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The conference will host over 40 scholars of various disciplines from North America, Europe, South Asia, and Australasia:


Artist: Vasuki
Artist: Kiko
Artist: Vasan

Abraham, S.
Ambalavanar, D.
Arasu, V.
Champakalakshmi, R.
Cheran, R.
Fukao, J.
George, G.
George, U.
Ghose, R.
Guruge, S.
Jegathesan, M.
Kanaganayakam, C.
Kanthasamy, P.
Karunakaran, K.
Karunanithi, G.
Kingsolver, A.
Mason, R.
Maunaguru, S.
Maunaguru, Sitralega
McNaughton, S.
More, J.B.P.
Orr, L.
Pai, G.
Palaniappan, S.
Pandian, M.S.S.
Rajesh, V.
Renganathan, V.
Sangarasivam, Y.
Seylon, R.
Shanmugam, K.
Sivalingam, H.
Sriramachandran, R.
Sundar, A.
Tambiah, S.J.
Tyyskä, V.
Vaitheespara, R.
Vivekananthan, P.
Whitaker, M.
Xavier, S.
Young, K.
Younger, P.

Gita Pai

Graduate Student
Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies
University of California at Berkeley

Architectural Juxtapositions in an Unsettled Landscape:
Temples of the Transitional Tamil-Kerala Zone
Friday, June 1st | 3:00 - 5:00 PM

During the sixteenth to early eighteenth century, the southernmost tip of peninsular India was an object of contention: both the Nayakas of Madurai and the Venads of Trivandrum vied for its domination. While infiltrations from the Venad chiefs into the Nayaka domain augmented the presence of Kerala in the Tamil region, invasions from the Madurai rulers incorporated portions of the Venad principality into the realm of the Nayaka kingdom. This contestation for control is evident in the mixed patronage of the temple construction in this area. This paper will examine the complex relationship between the Tamil and Kerala architectural idioms at the Sthanumulaya temple in Suchindrum, Tamilnadu and the Padmanabhaswami temple in Trivandrum, Kerala to understand how collectivities and identities were formed, elaborated, transformed, interpreted and contested within this region of southern India.

Ms. Pai's research interests include the the literary texts and visual arts of the Nayaka period. She is currently in Tamilnadu completing her dissertation fieldwork with the support of a Fulbright-Hays DDRA fellowship. Her thesis is entitled "Recasting the Syntax of Sovereignty in Late Medieval South India".