Punjab Research Group, Saturday 25th October 2014
It so happens that several historic anniversaries fall this year, which makes our October session of Punjab Research Group even more pertinent. It is thirty years since Operation Blue Star and the anti-Sikh pogroms. In addition, the outbreak of the First World War and the protracted tragedy of Komagata Maru off the coast of British Columbia, with scores of South Asians stranded aboard, remind us of the momentuous events in Punjab’s history and their on-going impact on the region in particular, and South Asia in general. The PRG’s forthcoming meeting is an opportune platform to discuss the context and aftermath of these events. We would particularly encourage papers discussing less-heard perspectives from women, religious minorities, non-dominant castes and classes, and welcome emerging scholars, independent writers and activists as well as academics. This one-day workshop is being hosted by Wolfson College, Oxford, a college with a strong South Asia research cluster. Please send 200 word abstracts and expressions of interest to Pritam Singh firstname.lastname@example.org, Iftikhar Malik email@example.com and Kaveri Qureshi firstname.lastname@example.org by October 4th 2014.
Funded by the German federal and state governments’ Excellence Initiative, the Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies will admit up to fifteen PhD students to its doctoral programme, which is to begin on 1 October 2015. Up to ten of these candidates will receive a Graduate School grant; the other candidates will be supported in their search for funding.
The formal prerequisite for application to the programme is a master’s degree in one of the disciplines represented at the Graduate School, with ranking, where applicable, of above average (or German Magister or Diplom, with a grade of “very good”). Candidates are expected to submit an outline of the proposed dissertation project (maximum 6 pages, with a summary of no more than half a page), to include a short description of the topic, its relevance to the field, and its theoretical and methodological orientation, as well as a preliminary work schedule.
As English will be the primary language of communication, students are expected to have advanced English-language proficiency. In addition, students must demonstrate proficiency in the language(s) relevant to their projects. It is assumed that language skills can be improved during the course of the doctoral programme.
The application deadline is 15 November 2014.
Further details: http://www.bgsmcs.fu-berlin.de/en/application1/index.html
It was many summers ago. I was visiting my village on the banks of the Jhelum. I saw the people of my village go towards the Eidgah, across the chappaD, or the pond. When I asked my grandfather about them, he said. “Ajj mela ay putter!” [Son, today is a fair!] The mela ground was bustling with makeshift shops and people thronging them. At one end of the mela a circus had come up. The mithai stalls were packed with customers and curious on-lookers, some of them were buying and eating. And that’s when I heard the sound of their music. There they were, surrounded by a circle of spectators. A couple of local artists sang a song I had not heard before. I couldn’t understand a word, other than ‘O mereya Jugni, O mereya Jugni’ – which they chorused, over and over again.
That was my introduction to Jugni. I had no idea who Jugni was, and for I long time I didn’t care.
Jugni returned to my life years later, making an entry in a different way. On a satellite TV channel, in a dimly lit studio, equipped heavily with musical instruments and a pungent smell of glamour. Arif Lohar was singing Jugni for Coke Studio and giving him company was Meesha Shafi!
This time, I wanted to know Jugni. Was it a character from a story? A glow-worm? Or something else?
‘Jugni’ is a Punjabi folk song, popular not only in the Punjab but also among the regional languages of Rajputana, Sindh and Hyderabad . But Jugni has also been said to be a kind of jewel, an attractive ornament worn around the neck, a little like the ‘taweetri’. Worn alike by men and women, Jugni the ornament is usually made of gold or silver. The wooden jugni is also used as decorative jewellery for cows and buffaloes. This cow-Jugni is known as ‘gaani’. Along with other neck jewellery like necklaces, lockets, maalas, gaani, taweet or tweetri, Jugni is a hot favorite item of fashion among rural girls and boys.
Read full article: http://kafila.org/2011/05/07/who-killed-jugni-shiraz-hassan/
A great opportunity for UK/EU students. Have a look at the website for further details but if you are interested in developing a PhD project related to Punjab, Partition, women’s history in Pakistan or more broadly in another area of South Asian history please contact Dr Pippa Virdee (email@example.com) to discuss this further.
Offering you cross-institutional supervision, training, mentoring and career support to ensure that you produce world-leading research and maximise your career potential.
The Midlands3Cities Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) is a collaboration between De Montfort University and the universities of Nottingham, Nottingham Trent, Leicester, Birmingham and Birmingham City. This newly launched programme will provide you with combined research expertise for the personal and professional development, creating the next generation of arts and humanities doctoral researchers.
Through the partnership we aim to deliver excellence in all aspects of research supervision and training. We will assist you in acquiring the best supervision for your field of research, you will have access to a wide range of facilities and support networks across our campuses.
Visit http://www.midlands3cities.ac.uk to find out about this unique programme.
In memory of Alys Faiz by Andrew Whitehead
15 September 2014
Alys George was born a century ago this month. She was better known as Alys Faiz – she married the renowned Pakistani poet, journalist and activist, Faiz Ahmed Faiz. I met and interviewed her twice at her home in Lahore in the 1990s – and I am posting the audio of those interviews on this blog with the blessing of her daughter, the artist Salima Hashmi.
Alys was the daughter of a bookseller in the London district of Walthamstow. In the 1930s in London, she became politically active eventually joining the Communist Party, and got to know Indian nationalists and leftists in London. In 1939, she travelled to Amritsar to visit her sister Christobel, who married Dr M.D. Taseer, a noted Marxist thinker and educationalist. Two years later, Alys and Faiz married at Pari Mahal in Srinagar – with the nikah conducted by Sheikh Abdullah.
When I interviewed her in Lahore in October 1995, Alys reminisced at length about becoming involved in the British Communist movement (‘I wanted to go to Spain but my parents said no’), getting to know Indian activists, coming out to Punjab and spending time in Kashmir. She recalled the tragic, cathartic violence which accompanied Partition, and spoke of her husband’s ranguished poetic reflection on the manner in which India and Pakistan gained independence, ‘Freedom’s Dawn’.
See Andrew Whitehead’s website to listen to the interviews: http://www.andrewwhitehead.net/blog/in-memory-of-alys-faiz
‘Perhaps some day I might end up as a poet after all’ By Salima Hashmi
7 March 2013
The daughter of Faiz Ahmed Faiz, the Subcontinent’s iconic bard, discovers letters exchanged by her mother and father.
Since being Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s daughter has given me privileged access to the family archives, I have become an accidental archivist. In 2009 I embarked upon the Faiz Ghar project to set up a small museum in a house leased to us by a friend and admirer of my father. We commenced sorting through Faiz’s belongings, papers and books. It was not a massive collection by any means, owing to his nomadic, rather Spartan, but interesting life, that began on 13 February 1911 and ended on 20 November 1984. My mother Alys was instrumental in saving and sorting what little there was: a smart grey lounge suit, a cap, his scarf, his pen, and a reasonably large cache of letters, certificates and medals.
After my mother’s death in 2003 all these things had been packed away in cartons in my house, waiting for just the sort of opportunity that the Faiz Ghar project afforded. Sifting through the papers, I came across a plastic bag containing some scraps. On closer look, I deciphered Faiz’s writing, and the unmistakable stamp of the censor from the Hyderabad Jail, where Faiz spent part of his imprisonment between 1951 and 1955 for his role in the Rawalpindi Conspiracy – a Soviet-backed coup attempt against Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan. These few letters were in poor shape, but readable. It is surprising that they have survived at all. Alys and Faiz had moved to Beirut in 1978. On return, all seemed to be in order in the house – except the cupboard, which had been attacked by termites. That cupboard contained Faiz’s letters from jail, which were later preserved with the help of Asma Ibrahim, transcribed by Kyla Pasha, and published in 2011 under the title Two Loves.
See Himal South Asia for full article: http://himalmag.com/perhaps-day-might-end-poet/
The US-UK Fulbright Commission
Closes: 31st October 2014
The US-UK Fulbright Commission is now accepting applications for its 2015-16 Robertson Visiting Professor in British History Award
This award provides a career-development opportunity for an exceptional, British historian to teach at Westminster College, Missouri, a small, selective liberal arts college for one academic year. The modest lecturing requirement will allow time for establishing a collaborative relationship with the US National Churchill Museum and Churchill Institute and for conducting personal research.
‘British Historian’ is inclusively defined: we welcome applications from historians of all time periods, thematic areas, and geographical regions of the British Isles, candidates with a specialisation in British Imperial or Colonial history and historians in interdisciplinary fields, such as art history, music history, or the history of science. The applicant should have at least one year’s experience of teaching undergraduates.
The Fulbright-Robertson Award offers the following benefits:
A grant of $52,500, plus travel allowance of up to $10,000
A number of memberships
Sickness and accident benefit coverage
Substantial pre-departure support, including a Finalists Workshop (March) and a 2-day Orientation Programme (July)
Once on-the-ground in the US, further support is offered by the Council for the International Exchange of Scholars (CIES)
Membership of an extensive Fulbright Alumni network after grant completion
Eligibility requirements: Applicants must be a UK citizen (resident anywhere) and hold or expect to receive a PhD (or equivalent professional training or experience) in a relevant area before departure to the US. Those who hold or who are eligible to hold US citizenship, or who are resident in the US at the time of application, may not apply for an Award from the US-UK Fulbright Commission.
Wed 29 Oct 2014
Time: 7pm – 10pm
The genocidal pogroms against the Sikh people in India in November 1984 left thousands dead. In many of the outer areas of the capital, New Delhi, whole neighbourhoods were wiped out. Women were raped in large numbers. Senior politicians of the Congress (I) party led mobs, assisted by the police and administration. Thirty years on no memorials exist to the dead and the perpetrators continue to enjoy complete impunity. But the silence is slowly breaking. Not just about the damage caused to the justice system, memory and language in India, but also about the individual and collective trauma that exists within Sikh communities across the world.
Marking the 30th anniversary of the November 1984 anti-Sikh pogroms, the Wiener Library is proud to feature the work 1984: Jis tann lãgé soee jãné by photographer Gauri Gill. The images and texts from the artist’s 1984 notebooks reflect upon the pogroms and their ongoing impact in India. The images are from the resettlement colonies of Trilokpuri, Tilak Vihar and Garhi – various sites across Delhi – as well as protest rallies in the city. The accompanying texts by leading artists, poets, filmmakers and writers from Delhi remark upon the event, via the images, in thoughtful ways.
The exhibition also contains photographs of the pogrom as it occurred in November 1984 itself, and are drawn from the work of Indian photographers, Ashok Vahie, Ram Rahman and Sondeep Shankar.
Contributors to this project include contemporary Indian artist Arpana Caur; Senior Advocate and Human Rights activist, Harvinder Singh Phoolka, academic Dr Navsharan Singh; eminent historian Dr Uma Chakravarti; prizewinning Canadian author Jaspreet Singh and Parvinder Singh of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ).
The event, held in partnership with the National Union of Journalists, will take the form of a panel discussion chaired by Wiener Library trustee Philip Spencer featuring Lord Indarjit Singh CBE, human rights barrister Schona Jolly and Parvinder Singh of the NUJ.
Professor Spencer is Director of the Helen Bamber Centre for the Study of Rights, Conflict and Mass Violence at Kingston University. His most recent book, Genocide since 1945 (Routledge, 2012) traces the history of genocide since the Holocaust looking at a number of cases across continents and decades.
Lord Indarjit Singh CBE is Director of the Network of Sikh Organisations UK, Vice Chair and Founder of the InterFaith Network UK. He is also Head and Co-Ordinator of the Sikh Chaplaincy Services. He is a member of the House of Lords, editor of the Sikh Messenger, presenter of ‘Thought for the Day’ on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio 2’s ‘Pause for Thought’.
Schona Jolly is a writer, journalist and a barrister specialising in human rights and equality law. She is from London, but has lived and worked in a number of countries, including India. She is particularly interested in South Asian affairs and writes for a number of international publications on India. She is an executive committee member of the Bar Human Rights Committee.
Attendance at this event is free but booking is essential as space is limited. Please see The Wiener Library website for further details: http://www.wienerlibrary.co.uk/Whats-On?item=154
There has recently been a number of reports about the drugs problem affecting Punjab, India and I wanted to share some useful articles and documentaries. It has become a huge problem, politically, economically and of course socially. If you have any comments or links to other useful articles or references please share them via the comments option.
Glut – The Untold Story of Punjab – 2011 documentary film examining the drug problem in Punjab.
Recent debate on NDTV: Watch: Punjab’s Drug Problem – No Political Will?
Four out of 10 men addicted to drugs in Punjab by Shishir Gupta
Drug epidemic grips India’s Punjab state by Simon Denyer
‘Drug hurricane’ lashing India’s Punjab by Toral Varla
Punjab teeters on edge of crisis as 70% fall into drug addiction by Rahul Bedi
What happened to the land of plenty – Punjab? By Ushinor Majumdar
Drug abuse threatens Punjab’s population
Punjab in grip of a drug epidemic
Sinking into deep despair of a drug epidemic by Ben Doherty
[Following is a guest post by Kavita Bhanot. She is a London based writer. Her short stories and non-fiction have been published widely in anthologies, magazines and journals, two of her stories have been broadcast on BBC Radio 4, and she is the editor of the short story collection Too Asian, Not Asian Enough (Tindal Street Press, 2011.) ]
There has, of late, been a revival of Punjabi cinema directed towards and watched by Punjabi audiences. A recent addition to Punjabi language cinema, albeit less ‘commercial’ and more ‘artistic’ is the Punjabi language film Qissa: Tale of a Lonely Ghost which has been doing the rounds at international film festivals and was screened last week at the London Indian Film Festival.
The film is about the violent consequences of son obsession in a Sikh refugee family in post-partition East Punjab.Visually striking, Qissa stands out for its cinematography; the framing, the use of shadows and light, the unusual angles. It was often absorbing, most of all in the scenes between actresses Tillotama Shome and Rasika Dugal, playing the couple Kanwar Singh and Neeli who find themselves in a predicament after marriage when they both discover that Kawar is actually a woman. Their interactions quiver with layered tension and chemistry.
Ultimately, however, the film doesn’t quite come together, it seems to lack internal coherence. I found myself watching it with a sense of unease, it didn’t carry me through, and when, in the post film discussion, the director spoke about the qissa tradition, connecting his film to this ‘genre,’ my discomfort increased.
Encompassed in the title, in the main heading (Qissa) and the subheading (The Tale of the Lonely Ghost), are two very different conceptions of storytelling, the film seems to hover between both of these, but falls ultimately, in the framework of the latter.
The Qissa is a storytelling tradition that is woven into the lives, culture of Punjabis. Qissas have been retold, reinterpreted in each era, often through music – the Sufi versions of these stories that are most well-known. Rooted in time and place – it is through particularity, detail, a connection with everyday life that qissas speak to the people of the region. Waris Shah weaves into Heer, perhaps the most popular qissa, painstaking, almost sociological detail about the customs, practices, beliefs, social, economic and political structures of the time. Qissas often portray, through love stories, the defiance and rebellion of ordinary people, exploring the radical potential of love and sexuality, as lovers and their accomplices defy the conventions, religion, ‘morality’ of an oppressive society. Qissas, in this way, critique social, political institutions, challenging power at all levels. While the lovers in Sufi qissas simultaneously symbolise the relationship between devotee and pir or guru, it is through the details, the emotion and earthiness of lived life that they become metaphors, that they become universal. Sufis understood that this was the way to connect with people.
This paper was written by Dr. Nasir Rana who teaches Punjabi at the Government M.A.O. College, Lahore.
PUNJABI RESEARCH AND CRITICISM: A Brief Study
Just like other languages of the world, Punjabi literature also started with poetry. Punjabi poetry is very old and some of its earliest poets were Charpat Nath (840 A.D.-940 A.D.), Gorakh Nath (940-1031), Pooran Bhagat (970-1070) and Shah Shams Sabzvari (1165-1276). However, Baba Farid (1175 A.D.-1265 A.D.) is regarded as the first regular poet of Punjabi, born at Kothaywal near Multan. He travelled widely in search of knowledge and after getting spiritual training from Khaja Bakhtiar Kaki in Delhi, he finally settled in Pak Patan. His poetry has been preserved in the form of Shaloks. Afterwards, Ameer Khusru (1253-1325), Shah Miranji (1400-1496), Burhanuddin Janam (1586) and Guru Nanak (1469-1534) spread the message of the Oneness of God in Punjab through their poetry. Later on, Ibrahim Farid Sani (1450-1575), Damudar Das (sixteenth century), Shah Husayn (1539-1599) and Nosha Ganj Bakhsh (1452-1554) made their contributions to Punjabi poetry and literature. Shah Husayn introduced the genre of Kafi in Punjabi, while Sultan Bahu (1632-1692) laid the foundation of another genre called Se-harfi. From Baba Farid to Guru Nanak and all the other poets expressed mystical views in their poetry. In the subsequent period, Bullhay Shah, Ali Haidar, Khaja Fareed and Ameer Baloch continued the same tradition.
Punjabi literature was formally started with the inspiring poetry of Baba Farid. Later, Guru Nanak composed his poetry on similar lines and used it as a vehicle for the spiritual improvement of the people. However, the Punjabi religious literature began when (during the reigns of Jehangir and Shah Jahan); Maulvi Abdullah Abdi wrote his twelve religious pamphlets known as Bara Anvaa. These twelve religious pamphlets are: Tohfa, Nas-o-faraez, Muamlat, Uloom, Marfat-e-Ilahi, Khabirul-Aashiqeen Kalan, Khabirul-Aashiqeen Khurd, Siraji (meeras), Hisarul-Iman, Sekal Avval, Sekal Dom and Tohfa-e-Jadeed.
Besides mystical themes, romantic and amorous affairs were also discussed by some other poets. Damudar Das is the first Punjabi Romantic poet who for the first time wrote the romantic story of Heer Ranjha during the reign of Akbar. Afterwards, the same story was written by Ahmad Kavi, Charagh Awan, Pilu, Hafiz Shah Jahan Muaqbal, Waris Shah, Hamid Shah Abbasi, Fazal Shah, Bhagwan Sing, Imam Bakhsh, Maula Bakhsh Kushta and several other poets. The story of Mirza Saheban was for the first time written by Pilu. Later, Hafiz Barkhurdar Ranjha and Muhammad Yar Aleel also wrote on the same subject. Barkhurdar also wrote the stories of Sassi Punnu and Yusuf Zulaikha. Fazal Shah acquired fame by writing the story of Sohni Mahinwal while the story of Sassi Punnu written by Hashim became famous everywhere. Maulvi Lutf Ali Bahawalpuri, Mian Muhammad Bakhsh and Makhdoom Muhammad Bakhsh wrote the story of Saiful-Mulook. Imam Bakhsh wrote Badi-ul-Jamal and Shah Behram, etc. In the same way, Munshi Khahish Ali wrote Sohna Zeni and several other stories and thus made genuine contribution to enrich Punjabi poetic literature, further.
To read the full article please visit: http://www.apnaorg.com/research-papers/nasir-rana-1/
The conference will be a two day event of panel discussions, and will be held at the newly-built Interdisciplinary Building (Symposium INTS 1113) of the Riverside Campus of the University of California. The abstracts of the papers are due by December 15, 2014 and complete papers by April 15, 2015. Attendance at the seminar will be open to graduate students, faculty and the public.
Chair of the Organizing Committee: Professor Pashaura Singh
Members: Professor Verne A. Dusenbery and Charles M. Townsend
Event Coordinator: Ryan A. Mariano
cfp: Technology and Religion in Historical and Contemporary South Asia: Spaces, Practices and Authorities
For more information about the conference, please follow this link: http://www.iahr2015.org/iahr/index.html. Please note that all panel and paper proposals will be evaluated by the Academic Program Committee of IAHR and unfortunately the chair persons of this panel cannot assist you with funding for travel expenses.
Further details: Panel proposal IAHR 2015
Dr. Kristina Myrvold and Prof. Knut A. Jacobsen