Punjab Research Group

The politics of exclusion By Sarmad Sehbai

Posted in Articles, Partition, Poetry and Literature by Pippa on January 21, 2014

This is an old article but worth sharing here:

Tossing the empty bottle he shouts,                                                          

‘Oh world! Your beauty is your ugliness.’                                                  

The world stares back at him                                                                  

Their bloodshot eyes rattle with the question                                          

‘Who nabs the pillar of time                                                                        

By the noose of his drunken breath?                                                      

Who dares to break into dim corridors                                                        

Of twisted conscience?                                                                            

Who intrudes upon poisonous dens                                                            

Of demonised souls?                                                                        

Through icy glasses his rude glance                                                                    

Chases us like a footfall                                                                            

Foul monster!’                                                                                        

Bang! Bang!                                              -Majeed Amjad, Poem for Manto

Saadat Hasan Manto, a red rag to both conservative and progressive writers, was feared by the reactionary press, the state and the literary mafias of his times. All his life he fought the bigoted social reformers, ideologues and religious fanatics, facing various court trials with a heroic smile. His characters were not the mouthpieces of ready-made truths who would sermonise from a pulpit as saviours; neither Noori na Naari, neither angelic nor satanic, Manto’s Adam was born out of mud.

Manto spent the prime of his youth in Bombay and Delhi where he celebrated his poverty and prosperity, his successes and failures with the same zest for life. In 1948, betrayed by his friends, Manto decided to leave Bombay and move to Pakistanin the hope of a better life in the new country. He was disturbed by the communal riots and the gruesome scenes he had witnessed during the migration. With his failing health and two dependent daughters, he couldn’t figure out his whereabouts: “all day long I would sit on the chair lost in my thoughts not knowing what to do.”Lahore was far from welcoming. The doors of Radio Pakistan were closed to him and the reactionary press was hounding him for his bold writings. After a few months he wrote Thanda Gosht for which another trial was ready for him.

Manto could have survived all those slams and slurs but what threw him into total despair was the attitude of his own friends who expelled him from the Progressive Writers Association (PWA) in 1949. What had created panic among the progressives was first, a book Siyah Haashiye, and then Urdu Adab, a literary journal, through which Manto included writers from all schools of thought without bias. Siyah Haashiye was a book of black jokes about the callous killings during the riots. It showed a terrifying despair where one could not tell laughter from a scream. Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi, the secretary-general of the Punjab branch of PWA, said after reading the book, “What I can see is a field littered with dead bodies where the writer is stealing cigarette butts and money from their pockets.” Qasmi’s critique was as callous as the callousness of the characters in the book.

On the publication of Urdu Adab, edited jointly by Muhammad Hasan Askari and Manto, Qasmi as the spokesman of the PWA, wrote  an open letter to the latter: “Get rid of the opium of art for art’s sake; bring Askari into your fold by converting him to the art for life. Our movement is based on owning, understanding and respecting the suffering of the masses.” Qasmi guided Manto like a protective father, fearing that Manto could be spoilt by Askari’s “influence of decadent French writers like Baudelaire, André Gide and Flaubert.”

In November 1949, at the all-Pakistan conference of PWA, a resolution was passed against certain writers including Hasan Askari, Manto and, according to Abdul Salam Khurshid, Qurratulain Hyder, whose name was later withdrawn. While Manto didn’t react directly at the time, he later (1951) wrote in Jaib-e-Kafan, “I was angry that Alif (Qasmi) had misunderstood me, doubted my intentions … I am depressed. I earn through my writings by working day and night. I have my wife and children, if they fall sick and if I were to beg for money going door to door I will be really disturbed. Art is autonomous and is an end in itself. It’s no one’s monopoly and it cannot be hegemonised by ideology. The government takes me as a communist and the communists take me as a reactionary.” Probably during the same period he wrote his epitaph which was inspired by Ghalib’s couplet, “ya rab zamana mujh ko mitata hey kis liay/loh-e-jahaan pe harf-e-mukkarrar nahin hoon mein [Oh God, why is Time rubbing me off? I am not a letter twice written on the slate of the world].”

Urdu Adab was closed down after the publication of only two issues. In the first two issues both the progressive and non-progressive writers were published but soon after an ‘office order’ by the PWA forced the progressive writers to boycott the journal. Many of them requested Manto to return their work to them. A desperate and visibly intimidated Arif Abdul Matin wrote to Manto, “for God’s sake return the manuscript of my play; it is no longer possible for me to get it published in Urdu Adab as our union has decided not to cooperate with certain writers.” Qasmi also withdrew his request for Manto’s story which earlier he had wanted to publish in Nuqoosh: “I had asked for your story before the decision by the union to avoid publishing those authors who don’t agree with the progressive movement.”

Why was Manto considered a threat to the progressives? Could it be ‘obscenity’ that had offended them in the context of the newly-founded Islamic Republic of Pakistan? But Faiz Ahmed Faiz had appeared in his defence at the trial of Thanda Gosht, and had not found the story obscene. According to Intizar Hussain, writing in Saadat Hussan Manto — After 50 Years published by GC University,Lahorein 2005, the reason for Manto’s exclusion “was all about the reaction of progressives to the Partition of India.” Quoting Askari, he says, “the progressives in their opposition to Partition were implying that had there been no demand for a Muslim country there would have been no communal riots.” Even this doesn’t appear plausible. If the progressives were not in favour of a Muslim state, why would Faiz, a staunch progressive, be the first and one of the very few commissioned officers who opted for the newly established state of Pakistan, and continued his job with the Pakistan Army and the Inter-Services Public Relations? And why would he write an editorial in The Pakistan Times on “the glorious role” of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah in “the birth of a major state and the liberation of a major nation.”

In Siyah Haashiye or Urdu Adab, Manto did not appear to advocate a separate country but simply brought out the barbaric humour out of the killing of people in the name of religion. Manto in his writings had never defended one religion against another. Mozel, a Jewish woman, dies while saving a young Sikh, Tirlochan. While she is dying, Tirlochan tries to cover her naked body with his turban, but she sneers back: “Take away your religion.” In Thanda Gosht, it is the “wretched blood” of the wounded Ishar Singh that topples religion, caste and race. As to the demand forPakistan, Manto who had property in Amritsar didn’t claim anything after Partition except for an ice store inLahoreand that too was denied to him.

“Those who were talking of freedom of expression were resented by the progressives,” says Syed in Noori na Naari. But why should the progressives resent Manto when in their manifesto they had committed “to promote the freedom of expression”? They were struggling for the freedom of expression and so was he; they were “respecting the suffering of the masses” and he was going through suffering; they were talking about poverty and he was living it; they were romanticising the fallen man and Manto himself was the fallen man. So what caused such a reaction to the most gifted short story writer of his times? Muzaffar Ali Syed further elaborates, “immediately after the Second World War, the leaders of bourgeoisie socialism were ready to collaborate with the bourgeoisie — they were willing to sacrifice Mira ji, Manto and [Noon Meem] Rashid.”

Perhaps all that has been said are mere polemics of their times but there could be more than meets the eye…

Sometime in the mid-1930s, on a foggy “Night in London,” young Sajjad Zaheer saw “The Light.” In Nanking restaurant, amongst a coterie of like-minded male writers, Zaheer, lovingly called Banne Miaan, announced the manifesto of the PWA. Zaheer’s novel A Night in London established him as an icon of social commitment. The novel featured Hiren Pal, a committed freedom fighter who leaves his beloved Sheila Green to pursue the ideals beyond the love of a woman. This motif became a template for the progressive writers, “Aur bhi gham hein zamanay mein mohabat kay siwa [There are other woes in the world, apart from the woes of love]”.

The ‘othering’ of the female to assert the progressive mission created a binaric schizophrenia between the love of woman and social reality. The deferral of anima, the feminine side of male, is to repress the mother, the womb, the unconscious and to assert the father. As [French psychoanalyst] Lacan states, “When ideologues preach, they assert the patriarchy and it’s phallic.” Manto renames Qasmi as Alif, the vertical alphabet of Urdu language. The unbending thrust of ‘Alif’ is suggestive of phallic oppression. In his playful irreverence, Manto calls Zaheer an armchair communist, Faiz an afimi (lotus eater), and his own guru Bari Aleeg, a coward and a runchhor (unreliable). He prays to God to turn Chiragh Hasan Hasrat into Stalin who could dictate from behind the iron curtain. For Manto, they were the oppressive fathers who in Freudian terms would tell the child not to play with his genitals.

Mumtaz Shirin says, “Manto has presented the mother in the image of the prostitute.” In her book Noori na Naari, she discovers Manto in myth and religious archetypes. For her, Manto juxtaposes the holy mother Mary and Mary Magdalene, the sinful whore; the sacred and the profane. Manto’s heroines don’t queue up with the hearth-bound bibis or the drawing-room ladies of the elite; they stand out mostly as sex workers fighting for bare existence in a male’s world of exploitation and human degradation. With detached limbs and body parts as utility props they are the disfigured image of Madonna; damaged Eros. The loss of mother is the loss of womb, the loss of compassion, love and humanity in a society which is admonitory, tabooed and restrictive like the punishing father.

Manto resurrects the ghost of the feminine side, otherwise banished by the progressive patriarch, and by giving her a voice topples the despotic father figure of reform, pity and sympathy. Manto brings out the mother from the womb of a prostitute and confronts the oppressive father. He shatters the romantic ideal of the progressives by bringing out Sheila from their closets. He strips off her romantic trappings and places her next to Janki and Saugandhi. Perhaps this act of Manto made the progressives run for lights; he had nabbed “the pillar with the noose of his drunken breath.” His rude glance will keep chasing us like a footfall for many ages to come.

Sarmad Sehbai is a poet, playwright and drama director.

Link to article: http://herald.dawn.com/2012/05/14/the-politics-of-exclusion.html

Journal of Punjab Studies Spring-Fall 2013 Volume 20, Nos. 1 & 2

Posted in Journal of Punjab Studies by Pippa on January 21, 2014

The latest issue of the Journal of Punjab Studies is now available.

Table of Contents

Indu Banga: Editorial

Chetan Singh: Geography, Religion and Hegemony: Constructing the State in the Western Himalaya

J.S. Grewal: The Char Bagh-i Panjab: Socio-Cultural Configuration

Karamjit K. Malhotra:  Issues of Gender among the Sikhs: Eighteenth-Century Literature

Mini Sandhu: A Comparative Analysis of the Panchal Pandita and the Punjabi Bhain from a Gender Perspective

Prem Chowdhry: Emerging Patterns: Property Rights of Women in Colonial and Post-Colonial South-East Punjab (Haryana)

Raj Kumar Hans: Sant Poet Wazir Singh: A Window for Reimagining Nineteenth Century Punjab

Anshu Malhotra: Living and Defining Caste: The Life and Writing of Giani Ditt Singh/Sant Ditta Ram

Sheena Pall: The Issues of Sikh Identity: Sanatanist-Sikh Debate

Sasha Tandon: Epidemics in Colonial Punjab

Sukhdev Singh Sohal: Food Crisis, Inflation and Political Control in the Punjab (1940-47)

Reeta Grewal: Urban Patterns in the Punjab Region since Protohistoric Times

Indu Banga: J.S. Grewal on Sikh History, Historiography and Recent Debates

Book Reviews

For access please visit: http://www.global.ucsb.edu/punjab/journal/v20_1_2/index.html

Barelvis are important political entities by Raziuddin Aquil

Posted in Articles by Pippa on January 21, 2014

Courtesy of The Sunday Guardian: http://www.sunday-guardian.com/analysis/barelvis-are-important-political-entities

As custodians of shrines, especially mazars of leading Sufi figures of the past, the Barelvi leaders command a lot of respect.

Taslima Nasreen’s latest struggle with some Barelvi Muslim leaders is a most unfortunate affair. Still carrying the psychological wounds of an atrocious religious decree, Taslima had hastily tweeted condemning Arvind Kejriwal for hobnobbing with the Barelvis, who follow traditional Islam — culturally inclusive, but politically separatist. As custodians of shrines, especially mazars or dargahs of leading Sufi figures of the past, the Barelvi leaders command a lot of respect and authority, which, in turn, makes them an important political entity.

The Barelvis — a somewhat derogatory epithet derived from the foremost ideologue of Sufic Islam in the 20th century, Ahmad Raza Khan of Bareilly — identify themselves as Ahl-i Sunnat wal Jama’at, in short, Sunnis. Following the Hanafi interpretation of Islamic jurisprudence, they consider themselves more pious than fundamentalist groups such as the Deobandis and Wahhabis — an extreme section of which is represented by the Taliban. In their devotion to the family of Prophet Muhammad, especially his cousin and son-in-law Ali, the Sufi-oriented Barelvi Muslims appear closer to the Shias, but the latter’s inherited memory of violence in early Islam constitutes a distinct ideology.

The Sufis are known for their intense love for the eternal God, surpassing that of a mad Majnun for his lovely Layla, for their aspiration to follow the path of the Prophet, for service to entire humanity and not Muslims alone, as well as for maintaining a critical distance from social and political injustices. The medieval Sufis’ spirituality was also about controlling the body and cultivating the soul at a time when a materialistic milieu celebrated a life lived with gay abandon. Thus, acquiring a position of great authority in society, not stooping before the ruling dispensation of the time, and occasionally asserting their power, the Sufis could carve out an independent space for themselves. The Sufi fraternities continue to practice and preach love and peace at a time when most forms of Islam are, often wrongly, identified with terrorism. Tolerant, assimilative and popular branches of Sufism, such as the Chishti order, originating in Afghanistan, a country now caught in the vortex of violence, have historically shown that it is possible to lead a good Muslim life and reach out to a larger community — drawing people from diverse backgrounds to one’s fold without using force or political power. No wonder Sufi shrines have flourished in contexts in which mosques could be destroyed at will, state machinery permitting. A wide range of people, including the hapless poor, dangerous thugs, wily politicians, corrupt ministers, superstitious movie-stars can all be seen prostrating and offering ritual Sufic chadars at the shrines. The ability of the Sufis to speak in local idioms and dialects, and their perceived paranormal powers have been attracting followers — some for practising the ways of the Sufis, but mostly for blessings and benedictions. A living legend in his time, Nizamuddin Auliya of Delhi had opened the doors of his hospice to all and sundry. For him, making some difference in the lives of the devotees by appealing to their hearts and bringing out the best in them was of prime importance.

The popularity of Sufism also stems from qawwali and related musical genres. The Sufis have in the past fought bitter struggles with the ulema (theologians), who contested its legitimacy. For the orthodox guardians of Islam, music was haram, or a forbidden act; for Sufis, on the other hand, it remains one of the most effective and valid ways to remember God and achieve ecstasy. One may recall here Amir Khusrau’s significant contribution to classical music, notwithstanding some ambivalence about the use of instruments and the participation of women in musical assemblies (mahfil-i sama).

In more recent times, Sufism has been under attack from reformist Islam of various hues, including the self-righteous and pietistic Tablighi Jama’at and the actively political Jama’at-i-Islami. Adaptations from Hindu mystical traditions such as yogic practices and any other innovations in the Indian environment are condemned. The Sufis’ claims for spreading Islam in the subcontinent are also ridiculed.

Further, though extremist or militant forms of political Islam generally draw on the Wahhabi kind of reformism or Islamism, followers of devotional Islam or Sufism are not innocent in terms of international politics. Historically, in hostile political contexts, they could be as aggressive as the others, just as culturally they might not scruple to compromise with the demands of their time and space. However, contemporary Sufi leaders lack political acumen, astuteness, and influence of the kind enjoyed by their medieval ancestors.

A more sagacious Nizamuddin Auliya, for instance, could tell a reckless Delhi Sultan: hunuz Dilli dur ast. And as history bears out, the ill-fated ruler could never return to the capital. However, the patron saint of Delhi would never indulge in a public spat with a lady. In all likelihood, he may have politely urged his senior contemporary, the venerable Bibi Fatima Sam of Indraprastha, to take her seat first, pahle aap.

Fakir S. Aijazuddin, THE RESOURCEFUL FAKIRS – Three Muslim brothers at the Sikh Court of Lahore

Posted in New Publications by Pippa on January 21, 2014

the resourceful fakirsTHE RESOURCEFUL FAKIRS – Three Muslim brothers at the Sikh Court of Lahore. The Foreword has been provided by William Dalrymple.

Under Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the Punjab was welded for the first and only time in its tumultuous history into a unified kingdom. The Resourceful Fakirs traces the history of this colourful period in an original and intriguing way—through the careers of three Muslim brothers who were courtiers at the Sikh Darbar of Lahore.

Fakir Azizuddin served as the Maharaja’s indispensable spokesman and trusted negotiator in all the dealings he had with the neighbours surrounding his expanding kingdom, including the increasingly powerful British. It was a tribute to Azizuddin’s skill that throughout the 30 years of their association, he enjoyed the unalloyed confidence of the canny Maharaja. Fakir Imamuddin held the keys to Govindgarh Fort (near Amritsar) where the fabled Sikh treasury and armoury were located. Their youngest brother Fakir Nuruddin occupied a position of prominence at the court and, after Ranjit Singh’s death in 1839, acted as a member of the Regency Council during the minority of the young Maharaja Duleep Singh.

Portraits, engravings, maps, and period photographs visually enhance the text of this historically reliable and eminently readable narrative.

*  *  *  *

William Dalrymple in his Foreword writes:

The Resourceful Fakirs is a fascinating, original and long overdue study of these three intriguing characters, written by their direct descendant, Fakir Aijazuddin. The Sikh Khalsa as a whole is a much underwritten subject. Although Pakistan has very similar boundaries to the Kingdom of Ranjit Singh, the Sikhs have attracted the attention of far too few Pakistani historians; while Sikh historians have rarely been able to access the voluminous records of Ranjit’s Singh’s court, held in the heart of the Punjab Civil Administration in the Punjab State Archives in Anarkali’s Tomb in central Lahore. Many of the documents used to Aijazuddin to write this book have never been published before, and this book is a substantial contribution to the subject. In addition to creating memorable pen portraits of the three brothers, he gives one of the best sketches in print of life at the heart of Ranjit Singh’s inner circle.

To date, Aijazuddin has been known mainly as one of Pakistan’s most eminent art historians. With this volume he has now become, in addition, one of Pakistan’s most interesting historians and biographers. The Resourceful Fakirs is a remarkable achievement.

*  *  *  *

Available from:


ABG BhavanM3,

Connaught Circus

New Delhi 110 001



Posted in Conferences by Pippa on January 21, 2014

2nd Max Arthur Macauliffe Conference,

University College Cork, Ireland

Saturday 22 March, 2014




Following on from last year’s successful ‘Representing Sikhism’ conference held to mark the centenary of Max Arthur Macauliffe’s death, this year’s Macauliffe conference at UCC aims to highlight the most recent and emerging trends and developments in Sikh & Punjabi Studies, seeking contributions in particular from early-career academics, postdocs and advanced PhD students, but also from any scholar whose work promises to break new ground in Sikh & Punjabi studies.

Thanks to the continuing generosity of the Sikh community in Ireland, we intend to offer up to EIGHT TRAVEL AND ACCOMMODATION GRANTS of max. €uro300 / GPB£250 to facilitate attendance at the conference. Grants will be awarded to up to eight scholars whose papers have been accepted by the organising committee. Please indicate on the registration and abstract submission form at: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/embeddedform?formkey=dElBeVFHeXlEWFJUOS1JWmVxTmU5TkE6MAwhether you wish to be considered for a grant. Further details will be provided to the successful applicants.

The annual Macauliffe Conference in Sikh and Punjabi studies is hosted by UCC’s Study of Religions Department, which fosters the critical, analytical and non-confessional academic study of religions (http://www.ucc.ie/en/religion/). Academic papers relating to religion in any area of Sikh and Punjabi studies are invited, including reports of work in progress.

Abstracts (max 150 words) should be submitted only via the on-line registration system at: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/embeddedform?formkey=dElBeVFHeXlEWFJUOS1JWmVxTmU5TkE6MA. All abstracts received by 23.59hrs GMT on Monday 10th February 2014 will be considered. Those submitting abstracts by this date will be notified by 14 February 2014 whether their abstract has been accepted.

Registration: If you wish to attend the conference and are not offering a paper, please also register at: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/embeddedform?formkey=dElBeVFHeXlEWFJUOS1JWmVxTmU5TkE6MA once you have made your travel arrangements, to help us plan catering.

There is no charge for registration, nor for attending the conference which, as last year, will be open to the public. However, contributions large or small to the Macauliffe Fund to promote the development of Sikh and Punjabi Studies in Macauliffe’s homeland of Ireland are most welcome – please see http://www.ucc.ie/en/alumni/cuf/opportunities/ or contact Prof Brian Bocking   b.bocking[at]ucc.ie .

There are direct flights to Cork from many cities in UK and Europe (see http://www.corkairport.com/gns/flight-information/destinations-airlines/scheduled-flights.aspx for the full list) and plenty of accommodation right by the university, from youth hostel to 5-star hotels – see http://www.uccconferencing.ie/walking-distance/  and enquire if there is a UCC rate as you are attending the conference. You are advised to book flights now to secure the best prices.

See the conference website: http://www.ucc.ie/en/religion/research/macauliffe2014 for further details as they become available. The conference will run from mid-morning until evening on Saturday 22 March at University College Cork.

Abstracts deadline: 23.59hrs GMT Monday 10th February 2014

Note: The decision of the organising committee on both abstract acceptance and award of travel grants is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

cfp: PAKISTAN BEYOND TREMORS AND TERROR: Critical Engagements With Political, Economic And Cultural Change

Posted in Conferences by Pippa on January 21, 2014
Conference Date: Thursday, May 29th 2014 – Friday, May 30th 2014Location: University of Toronto, Ryerson University and York University in Toronto, Canada

Deadline for Submissions: Feb 16, 2014.

Call for Papers:

As host to a daily onslaught of bomb-blasts, ‘honour killings’, and ‘mob’ violence, Pakistan regularly populates the pages of the international mainstream press. But these popular journalistic accounts often leave the impression that the country is embroiled in a spate of irrationality, violence and Islamic fundamentalism. Alternatively, liberal Pakistanis, if they make an appearance in the drama, are celebrated as carriers of the torch of progress, challenging the dominance of religious conservatism with their unrivalled ‘toleration’, their capitalist ‘development’, and their support for the Pakistani state’s military offensives and the broader ‘War on Terror’. This is the narrative typically delivered to the world.

Unfortunately, this is also a narrative which has not remained within the ambit of journalism. Much of recent scholarly work on Pakistan too has been guilty of reproducing a crude and overly-narrow analysis of the country and its people, an analysis (if one could call it that) which seems to be more committed to promoting US foreign policy objectives than to stimulating any serious academic inquiry. On the one hand, for instance, we have Anatol Lieven, in Pakistan: A Hard Country, declaring Pakistan to be “a highly conservative, archaic, even sometimes quite inert and somnolent mass of different societies” and, on the other, we have Stephen Cohen, in The Idea of Pakistan, inviting US intervention to awaken this slumbering nation. Invariably, much of this analysis re-Orientalizes Pakistan and views the country as overrun by ‘mad’ fundamentalists and militant Islamists, while prescribing a variant of imperialism, militarism and/or liberalism as an antidote to it.

This conference will challenge these views and will bring together scholars and students whose research moves beyond these prevailing ways to a more complex understanding of Pakistan and its people. We encourage contributions which critically interrogate the ‘War on Terror’ by placing it within the broader imperatives of US imperialism, and which question the assumption that liberalism is the ‘natural’ antidote to fundamentalism. We also invite papers which seek to go beyond popular analysis of religious violence – which sees its perpetrators as ‘irrational mobs’ – by probing what motivates people to commit the escalating scale of inhuman acts and violence, and whether the Pakistani state and its ruling classes can remain indifferent or, as some have argued, complicit in the perpetuation of this deathly violence. Finally, in addition to contesting popular discourses around Islamic fundamentalism and the ‘War on Terror’, this conference also intends to give attention to other topics scarcely covered in the mainstream.

In this regard, we wish to focus on a rapidly growing population undergoing immense social change. The onslaught of neoliberal globalisation poses fundamental questions for the changing nature of Pakistan’s political economy. These changes affect not only the rural space, and concomitant struggles of the peasantry, but also impact Pakistan’s burgeoning informal economy and manifest themselves through a marked ‘feminisation of poverty’ and multifarious struggles in urban (and urbanising) areas. What effects have a surging private sector (including private media, corporations and NGOs) had on the prospect of upward social mobility for women? Moreover, rapidly expanding, and often sensationalist, private media also raises questions about the role of art, cinema and cultural expression as a vehicle towards a radical and transformative praxis.

In bringing together scholars and students of a critical outlook, this conference has a three-fold purpose. Firstly, and most immediately, it hopes to provide a necessary counterpoint to the dominance of rhetorically rich but theoretically poor analysis of Pakistan. Secondly, we expect that, at the conference’s conclusion, the attendees will get a better sense of the breadth of critical scholarship on Pakistan, and be in a better position to identify sites of theoretical and political difference and agreement. Finally, it is also our desire that the conference will provide an opportunity for various critical scholars to begin to work together and co-ordinate their research on Pakistan.

Submission Topics:
We invite both panel proposals and papers on themes and topics including but not limited to:

  • Imperialism, the ‘War on Terror’, and regional geopolitics
  • The Pakistani state, military, and judiciary
  • Re-Orientalization of Pakistan
  • Interrogating modernity in Pakistan’s context
  • Fundamentalism, militant Islam  and sectarian violence
  • Agrarian economy and agrarian transitions
  • Informal economy and precarity/precarious labour
  • Patriarchy, gender and feminisms
  • Urbanization and social change
  • Social movements, peasant politics, trade unionism, and labour struggles
  • Nationalisms and regional tensions
  • Popular Culture, literature, art and the Left
  • Development, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and the International Financial Institutions (IFIs)
  • Mal-development, poverty and destitution
  • Diaspora: its contradictions and contributions towards and altered status quo


Please send your submissions to: submit@pakistanconference.org

Panel submissions: Please submit a working title and 250-word abstract for the panel, along with individual paper titles and their respective 250-word abstracts. Please also include the names, email addresses, and affiliated institutions or organizations of all panelists.

Individual paper submissions: Please submit a 250-word abstract that includes your name, email address,and affiliated institution or organization.

Deadline for submissions is 12:00 am, Feb 16, 2014. Accepted presenters will receive notification by email by March 1, 2014.

cfp: Immigration, Nation and Public History

Posted in Conferences by Pippa on January 21, 2014
Wednesday 18 June 2014 at King’s College London
Hosted by the Menzies Centre for Australian Studies.
Convenor: Dr Eureka Henrich
Symposium Aims and Themes
This symposium provides an opportunity to reflect upon the tension between different representations of migrants in the public arena – from so-called ‘medical tourists’ and ‘problem’ populations, to immigrant ancestors and national founders, to affluent global citizens and international students. It asks: what part do historical perspectives play in these representations? Can we talk about a ‘public history of immigration’ within Britain or elsewhere? If so, what might it look like? In other words, where do we encounter historical narratives of migration beyond the academy, how are they constructed and who do they seek to represent?
Given the current context of escalating far-right movements across Europe, and tighter restrictions upon migrant movements in other regions, this symposium is particularly interested in locating and analysing national narratives of migration, their narrators and their audiences. If Britain and France are ‘nations of immigrants’, to be placed alongside settler societies like the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, can immigrants be seen as founders and pioneers rather than interlopers and outsiders? Who might these narratives appeal to, and whom might they alienate?
Immigration, Nation and Public History takes place on 18 June 2014, at King’s College London Strand Campus. The event aims to bring together a wide range of interested parties across museums, archives, galleries, universities, journalism, education, politics and public services. It is hoped that the symposium will establish research networks and new partnerships between researchers, practitioners and organisations.
While other submissions are welcome, prospective papers (20 minutes duration) might address themes such as:
  • Migration history in school curricula
  • Museums and migration (including exhibitions, public programmes, collections, and community engagement)
  • Migrant memorials
  • Forced migration (eg. convict transportation, slavery, child migration) and its representations
  • Migration in the news media
  • Public attitudes towards migration, how they are represented (eg. opinion polls and their use)
  • Family history/genealogy, and the discovery of immigrant ancestors
  • Links between migration and tourism
  • Links between national histories and migration histories
  • Representations of indigenous peoples in ‘immigrant nations’
  • Asylum seekers and refugees: historical and contemporary representations
  • Representations of migration/migrants/migrant communities in film and television
  • Migrant communities and individual’s self-representations
  • Changing representations of migration given the so-called ‘failure of multiculturalism’ in Britain and Europe
Submission Guidelines
Proposals should include:
– Paper title
– 250-word abstract
– Biography of 50-100 words
– 2-page CV
 Deadline: 31 January 2013. Notification of acceptance: 21 February 2014
Submissions should be sent to:
For more information see: http://www.kcl.ac.uk/artshums/ahri/eventrecords/2013-2014/MCAS/Immigration.aspx

Parminder, a Cosmopolitan

Posted in Diaspora, Film, Migration by Pippa on January 3, 2014

Notes to accompany the film on Parminder: A Cosmopolitan

The film has resonated with people across the world and went on to twitter and many face book pages. It has been viral via university and other sites across Australia, Denmark, Sweden, Italy, and other transnational sites across the diaspora. It will used on courses at University of California campuses at Berkeley, Riverside, and also Santa Barbara in Ethnic and Diversity Studies, and also on Global Diasporas. This film’s impact much beyond the Clark University media class for which it was made is as much a surprise to Parminder, as it is to the film maker, for whom many opportunities have emerged to make other films, though with much longer time formats than 9 minute length of this film.

Jonathan Dana, the talented young film maker is 20 years old. He was awarded a prestigious Clinton Media Fellowship last year and worked in New York at the Clinton Foundation. His work was greatly admired by Hilary Clinton and it is now on her official site. He is the son of an eminent cinematographer.

Parminder was a fellow graduate student with me at the School of Oriental and African Studies in the late 70s. She received her Ph.D. in 1981 and has since authored four books, the latest of which is Dangerous Designs. Her current work is on diasporic creativity and innovation, a theme on which she is currently writing a book.

I hope that some of you will watch the film. A number of us already know Parminder well, both from her time in the British academy, and since her migration to the USA in 1990, firstly to UCLA, and then to Clark University in Massachusetts. She held a prestigious Henry R. Luce Professorship in Cultural Identities and Global Processes for 9 years at Clark, before moving into the Sociology Department there in 2000, which has been her departmental home for the past 13 years.

It is a pleasure for me to see a member of the Punjab Research Group being celebrated across the world, especially as she is of the pioneering generation of British Asian, and indeed now Asian American intellectuals of the diaspora, whose academic work focuses on the Punjabi migrants and their multiple diasporas. She has been in the USA now for 24 years, which is longer than any other site in which she has been lived in the past.

I have included below a link to the film. As stated above, you can also watch it on You Tube on Jonathan Dana’s site, entitled Parminder: A Cosmopolitan.

Dr. Shinder S. Thandi, Coventry University, Founding Member of the Journal of Punjab Studies

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Sardar Mahan Singh Dhesi Annual Lecture 2012

Posted in Articles by Pippa on January 3, 2014

Journal of Regional History, Amritsar, Vol.  XIII, 2013.


Ravindra Kumar, Professor, Department of History, School of Social Sciences, Indira Gandhi National Open University, New Delhi.

Sardar Mahan Singh Dhesi, a pioneer Punjabi settler in California, spent almost half a century in the USA. He lived in California for more than half of his life from 1902 to 1945. The Annual Lecture has been instituted by Dr. Autar Singh Dhesi, grandson of Sardar Mahan Singh Dhesi and former Professor and Head, Punjab School of Economics, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar (Punjab) India.             

Link to full lecture: Dhesi Annual Lecture 2012

8:2013 South Asia Multidisciplinary Academic Journal: Delhi’s Margins

Posted in Academic Journals by Pippa on January 3, 2014

Edited by Radhika Govinda


This thematic issue is the first in a series of issues jointly co-edited by SAMAJ and the European Association for South Asian Studies (EASAS).

Radhika Govinda – Introduction. Delhi’s Margins: Negotiating Changing Spaces, Identities and Governmentalities

Radhika Govinda – ‘First Our Fields, Now Our Women’: Gender Politics in Delhi’s Urban Villages in Transition

Tarangini Sriraman – Enumeration as Pedagogic Process: Gendered Encounters with Identity Documents in Delhi’s Urban Poor Spaces

Martin Webb – Meeting at the Edges: Spaces, Places and Grassroots Governance Activism in Delhi

Véronique Dupont – Which Place for the Homeless in Delhi? Scrutiny of a Mobilisation Campaign in the 2010 Commonwealth Games Context

Link to journal: http://samaj.revues.org/


Posted in Events, News/Information by Pippa on January 3, 2014

kuknasKUKNAS theatre group is progressive youth group which is working for the awareness about class struggle and mother language. KUKNAS performs only in mother language Punjabi and this year to celebrate lohri they are going to perform “Dulla” at the Arts Council, Faisalabad, 13-14 January 2014.

For further information contact Kuknas on +92 (0) 3337700967.

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kuknas/344344858988992

cfp: 7th IDSAsr Reconfiguration of Indian Higher Education, March 7-8, 2014

Posted in News/Information by Pippa on January 3, 2014

Guru Arjan Dev(GAD) Institute of Development Studies is a centre for advanced research and training in multi disciplinary areas as diverse as Agriculture and rural development; social change and social structure; environment and resource economics; globalization and trade, industry, labour and welfare; macro economics issues and models; population and development and health policy research. We deem it a great privilege to bring to you kind notice that institute has planned to organize 7th IDSAsr National seminars on the theme: Reconfiguration of Indian Higher Education with effect from March 7-8, 2014.

The contribution of all the players in the field is very necessary for the success of the seminar. All the papers accepted and presented at the seminar will be published with ISBN of the institute. E- Brochure is available at http://www.idsasr.org

Dr Gursharan Singh Kainth
Guru Arjan Dev Institute of Development Studies
14-Preet Avenue, Majitha Road
PO Naushera, Amritsar 143008
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