, Swarthmore College; Moinak Biswas, Jadavpur University, Calcutta; Neepa Majumdar, University of Pittsburgh; Nitin Govil, University of California, San Diego; Parag Amladi, scholar, and film producer; Philip Lutgendorf, University of Iowa; Priya Jaikumar, University of Southern California; Robert Sklar, NYU; Rashmi Doraiswamy, Jamia Millia Islamia; Ravi Vasudevan, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi, and SARI; Rachel Dwyer, SOAS, University of London; Richard Peña, Film Society of Lincoln Center; Rosie Thomas, University of Westminster, London; Shohini Ghosh, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi; Sudhir Mahadevan, NYU; Sumita Chakravarty, The New School, Eugene Lang College; Suranjan Ganguly, University of Colorado at Boulder; and Tejaswini Ganti, NYU.

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