University of Virginia, College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Events

Mellon Fellows Seminar - Neeti Nair, “The Problem of Belonging after the Partition of India”

March 5, 2021

Webinar | 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

Mellon Fellows Seminar - Neeti Nair, “The Problem of Belonging after the Partition of India”

March 5, 2021

Webinar | 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

Neeti Nair

Associate Professor

Corcoran Department of History, University of Virginia

Global Fellow, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington, DC.

** Seminar:  January 22, 2021:  The Problem of Belonging after the Partition of India

 

Project Summary

How did the partition of the Indian subcontinent resolve the problem of belonging for minority religious communities – in India, Pakistan, and later, Bangladesh? If Pakistan was designed to create a ‘homeland’ for the Muslims of the subcontinent, was India meant to serve as a homeland for the Hindus? How, then, did the Hindus of Pakistan and the Muslims of India learn to live and build community in these newly majoritarian countries? Did the state ideologies of secularism and Islam enable both minorities and majorities to flourish on terms of equality? In ‘The Problem of Belonging after the Partition of India’, I examine debates on political representation alongside literary representations of religious minorities as a way to understand how the contradictions wrought by the partition were sought to be resolved in subsequent decades. This is part of a longer book length project on India’s Partition: Politics, Culture, Memory.

 

Biography

Neeti Nair is an associate professor of history at the University of Virginia and Global Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC. She is the author of Changing Homelands: Hindu Politics and the Partition of India, Harvard University Press and Permanent Black, 2011. Her articles have appeared in scholarly journals such as Modern Asian StudiesIndian Economic and Social History Review, and the Economic and Political Weekly, as well as in media outlets such as The Print, the Indian Express and India Today. Nair has held fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, American Institute of Indian Studies, Andrew Mellon Foundation, Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, and Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Rethinking World Literature: China as Method - “From the Early Modern to Graphic Scholarship: Reflections on Methodology”

March 5, 2021

Webinar | 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

Rethinking World Literature: China as Method - “From the Early Modern to Graphic Scholarship: Reflections on Methodology”

March 5, 2021

Webinar | 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

Rivi Handler-Spitz, Associate Professor, Macalester College
“From the Early Modern to Graphic Scholarship: Reflections on Methodology”

Co-sponsored by the Early Modern Workshop

 

In this workshop, comparative literature scholar, translator, editor, and cartoonist Rivi Handler-Spitz raises questions about what constitutes a valid context for interpreting literature from long ago and far away. Drawing on her experiences interpreting the writings of the sixteenth century Chinese provocateur Li Zhi (1527-1602) in a range of contexts – as his translator, in the culturally and nationally bound context of Ming dynasty Chinese intellectual history, in the inter-regional and inter-cultural context of the early modern period, and now in the “post-critical” context of her graphic scholarship -- Handler-Spitz explores the benefits and drawbacks these several methods afford and asks what new interpretative possibilities the visual medium of graphic scholarship opens up.

 

Register in advance for the meeting

 

*Copies of Prof. Handler-Spitz’s book, Symptoms of an Unruly Age: Li Zhi and Cultures of Early Modernity are available to the first 20 local registrants! Instructions will be sent after registration.*  

Audrey Tang, Minister without Portfolio, Taiwan, sponsored by the Democratic Cultures of East Asia Series

March 9, 2021

Webinar | 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Audrey Tang, Minister without Portfolio, Taiwan, sponsored by the Democratic Cultures of East Asia Series

March 9, 2021

Webinar | 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Join us for a conversation about democracy and technology with Audrey Tang, Taiwan’s Digital Minister. Tang was involved with helping the Sunflower Student Movement amplify their message in 2014, and then joined the government in 2016. Tang is part of the “g0v” (gov zero), a civic hacking project that re-imagines government through endeavors like “vTaiwan,” an online space for debate. Last spring as the pandemic took hold, Tang opened access to data on where masks were available, leading to the development of apps to help people locate them. Tang’s approach has created spaces online where democracy flourishes.

 

Register here

"Unwellness in the Academy: Mental Health, Contingency & Care," A Workshop with Mimi Khúc

March 16, 2021

Webinar | 4:00 pm

"Unwellness in the Academy: Mental Health, Contingency & Care," A Workshop with Mimi Khúc

March 16, 2021

Webinar | 4:00 pm

Unwellness in the Academy: Mental Health, Contingency & Care
Workshop with Dr. Mimi Khúc
March 16, 4:00-5:15 pm
Register here

 

Things are not well. For graduate students and contingent faculty, the mental health crisis—worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic—is but one of many overlapping, longstanding “crises” in higher ed: a jobs crisis, a debt crisis, a crisis in the humanities, and so on. In the face of these structural crises, how might we tend to our unwellness? How can we bridge our personal unwellness with these structural problems? And how might we dream of new forms of care in the face of these adversities? Mimi Khúc, a writer, scholar, and teacher of things unwell, and the 2019-2021 Scholar/Artist/Activist in Residence in Disability Studies at Georgetown University, will guide us through these questions in an interactive workshop, followed by an open Q&A and discussion. 

 
BioMimi Khúc, PhD, is a writer, scholar, and teacher of things unwell. She is the 2019-2021 Scholar/Artist/Activist in Residence in Disability Studies at Georgetown University and guest editor of Open in Emergency: A Special Issue on Asian American Mental Health, an arts and humanities intervention that works to rethink and decolonize Asian American un/wellness. She oversees the Open in Emergency Initiative, a multi-year national project developing mental health arts programming with universities and community spaces, and is very slowly working on several book projects including a manifesto on contingency in Asian American studies and essays on mental health, the arts, and the university. Mostly, she bakes, as access and care for herself and loved ones.

 

Note: Live transcription will be available. Please email any additional access needs to jaw2yc@virginia.edu

Mellon Fellows Seminar - Joshua White, “An Epic Tale of Sorrow and Joy: Slavery, Migration, and the Mediterranean Journeys of an Ottoman Manuscript”

March 19, 2021

Webinar | 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

Mellon Fellows Seminar - Joshua White, “An Epic Tale of Sorrow and Joy: Slavery, Migration, and the Mediterranean Journeys of an Ottoman Manuscript”

March 19, 2021

Webinar | 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

Joshua White

Associate Professor

Corcoran Department of History, University of Virginia

** Seminar:  March 19, 2021: “An Epic Tale of Sorrow and Joy: Slavery, Migration, and the Mediterranean Journeys of an Ottoman Manuscript”

 

Project Summary

What meaning did a fictional Ottoman tale and the manuscript containing it have to those who copied, read, heard, and owned it? An Epic Tale of Sorrow and Joy is an interdisciplinary microhistory that explores the many meanings, uses, and journeys of an otherwise unremarkable manuscript—the only extant copy of an eponymous Ottoman Turkish story of forced migration, fortune, and loss set in the seventeenth-century Mediterranean—held at the British Library. Tracing the parallel lives of the story’s characters and the manuscript’s early nineteenth-century Ottoman and European owners, this study considers the contexts in which such manuscripts were produced, consumed, collected, and sold, and the lives of the migrants, travelers, and slaves that inspired them. By following this unique manuscript from Izmir to Istanbul and Corfu to London, I aim to bring to light a lost history of cultural exchange and appropriation, travel and migration. 

 

Biography

Joshua M. White is Associate Professor of History at the University of Virginia. A specialist in the social, legal, and diplomatic history of the early modern Ottoman Empire and Mediterranean world, he is the author of Piracy and Law in the Ottoman Mediterranean (Stanford University Press, 2017).

Mellon Fellows Seminar - Sarah Betzer, “The Long Eighteenth Century?”

March 26, 2021

Webinar | 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

Mellon Fellows Seminar - Sarah Betzer, “The Long Eighteenth Century?”

March 26, 2021

Webinar | 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

Sarah Betzer

Associate Professor of Art History

McIntire Department of Art, University of Virginia

** Seminar:  March 26, 2021: “The "Long" Eighteenth Century?”

 

Project Summary

“The "Long" Eighteenth Century?” – The focus of my research while a Mellon Humanities Fellow takes off from the ubiquity of the phrase: "the long eighteenth century." Proliferating in calls for participation and panel descriptions throughout art history and visual culture studies, if the mark of an elongated eighteenth century is inescapable, this terminology merits further scrutiny. During my period as a Mellon Fellow, I will consider the rise of a "long" eighteenth century alongside the significant transformation of art historical inquiry into expanded geographical and cultural terrains. What is meant by the "long" eighteenth century? From which vantage points, and for whom, is it long? And to what ends has this elongation been directed? And what impact, if any, has a "worlding" of art history had upon humanistic thinking about the relative length or shortness, the narrowness or breadth, of the eighteenth century? My consideration of these questions will take the form of a historiographic analysis–rooted in art history but with a vantage onto scholarship in allied humanistic disciplines–that will appear in a special issue of Journal 18 that I am co-editing with Prof. Dipti Khera (New York University/Institute of Fine Arts), and that will appear in late 2021.

 

Biography

Sarah Betzer is Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Virginia. A specialist of modern European art and art historical theory and methods, her research, teaching, and graduate supervision is orientated to the intersections of art theoretical debates and artistic process; the enduring power of the classical past; and the dynamics of gendered and sexed bodies in representation. She is the author of Ingres and the Studio: Women, Painting, History (Penn State University Press, 2010), and Animating the Antique: Sculptural Encounter in the Age of Aesthetic Theory (forthcoming, Penn State University Press). Her essays have appeared in The Art Bulletin, Oxford Art Journal, Art History, and Sculpture Journal.

Rethinking World Literature: China as Method - “Arabic Literature and the Boundaries of Translation History in Modern China”

April 2, 2021

Webinar | 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

Rethinking World Literature: China as Method - “Arabic Literature and the Boundaries of Translation History in Modern China”

April 2, 2021

Webinar | 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

Michael Gibbs Hill, Associate Professor, College of William & Mary
“Arabic Literature and the Boundaries of Translation History in Modern China”

 

Register in advance for this meeting

Citizenship, Belonging, and the Partition of India

April 9, 2021

Webinar | 9:00 am - 1:30 pm

Citizenship, Belonging, and the Partition of India

April 9, 2021

Webinar | 9:00 am - 1:30 pm

FRIDAY APRIL 9, 2021 FROM 9:00 TO 1:30 PM EST VIA ZOOM
REGISTER HERE

SPONSORED BY THE INSTITUTE OF THE HUMANITIES AND GLOBAL CULTURES (IHGC), UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA AND THE ROYAL SOCIETY FOR ASIAN AFFAIRS (RSAA)

 

PANEL 1: BORDERS, CITIZENSHIP AND CONTESTED IDEAS OF THE NATION [9-11 am EST]

 

Antara DattaRoyal Holloway College, Hindus in Bangladesh and the Citizenship Question in Assam

 

Farhana IbrahimIndian Institute of Technology Delhi, The 1971 War: Perspectives from Gujarat

 

Sarah WaheedDavidson College, Hyderabad's ‘Police Action’: Muslim Belonging, Memory, and the Hidden Histories of Partition

 

Arsalan KhanUnion College, Contesting Sovereignty: Islamic Piety and Blasphemy Politics in Pakistan

 

Moderator: Neeti Nair, University of Virginia

 

PANEL 2: LITERATURE AND HISTORY, LONGING AND BELONGING [11:30 am-1:30 pm EST]

 

Shahla HussainSt. John’s University, Artificial ‘Borders’: Kashmiri Belonging in the Aftermath of Partition  

 

Uttara ShahaniOxford UniversityLanguage Without a Land: Linguistic Citizenship and the Case for Sindhi in India

 

Ather ZiaUniversity of Northern Colorado, Kashmiri poetry and the imaginaries of love, loss, and freedom

 

Mehr FarooqiUniversity of Virginia, Wounds of Partition as Symbolized in the Fiction of Intizar Husain

 

Moderator: Sonam Kachru, University of Virginia

________________________________________________________________________________________________

ABSTRACTS

 

PANEL 1: BORDERS, CITIZENSHIP AND CONTESTED IDEAS OF THE NATION

 

Antara Datta, "Hindus in Bangladesh and the Citizenship Question in Assam"

This paper will look at the ‘Hindu’ question in Bangladesh and the concomitant effect on the refugee question in Assam. This paper will argue that 1971 provides a critical dividing line in how we understand the politics of migration within Assam, by providing a line of acceptance between those who are said to belong legally and those are seen as outsiders. Contrary to the Government of India’s narratives that the refugees, largely Hindu who crossed the border, were welcomed with open arms, my research demonstrates that an ‘affective’ border develops in Assam in this period. This border draws upon existing memories of Partition refugees who stayed on after 1947 and manifests itself in the way in which the 1971 refugees are treated. There is resistance in Assam both from the local Assamese who have demographic concerns about the presence of Hindu Bengalis, as well as local Khasi and Jaintia tribes who are in the process of agitating for statehood. I argue that briefly in this period it is language rather than religion that is the marker of belonging within Assam.

Thus, in the post 1971 period, this affective border in Assam takes a step towards becoming an ‘effective’ one with 1971 becoming the delineating point between those who are said to legally belong and those who are not. This paper then carries this story forward to the present day and the debate around the Citizenship Amendment Act to demonstrate how the affective border has shifted to one that has been securitised around concerns about illegality and ‘infiltration’ centered around the body of the Muslim Bengali migrant, and the ways in which the Indian nation state has now used these border narratives for its own exclusionary citizenship goals.

 

Farhana Ibrahim, "The 1971 War: Perspectives from Gujarat"

In this paper, I examine the 1971 war (better known as the war for the liberation of Bangladesh) from a western Indian perspective. I argue that this war between India and Pakistan—while it focused overtly on the independence of East Pakistan—had some significant consequences for the western border between Kutch (in Gujarat state) and Sindh (in Pakistan). I suggest that this military conflict and the subsequent brief Indian occupation of TharParkar in Sindh allows for a significant re-thinking of questions of citizenship, identity and belonging that were sparked off in 1947. Indeed, I suggest that for this section of the border, it was 1971 rather than 1947, that is central to the articulation of these questions around nationality and citizenship.

In recent years, the 1971 war has come to be memorialized through spectacular public memorials in Kutch, a popular tourist destination that is increasingly re-inventing itself as a site for war tourism. The 1971 war and a nationalist-spun narrative of India’s ‘victory’ over Pakistan generates much of the attraction for this kind of war and border tourism. However, as I argue in my paper, the consequences of the war, from the perspective of Hindus who migrated from Sindh to Kutch in the hopes of acquiring citizenship and a new identity (thus fulfilling, in a sense, the premise of the 1947 partition), is far more ambiguous than what a straightforward military victory may claim for itself. The experiences of these migrants also provide insights into the possible consequences of the controversial Indian Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA, 2019) that selectively grants citizenship to migrants into India based on their religion. In this paper I draw on a more extended argument in my soon to be published book, From Family to Police Force: Security and Belonging on a South Asian Border (Cornell University Press, 2021).

 

Sarah Waheed, "Hyderabad’s ‘Police Action’: Muslim Belonging, Memory, and the Hidden Histories of Partition"

This paper revisits the forcible and violent annexation of the erstwhile princely state of Hyderabad by the Indian army in 1948, as an inaugural moment of dispossession to consider what it means to reconstruct Hyderabad’s twentieth century past along the axes of Muslim belonging and memory. Hyderabad not only remains largely hidden from within the historiography of Partition, but its past has also been obscured by colonialist, orientalist, nationalist, communitarian, and developmentalist historical narratives. Each of these narratives loses sight of Hyderabad’s post-1948 twentieth century past as well as the question of Muslim memory and belonging across seventy years of tremendous change, transformation, and upheaval. Drawing from methodologies in history (oral histories), geography (mapping), anthropology (ethnographic fieldwork), as well as literature, I suggest we turn to documenting the pasts of local neighborhoods against the global circuits of South Asian migration. This paper turns in particular to the lower middle-class neighborhood of Toli Chowki—the new headquarters of Asaduddin Owaisi’s political party the MIM— to examine how memories of longing, belonging, and sovereignty related to the erstwhile Nizam period of Hyderabad, are being recrafted, repurposed, as well as disappearing as a result of Persian Gulf migration.

 

Arsalan Khan, "Contesting Sovereignty: Islamic Piety and Blasphemy Politics in Pakistan"

In the past decade, Pakistan has witnessed a resurgence of Islamic forces that claim to be defending Islam from what they believe to be a deluge of incidents of blasphemy, a veritable moral panic made possible and organized around a set of anti-blasphemy laws pertaining to the protection of sacred symbols. The violence of blasphemy politics, which is directed largely at

sectarian and religious minorities, is predicated on the formal link between Islam and state sovereignty in Pakistan’s constitution and on the claim that it is the role of the state to propagate and protect Islam. In this paper, I focus on the response to this blasphemy politics by Pakistani Tablighis, practitioners of the transnational Islamic piety movement the Tablighi Jamaat. Like other Islamic groups in Pakistan, Tablighis believe that blasphemy is a grave sin and a deep threat to the Islamic community, but Tablighis say that the solution to the growing incidence of blasphemy is to continue to preach the virtues of Islam and ultimately for a guided Islamic reform of the blasphemy laws. I argue that these different responses reflect different approaches to the relationship between Islam and state sovereignty.

 

PANEL 2: LITERATURE AND HISTORY, LONGING AND BELONGING

 

Shahla Hussain, "Artificial ‘Borders’: Kashmiri Belonging in the Aftermath of Partition"  

This paper focuses on the contested region of Kashmir and investigates how the creation of the cease-fire line that divided the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir between India and Pakistan in 1948 shaped the question of belonging for the majority of its Muslim inhabitants, especially from the 1940s to the 1960s. It traces the ordinances, policies, and laws put in place by the new nation-states to restrict Kashmiri movement and make it difficult for families trapped on either side of the cease-fire line to return home. These bureaucratic procedures defined by the question of self-determination pending in the United Nations and devoid of human considerations made Kashmiris apprehensive about the motivations of both states. The paper argues that Kashmiri belonging after partition did not seamlessly merge into the national identities of India or Pakistan. Instead, the ceasefire line itself, which cut arbitrarily through the natural environment and dismantled the structures that had sustained the state’s economy before 1947, shaped Kashmiri Muslims’ perceptions of India, Pakistan, and Kashmir. Drawing from intercepted letters, pamphlets, and poetry, the paper reveals the irrelevance of such artificial ‘borders’ in the Kashmiri psyche and their desire to challenge and transgress this divide, without the constraints and restrictions of its militarized landscape. In the process, Kashmiri demand for self-determination became intertwined with the reunification of the old princely state that would promote human-to-human contact, reopen old trade routes and promote economic self-sufficiency.  

 

Uttara Shahani, "Language Without a Land: Linguistic Citizenship and the Case for Sindhi in India"

In the aftermath of partition Sindhi partition refugees in India found themselves without a 'linguistic state' to which they could claim attachment unlike partition refugees from Punjab and Bengal. The article explores how and why Sindhis sought to find a form of linguistic citizenship in India via the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution. The Eighth Schedule initially consisted of a limited list of languages. Sindhis faced opposition to the inclusion of their language in it as officials feared their demand would open the floodgates to other linguistic minorities demanding a place on the list. Indeed, this is exactly what happened, and the number of languages in the Schedule grew after Sindhi's inclusion in 1967 to include more languages that did not map onto a defined linguistic state. The article considers how language became significant as more than the expression of a cultural identity ─ and a means for deterritorialised partition refugees to find a political identity and assert their citizenship as an electoral minority. It examines how other linguistic minorities referred to the campaign to include Sindhi in the Eighth Schedule to make their own claims on the Constitution and articulate challenges to the hierarchical view of linguistic citizenship contained in the Eighth Schedule.  

 

Ather Zia, "Kashmiri poetry and the imaginaries of love, loss, and freedom"

Edward Said sums up collective memory as not being an inert and passive thing, but a field of activity in which past events are selected, reconstructed, maintained, modified, and endowed with political meaning. Thus, collective memory is a form of placemaking which is pivotal to crafting, mobilizing, and sustaining political and cultural resistance against hegemonic powers. This paper focuses on poetry in the Indian occupied Kashmir wielded as the art of placemaking, creating a site of narrative history that is countering the increasing depredations of the Indian military occupation and its settler colonial policies. Deployed as a “right to a remembered presence” poetry becomes a way to reclaim and recover the past, understand the present and imagine a future. Poetry makes possible to envision these modes of placemaking that have been steadily eroded by the hegemonic and obfuscating Indian discursive practices around the Kashmiri resistance for the right to self-determination.

 

Mehr Farooqi, "Wounds of Partition as Symbolized in the Fiction of Intizar Hussain"

The experience of migration as a result of the Partition of the Indian subcontinent has an entirely different level of meaning than that subsumed in migration alone.  Here the issues are related to the splitting, in a most organic way, of culture, history, tradition and continuity. Noted modern writer Intizar Husain was the first to come up with the idea of describing the migration as hijrat.

My paper examines the fiction of Intizar Hussain, particularly his complex novel Basti (1979) with a view to excavate the pain of the loss of home as recollected by the novel’s historian protagonist Zakir. Intizar Hussain’s novel is set in the period immediately before the “second partition”, that is the separation of East Pakistan. What did the severance of Pakistan’s eastern wing signify for those who had migrated to West Pakistan from India? How does Hussain invoke the past, or use the civilizational memory to heal wounds?

________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

OUR SPEAKERS

 

Antara Datta is a historian of modern South Asia. She is the author of Refugees and Borders in South Asia: the Great Exodus of 1971 (Routledge, 2012), which engages with the aftermath of the process of decolonisation and uses the war of 1971 to examine the creation of 'affective' and 'effective' borders in South Asia, the subjectivity of minorities, as well as changing ideas about citizenship within South Asia that move beyond the familiar paradigms of region and religion. Her current research looks at the link between border crossers and the creation of ideas about nationality and citizenship in South Asia. A separate strand of her research examines the manner in which the Indian state has attempted to open up multiple possibilities of belonging for Non-Resident Indians. Datta teaches at Royal Holloway College, University of London.

 

Mehr Farooqi is an author and literary critic. She is drawn to translation, literary modernism, intersections between religion and literature, history and art history. Her publications include Urdu Literary Culture, Vernacular Modernity in the Writing of Muhammad Hasan Askari (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2012) and The Two-Sided Canvas: Perspectives on Ahmed Ali (ed.) (Oxford University Press, 2013). She is also editor of the two-volume Oxford India Anthology of Modern Urdu Literature (Oxford University Press, 2008) and writes a regular column for the Pakistani newspaper Dawn’s Sunday magazine. Her book, Ghalib, A Wilderness at my Doorstep, A Critical Biography, was published recently (Penguin/ Allen Lane, 2021). Farooqi teaches at the University of Virginia.

 

Shahla Hussain is an assistant professor in the History Department at St. John’s University, New York. She received her Ph.D. from Tufts University. Her research focuses on the themes of identity, self-determination, and transnationalism in postcolonial Kashmir. She has published essays in several edited volumes, and her first book, entitled Kashmir in the Aftermath of Partition, has just been published by Cambridge University Press. 

 

Farhana Ibrahim is an anthropologist whose research interests include the study of borders, policing, migration, and ethnographic perspectives on the state. Her first book, Settlers, Saints, and Sovereigns: An Ethnography of State Formation in Western India (Routledge, 2009) is based on ethnographic research among Muslim pastoral communities in Gujarat along the Kutch - Sindh border. She has co-edited a special issue of the Economic and Political Weekly, 'Exploring Borderlands in South Asia' and her forthcoming book From Family to Police Force: Security and Belonging on a South Asian Border (Cornell University Press, 2021) is an ethnography of policing, civil-military relations and surveillance in a south Asian borderland. She is also the book reviews editor of the SAGE journal, Contributions to Indian Sociology. Ibrahim teaches at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi.

 

Sonam Kachru is an assistant professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia; a historian of philosophy, his research has centered on Buddhist and Indian philosophy in ancient South Asia, with particular attention to philosophy of mind, metaphysics, and philosophical anthropology. His work has appeared in the Journal of the American Oriental Society; Journal of Indian PhilosophySophia; and The University of Toronto Quarterly, among other journals and edited volumes. His first book, Other Lives: Mind, and World in Indian Buddhismis forthcoming from Columbia University Press. His translations of modern and medieval Kashmiri poetry have appeared in Another Chicago MagazineAlmost Island, Asymptote, Aufgabe, and Words Without Borders.

 

Arsalan Khan is an assistant professor of anthropology at Union College. His research focuses on ritual, gender, ethics, and sociality themes that he explores in the context of the Islamic revival in Pakistan. His first book project The Promise of Piety: Islam and the Politics of Moral Order in Pakistan examines the zealous commitment to a distinct form of face-to-face preaching (dawat) among Pakistani Tablighis, practitioners of the transnational Islamic piety movement, the Tablighi Jamaat. This book examines how dawat, which involves arduous travel, personal sacrifice and the creation of intimate relationships with fellow pious Muslims, is understood by Tablighis to be a means for the cultivation and spread of Islamic virtues. The Promise of Piety speaks to the broader relationship between Islam, secularism and modernity. His articles have appeared in Anthropological Quarterly and Social Analysis, and in edited volumes.

 

Neeti Nair is an associate professor in the department of history at the University of Virginia. She is the author of Changing Homelands: Hindu Politics and the Partition of India, (Harvard University Press and Permanent Black, 2011). She is currently working on a monograph on “hurt sentiments” and state ideology in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. She is on the editorial board of Asian Affairs and is a Mellon Fellow at the Institute of the Humanities and Global Cultures, University of Virginia.

 

Uttara Shahani is a lawyer and historian of modern South Asia. Her recent PhD in history from the University of Cambridge focused on Sindh and the partition of India. She works on Sindh and the Sindh diaspora, partitions, refugee migration, citizenship, and the histories of ecumenical traditions of religious practice. Shahani was ESRC postdoctoral fellow at the Faculty of History, University of Cambridge, affiliated to the Centre of South Asian Studies at Cambridge, and postdoctoral affiliate, Trinity College, Cambridge, and is currently postdoctoral researcher at the Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford.

 

Sarah Waheed is a historian of modern South Asia. Her expertise is on the history of South Asian Islam and the shaping of modern Muslim communities and she draws upon scholarly methodologies from history, comparative literature and anthropology. Her first book, Hidden Histories of Pakistan: Censorship, Literature, and Secular Nationalism in Late Colonial India, forthcoming with Cambridge University Press, focuses on the anticolonial Indo-Muslim intellectuals of the Urdu progressive writers’ movement and how they responded to legislative and social forms of censorship. She has published articles in Modern South AsiaHimal South Asia and Postcolonial Text. She is presently working on two book projects: on the history of urbanization and Muslim belonging in 20th century Hyderabad after 1947, and on the historical figure of Chand Bibi, a 16th century Queen Regent who played a critical role in the development of the Deccan Sultanates. Waheed teaches at Davidson College in North Carolina.

 

Ather Zia, Ph.D., is a political anthropologist, poet, short fiction writer, and columnist. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology and Gender Studies program at the University of Northern Colorado Greeley. Ather is the author of Resisting Disappearances: Military Occupation and Women’s Activism in Kashmir (June 2019) which won the 2020 Gloria Anzaldua Honorable Mention award. She is the co-editor of Can You Hear Kashmiri Women Speak (Women Unlimited 2020), Resisting Occupation in Kashmir (Upenn 2018) and A Desolation called Peace (Harper Collins, May 2019). She has published a poetry collection “The Frame” (1999) and another collection is forthcoming. In 2013 Ather’s ethnographic poetry on Kashmir has won an award from the Society for Humanistic Anthropology. She is the founder-editor of Kashmir Lit and is the co-founder of Critical Kashmir Studies Collective, an interdisciplinary network of scholars working on the Kashmir region.

 

Organized by Neeti Nair, University of Virginia

Margaret Bourke-White, "Migrants After India Partition"

 

Mellon Fellows Seminar - Tessa Farmer, “Cairo’s Sabils: Gifting Water”

April 16, 2021

Webinar | 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

Mellon Fellows Seminar - Tessa Farmer, “Cairo’s Sabils: Gifting Water”

April 16, 2021

Webinar | 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

Tessa Farmer

Assistant Professor

Department of Middle Eastern & South Asian Languages & Cultures; and, the Global Studies Program, University of Virginia

** Seminar:  April 16, 2021: “Cairo’s Sabils: Gifting Water”

 

Project Summary

My research focuses on sabils, or charitable water fountains, as a key location for exploring vernacular water architecture and investigating the underlying conceptual frameworks that give them life. Sabils are important parts of the built environment of Cairo, drawing on religious precedence and enacting everyday ethical notions of reciprocity. They are particularly important in the changing environmental conditions of Cairo and point to the ways in which vernacular and small-scale water infrastructure can add to the picture of urban water resilience in the context of Climate Change. As vernacular memorials, sabils operate as the conduit and material co-producers of hasanat (merits accrued with God) for the souls of departed loved ones. As nodes in neighborly relations, sabils engage neighbors in practices of asynchronous exchanges of the embodied kindness of a cold drink of water and the ephemeral gift of participating in the accrual of divine favor. Sabils are an important manifestation of local process of creative resilience, everyday practices of tinkering and collective action that probe the limits of the possible, work to remake the built environment and stich together fluid social networks, and stake claims to the city. Additionally, the project will investigate the diversity of material forms, practices of care and repair for clay and metal water infrastructure, embodied notions of smell, taste and temperature, a shifting history of social responses to a material context of hardship, and practices of neighborliness that draw on religious traditions to shape the livability and transversability of Cairo’s urban landscapes.

 

Biography

Tessa Farmer is Assistant Professor in the Middle Eastern and South Asian Languages and Cultures Department and the Global Studies Program at the University of Virginia, where she serves as the Track Director for the Global Studies-Middle East South Asia (GSMS) major. Tessa received her MA (2007) and PhD (2014) in Anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin. She conducted fieldwork in Cairo, Egypt between 2009 and 2019. Based on this work, her current book project, “Well-Connected: Everyday Water Practices in Cairo,” investigates the ways in which lower income residents of Cairo, Egypt work to obtain sources of potable water and deal with the ramifications of sewage in their urban ecology. A second project on charitable water fountains, sabils, is underway. Her research has been awarded funding by Fulbright Hayes, Social Science Research Council, PEO, the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Virginia. Tessa’s work appeared in the Middle East Law and Governance Journal, the Journal of Sustainability Education, MERIP, and she co-guest edited a special issue on the Environment in the Middle East in the International Journal of Middle East Studies with Jessica Barnes.

Good Neighbors? Charlottesville & UVA: Webinar feat. Davarian Baldwin, Ang Conn, & Laura Goldblatt

April 20, 2021

Webinar | 4:00 pm

Good Neighbors? Charlottesville & UVA: Webinar feat. Davarian Baldwin, Ang Conn, & Laura Goldblatt

April 20, 2021

Webinar | 4:00 pm

Next: Good Neighbors? Charlottesville & UVA
Webinar feat. Davarian Baldwin, Ang Conn, & Laura Goldblatt
April 20th, 4:00-5:15 pm
Register here

 

In cities across America—including here in Charlottesville—universities have become a dominant social and economic presence: gentrifying neighborhoods, maintaining large police forces, and becoming primary employers. “University life,” it could be said, increasingly happens at the expense of the cities which surround them. What is a university’s obligation to the city in which it resides? What actions can we take to imagine a new, equitable vision of university life? Join us for a webinar conversation with Davarian Baldwin (Trinity College) and Ang Conn (organizer), moderated by Laura Goldblatt (UVA), about how we might address UVA’s relationship to Charlottesville. Davarian Baldwin will discuss his findings from his recent book, In the Shadow of the Ivory Tower, and Ang Conn will address the local situation in Charlottesville. 

 

Note: Live transcription will be available. Please email any additional access needs to jaw2yc@virginia.edu

East Asian Cultural Responses to the Covid-19 Pandemic

April 26, 2021

Webinar | 7:00 pm

East Asian Cultural Responses to the Covid-19 Pandemic

April 26, 2021

Webinar | 7:00 pm

While policy and strategy decisions have dominated mainstream media coverage of other nations’ handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is also important to consider how at the level of everyday life, societies and individuals have been experiencing the upheavals caused by the pandemic. This panel thus focuses on East Asian cultural reactions to this worldwide crisis. 

 

Jaeho Kang (Seoul National University) will describe how South Korean responses to the pandemic have been shaped by a confluence of technological and traditional cultural factors, and are interpreted along these rubrics. Chenshu Zhou (University of Pennsylvania) will be examining online video representations of Wuhan under lockdown that make use of drone footage. Anri Yasuda (University of Virginia) will analyze how works of Japanese literature written during the pandemic underscore a pervasive 'crisis ordinary' mentality that precedes Covid-19. After the presentations, there will be time for dialogue and exchanges about the shared themes, as well as the marked differences, amongst the contemporary East Asian socio-cultural contexts under discussion. 

 

Registration link forthcoming

Rethinking World Literature: China as Method - "Recovering First Patients: De-anglophonizing the Pandemic Archive on SARS”

May 14, 2021

Webinar | 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

Rethinking World Literature: China as Method - "Recovering First Patients: De-anglophonizing the Pandemic Archive on SARS”

May 14, 2021

Webinar | 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

Belinda Kong, Associate Professor, Bowdoin College
"Recovering First Patients: De-anglophonizing the Pandemic Archive on SARS”

 

Register in advance for this meeting