Visiting Faculty

Dr Janaki Bakhle



University of Bombay


Temple University


University of Pennsylvania


Columbia University
New York


  • 2009-2016, Director | South Asia Institute, Columbia University
  • July 2010, Associate Professor with tenure | Department of History, Columbia University
  • September 2005, Associate Professor | South Asian History, Department of History, Columbia University
  • July 2002-2005, Assistant Professor | South Asian History, Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures, Columbia University
  • Spring 2002, Adjunct Lecturer | Department of Anthropology, Columbia University
  • 1990-1995, Senior Acquisitions Editor | University of Minnesota Press
  • 1988-1990, Assistant Editor | Temple University Press

Scholastic Awards and Fellowships

  • Senior Short-tenn Fellowship, American Institute of Indian Studies, 2007
  • Senior Fellowship Award, National Endowment for the Humanities, 2007
  • Hettleman Award for Junior Faculty Research, Columbia University, 2005
  • Senior Short-tenn Fellowship, American Institute of Indian Studies, 2005
  • Junior Research Fellowship, American Institute of Indian Studies, 199
  • Fulbright-Hays Junior Research Fellowship, declined, I "Vice President's Fellowship, Columbia University, 1997-2001
  • Foreign Language and Area Studies Grant, Languages: Urdu and Marathi, Title VI, University of Pennsylvania, 1995-1996


T"'0 Men and Music: Nationalism and the Making ofan Indian Classical Tradition. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005; New Delhi: Perrnanent Black, 2006. Shortlisted for Hutch Crossword Book Award (India); shortlisted for the Lionel Trilling Award, Columbia University.


"Putting Global Intellectual History in its Place" in Global Intellectual Hislory. Eds. Moyn, Samuel and Sartori, Andrew. New York: Columbia University Press, forthcoming December

"Savarkar (1883-1966), Sedition, and Surveillance: the rule of law in a colonial situation," in Social History. vol. 35, no. I, February 2010.

"Country First? Vinayak Damodar Savarkar (1883-1966) and the Writing of Essentials of Hindutva,'• Public Culture 22: l , February 2010.

"Music as the Sound of the Secular," Comparative Studies in Society and History, January 2008.

Review of "Peasant Pasts: History and Memory in Westem India," by Vinayak Chaturvedi in Journal ofAnthropological Research. vol. 64, 2008.

Current Work:

Hindu Fzmdamentalism: An Intellectual History ofReligion, Politics and Modern India. Book mss, expected date Of completion: December 2013.

For the past six years [ have been working on an intellectual bioyaphy of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar ( 1883-1966), widely considered the author of Hindu fundamentalism. Savarkar is known to Indian historians as the chief ideologue of rightwing Hindu nationalism, an extremist nationalist placed under surveillance and incarcerated by the colonial government, and as the inspiring figure behind Gandhi's assassination by a member of the RSS, Nathuram Godse. If Gandhi is considered the father of the nation-family, Savarkar would be its ostracized, reviled, and hated black sheep, referred to on occasion by historians as "the principal philosopher of terrorism." Savarkar's influence on modern India has certainly rivaled Gandhi's, as evidenced in the rise and growth of the Bharatiya Janata Paly, the Hindu nationalist party, and the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra. The prominent role played in modem Indian political life by the ideology known as Hindutva is taken from Savat\ar's infamous extended essay and has become the core concept of what is known as "Hindu fundamentalism" however misleading the tern. For the very teasons that Savarkar sits awkwardly within Indian histoy as a stark and unpleasant contrast to Gandhi, to say the least, his life and career provides an opportunity to rethink the regional, national, imperial, and intemational circuits that require attention in order to write a new global intellectual history.

Savarkar has been written about by Indian historians, but without any attention to the vast archive of primary and secondary sources in Marathi. Savarkar, like Gandhi, was the subject of biographical works even as a young man. Savarkar fashioned himself, first and foremost, as a poet, and only secondarily as a patriotic nationalist. His poety, however. has not been the subject of academic inquiry. I have been translating selections from his poetic oevre with the help ofa Marathi specialist and in addition, have been studying Sanskrit. Locating Savarkar in ægional contexts has required working through the of several Marathi intellectuals, such as Rajwade, Shejwalkar, Shivram Mahadev Paranjpe, and Sahastrabuddhe, in large part because they provide what is central to any understanding of Savarkar and his fellow intellectuals, namely, how the 1 8dl century was viewed by them not as the century of Mughal decline and the rise of the East India Company. but of Maratha ascendancy and imperial ambition.

Most work on Savarkar so far has not taken into account the vast literature in Marathi that includes scholarly bioyaphies. adulatoty biographies, Sanskrit plays, Sanskrit kavya (courtly poety), powadas (bardic poems), Marathi plays, Hindi plays, Marathi musicals, children's comic books, illustrated books, to name a few. There is a specific regional reading public devoted to Savarkar and his continued memorialization. Within the Marathi lay and scholarly world of historical writing, the nexus between the biographical personal and the literary output is differently privileged: sometimes very close.

sometimes not at all. There is a varied reading practice as well, where Savarkar's social work, or caste politics is examined without reference to his political opinions. Such practices date to the period following Savarkar's retum to India in 1920 to be placed under house arrest, even as the process of memorialization continues to this day.

Although I am fluent in Marathi, i have been working with a Marathi insüuctor and have started learning scholarly Sanskrit, without which I am unable to translate or analyze Savarkar's complicated and hybridized poety. I am currently engaged in writing the first three chapters of the book, focusing primarily on Savarkar's early life.

Conferences and Papers

  • "Masculinity and Hindu Fundamentalism," invited lecture at the University of Texas, Austin, February 2013.
  • Workshop Presentation, "Why? Violence, Hindu Nationalism, and Indian Democracy." Columbia, Institute for Religion, Politics, and Public Life, December l , 2012.
  • "Hindu Fundamentalism's Unholy Author: V.D. Savarkar and the Hindu Right. paper presented at workshop on "The Holy War," University of Illinois, Chicago, Institute for the Humanities, November 2012.
  • "The Peculiar Politics of Essentials of Hindutva," invited lecture, at Sciences-Po, Paris, June 2011
  • "Savarkar's Poetry: The Folk and the Classical," paper presented at workshop, Cornell University, May 2011
  • "Religious Fundamentalism or Political Fundamentalism: Reflections from South Asia," invited lecture. Columbia University Middle East Research Center, Amman, Jordan, December 2010
  • "Savarkar, Sedition, and the role of law, ' paper presented at Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies colloquium series, Columbia University, April 2010
  • "Is there a Global Intellectual l•listory?" paper presented at workshop convened by Samuel Moyn and Andrew Sartori, Columbia
  • "Savarkar, Secularism, and Gender," invited lecture at Utrecht University, and University of Göttingen, April 2009
  • "Savarkar in the Marathi Imagination," paper presented at conference, Association of Asian Studies. March 2009
  • "Savarkar and the Writing of a New Intellectual I-listory," paper at workshop on Questions and Themes in Indian Intellectual Traditions, November 2008
  • "Savarkar, and the Writing of Essentials of Hindutva," paper presented at conference on Religion, Conflict and Accommodation, Columbia University, November 2008
  • "Music and Secularism," paper, Committee on Global Thought, Columbia University, December 2007
  • "Savarkar, Sedition, and Surveillance," invited lccturc, University of California Los Angeles, May 2007
  • "The Core Curriculum and Insularity," lecture, Core Conference, Columbia University, March 2007
  • "The Art of Exchange," discussant, Columbia University, October 2006
  • "Music and Social history," invited lecture, St. Stephens College, New Delhi, November 2005
  • "Music as the Sound of the Secular," invited lecture, Department of History, Delhi University. November 2005
  • "Anti-anti Secularism: The case of Indian classical music," paper presented at conference, University, October 2005
  • "Gandhi's India." College Day (Columbia University), Washington, D.C., September 2004
  • "Rethinking Music's History," invited lectur, South Asia Regional Studies, University of Michigan, September 2004
  • "Indian Music and Nationalism," invited lecture, Hitotsubashi University, Tokyo, June 2004
  • "Tilak and Savarkar: The Politics of Sedition," conference, "Empire and Terror," South Asian Institute, Columbia University, May 2004
  • "Music and the Modem," invited lecture, South Asia Regional Studies, University of Pennsylvania, April 2004
  • "Two Men and Music: Rethinking Music's History in India," invited lecture, University of Chicago, March 2004
  • "Music and Nostalgia," paper presented at Barbara Stoler Miller Conference, Columbia University, February 2004
  • 'Colonial Modemity, Music and the Nation," paper presented at Subaltem Studies, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, New Delhi, January 2004
  • "Gandhi and his Interlocutors," Deans Day, Columbia University, April 2003
  • "Bhatkhande and Paluskar: The janus face of Indian music's modemity," conference, "On Knowledge and its Ohjects in South Asia," Columbia University, November 2001
  • "Modem Hinduism and Classical An: V.D. Paluskar's syndicated music nationalism," paper presented at panel at Annual Conference on South Asia, University of Wisconsin, October 2001
  • "Interpreting the Past through Objects, Texts and Music," teacher-training workshop on "New Ways of Looking at the World," The Hill Center for World Studies, June 2000
  • Presenter Nisiting Scholar at the teacher-training workshop on the teaching of World history, The Hill Center for World Studies, March 2000
  • "The Emergence of the Classical Modem: Pandit V.N. Bhatkhande, the All India Music Conferences and Hindustani Music, 1870-1957," workshop on "Questions of Modemity" organized by Professor
  • Timothy Mitchell, New York University, February 1999
  • "Indian Cinema and Music," 1999 Film Festival, Dancing in the Rain: Indo-Egyptian Musical Films.
  • The Hagop Kevorkian Center, New York University, January 1999
  • "Film, Music and History," paper presented in workshop on South Asian Cinema, Princeton University. May 1996
  • "Demystifying Publishing," invited lecture, Asian American Renaissance Conference, Minneapolis, MN, June 1994
  • ''How to Build a list without a Backlist," panelist at Midwest University Pæsses Meeting, Minneapolis. N'N, May 1994
  • Invited speaker, Minneapolis I-ligh School for the Ms, May 1994
  • The Mystery of Book Publishing," panelist at Emergent Literatures Conference, University of Minnesota, March 1992
  • "How to turn a dissertation into a Book," invited lecture at Ford Foundation Conference of Fellows

Professional Activities

  • NEH Panelist for South and Southeast Asia
  • Manuscript reviewer for Columbia University Press, University of Califomia Press
  • Regular reviewer for Comparative Studies in Society and History, Social History
  • Member of the Association for Asian Studies

Institutional Appointments

  • Director. South Asia Institute, Columbia University, Fall 2009-
  • As Director of the South Asia Institute (SAD I am responsible for the academic administration, operational and financial management, long term academic and financial planning, and overall intellectual direction of the Institute. SAI coordinates all activities at Columbia University that relate to the countries of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. I am responsible for three main activities that the institute undertakes: curricular, programmatic, and outreach, in addition to managing (and renewing) the Title VI grant from the Department of Education, engaging in fundraising and overseeing a small endowment. I organize conferences, seminars, exhibits, films and lecture series that bring together faculty and students with widely varying interests and with Columbia departments, centers, and institutes to coordinate teaching resources and develop new areas of teaching, while also working to reach new audiences and facilitate a broad exchange of knowledge about South Asia. The Institute works with many South Asia groups, on- and off-campus, situated as it is in the midst of the largest South Asian community in North America. Because of its location in New York, the Institute has ties with persons serving in the United Nations, the diplomatic community, and international agencies.
  • The Southern Asian Institute has long been designated as a National Resource Center by the U.S. Department of Education (USED). There are approximately 150 such Centers across the US, for fourteen world regions, and designation as such is the highest mark of excellence in area studies. (For South Asia, there are ten Centers.) USED funding comprises the bulk of the Institute's funding, in two distinct grants: one that funds administrative, language, library and outreach salaries, as well as library acquisitions and events programming; and a second grant that funds academic year and summer graduate fellowships. I oversee and manage the overall four year budget of about S2.4 million. Under my direction, I have expanded the mandate of the SAI to include the work of scholars from Environmental Sciences, Health Sciences, Public Health, and Education in order to make the institute more broadly representative of the full range of scholarly and professional activities across the University. I appoint and convene an Executive Committee composed primarily of full professors across the disciplines in South Asia. In my role as Director I have administrative, budgetary, fundraising, and supervisory responsibilities.Every four years, NRC/FLAS Centers must apply in open competition for authorization by the US Department of Education. During my term in office, the current application for the 2010-14 cycle competition succeeded in securing the largest ever grant the Institute has received. USED funding is intended to support long-term strengthening of language and area studies programs. USED is particularly interested in supporting instruction in the Less Commonly Taught Languages — which include the languages of South Asia — and in raising language proficiency and instructional standards to professional levels. As Director of the institute, I work directly with Deans, Department Chairs, institute directors, and senior faculty to ensure that the curriculum for South Asia has coherence. I am also currently serving as the senior faculty coordinator for Columbia University's Global Center in Mumbai. I travel regularly to India to fundraise with donors in Bombay, and Delhi.
  • Interim Director, South Asia Institute, Columbia University, Spring 2009
  • Space Committee, Department of History, Columbia University, Fall 2009-
  • Undergraduate Education Committee, Department of History, Columbia University, 2008 Executive Committee, South Asian Institute, Columbia University, Fall 2006
  • Director of Graduate Studies, Middle East and Asia Languages and Cultures, Columbia University, Fall 2004
  • Executive Committee of Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Columbia University, Fall 2003
  • Member of Admissions and Fellowships Committee, Middle Eastern and Asian languages and Cultures. Columbia University, Spring 2002
  • Advisory Board, Hill Center for World Studies, Ashfield, MA, 2001-
  • Board Member, Center for Arts Criticism, Minneapolis, MN, 1991-1993
  • Consultant, Guthrie Theater’s production of Girish Kanad's play, Nagamandala, Minneapolis, MN. 1993


  • Marathi, native fluency in reading, writing and speaking, equal to that in English
  • Hindi, native fluency in reading, writing and speaking. equal to that in English
  • Urdu, Punjabi and Gujarati, basic understanding

Contact Details

  • Email:
  • Ph. No.: (212) 854-4662