2011 - 2012

MESAAS Department Colloquium

April 19, 2012 4:10pm, 208 Knox Hall

Prof. Alan Verskin, MESAAS

"Hijra (sacred migration) in the
Maghribi legal tradition."

Paper available in the MESAAS Office. Please join us from 4:10 - 6 pm for discussion.

Center for Palestine Studies Conference

April 13, 2012 501 Schermerhorn Hall

Keynote: Prof. Rashid Khalidi (Religion) and Prof. Khaled Hroub (Cambridge)

"The Arab Revolts: Causes, Dynamics, Effects"

For more information click here

MESAAS Department Colloquium

March 29, 2012 4:10pm, 208 Knox Hall

Lena Meari, Center for Palestine Studies, Columbia

A Philosophy of Confronting Interrogation in Colonial Palestine."

Paper available in the MESAAS Office. Please join us from 4:10 - 6 pm for discussion.

Public Lecture

March 29, 2012 6:30pm, 207 Knox Hall

Prof. Noha Radwan, Arabic and Comparative Literature, UC Davis

"The Poetics of Dissent in Modern Egyptian Literature."

Moderated by Professor Joseph Massad, Columbia University

MESAAS Department Colloquium

March 8, 2012 4:10pm, 208 Knox Hall

Prof. Guy Leavitt, MESAAS

"Instructive Paradigms: The Narrative
Poetics and Cosmology of Time in the Valmiki-Ramayana."

Paper available in the MESAAS Office. Please join us from 4:10 - 6 pm for discussion.

MESAAS Graduate Student Conference

March 1-2, 2012

Keynote Speaker:Gyan Prakash

The concept of modernity, thematized or not, lies at the root of most of the human sciences, even and especially those that constitute their objects as premodern. Traditional thinking about modernity as a specifically Western phenomenon has been challenged in recent years, and students in (current and erstwhile) "area studies" are particularly well-placed to reflect on the local or translocal nature of modernity: what are the "sites" of modernity? Of what specific places.whether we conceive of these as geocultural or geopolitical, or as translocal institutions or practices.can we justifiably apply the predicate "modern"? What logics organize the sites of modernity? And what insights into this contested concept can students of the Middle East, South Asia, Central Asia, and Africa in particular provide?

For more information:

MESAAS Department Colloquium

Feb. 16, 2012 4:10pm, 208 Knox Hall

Prof. Najam Haider, Religion, Barnard College

"Identity Formation and Sacred Spaces in Early Shi'ism"

Paper available in the MESAAS Office. Please join us from 4:10 - 6 pm for discussion.


MESAAS Department Colloquium

Feb. 2, 2012 4:10pm, 208 Knox Hall

Prof. Fran Pritchett, MESAAS

"Ghalib and his commentators: With friends like these, who needs enemies?"

Paper available in the MESAAS Office. Please join us from 4:10 - 6 pm for discussion.

Please join us for a FREE CONCERT of the


Sunday, December 11, 2011 at 3:00 PM
301 Philosophy Hall

A concert of vocal and instrumental music from
the Middle East, the Balkans, North Africa, and their diasporas.

Ensemble members are Columbia and Barnard undergraduate
and graduate students, faculty, and staff

Directed by ethnomusicologists and musicians
Ozan Aksoy and Farzaneh Hemmasi

Support your friends and Middle Eastern music at Columbia!

For more information or to inquire about joining the group,
email or

The CMEME is generously supported by the Columbia University Center for Ethnomusicology
and the Louis Armstrong Jazz Performance Program

Golden Ages: Universal Histories and the Origins of Science a two-day conference

Friday-Saturday, December 9-10, 2011, 9:30am-6:00pm
Second Floor Common Room, Heyman Center


This conference will feature Cemil Aydin, Deborah Coen, James Delbourgo, Marwa Elshakry, Cathy Gere, George Saliba, Steven Shapin, Pamela Smith, Geert Somsen, and others.

Co-sponsored by MESAAS, Columbia University Seminars, Department of History, Center for International History, Blinken European Institute, and the Middle East Institute.

Conference Program
This event is free and open to the public.
No tickets or registration necessary.
Seating is on a first come, first served basis.
Photo ID required for entry.

Click here for directions to the Heyman Center.


MESAAS Department Colloquium

Dec. 8, 2011 4:10pm, 208 Knox Hall

Prof. Gil Anidjar, Religion and MESAAS

Gustav Dore: Abraham Journeying into the Land of Canaan

"Yet Another Abraham"

Paper available in the MESAAS Office. Please join us from 4:10 - 6 pm for discussion.


EAT, DRINK, TALK with COLUMBIA PROFESSORS featuring Professor of African Studies and History Mamadou Diouf


In today's political environment, where religions dominate the public space, the visual expressions, infrastructures, and sacred places of Sufism are currently called upon to oppose the rise of political Islam. Senegal has successfully resisted the challenge posed by the rise of political Islam because of the authority of a specific type of Islamic religious formation, Sufi Islam. The cooperation between Senegal's political elite and its Sufi leadership has ensured political stability in an African environment stricken by military coups, civil wars, and ethnic conflicts. Come listen to Diouf speak about this Senegalese exception, which has been characterized as a quite remarkable success story, a successful construction of a liberal democracy, a quasi-democracy, or an unfinished democracy.

Monday, December 5, 2011 6:00-7:00pm

PicNic Cafe, 2665 Broadway (between 101st and 102nd St.)


Embodied Archives: Tehran Brothels and Toilets as Heterotopia

Monday, December 5, 2011 from 12:00-2:00 pm for the final MENA workshop of the semester.

Our colleague Kristin Soraya Batmanghelichi (Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies) will present the second chapter from her dissertation titled, "Revolutions and Rough Cuts: Conceptualizing Women's Bodies in Contemporary Iran.

golestanKaveh Golestan

This chapter examines the history of brothels and red-light districts in Tehran, discussing the conceptual shifts and transformations in state and religious discourses on prostitution, concentrating on the seminal roles of prostitutes and their bodies in supplying male sexual gratification as a kind of standard, expendable labor practice. Through my analysis of Shahr-e Noh, Tehran's most controversial (and now almost forgotten) red-light district, which for almost a century, housed and subjugated Iranian women in a barricaded, sexual and psychological servitude, I explore how the geographic site of prostitution during Pahlavi Iran mutated into virtual, heterotopic site throughout the Islamic Republic, wherein the body of the female prostitute becomes the site for the expression of the discharge of male sexuality. From research that also includes interviews conducted in Tehran, I elaborate the influence of pastoral power in the Iranian, Islamic context and relate it to Taleghani's expression that "every society needs a toilet." I argue that this comment reflects a religious and political discourse on the body that creates women's bodies as a heterotopic space. Thus the toilet is embodied by women prostitutes who themselves constitute the underbelly of patriarchal system of power that addresses and rationalizes the sexual needs of men.


Professor Rhoda Kanaaneh will serve as discussant and help begin our conversation about Soraya's work. As always, the MENA workshop will be held in 208 Knox Hall. Lunch, courtesy of the Middle East Institute, will be served at 12 and the discussion will begin at 12:30.

If you are planning to attend, please RSVP by Thursday, December 1 so we can order the food accordingly. We will also send all attendees a copy of Soraya's chapter to read in advance. Thank you to everyone who came out and participated in the extremely fruitful discussions at our MENA workshops this semester. We look forward to seeing you all this coming Monday!

Transcolonial Fanon:
Trajectories of a Revolutionary Politics
Friday, Dec. 2, 2011 9:30am-6:30pm | Buell Hall, East Gallery

fanon poster

featuring MESAAS Professors Mamadou Diouf and Muhsin al-Musawi

To mark the fiftieth anniversary of Frantz Fanon's death, an international group of scholars addresses the diverse sources, trajectories and reinscriptions of his thought. Participants will consider Fanon's biographical and intellectual migration between the French Caribbean and North Africa, and between the theory of race and the project of anticolonial nationalism, and discuss his legacy across continents and across disciplines.

4:00-5:30 p.m. Panel 3: Reinscriptions

Chair: Mamadou Diouf, Middle East, South Asian and African Studies & History, Columbia University
Muhsin al-Musawi, Middle East, South Asian and African Studies & History, Columbia University
Reinhold Martin, Architecture, Columbia University
Nelson Maldonado-Torres, Comparative Literature, Rutgers University

Conference co-sponsored by the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity (CSER), Middle East Institute, Institute for Research in African-American Studies, Institute for Comparative Literature and Society, and Institute of African Studies, partial support by Air France KLM

The Armenian Center at Columbia University


To Know Wisdom and Instruction: 500 Years of Armenian Printing, and a History of the Armenian Collection at the Library of Congress

Lecture by Dr. Levon Avdoyan, Armenian and Georgian Area Specialist at the Library of Congress

Thursday, December 1, 2011
7:00 PM
Columbia University Faculty House
64 Morningside Drive @ 116th St.
Reception to follow


In 1512, seventy-two years after Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, Armenian words were first put to paper by movable type. In this lecture, Dr. Levon Avdoyan, one of the world's leading authorities on manuscripts in the region, will discuss an upcoming exhibit at the Library of Congress commemorating the 500th anniversary of Armenian printing, and also provide a lively tour of the library's Armenian collection. During his tenure, beginning in 1977, the Armenian collection has grown from some 7000 items to an estimated 45,000, covering myriad subjects and formats. The lecture's title - "To Know Wisdom and Instruction" - is taken from a Biblical passage in Proverbs, the first words written in the Armenian alphabet, in 405 AD. Since that time, Armenian writers have developed a unique canon of work and a rich literary tradition.

The lecture will also honor Michael Haratunian, the former chair of the Columbia Armenian Center, for his many years of leadership and service.

Public Lecture: The First Atlantic Revolution: Islam, Abolition, and Republicanism in Senegambia, c. 1776


Rudolph T. Ware, University of Michigan. Assistant Professor, History Department, University of Michigan (Ann Harbor, Michigan)

December 1, 2011

Room 207 Knox Hall 12-2pm

The Middle East Since the Arab Spring:

Rising Tension and Implications for the Future


Join the Office of the University Chaplain for dinner and a discussion with Professor Rashid Khalidi concerning recent developments in the Middle East.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011
7-9 PM
Earl Hall Auditorium (3rd Floor)

Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies

Columbia University


A Talk by Indo-Persian Search Candidate
Mana Kia of the Max Planck Institute

"Between Local and Transregional: Community in 18th Century Indo-Persian Commemorative Texts"

November 29, 2011
12:30 PM
208 Knox Hall

Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies

Columbia University


A Talk by Indo-Persian Search Candidate
Stefano Pello from the University of Venice

"Terms of Inclusion:
The Cosmopolitan Codes of Indo-Persian
Literary Culture In and Beyond South Asia"

November 22, 2011
12:30 PM
208 Knox Hall


The Practice of the Outsider: Guban in the Tradition of Literary Resistance

GUBAN is a kaleidoscopic tale of the Somali revolution. The novel deftly interlocks stories of all strata of society-interlopers, interlocutors, diplomats, camel herders, revolutionaries, military personnel, and clan leaders, to name but a few. Join MESAAS PhD candidate Abdi Ega as he explores the pedagogy of literary resistance that underlies his novel, Guban. Ega will discuss the influences of literary resistance found in theworks of W.E.B. DuBois, Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, and James Baldwin, among others. Explore the letters of resistance with Ega, a Somali novelist perturbed by the current state of media and global power. Read an excerpt here.
Interview with Abdi Latif Ega on the Novel
Sponsored by:
The Africa Diaspora Literary Society | The African Students Association | The Black Students Organization | The Caribbean Students Association | The Muslim Students Association | Turath

Date: Monday, November 21, 2011
Time: 9:00PM
Location: Hamilton 703

Guban on Facebook

University Seminars
at Columbia University

Professor Richard Serrano of Rutgers University, New Brunswick will lead a discussion entitled:

Reading the Alhambra

serrano book

Thursday, November 17, 2011
7:30 P.M.

To RSVP, please contact the Rapporteur: Soraya Batmanghelichi

Dual Revolutions:

A Discussion on Egypt's Labor Movements

Thursday November 17, 2011 7pm-9pm SIPA 1501

The conventional version of Egypt's revolution promoted by the
mainstream media goes as follows: the Egyptian people won a Facebook revolution that lasted just eighteen days. According to the US press, opposition leaders like expatriate Mohamed Elbaradei, members of the youth movement and "bloggers," like Google executive Wael Ghonim, have been the leaders of this movement. Finally, the revolution is effectively over and Egypt is smoothly transitioning to democracy.

This narrative does not take into account the influence of Egypt's
ongoing labor movement and its political and social mobilization
influence and capabilities. There is a dual hunger in Egypt for
political freedom/democracy and economic change. This panel will
analyze the present situation of the labor movements in Egypt and how they will affect the outcome of the revolution, while placing them into the historical context of Egypt.

Seating will be on a first come, first serve basis to registered guests.
Please register for the event.

Hossam el-Hamalawy is an Egyptian journalist, blogger for the site
3arabawy, social activist and photographer. He has been active in
Egypt's labor movements years before the Revolution. He has written
for The Guardian and The New York Times, and is also a member of the Revolutionary Socialists, the Center for Socialist Studies and the
Workers Democratic Party.

Dr. Timothy Mitchell is a political theorist and historian. He
received his PhD from Princeton, and his areas of research include the
place of colonialism in the making of modernity. He is the author of
Colonizing Egypt (1991) and Rule of Experts: Egypt, Techno-Politics,
Modernity (2002). Much of Dr. Mitchell's research also focuses on the
creation of economic knowledge and the making of "the economy" and "the market," as well as analyzing the problems with explaining
contemporary politics in terms of globalization or the development of
capitalism. His new book, Carbon Democracy (2011) examines how the possibilities for democratic politics have been expanded or closed down in the construction of modern energy networks.

Gigi Ibrahim is an Egyptian blogger and social activist. She has been
credited as being a part of a new generation of "citizen journalists"
who document news events using social media. She is a graduate from the American University in Cairo, where she earned a BA in political science. She has been featured on the cover of Time Magazine, has a PBS Frontline Special, "Gigi's Revolution," and has been featured on BBC, AlJazeera and the Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

Nada Matta is a PhD student in the Sociology Department at NYU. She
was awarded a Fulbright scholarship in 2006 to pursue her graduate
studies in sociology. Her areas of research include social movements
and development in Egypt. Ms. Matta is a Palestinian Israeli citizen
and obtained a bachelor's degree from Tel Aviv University. In 2001,
she was accepted to Goldsmith Collage University of London for a
master's program in sociology.

ICLS Graduate Colloquium Series


Thursday, November 17, 2011, 4:15pm
Ajay Chaudhary, Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies
How to Read Gharbzadegi: Al-e Ahmad, the Heidegger Hypothesis and Benjaminian Critique

Ajay Chaudhary's presentation in our Fall ICLS Graduate Colloquium has been postponed until the Spring semester. It was cancelled in solidarity with the student strike taking place city-wide in support of Occupy Wall Street. The following statement is from Ajay Chaudhary:

I have decided to postpone my talk, How to Read Gharbzadegi: Al-e Ahmad, the Heidegger Hypothesis and Benjaminian Critique, until a later date out of respect for the planned city-wide student strike / general strike in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street. It is, generally speaking, immoral to cross a picket line, period. But to do so in order to discuss a work of revolutionary thought would be perverse in the extreme. Gharbzadegi as I will argue in my talk when it is rescheduled is ultimately a critique of the processes which prevent us from gaining consciousness, which render us inert, shallow, ignorant and atomized. I encourage any and all who were interested in attending my talk to participate in this strike."


Oceanic Poetry: Tagore and His Times


Sugata Bose, Harvard University. Gardiner Professor of Oceanic History and Affairs, History Department, Harvard University (Cambridge, Massachusetts)

November 17, 2011

Room 207 Knox Hall 12-2pm

ICLS Lecture

Nkrumah and a Union of African States: The Dream Survives, Still


November 15, 2011 at 6:30 PM

509 Knox Hall, at 122nd Street and Broadway

Global Cultural Studies and the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society present a talk by Professor Kofi Anyidoho of the University of Ghana - Legon. Kwame Nkrumah (1909 -1972) was the leader of Ghana and its predecessor state, the Gold Coast, from 1952 to 1966. Overseeing the nation's independence from British colonial rule in 1957, Nkrumah was the first President of Ghana and the first Prime Minister of Ghana. An influential 20th century advocate of Pan-Africanism, he was a founding member of the Organization of African Unity and was the winner of the Lenin Peace Prize in 1963.


Tuesday, November 15th, 2011
Room 207, Knox Hall

Presentation by Katherine E. Kasdorf (Art History and Archaeology):

"Seeing a City Through its Temples: Halebid and the Hoysala Capital"


Examining the temples of Halebid, Karnataka - formerly Dorasamudra, capital of the Hoysala dynasty between the mid-11th and mid-14th centuries, I argue that the temples of a particular locality should be understood not only as architectural entities with various ritual and political purposes, but also as components of a greater urban setting that has historically encompassed a range of activities,
communities, and forms. By comparing the temples' architectural and
sculptural forms, their sources of patronage, and their sectarian
affiliations, and by considering the architectural character of
distinct zones and potential routes of access between surviving
features, we can understand much about the urban forms and social
organization of the Hoysala capital. Furthermore, the alterations
made to Halebid's temples and the reuse of Hoysala-period
architectural materials in temples built after the dynasty's fall
provide insight into the shifting character of the town's
neighborhoods and populations. Complicating the familiar narrative of
post-Hoysala decline and inactivity, these later constructions attest
to the town's continued vibrancy, even after the period of its highest
status as a political capital.


The format will be:
30 minutes: presentation;
30 minutes: discussion;
thereafter reception (food and drink provided).


Sponsored by the Middle East Institute with the support of MESAAS, the MENA workshop provides a forum for Ph.D. students from any department working in the field of Middle Eastern Studies to present conference papers or dissertation chapters for discussion among a group of faculty and fellow students.

Monday, November 14th, 2011
Munira Khayyat (Department of Anthropology)
A Landscape of War: On the Nature of Conflict in South Lebanon


An inquiry into life in a rural warzone, a naturalized battlefield, a life-world strung between the arts of cultivation and sciences of devastation, this paper examines landscape as a site of convergence of life and war. The landscape in question is the borderland of South Lebanon that unfurls as an agricultural-military hybrid formed in entangled cycles of seasons and seasons of war. Moving away from dramatic events and charged political categories commonly used to comprehend this long-term warzone (Arab-Israeli conflict, Hizbullah, Resistance and Steadfastness, etc.) I focus instead on the landscapes of the ordinary where wartime violence (past, present and potential) has been domesticated, naturalized by a rural community living off the land. Fields of tobacco, haunted oak, goats, a graveyard and purple grasslands: what do those tell us about life and war? In attending closely to the silent stories of landscape, the practices and processes of everyday life, and the turns and returns of agricultural cycles (and seasons of war), I "gather" a dwelt understanding of a landscape unfolded in entwined rhythms of cultivation and patterns of conflict. This paper explores dimensions of 'landscape' and 'war' and different ways of telling.


Professor Michael Taussig will serve as discussant. As always, the MENA workshop will be held in 208 Knox Hall. Lunch, courtesy of the Middle East Institute, will be served at 12 and the discussion will begin at 12:30.

Institutionalizing Interdisciplinarity | ICLS Annual Graduate Student Conference

November 10-12, 2011

Partial Program:

Thursday, Nov 10, 4:15pm-5:45pm | Komoda Room, Heyman Center
Arthur Dudney (MESAAS/ICLS)

"New Aesthetics and the Power of Tradition in Eighteenth-Century
Indo-Persian Poetry"

Arthur Dudney will present a chapter of his dissertation on Indo-Persian literary culture. ("Indo-Persian" refers to Persian-language texts written in India, where it was an important literary and administrative language.) Focusing on several works by the poet and critic Siraj al-Din Ali Khan Arzu (d. 1756), this chapter considers the eighteenth century as a hinge in Indian aesthetic theory. Indo-Persian literary practices were then still firmly anchored in a tradition defined by venerable Persian and Arabic critical texts, but Arzu and his circle recognized the tradition's limitations. As in Europe at roughly the same time, the gap between the aesthetics of the Ancients [mutaqaddami-n] and of the Moderns [muta'akhkhiri-n] could no longer be ignored. Arzu's poetics attempted to ratify new poetic practices which had developed in the intervening centuries while still giving the Ancients pride of place. In
doing so, he made note of Indian practices and used (what we would call) his linguistic and anthropological insights to change fundamentally the means of judging poetry.

D. Graham Burnett presenting with Artist Lisa Young
1:30pm - 2:30pm 301 Philosophy

"In Lies Begins Responsibilities: Parafiction and Interdisciplinary Practice"

D. Graham Burnett is a professor of History, Princeton University and Editor, Cabinet Magazine
Discussant: Marwa El Skakry, Associate Professor, Department of History

PANEL 3: Historical Interdisciplinarities and Interdisciplinary Histories
2:30pm - 3:30pm

Discussant: Owen Cornwall, MESAAS

Arthur Dudney, MESAAS, Columbia University
"Interdisciplinarity before Disciplines, the View from Early-Modern South Asia"

Irene Plantholt, Near Eastern Languages, Columbia University
"An interdisciplinary approach towards ancient Mesopotamian medicine"

5:15pm - 6:15pm

"On Institutionalizing Interdisciplinarity"

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, University Professor, Columbia University
Lydia Liu, Wu Tsun Tam Professor in the Humanities and Professor of Chinese and Comparative Literature, EALAC, Columbia University

Moderated by Stathis Gourgouris, Professor of Classics and Director, Institute for Comparative Literature and Society

For more information and a complete schedule, please see

MESAAS Department Colloquium

Nov. 10, 2011 4:10pm, 208 Knox Hall

Prof. Rachel McDermott, Asian and Middle Eastern Cultures, Barnard College

puja pic

"Revelry, Rivalry, and Longing for the Goddesses of Bengal."

The celebration of the Sakta Pujas to Durga, Jaggadhatri, and Kali certainly predates the arrival of European merchant-traders and colonialists in Bengal, but not by a great deal. One could in fact argue that it was the presence of the British that provided the initial impetus for the festivals' development into the characteristic forms we see today, with goddesses worshiped in temporary temples, or pandals, placed to the side of public urban thoroughfares. This chapter covers the entire period of British rule in Bengal - from the mid-eighteenth century until 1947 and beyond - illustrating the history of English-Indian relations in miniature, through the lens of the Pujas. How did the various, and changing, British attitudes toward Indians, Bengalis, Hindus, Muslims, festivals, rulership, and intercommunity mixing affect their perspective on the Pujas? And how did Bengali choices regarding Puja sponsorhip and organization reflect their views of British suzerainty in Bengal?... That there was never one monolithic "British" perspective on India, or one "Hindu" response to it, is amply demonstrated by a glance at the developmental history of the Pujas. There is one constant, however, and that is the Janus-faced nature of the Puja symbol, which always looks both ways, reflecting to its British and Indian interpreters what is opccurring in the public, political, and interethnic spheres.

This is a chapter from Prof. McDermott's new book on the Bengali Goddess festivals (2011). Please join us from 4:10 - 6 pm for discussion.

arab spring

Thursday, November 10th, 2011
The Arab Revolution: Ten Lessons from the Democratic Uprising
Time: 12:30-2PM
Location: Room 208 Knox Hall, 606 West 122 Street, New York, NY

A talk with Jean-Pierre Filiu, Professor of Middle East Studies at Science Po (Paris), moderated by Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies at Columbia University.

In his book, The Arab Revolution: Ten Lessons from the Democratic Uprising, Jean-Pierre Filiu offers a concise but sweeping account of the earth-shattering revolts that began in Tunis and continue today throughout the Middle East. Stressing the deep historical roots of the events, Filiu organizes the book around ten lessons that illuminate both the uprisings in particular and the region in general. This talk, followed by a Q&A will be based on the arguments put forth in his book.

Professor Filiu has had a distinguished career in Foreign Service. To mention just a few positions, he served as the Delegate of the International Federation of Human Rights in Lebanon, the Deputy Chief of Mission (Premier conseiller) at the French Embassy in Syria, and most recently as the Deputy Chief of Mission (Ministre-conseiller) at the French Embassy in Tunis from 2002-2006. Professor Filiu holds a Doctorate in Contemporary History from Science Po (Paris), where he is an Associate Professor of Middle East Studies. He has also taught at the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, and Columbia University???s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA).


The Center for Democracy, Toleration, and Religion presents:

Religion, Conflict and Accommodation In India

Friday, November 4th, 2011 to Saturday, November 5th, 2011
Friday, 9am-2pm, Room 207
Friday, 2pm-5pm, Room 208
Saturday 9am-2pm, Room 208

PLEASE NOTE: Photo ID is required for entry into Knox Hall.

A workshop on the history of religion, conflict, and accommodation in India. ??The two-day discussion will focus on two broad themes: ??Buddhists' encounter of conventional Vedic religion in ancient India; and exchanges among Saivas, Vaisnavas, and Jains in ancient and medieval South India.

Convened by Sudipta Kaviraj (Columbia) and Rajeev Bhargava (Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi). Speakers include Parimal Patil (Harvard);Arindam Chakrabarti (Hawaii); Dan Arnold (University of Chicago); Valerie Stoker (Wright University); Prithvi Datta Chandra Shobhi (San Francisco);Lawrence McCrae (Cornell); Narayana Rao (Wisconsin); Charles Hallisey(Harvard); Ajay Rao (Toronto); Somadeva Vasudeva (Columbia); Guy Leavitt (Columbia).

Details, including full event schedule, available here

Co-sponsored with The Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life (IRCPL)


Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies

Columbia University


A Talk by Indo-Persian Search Candidate

Supriya Gandhi from the University of

From the Peripheries of Empire:
Tracing Persianate Textual
Cultures in Early
Modern South Asia

November 3, 2011

4:00 PM

208 Knox Hall



Nov 2, 2011, 6:30 pm. Wood Auditorium, Avery Hall

Tuesday, November 1, 2011 7:00 PM

Translating the Indian Past: The Poets' Experience
A Reading and Discussion with Arvind Krishna Mehrotra

Arvind Krishna Mehrotra, poet, translator, and professor at the University of Allahabad, reads from and discusses his poetry, as well as the work of three other Indian poets: A. K. Ramanujan, Arun Kolatkar, and Dilip Chitre.
Poet Arvind Krishna Mehrotra
Professor Mehrotra's translations include 'The Absent Traveller-Prakit Love Poetry from the Gathasaptasati of Saavahana Hala' (Penguin Classics, 2008), and most recently Songs of Kabir (New York Review Books Classics, 2011), a new and acclaimed rendering of poems of the 15th-century Indian mystic and saint.

This event is sponsored by the Center for Translation Studies at Barnard College thanks to a grant from the Mellon Foundation. Free and open to the public. No registration or reservations are necessary. A reception will follow.

Friday, October 28, 2011 10:30 AM - 12PM

The Voyage of the Zaca, 1934-35: Colonial Race Mixing in the Pacific and the Crisis in US Physical Anthropology

Warwick Anderson (University of Sydney)

The Zaca, a schooner

In 1934-35, the physical anthropologist Harry L. Shapiro (AMNH and Columbia) voyaged in the South Seas on the Zaca, measuring mixed-race islanders, including the descendants of the Bounty mutineers on Pitcairn Island. His research in Polynesian hybridity reflects the growing cultural and scientific investment of the United States in the Pacific during this period. Shapiro's oceanic adventures and intimate encounters prompted him to discount typological speculation and emphasize instead the liberal Boasian program in physical anthropology, giving him the confidence to refigure his evaluations of racial difference. The seaborne investigatory enterprise came to influence U.S. racial thought, adding impetus to the condemnation of racism in science. On his return from the South Seas, Shapiro tried to get his fellow physical anthropologists to issue a manifesto opposing the harnessing of their science to racial discrimination and prejudice.

Location: 411 Fayerweather Hall

Friday, October 28, 2011, 6:00 pm


Join Professor Hamid Dabashi and other leading scholars and activists for the world premiere screening of "Education Under Fire," a documentary sponsored by Amnesty International on education rights in Iran. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion including Prof. Hamid Dabashi, the documentary producer and director, and others. Refreshments will be served. The event is co-sponsored by Amnesty International USA; the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies; the Bah' Club of Columbia University; and the Student Governing Board. For more information, visit

Location:Altschul Auditorium(417IAB)

Thursday, October 27, 2011, 6:30 pm

Omer and Ahmet Erdogdular - Classical Turkish Music Concert

Presented by Turkish Language Program and Columbia Turkish Club


Ahmet Erdogdular singing

Ahmet Erdogdular is Turkey's foremost vocalsit noted for his role in preserving the classical singing style of the Ottoman Turkish musical tradition.

Omer Erdogdular is a world-renowned Ney fluatist who has performed with famous solist Bekir Sitki Sezgin and Nevzat Atlig's Ministry of Culture Classical Turkish Music Chorus.

Performance is free and open to the public with reception to follow.

Location: 403 International Affairs (SIPA) Building

"The Transmission of Trauma Across Generations: Literary Memory and the Armenian Genocide"
A Reading and Talk by Peter Balakian
Oct. 25, 7:35pm, 501 Schermerhorn Hall

Please join us for a talk by Peter Balakian, the Donald M. and Constance H. Rebar Professor of the Humanities and Professor of English and Director of Creative Writing at Colgate University, presented by the Armenian Center at Columbia University, MESAAS, and the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research. Please see the attached flyer for more details.
Monday, October 24, 2011 7:15 - 9:00 PM

Globalization, Labor & the Arab Spring

Hamid Dabashi


Two crucial factors underlie the transnational uprisings we know as Arab Spring: Demography and labor migration. The fact that these revolutions are youth-driven is in and of itself an indication of the failures of the existing Arab regimes to respond in either moral or material terms to the rising expectations of a new generation. But equally important are the increasing patterns of labor migration from sub-Saharan Africa into the Arab World, and eventually from there to Europe--a case perhaps best represented in the current conditions in Libya, but not limited to that country. To what extent can these uprisings be read in these underlying terms, which in fact predate the rise of the Arab Spring--and if so in what terms they extend the domain of the Arab Spring far beyond the Arab countries?

PLEASE RSVP to Shanna Farrell ( by Monday, October 17

Location: Faculty House

Room will be announced in Falculty House lobby

Friday, October 21, 2011 9:00 AM - 7:30 PM

Radical Philosophy Conference

Annual conference of the UK journal Radical Philosophy

Geodesic Dome

School of Social Work, Room 311 1255 Amsterdam at 121st

Free registration at

For more details see website:

Friday, October 21, 2011 4:00 - 6:00PM

A Musical History of the Muwashshah

by Dwight F. Reynolds


This presentation will focus on the musical history of the Muwashshah beginning with its first radical break with all previous Arab art music sometime around the 11th century, through several different historical changes, and finally looking at different regional styles from different parts ofthe contemporary Arab world.

Location: Dodge Hall 622

Thursday, October 20, 2011 4:10 PM

MESAAS Departmental Colloquium

Beyond Nuremberg: The Historical Significance of the Post-Apartheid Transition in South Africa

Mahmoud Mamdani

Hebert Lehman Professor of Government

South African Flag

Location: 208 Knox Hall

Thursday, October 20, 2011 7:00 PM

Abu Zayd Al-Hilali: Hero, Trickster, Sufi, Poet

A talk and live performance by Professor Dwight Reynolds (University
of California, Santa Barbara)

Abu Zayd chopping off head

Most of the late medieval Arab folk epics focus on the deeds of a single hero or heroine, such as 'Antar ibn Shaddad, Sayf ibn Dhi Yazin, Dhat al-himma, or al-Zahir Baybars. In stark contrast to these other narratives, Sirat Bani Hilal stands out in its portrayal of the complex personal relations among a constellation of main figures. Over the past century scholars have noted that in different regions of the Arab world different heroes are emphasized in the story. This presentation analyzes the remarkably multi-faceted portrayal of the character of Abu Zayd in Egyptian oral performances of Sirat Bani Hilal. At times a chivalrous warrior, at times a cunning trickster, at times a Sufi dervish, and at times an epic poet, Abu Zayd represents a fascinating psychological study of manhood and heroism in the context of Egyptian rural society. This presentation will conclude with a brief live performance from "The Birth of Abu Zayd" sung to the accompaniment of the rabab (the Egyptian two-string spike fiddle).

Location: Faculty House

Monday, October 17, 2011 2:00 - 6:30PM

Violence, Memory and Representation:
The Paris Massacre of October 1961 in Historical Perspective

Time: Monday, October 17th, 2PM - 6:30PM

Location: East Gallery of Buell Hall, Maison Fran??aise

On the night of October 17, 1961, a peaceful demonstration of pro-FLN Algerians residing in Paris was brutally suppressed by French police. As many as 200 Algerians were killed, some when they were thrown, unconscious, into the Seine. Though long subject to historical repression, the memory of this episode of urban violence has resurfaced in force over the last decade. To mark the fiftieth anniversary of this event, Columbia faculty and invited speakers will consider this process of historical reconstruction and explore the haunting presence of October 17, 1961 in contemporary literature and film.

Participants include:


Phil Watts (Columbia)
Seth Graebner (Washington
University in St. Louis)

Roundtable discussion with:

Kristin Ross (NYU)
Muhsin al-Musawi (Columbia)
Judith Surkis (Columbia)
Madeleine Dobie - moderator (Columbia)

Friday - Saturday, October 14 -15, 2011- Conference

Beyond Security:
Democratic Contestations in Bangladesh and Pakistan

Time: Friday, October 14, 9:00am to 6:30pm
Saturday, October 15, 10:00am to 6:30pm

Location: International Affairs Building, 15th floor, 420 West 118th Street at Amsterdam Avenue

Introduction by Ambassador Abdullah Hussain Haroon, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations

Plenary Speakers:

Aitzaz Ahsan (Lawyer's Movement; Past President, Supreme Court Bar Association)
Sara Hossain (Advocate, High Court Division, Supreme Court of Bangladesh)

Participants include:

Hassan Abbas (National Defense University)
Aasim Sajjad Akhtar (Quaid-e-Azam University)
Sajeda Amin (Population Council)
Janaki Bakhle (Columbia University)
Partha Chatterjee (Columbia University)
Jamal Elias (University of Pennsylvania)
Ananya Jahanara Kabir (University of Leeds)
Amina Jamal (Ryerson College)
Elizabeth Kolsky (Villanova University)
Auj Khan (Stony Brook University)
Brian Larkin (Barnard College)
David Lewis (London School of Economics)
Naeem Mohaiemen (independent scholar)
Nayanika Mookherjee (University of Durham)
Shuja Nawaz (Atlantic Council)
Ali Riaz (Illinois State University)
Yasmin Saikia (Arizona State University)
Aqil Shah (Harvard University)
Dina Siddiqi (Hunter College, CUNY)
Willem van Schendel (University of Amsterdam)
Saadia Toor (College of Staten Island, CUNY)
Mooed Yusuf (US Institute for Peace)
S. Akbar Zaidi (Columbia University)
Afiya Shehrbano Zia (independent scholar)

Schedule of panels and speakers

Time: Friday, October 14, 2011 9:00am to 6:30pm
Saturday, October 15, 2011 10:00am to 6:30pm

Location: International Affairs Building, 15th floor, 420 West 118th Street at Amsterdam Avenue

Co-sponsored by
Department of History
Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies
Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life
Institute for Research on Women and Gender
Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy
School of International and Public Affairs

With special thanks to Zeelaf and Munir Mashooqullah and to Dr. Azra Raza
Funded by the U.S. Department of Education and the Taraknath Das Foundation



"Portrait of a Raja in a Badshah's World: Amrit Rai's Biography of Man Singh (1585)."

Prof. Allison Busch
October 6, 2011 4 pm 208 Knox Hall

A Note from Allison
This article is forthcoming in a special issue of the Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient guest-edited by Corinne Lefevre and Inez Zupanov. The editors specifically asked that we raise the issue of dialogue between various communities in Mughal India, which explains my occasional reflections on historiographical and political dialogues in the piece.
The article (not yet copy-edited, so there is scope for incorporating suggestions) relates to my new book project on regional histories of the Mughal empire that were recorded in Hindi rather than Persian and tend to reflect the viewpoints of the Hindu Rajput elite instead of official imperial discourse. In the coming months I am hoping to expand this article into a book chapter by deepening my engagement with the issue of using Indic literary representations as the basis of historical inquiry as well as relating Amrit Rai's text to the other major biography of Man Singh written a decade later (in 1595). Your feedback is most appreciated!

Post-Orientalism and the Exilic Individual: A Conference in Honor of Hamid Dabash

HD event

FRIDAY, SEPT. 30th, 2011 10:00am - 5:00 pm

501 Schermerhorn Hall 501

A one day-conference in honor of Professor Hamid Dabashi will be happening on September 30th at Columbia University.

Middle East & North Africa Workshop

Monday September 26th, 2011 from 12-2:00 in Knox 208

The first workshop of the semester : Mehammed Mack of the French and Comparative Literature Department will discuss a segment from his dissertation titled Immigrant Masculinities: Gender, Sexuality and Ethnicity in Contemporary France will be presented at the workshop. Please RSVP to this email address, if you will be able to attend, so that we can order food accordingly. We hope that you'll be able to make it.

University Seminars at Columbia University:
Seminar in Arabic Studies


Professor Lourdes Alvarez (of Catholic University of America) will lead a discussion entitled:

Boasting Rights: Wallada and Andalusian Exceptionalism

Dinner will be at 6:00 P.M in the Faculty House. The talk will begin
at 7:00 P.M. Those unable to attend the dinner are welcome to join the
talk at 7:00pm.We respectfully request that you notify the rapporteur
no later than FRIDAY, 17th of SEPTEMBER to let us know if you will
attend and if you will be having dinner. Members and guests of the
Seminar who are not also members of Columbia's Faculty House may
pay for the $24.00 dinner by contacting the rapporteur. She will be
collecting the fee, payable by exact change or check, during the dinner.

Thursday, September 22, 2011
6 PM
Faculty House-Columbia University
400 West 117th Street
New York, NY 10027

K. Soraya Batmanghelichi, Rapporteur, MESAAS Dept.

Mellon Sanskrit Lecture Series

Monday, Sept. 19, 2011 4-5:30 pm, 208 Knox Hall

*A talk by Alexis G. J. S. Sanderson (Oxford University)
"The Saiva Age: Further Evidence of the Buddhist and Jain Adaptation of Saiva Models and Sources in Early Medieval India" *


Introduction by Sheldon Pollock, William B. Ransford Professor of
Sanskrit & Indian Studies, MESAAS

Alexis Sanderson is Spalding Professor of Eastern Religions and Ethics,Faculty of Oriental Studies and Sub-faculty of South and Inner Asian Studies, All Souls College, Oxford University). After taking an
undergraduate degree first in Classics (1969) and then in Sanskrit
(1971) at Balliol College, Oxford, Alexis Sanderson spent six years in
Kashmir, studying with a scholar and traditional /guru/ of Saivism. He
was Lecturer in Sanskrit in the University of Oxford and a Fellow of
Wolfson College from 1977 to 1992. From 1992 to the present he has
occupied the Chair of Eastern Religions and Ethics in the same
university, and as the holder of that post became a Fellow of All Souls
College. His field is early medieval religion in India and Southeast
Asia, focusing on the history of Saivism, its relations with the state,
and its influence on Buddhism and Vaishnavism.

*Please visit the South Asia Institute website at


"Archival Anthropology"


The book is about Shari`a texts in Yemen in the first half of the twentieth century under the last of the Zaydi imams. It is also about issues of textuality and methods of reading. This excerpt is taken from the end of the second chapter, so it comes after the book's general introduction and also after I have elaborated my conceptions of the "library" and the "archive," which refer to cosmopolitan versus contingent texts. The excerpt opens with two vignettes from my early research in the highland town of Ibb.

Prof. Brinkley Messick
Anthropology and MESAAS
September 15, 2011 4 pm 208 Knox Hall


indian ocean


in association with IAS and the Department of Middle Eastern, South
Asian and African Studies

The Rise and Development of the Indian
Ocean World Economy

Gwyn Campbell, McGill University
Canada Research Chair in Indian Ocean World History

** Thursday, September 8, 2011 * 12-2 PM, Knox Hall, Room 207**