Stony Brook Matters

Discover the History and Future of Tamil Studies at Two-Day Symposium

Tamil symposium

Tamil symposiumThe College of Arts and Sciences is hosting The Future of Tamil Studies symposium on September 26-27. Studying the ancient yet still relevant Tamil language and its art and literature offers scholars insights into humankind’s earliest worldview, providing context for our life today and our collective, global future. This interdisciplinary symposium will join scholars and Tamil experts in practice, language, history and culture.

“Our University and surrounding community has considerable interest in the Tamil language, arts and culture,” said Nicole S. Sampson, interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “Thus, we’ve planned this exciting interdisciplinary symposium for our students, faculty and community to learn about current and future Tamil research directions across the disciplines of music, art, history and linguistics.”

The two-day symposium includes the following events:

Thursday, September 26
Preview film screening: Sakthi Vibrations, an ethnomusicological documentary, 7 pm, Charles B. Wang Center Theatre
Produced and directed by Zoe Sherinian, University of Oklahoma
Edited by Sundance Fellow, Jeffrey Palmer

Sakthi vibrations imageThe Sakthi Folk Cultural Centre in Tamil Nadu, India, led by two radical Catholic nuns, uses the Tamil folk arts to develop self-esteem and economic skills in young Dalit women (outcastes or untouchables). Sakthi reclaims the degraded parai frame drum to re-humanize and empower the young women through the physical embodiment of confidence in performance and a regenerated cultural identity in a complex campaign against gender, class and caste subjugation.

This participatory ethnomusicological documentary seeks to reveal and analyze Sakthi’s outstanding model for Dalit women’s development that integrates folk arts performance with social analysis, micro-economic sustainability, self-esteem and community development.

Friday, September 27, 2019
The Future of Tamil Studies Symposium, 12 pm to 5:15 pm, Humanities Institute, Humanities Room 1008
Experts in the field will give presentations on what Tamil Studies will look like in the future.

1:00 pm
“Calling Other Shores: Tamil Studies in the Age of Decolonization,” Dr. Bhavani Raman, University of Toronto
Presentation moderated by Eric Beverley, Department of History

2:00 pm
“Tamil Matters: Acquiring and Maintaining Language and Culture,” Dr. Usha Lakshmanan, Southern Illinois University
Presentation moderated by Lori Repetti, Department of Linguistics

3:15 pm
“The Tamil Parai Folk Drum: Historical Sources and Contemporary Identity Politics,” Dr. Zoe Sherinian, University of Oklahoma
Presentation moderated by Margarethe Adams, Department of Music

4:15 pm
Panel discussion with speakers and faculty moderated by Dr. Eric Beverley, Department of History
Featuring: Dr. Kannabiran Ravishankar, University of Paris, and Dr. SN Sridhar, Director of the Mattoo Center for India Studies at Stony Brook University

For more information and to RSVP, visit 

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