Columbia University Workshop | New York, NY | October 20-21, 2016
Organizers: Roy Bar Sadeh (Graduate Student, History, Columbia University) and Esmat Elhalaby (Graduate Student, History, Rice University)
Keynote Speakers: Kavita Datla (Associate Professor of History, Mt. Holoyoke) and Umar Ryad (Associate Professor of Islamic Studies, Universiteit Utrecht)
Despite historiographical overtures to the global, and spirited
polemics decrying area studies’ analytical limits, something called
South Asia and another thing called the Middle East persistently
structure—and stricture—scholarly inquiry in the academy and beyond.
Accounts of Indian or Arab intellectual production in the nineteenth and
twentieth centuries often confine themselves to non-European
confrontations with European epistemologies, capital, and guns. With the
critiques of Orientalism, modernization theory, and Westernization
having complicated triumphalist narratives of this encounter, serious
attention to south-south intellectual histories remains rare. Early
modernists are often the most cogent critics of the modernist scholars’
Eurocentrism, tracing connections between the Middle East, South Asia,
and elsewhere that bypass Europe. Yet Europe’s hegemony in the modern
world’s political economy and imagination did not preclude profound
inter-connections between the non- European world. In fact, the
conditions of global European capital made new engagements between the
colonized and peripheral world necessary.
This workshop highlights the content and conditions of South Asian
and Middle Eastern thought in tandem. Reading a European archive
alongside one in languages like Hindi, Urdu, Arabic, Persian and
Ottoman, cities like Beirut, Calcutta, Delhi, Mecca, Cairo, and Bombay
and educational spaces like Aligarh Muslim University, Nadwat al-ʿUlama,
Osmania University, Cairo University, the American University of Beirut
and the Oxford Majlis, exposes new historical networks and challenge
existing modes of analysis.
The workshop aims to raise a set of interdisciplinary historical,
historiographical and theoretical questions: What kinds of significant
geographies are produced, traversed and imagined in the nineteenth
century and after between the Middle East and South Asia? Does the
presence of a shared Islamicate past adequately explain Indian and Arab
Muslim affiliations? How are the Jewish, Christian, Zoroastrian and
Hindu intellectual communities part of this Islamicate? How is modernist
thought or critiques of secularism or theories of anti-colonialism
related in this unwritten history of Asian intellectual interaction?
What role did political economy of colonialism play in restructuring the
conditions of the early modern’s “connected histories”? What new
networks of intellectual exchange and new patterns of racialization
emerged? How do we historically recuperate these South-South histories
without succumbing to the follies of the post-colonial states?
Submission of Abstracts
The workshop will bring together early career scholars—graduate
students and pre-Tenured faculty—across discipline to participate in
this two day intensive workshop. We encourage applications from outside
Europe and US.
We invite abstracts of 300 words and brief scholarly biography to southsouthworkshop (at) gmail.com no later than
15 July 2016. Acceptance notifications will be sent by 15 August 2016.
We encourage faculty to seek funding from their institutions; limited
travel subsidies and accommodation will be provided to graduate
presenters. We will make all efforts to especially fund scholars from
outside US and EU.
The workshop is sponsored by the Center for International History, and the Department of History.