Mark E. Balmforth

Curriculum Vitae

 

80 Claremont Avenue, Room 103 MC 9610, New York, NY 10027, USA

meb2212@columbia.edu | markebalmforth.com

 

CITIZENSHIP: United States; United Kingdom; Canada (Permanent Resident)

RESEARCH INTERESTS: South Asian Religions and Modern History; South Asian Christianity; Tamil Social History; History of Education; Caste; Gender; Slavery

EDUCATION

2020 (Expected)      Ph.D. in Religion (South Asian Religions), Columbia University

Dissertation: “Schooling the Master: Caste Supremacy and American Education in British Ceylon, 1796–1855”

Supervisor: Rachel McDermott 

2016                        M.Phil. in Religion, Columbia University

2015                        M.A. in Religion, Columbia University

2015                        M.A. in South Asian Studies, Columbia University

2010                        B.A. in Comparative History of Ideas, University of Washington

PUBLICATIONS

Peer-Reviewed Articles (4)

“In Nāki’s Wake: Slavery and Caste Supremacy in the American Ceylon Mission.” CASTE: A Global Journal on Social Exclusion 1, no. 1. Forthcoming 2020.

“A Tamil Pietist in Ceylon: The Educational Experiments of Christian David.” International Journal of Asian Christianity 3, no. 1. Forthcoming March 2020.

“A Nation of Ink and Paint: Map Drawing and Geographic Pedagogy in the American Ceylon Mission.” History of Education Quarterly 59, no. 4. Forthcoming November 2019. Winner of the 2019 Henry Barnard Prize (History of Education Society).

“Riotous Needlework: Gendered Pedagogy and a Negotiated Christian Aesthetic in the American Ceylon Mission.” Review of Development & Change XXIII, no. 2 (2018): 60–88.

Chapter in an Edited Volume (1)

kalakattaṉamāṉa alaṅkārattaiyal: amerikkaṉ cilōṉ miṣaṉ pālnilaip pōtaṉāmuṟaiyum kiristava aḻakiyalum” in T. Shanaathanan and Ayesha Abdur-Rahman (eds.), Tradition or Trans/formation? Craft, Practice and Discourse. Colombo: Kumaran Book House. Forthcoming 2020. [Tamil translation of “Riotous Needlework: Gendered Pedagogy and a Negotiated Christian Aesthetic in the American Ceylon Mission” by K. Thiru.]

Non-Refereed Contributions (2)

“South Asian Film.” In Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception. Berlin: De Gruyter. Forthcoming 2021. 

“Nyla Ali Khan’s Islam, Women & Violence in Kashmir: Between India and Pakistan.” Book Review for Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies 13, no. 2 (2011).

SCHOLARSHIPS, GRANTS, FELLOWSHIPS, AND AWARDS

2019           History of Education Society Henry Barnard Prize

2019           American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting Travel Grant

2017           British Library Endangered Archives Programme Major Grant 971

2016           Fulbright U.S. Student Award, Sri Lanka

2016           Houghton Library Visiting Fellowship, Harvard University

2015           British Library Endangered Archives Programme Pilot Grant 835

2015           Summer Foreign Language and Area Studies Scholarship (FLAS), Sinhala

2015           Hart Fellowship for Tamil Studies, UC Berkeley, Research Travel Award

2014           American Institute of Sri Lankan Studies Conference Travel Grant

2013           Academic Year Foreign Language and Area Studies Scholarship (FLAS), Tamil

2012–2019 Dean’s Fellowship, Columbia University

2011           Summer Foreign Language and Area Studies Scholarship (FLAS), Tamil

OTHER CONTRIBUTIONS

Refereed Conference Presentations (20)

“The Aesthetics of Slavery: Religion, Textiles, and Caste in the Indian Ocean, 1660–1960.” Accepted for Presentation at the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion, San Diego, California, 23–26 November, 2019.

“Tobacco Rāṇi: Addiction, Caste, and Slavery in the Indian Ocean.” Presentation at the Annual Conference on South Asia, University of Wisconsin, Madison. 19 October, 2019.

“Postcolonial Challenges of a Minority Religious Archive in South Asia” with Henria Aton. Presentation at the Archival Education and Research Institute (AERI). Liverpool University, Liverpool, UK. 12 July, 2019.

“Palm-Leaf Methods at the Inception of Print: Tamil Reading Practices in the American Ceylon Mission.” Presentation at “Beyond the Printing Press: Alternative Means of Production in the Global History of Print.” Royal Asiatic Society, London, UK. 26 June, 2019

“Nāki’s Death: Breaking Caste and Negotiating Accommodation in the American Ceylon Mission.” Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion, Denver, Colorado, 17 November, 2018.

“Printing Tamil Modernity: Pedagogy and Publishing in the American Ceylon Mission.” Tamil Studies Symposium 2018, York University, Toronto. 16 November, 2018.

“Trusteeship without Trust?: Postcolonialism and Memory in a South Asian Christian Archive” with Henria Aton. Tamil Studies Symposium 2018. York University, Toronto. 16 November, 2018.   

“Kūlaṅkai Tampirāṉ’s tiṇṇai paḷḷikkūṭam: A Dialogue Between Texts and Bodies, Memory and Domination.” Sri Lanka Graduate Student Conference: “Borders: Real and Imagined.” Cornell University. November 10, 2018. 

“Riotous Needlework: Gendered Pedagogy and a Negotiated Christian Aesthetic in the American Ceylon Mission.” Tradition or Trans/formation? Craft, Practice and Discourse Conference. University of Jaffna, Sri Lanka. 12 May, 2018.

“Surveying Lankan Chintz: Slavery, Aesthetics, and Textile Production in Colonial Jaffna.” Tradition or Trans/formation? Craft, Practice and Discourse Conference, University of Jaffna, Sri Lanka. 11 May, 2018.

“A Nation of Ink and Paint: Cartography, Pedagogy, and Evangelism in 19th Century Ceylon.” Mapping Asia: Cartographic Encounters between East and West, Leiden University, Netherlands, 15 September, 2017. Also delivered at the South and Central Asia Fulbright Conference, Kolkata, India, 6 March, 2017, and Religion Graduate Student Symposium: “Divine Maps, Sacred Stories: Cartography and History in Religious Imaginations.” University of Toronto. 17 April, 2015.

“Creating a Slave Caste: Collapsing Tamil Agrestic Servitude and Codifying Lanka’s Aṭimaikaḷ.” International Conference on Caste, Social Justice and Democracy in Sri Lanka, International Centre for Ethnic Studies, Colombo, Sri Lanka. 19 November, 2016.

Sāyavēr Red and Slavery in Jaffna: A Social History of Commodity, Caste and Colonialism.” Tamil Studies Symposium: “Beyond Refuge: Shaping Tamil Studies in the Present.” York University, York, Canada. 1 May, 2015.

“Sri Lanka is Not an Island: Notes on John C. Holt's The Sri Lanka Reader” with Mariyahl Hoole. Sri Lanka Graduate Student Conference: “Sri Lanka Otherwise? Resituating Topography and Temporality.” Stanford University. 11 November, 2014.

“Between Tiṇṇai Paḷḷikkūṭam and Boarding School: Rev. Christian David and the Transmission of Syncretic Tamil Education to Early Nineteenth-Century Jaffna.” The Annual Conference on South Asia, University of Wisconsin, Madison. 17 October, 2014.

“Christian David’s Boarding School and the Origins of Education in Ceylon.” Sri Lanka Graduate Student Conference: “Intersections.” Stanford University, California. 9 November, 2012.

“The Myth of Exile: Samuel Newell and the Origins of the American Ceylon Mission, 1813-1814.” Tamil Studies Conference: “Traces of the Past.” University of Toronto, Canada. 11 May, 2012.

“Façades of Pluralism: Use and Misuse of Myth vis-à-vis “Realism” Surrounding Chandrasiri’s Dutugemunu.” South Asian Literary Association Conference: “The Transnational Realisms and Post Realisms in South Asian Literature and Culture.” Los Angeles, California. 7 January, 2011.

“Struggling to Abide by Sri Lanka: An Attempt to Engage in Responsible International Youth Activism.” South Asian Literary Association Conference: “The Sacred and the Secular in South Asian Literature and Culture.” Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 26 December, 2009.

“The Lady and the Tiger: Diasporic Tamil Nationalism as (Re)Produced and (Re)Positioned by M.I.A.” Program in the Comparative History of Ideas and Clowes Center for the Study of Conflict and Dialogue Conference: “States of Violence: Representations of Conflict in Film, Fiction and Media of South Asia.” University of Washington. 21 February, 2009.

Refereed Workshop (1)

“Nāki’s Death: Breaking Caste and Negotiating Accommodation in the American Ceylon Mission.” Yale Modern South Asia Workshop, New Delhi, India. 10 July, 2018.

Invited Lectures (9)

“Surveying Lankan Chintz: Slavery, Aesthetics, and Textile Production in Colonial Jaffna.” Lecture at the Sri Lanka Archive of Contemporary Art, Architecture & Design, Jaffna, Sri Lanka. 2 July, 2017.

“The Politics of Language: Conflict in Sri Lanka.” Guest lecture for Introduction to Indian Civilizations. Barnard College, New York. 2 December, 2015.

“Ceylon's Dye Root Diggers.” Guest lecture for Introduction to Anthropology. College of William & Mary, Williamsburg, VA. 10 October, 2014.

 “Text/Power/Sanskrit.” Guest lecture for East Asian Buddhism. Columbia University, New York. 17 September, 2014.

“A Colour of Tragedy and Opportunity: Red Textile Dye and the Story of Ceylon's Dye Root Diggers.” Lecture at Apparao Galleries, Chennai, India. 9 May, 2014.

“The Politics of Disaster Aid: Intersections of Politics, Ethnicity, Religion, and Disaster Relief in Post-Tsunami Sri Lanka.” Guest lecture for NGOs and the Politics of Aid. University of Kentucky. 4 February, 2013.

“Contextualizing Selvadurai’s Funny Boy.” Guest lecture for Social Identities and the Arts. Cornish College of the Arts. Seattle, WA. 10 February, 2010. Also, guest lecture for Literature in Context: South Asian Canadian Literature. University of the Frasier Valley, British Columbia, Canada. 28 January, 2010.

“Incorporating Jaffna: Identity and Sustainable Development in a (Post-)Conflict Era.” Guest lecture for Applied Sociology, Department of Sociology, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka. 19 November, 2009.

TEACHING ASSISTANCE

Hindu Goddesses. Columbia University. Professor Rachel McDermott. Teaching Assistant. January 2016–May 2016.

Introduction to Indian Civilizations. Professor Rachel McDermott. Columbia University. Teaching Assistant. September 2015–December 2015.

Introduction to Hinduism. Professor John Stratton Hawley. Columbia University. Teaching Assistant. January 2015–May 2015.

Introduction to Buddhism. Adjunct Professor Robert Chang. New York University. Teaching Assistant. September 2014–December 2014.

East Asian Buddhism. Professor Michael Como. Columbia University. Teaching Assistant. September 2014–December 2014.

States of Violence: Gender, Nationalism and Identity in Contemporary Sri Lanka. Comparative History of Ideas Program, University of Washington, Seattle. Course Co-Designer and Assistant. January 2009–March 2009.

DIGITAL HUMANITIES

Manager, Jaffna Protestant Digital Library (jaffnapdl.org), 2016–Current.

Co-Applicant and Programme Manager, EAP971: Jaffna Protestant Digital Archive Project, funded by the Endangered Archives Programme of the British Library and Arcadia, September 2017–August 2018.

Co-Applicant and Programme Manager, EAP835: Jaffna Protestant Digital Archive Project, funded by the Endangered Archives Programme of the British Library and Arcadia, September 2016–July 2017.

CONFERENCE ORGANIZING

Co-Coordinator, “Teaching Religion: Transmission, Pedagogy, and Technology." Department of Religion Graduate Student Conference, Columbia University. 27 March, 2015.

Committee Member, “Sri Lanka: Remaking Society: The 2011 Sri Lanka Graduate Student Conference.” New School for Social Research, New York. 25 and 26 March, 2011.

Committee Member, “States of Violence: Representations of Conflict in the Film, Fiction, and Media of South Asia.” University of Washington, Seattle. 20 and 21 February, 2008.

SERVICE

Committee Member, Noolaham Foundation Canada, 2017–Current.

Heritage Consultant, Jaffna Diocese of the Church of South India, 2017–Current.

Vice President and Social Chair, Religion Graduate Student Association, Columbia University, 2015–2016.

LANGUAGES

Tamil (Advanced) Columbia University. 2012–2013, 2014–2015

American Institute of Indian Studies, Madurai. 2013–2014

                                      University of Wisconsin, Madison. June 2011–August 2011

Sinhala (Advanced)               Columbia University. 2015–2016

                                      University of Wisconsin, Madison. June 2015–August 2015

German (Intermediate)          Columbia University. July 2014–August 2014

French (Intermediate)            University of Washington. Summer 2006, 2007–2008

Arabic (Elementary)    American University in Cairo. January 2007–May 2007

 

PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATIONS

American Institute for Sri Lankan Studies

American Academy of Religion

 

REFERENCES

Professor Rachel McDermott

Professor of Asian and Middle Eastern Cultures 

Barnard College

321B Milbank

New York, NY 10027

(212) 854-5416

rfm17@columbia.edu

 

Professor John Stratton Hawley

Claire Tow Professor of Religion 

Barnard College

219A Milbank

New York, NY 10027

(212) 854-5292

jsh3@columbia.edu

 

Professor E. Valentine Daniel

Professor of Anthropology

Columbia University

1200 Amsterdam Ave

New York, NY 10027

(917) 741-7764

evd7@columbia.edu