Wendy Doniger - "Against Dharma: Dissent in the Ancient Indian Sciences of Sex and Politics" - Lorraine Daston

Tuesday, March 27, 2018 - 6:00pm - 7:30pm
Event Presenter/Author: 
Wendy Doniger

Photo: Thalia Gigerenzer

“A groundbreaking book! Wendy Doniger subverts accepted notions of dharma using the prism of the Arthasastra and Kamasutra. This is not simply 'original'; nothing like this has been done before.”—Patrick Olivelle, author of King, Governance, and Law in Ancient India

"Wendy Doniger does it again! A book I hate to love because it challenges my own work and demands that we all reconsider the resistance to self-righteous moralizing offered by the ancient Indian treatises on sex and politics." —Donald R. Davis, Jr., author of The Spirit of Hindu Law

Wendy Doniger discusses Against Dharma: Dissent in the Ancient Indian Sciences of Sex and Politics. She will be joined in conversation by Lorraine Daston.

At the Co-op

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About the book: An esteemed scholar of Hinduism presents a groundbreaking interpretation of ancient Indian texts and their historic influence on subversive resistance

Ancient Hindu texts speak of the three aims of human life: dharma, artha, and kama. Translated, these might be called religion, politics, and pleasure, and each is held to be an essential requirement of a full life. Balance among the three is a goal not always met, however, and dharma has historically taken precedence over the other two qualities in Hindu life. But historian of religions Wendy Doniger offers a lively and close reading of ancient Indian writings that unpacks a long but unrecognized history of opposition against dharma.

Doniger argues that scientific disciplines (shastras) have offered lively and continuous criticism of dharma, or religion, over many centuries. She chronicles the tradition of veiled subversion, uncovers connections to key moments of resistance and voices of dissent throughout Indian history, and offers insights into the Indian theocracy’s subversion of science by religion today.

About the author: Wendy Doniger [O'Flaherty] (B.A. Radcliffe, summa cum laude, Ph. D., Harvard University; D. Phil., Oxford University) has taught at Harvard, Oxford, the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, and the University of California at Berkeley, and, since 1978, at the University of Chicago. She is the author of over forty books, most recently Hinduism in the Norton Anthology of World Religions and The Ring of Truth: Tales of Sex and Jewelry

About the interlocutor: Lorraine Daston studied at Harvard and Cambridge Universities and was awarded her Ph.D. in the History of Science from Harvard University in 1979. She has taught at Harvard, Princeton, Brandeis, Göttingen, and Chicago and since 1995 has been Director at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin. She is also a regular Visiting Professor in the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago and Permanent Fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin.

Event Location: 
The Seminary Co-op Bookstore
5751 S Woodlawn Ave
Chicago 60637