The Inaugural Asian Arts & Ideas Forum: The Chindia Dialogues

Asian Arts & Ideas Forum

November 3-6, 2011
Asia Society and Museum
725 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10021

The inaugural Asian Arts & Ideas Forum, The Chindia Dialogues brings together established and emerging writers, thinkers and performing artists from China and India to engage in a vital cultural dialogue. Intellectual ties between China and India have stretched over most of the first millennium and beyond and are particularly relevant in understanding the history of a third of the world’s population and its contemporary political and social concerns. Through one-on-one conversations, panel discussions and music performances, The Chindia Dialogues explore the role that literature and the arts have played — and continue to play — in the shared values and interests that link two of Asia’s most influential nations, but also to America and the rest of the world.

Featuring writers Amit Chaudhuri, Siddhartha Deb, Amitav Ghosh, Yu Hua, Ha Jin, Meena Kandasamy, Suketu Mehta, Jonathan Spence, Su Tong, Xu Xiaobin, Murong Xuecun, and others. (For participant biographies and external links, click here.)

Featuring musicians Zhang Le, Dave Liang’s The Shanghai Restoration Project, Gingger Shankar, The Amit Chaudhuri Band, Qian Yi, Du Yun, and others.

The Chindia Dialogues (November 3 - 6) take place in conjunction with the Asia Society Museum exhibition Rabindranath Tagore: The Last Harvest (September 9-December 31, 2011), celebrating the 150th anniversary of the birth of Asia’s first Nobel laureate in literature — his extraordinary achievement as a writer, composer and visual artist, and his visionary commitment to Asian cultural dialogue and global citizenship.

Click on individual programs for more information and links to videos.

All programs subject to change.



Amitav Ghosh and Jonathan Spence
Thursday, November 3, 6:30-8:00 pm

Indian writer Amitav Ghosh joins China scholar Jonathan Spence to discuss Ghosh’s landmark historical novel River of Smoke, which is set against Sino-Indian relations during the 19th century Opium Wars. Introduced by Orville Schell, Director of Asia Society’s Center for U.S.-China Relations. Followed by reception, and a book sale and signing for River of Smoke.
Watch now


Underground & Undercover: Literary Reportage
Friday, November 4, 12:30–2:00 pm

Join a panel of literary reporters — Yu Hua (China In Ten Words); author and media critic Zha Jianying (Tide Players); Siddhartha Deb, (The Beautiful and the Damned), and China’s pioneering cyber novelist-turned-investigative journalist Murong Xuecun (Leave Me Alone: Chengdu), as they bear witness to the effect of modernization. Moderated by Orville Schell, Director of Asia Society’s Center for U.S-China Relations.
Watch now


Festive Reception
Sponsored by the China Energy Fund Committee (CEFC)

Friday, November 4, 6:00-8:00 pm

Limited capacity-first come first served


Dave Liang’s Shanghai Restoration Project
and Gingger Shankar

Friday, November 4, 8:00-10:00 pm

Chinese-American pianist Dave Liang with The Shanghai Restoration Project. The band draws its inspiration from the 1930s jazz clubs of Shanghai, and the performance features vocalist Zhang Le. Composer, singer and double violinist Gingger Shankar will perform a set of traditional and contemporary compositions with tabla player Jas Ahluwalia.

The evening will also feature a "work in progress" reading of Himalaya Song, a collaboration with filmmaker Mridu Chandra that is premiering at the Sundance Film Festival in 2012.

Followed by a conversation with the artists.


The Chindia Dialogues (Part I)
Saturday, November 5, 1:00-6:00 pm

Join Chinese and Indian writers for The Chindia Dialogues - Part I, a conversation-filled afternoon that ranges across Tagore's heritage, cyber-writing and migration.

Literary Border Crossings: The Writer as Traveler
Christopher Lydon of Radio Open Source with Ashis Nandy in a live digital link from New Delhi. Professor Shen Shuang talks with Sharmistha Mohanty and Allan Sealy.
Watch now

Cyberwriters & Cybercoolies China’s New Literary Space
Yu Hua, Zha Jianying, Emily Parker and Murong Xuecun.
Watch now

Literature of Migration: Where Do the Birds Fly?
Amitava Kumar, Meena Kandasamy, Suketu Mehta, and Su Tong.
Watch now

Conversation: Amit Chaudhuri and Christopher Lydon
Watch now


The Amit Chaudhuri Band with Qian Yi and the Du Yun Quartet
Saturday, November 5, 8:00-10:00 pm

Amit Chaudhuri's band is not fusion, but a hybrid meeting of his musical worlds, which collide in Hindustani vocals with hints of Derek and the Dominoes. Chaudhuri has not only studied classical Hindustani music, but also focused many of his novels on Indian singers. His music is a hybrid of this classical form, as well as Western popular music. Qian Yi was the star of her generation of Kun performers, but more recently been  experimenting with new forms. Composer Du Yun creates an avant-garde soundscape in which Qian Yi and Li Liqun retell the story Slaying of the Tiger General.  

Followed by a post-performance talk moderated by Asia Society’s Rachel Cooper on the unique expressive quality of music as a narrative form.


The Chindia Dialogues (Part II)
Sunday, November 6, 1:00-6:30 pm

Continue the conversation with Chinese and Indian writers in The Chindia Dialogues (Part II).

The 'Chindia' Readings. 
Authors Ha Jin, Meena Kandasamy, Amitava Kumar, Sharmistha Mohanty, Allan Sealy, Yu Hua, Su Tong, and Xu Xiaobin read from their work. Hosted by Amitava Kumar.
Watch now

Defying The Cartographer: Shared Cultures vs. Nation-States
Siddhartha Deb, Zha Jianying, Yu Hua and Amitava Kumar.
Watch now

Seeing Double: The Persistence of the Past in Contemporary Chinese and Indian Culture
Scholar and translator Andrea Lingenfelter, leads a discussion with Ha Jin, Su Tong, Xu Xiaobin and Meena Kandasamy.
Watch now

Tagore and the Artist as Citizen of the World
Amit Chaudhuri, Tan Chung, Christopher Lydon and Sharmistha Mohanty.
Watch now

Shop AsiaStore for related books

Arundhati Roy and Pankaj Mishra - Kashmir: The Case for Freedom
Friday, November 11, 6:30 pm

Join author/activist Arundhati Roy, writer Pankaj Mishra and anthropologist Mohamad Junaid for a discussion on the conflict in Kashmir.  Exploring the causes and consequences of the armed conflict, Kashmir: The Case for Freedom examines the right of self-determination of the Kashmiri people. Moderated by Professor Philip Oldenburg, Columbia University. Followed by a book sale and signing.
Watch now



PAGE TURNER, The Third Annual Asia American Literary Festival
October 29, 11:00 am-7:00 pm
The POWERHOUSE ARENA, 37 Main Street, Brooklyn

In conjunction with The Chindia Dialogues, Asian American Writers’ Workshop presents PAGE TURNER, The Third Annual Asia American Literary Festival. This one-day festival celebrates the Workshop’s 20th anniversary with writers Amitav Ghosh, Kimiko Hahn, Jessica Hagedorn, Hari Kunzru, Min Jin Lee, and Junot Díaz. For more details, click here.


Across A Cultural Divide
Sunday, November 6 at 6:00 pm
Leo Baeck Institute, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York City

The Leo Baeck Institute, together with Asia Society, presents a lecture with Professor Paul Mendes-Flohr, University of Chicago Divinity School, exploring the discourse between European intellectuals in the 1920s, specifically Albert Einstein and Martin Buber, and Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, and their views on culture as a transnational force for justice, human rights and peace. In conjunction with the Asia Society Museum exhibition Rabindranath Tagore: The Last Harvest.


Two Lectures on Tagore

Transnational Fascination: the Indian Nobel Prize Winning Writer Rabindranath Tagore in Discourse with Albert Einstein and Martin Buber - Paul Mendes Flohr, University of Chicago and Hebrew University, Jerusalem
Monday, November 7 at 7:00 pm

Rabindranath Tagore; the Poet as Educator and Environmentalist - Kathleen O’Connell, University of Toronto
Thursday, November 10 at 7:00 pm

Trustees Pavilion (Room 1). Ramapo College, 505 Ramapo Valley Road, Mahwah, NJ 07430

Co-sponsored by the Asia Society, New York and the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies of Ramapo College.


Xu Xiaobin and Timothy Liu Reading
Monday, November 7 at 7:00 pm
General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen, 20 West 44th Street, New York City

Join the St. Petersburg Review for this extraordinary evening, in connection with the Asia Society Chindia Dialogues. For more details, click here.



Video: Chinese Author Murong Xuecun Talks Government (and Self) Censorship [Asia Blog]
Interview: Jonathan Spence on the China-India Relationship [Asia Blog]

What can China and India learn from one another? [Asia Blog]
A Journey to Chindia at the Asia Society [WNYC]
'Chindia Dialogues' Speaker Amitav Ghosh Featured on WNYC's Leonard Lopate Show [Asia Blog]


The Chindia Dialogues are co-sponsored by the Center for U.S.-China Relations, the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, and the India China Institute at the New School University in New York. Major support provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, Aashish and Dinny Devitre, Dr. Indu & Mridul Pathak, The Armand G. Erpf Fund, Ellen Bayard Weedon Foundation, Arthur Loeb Foundation, China Energy Fund Committee, and other generous Asia Society supporters.

Related Links