Tamil Studies: A Discipline in Motion

Description of activities, leadership, contact information

Description of Activity

This working group links a growing community of scholars and students from the University of Toronto and the broader GTA area to critically inquire into the histories and the present manifestations of Tamil studies, both as an international scholarly discipline and one rooted locally in Toronto.

Tamil is a language, but it is also a social and political identity that has shifted across time and place. Therefore, its study spans the humanities and the social and political sciences, with varied trajectories in South and Southeast Asia, Europe, North America, and the diaspora. The specific institutions, motivations, and intellectual histories that have fostered Tamil studies over the years deserve further reflection. We are a diverse group of scholars from the humanities and social sciences who research ancient as well as modern Tamil sources from a number of disciplines, methods, and media, in order to understand more fully the modes by which Tamil has been understood across time and place. Toronto has become the centre of Tamil studies and diapora in the western hemisphere, and our group performs a critical service to the community during a time of social fraying.

Our focus will be on scholarly reflections on Tamil translation. We will compare multiply-translated pieces and read English renderings against Tamil originals. We will discuss the scholarly practice of translation, the colonial work of translation, Tamil Islamic translations, the notion of the untranslatable, and we will present our own work discussing solutions to the manifold conceptual obstacles of translation.


  • Jesse Pruitt, Ph.D. cand., Study of Religion
  • Bhavani Raman, UTSC Historical & Cultural Studies
  • Srilata Raman, FAS Study of Religion
  • Kristina Rogahn, Ph.D. student, Study of Religion


Faculty, University of Toronto

  • Francis Cody, UTM Anthropology
  • Christoph Emmrich, UTM Historical Studies and FAS Study of Religion
  • Malavika Kasturi, UTM Historical Studies

Faculty outside University of Toronto

  • Shobhana Xavier, School of Religion, Queen’s University

Librarian, University of Toronto

  • Natkeeran Kedchumykanthan, UTSC Library Digital Scholarship Unit

Graduate Students, University of Toronto

  • Henria Aton, Faculty of Information
  • Stephanie Duclos-King, Study of Religion
  • Janani Mandayam, Study of Religion
  • Ganga Rudraiah, Cinema Studies
  • Siddharth Sridhar, History
  • Mirela Stosic, Study of Religion