South Asia Talks: Shalom India - Discovering South Asian Jewish Identities through literature

Synagogue Mumbai

The Asian Dynamics Initiative are happy to invite to this South Asia Talks 2022 lecture with professor Heinz Werner Wessler. South Asia Talks 2022 is part of a jubilee series of events held in order to celebrate 10 years of Modern South Asia studies at the University of Copenhagen.


South Asian Jewish traditions are a less commonly known. Yet they contribute actively to the diverse cultural and religious landscape of South Asia. The talk is on Jewish identities as presented in modern South Asian literatures. Some authors of Jewish descent have gained quite a name there, particularly in the realm of English and Hindi literature. The presentation will focus on two authors: For Esther David (English), the return to India after many years in Western countries is her personal “Aliya” (return to the homeland, usually understood as being the land of Israel). Sheela Rohekar (Hindi) discovered her own Jewish identity as a literary author only after she had already established her reputation as a social realist author.

Speakers bio

Heinz Werner Wessler is professor of indology at Uppsala university. He has worked on Sanskrit literature, early modern and modern literature in Hindi, Urdu, Panjabi and South Asian English. His present research focus is on early 18th century lexicography of Hindustani, history of Sikhism, and contemporary Hindi literature.

Practical information

Time & date: Monday May 9th 13:00-15:00
Place: University of Copenhagen, South Campus, Karen Blixens Vej 4 DK-2300 Copenhagen S, Room 10.4.05