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Malini Sur Talk

Malini Sur Talk published on

The Center for International History, and the Department of Anthropology present

Roads, Race and The Making of India’s Northeastern Frontiers
Malini Sur (Western Sydney University)
Thursday, Oct 24
Sheldon Scheps Memorial Library
Room 457, Schermerhorn Extension
Columbia University

Abstract: This paper takes stories which surround an old trade a productive starting point to revisit British colonial cartographies in India’s north-eastern frontiers. I situate the first printed map of the Garo Hills (now located in India) and the construction of the Rowmari-Tura road (now divided between Bangladesh and India), in the gaps of British archives and conversations in Bangladesh’s remote border villages. By tracing the road’s contemporary material presence in Bangladesh to its early emergence in the form of a map in British India’s northeastern frontiers, I show how colonial endeavors re-ordered the region’s marshlands and hills as distinct political spheres in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Infrastructures of control—surveys and maps, road construction, repair and disrepair— transformed notions of territory, bodies and cosmologies to inscribe race. Furthermore, nature’s fury—forest fires and earthquakes—intersected with political forces to pull people apart. I suggest that an ethnographic reading of old roads and maps that continue to connect regions, which states still govern as unruly terrains, foreground the changing terms of contemporary violence along the India-Bangladesh borderlands.

Bio: Malini Sur is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Culture and Society and teaches anthropology at Western Sydney University. Her research addresses three lines of inquiry – agrarian borders, urban space and the environment. She investigates these areas ethnographically and historically, and with keen attention to visual representation. She has conducted fieldwork in Bangladesh and India, and with South Asian asylum seekers in Belgium.

Samira Sheikh Talk

Samira Sheikh Talk published on

The Center for International History in collaboration with the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society presents:

Samira Sheikh: The Tyranny of the Dotted Line, or A Tale of Three Maps
Abstract: The eighteenth century saw a remarkable proliferation of mapping and surveying vocabularies in Gujarat. The A close look at three map artefacts reveals how Gujarat’s shifting political and legal regimes produced surprising tensions in what should have been corresponding shifts in cartographic conventions.
Location: Fayerweather Hall 411
Time: 5pm
Date: Thursday, September 19, 2019

Samira Sheikh is Associate Professor of History at Vanderbilt University. She is the author of Forging a Region: Sultans, Traders and Pilgrims in Gujarat, 1200-1500 (Oxford India, 2010)

CFP: Iraqi Studies: Past, Present, and Future

CFP: Iraqi Studies: Past, Present, and Future published on

Iraqi Studies: Past, Present, and Future

28-29 February 2020

Columbia University

This two-day conference brings together a diverse group of established and emerging scholars working on the history of modern Iraq from the Ottoman period to the present to interrogate Iraqi studies; taking stock of its past, reflecting on the present, and looking towards its future. Studies of modern Iraq have grown qualitatively and quantitatively in recent years. There is now a critical mass of innovative scholars in the US, Europe, and the Middle East who work on Iraq and are exploring new lines of inquiry in a number of different directions. It is common to see Iraq-themed panels and round tables at international conferences. Given this volume of scholarly activity connected to modern Iraq, it is an opportune time to critically reflect on and examine Iraqi studies and its status as a burgeoning sub-field of Middle East Studies.

We aim to discuss research trends, to identify promising new questions and sources, to exchange experiences and insights, and to encourage networking across period-specializations and field boundaries. Each panel will comprise a discussant and several speakers. We will also hold a keynote panel of senior scholars who will critically reflect on the state of Iraqi studies. This panel will serve to guide and orient our discussions during the conference. Confirmed speakers for the Keynote Panel: Dr. Dina Khoury (George Washington University); Dr. Orit Bashkin (University of Chicago); Dr. Eric Davis (Rutgers University).

Among the questions we seek to explore are: How do we define Iraqi studies? What various methodological approaches inform our study of Iraq? Is Iraqi studies an inherently nationalist endeavor? How do different frameworks support or break with nationalist conventions? How has Iraq’s recent turbulent history affected how scholars access sources to study the country, its geography, its people, its history, its literature, etc.? How can we move past the sectarian and ethnic narratives of understanding the Iraqi past and present?

We welcome submissions that address any of the above questions. Other sub-themes may also include:

• Iraq, Empires, and Imperialism – including the Ottoman, British, and American imperialisms. We welcome work which considers state-society relations as well as the place of Iraq in inter-imperial and international relations.
• Relationship between Iraqi society and the environment – including urban studies, infrastructure, and natural resource extraction.
• Explorations of Iraqi intellectual and cultural production – including how Iraqi intellectuals and other actors have produced theory which can be not only the subject of a historian’s study, but can serve as a framework to better understand such subjects.
• Studies of ethnic and religious minorities – including and beyond histories of sectarianism and ethnic/sectarian conflict.
• Innovative applications of new methods in gender studies to the context of Iraq and in particular works which suggest how such methodologies can be woven into work across sub-disciplines within the field of Iraqi studies.
• Studies that address conflict, violence and war in Iraq’s history, as well as the production of memory, practices of commemoration, documentation, and archives.

Conference Details
1. If you would like to propose a paper for the conference, please submit a completed application form (including a 300 word abstract) via the Google Form by August 31st.
2. We seek proposals from junior faculty, post-doctoral fellows, graduate students, and emerging scholars.
3. The conference will have a keynote panel of speakers as well as a final roundtable
4. Meals will be provided for participants. We have limited funding to sponsor accommodation and travel expenses of participants, especially for those travelling from the Middle East. However, participants are encouraged to apply for funds from their home institutions, or to find alternative sources of funding where possible.

Please indicate in the Google Form whether you have access to funding when you submit your abstracts.

Zeinab Azarbadegan (Columbia University)
Amnah Almukhtar (Columbia University)
Natasha Pesaran (Columbia University)

Department of History
Center for International History
Center for the Study of Muslim Societies
Ottoman and Turkish Studies Seminar
Department of Art History and Archaeology

State Failure and Medieval Indian Historiography

State Failure and Medieval Indian Historiography published on

The Center for International History and the South Asia Institute at Columbia Present:

State Failure and Medieval Indian Historiography: A New Interpretation of ‘Afīf’s Tā’rikh-i Firūz Shāhī

In a novel interpretation of the work of the major historian of medieval India Shams Sirāj Afīf (fl. 1360) Tā’rikh-i Firūz Shāhī, this presentation will recover and discuss
hitherto understudied aspects of ‘Afīf’s History and foreground its importance as a manual on political reform as exemplified by Firuz Shāh Tughluq’s reign (1351-1388). In addition, the presentation will relate Afif’s narratives about the challenges that confronted the Delhi Sultanate and Muḥammad bin Tughluq’s vagaries (d. 1351) to present-day debates on state failure.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017
4:00-5:30 pm
Fayerweather Hall 411

Vasileios Syros, The Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America (Columbia)
Vasileios Syros is a Senior Research Fellow at the Academy of Finland. His teaching and research interests converge at the intersection of the history of Christian/Latin, Jewish, and Islamic political thought and Comparative Political Theory. Syros has published Marsilius of Padua at the Intersection of Ancient and Medieval Cultures and Traditions of Learning (University of Toronto Press, 2012); Die Rezeption der aristotelischen politischen Philosophie bei Marsilius von Padua (Brill, 2007); and Well Begun is Only Half Done: Tracing Aristotle’s Political Ideas in Medieval Arabic, Syriac, Byzantine, and Jewish Sources (ACMRS, 2011). His work has appeared in a number of international peer-reviewed journals, including Viator, Journal of Early Modern History, Medieval Encounters, Journal of World History, Philosophy East & West, History of Political Thought, and Revue des Études Juives. Syros is the Principal Investigator for the research project “Political Power in the European and Islamic Worlds” (2014–18). He has taught previously at Stanford University, McGill University, The University of Chicago, and the École Pratique des Hautes Études (Paris). Syros has received fellowships from the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, and the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Beyond the “San Francisco System”: Seeking a Peace Regime in East Asia

Beyond the “San Francisco System”: Seeking a Peace Regime in East Asia published on

Beyond the “San Francisco System”: Seeking a Peace Regime in East Asia

SFConferenceOctober 28, 2016
8:30 AM – 6:00 PM
1501 Kellogg Center
School of International and Public Affairs Columbia University


8:30 – 9:00  Breakfast and Registration
9:00 – 9:15: Opening Remarks: Young-Ho Kim &  Charles Armstrong

PANEL 1: The San Francisco Treaty, History, and International Law

  • Tae-jin Yi (Seoul National University, History): “The San Francisco Treaty and the Problems regarding the Exemption of Japanese Blame on the Colonization of Korea”
  • Jang-Hie Lee (Hankuk University of Foreign Studies,
    International Law): “Limitations of the San Francisco Peace
    Treaty and Peace in East Asia from the Perspective of Colonial State Responsibility”
  • Jeong-Ho Roh (Columbia University, Law); “The San Francisco Peace Treaty and International Law”
  • Etsuro Totsuka (Ryukoku University, Law): Japan’s Re-joining Into the Cold War World and its Freezing of the Decolonization Process”
  • Charles Armstrong (Columbia University, History): Discussant


11:15 – 11:30 Coffee break

11:30 – 13:00 PANEL 2: The San Francisco System and International Order Haruki Wada (Tokyo University, History): “San Francisco Treaty

System and Peace State Japan”

  • Byung-Joon Jung (Ewha Womans University, History): “San Francisco Peace Treaty with Japan and its Legacy in East Asia”
  • Chengyou Song (Peking University, History): “Comments on the San Francisco Conference and Treaty of Peace with Japan”
  • Koh Odagawa (Waseda University, Mass Media): Discussant


13:00 – 14:00 Lunch for participants, Faculty House

14:00 – 15:30 PANEL 3: The San Francisco System, Territory and Memory Dekun Hu (Wuhan University, History): “The San Francisco Peace

Treaty and Territorial Disputes”

  • Fumiaki Nozoe (Okinawa International University, Law): “The Okinawa Problem in the San Francisco Treaty System: A Historical Perspective”
  • Daqing Yang (George Washington University): “War, Decolonization and Memory in Northeast Asia”
  • Kimie Hara (University of Waterloo, History/Political Science): “Exploring Settlements of Regional Conflicts in the San Francisco System”
  • Yang Chan (Wuhan University, History): Discussant


15:30-15:45 Coffee Break

15:45 –17:45 PANEL 4: The San Francisco System, Legacies, and Beyond

  • Young-Ho Kim (Academy of Korean Studies, Economic History): “Beyond the San Francisco System in East Asia – Collision between Historical Legacy and Regional Integration in the San Francisco System”
  • Myung-Lim Park (Yonsei University, International Studies): “The San Francisco System, Northeast Asian Exceptionalism, and Beyond for Perpetual Peace”
  • Alexis Dudden (University of Connecticut, History): “The San Francisco System, and Current Issues of National Borders”
  • Carol Gluck (Columbia University, History): Discussant

17:45 – 18:00 Concluding remarks: Jin-Hyun Kim (World Peace Forum) & Elazar Barkan (Columbia University)

Conference ends



General and Planning Discussion

October 29th, 2016
918 International Affairs Building 9:00 – 12:00
Lunch, participants disperse

The Political in Question

The Political in Question published on

Join us for a talk by
Mrinalini Sinha (Professor of History, University of Michigan):

The Political in Question: Abolitionism in India’s 20th Century

Friday, October 23, 2015
The Institute for Public Knowledge, 20 Cooper Square, 5th Floor

Histories of politics in India frequently distinguish between the domains of elite and of popular or subaltern politics. The latter is typically expressed in the idiom of the fragment and identified with the particular rather than with the universal. This talk engages with the popular politics of the anti-indenture movement in India to raise the following questions: what happens when popular politics makes a claim to the universal? What does such an “impossible” politics suggest about the nature of the political itself?

Co-sponsored by:
South Asia NYU,
Department of History at NYU,
The Center for International History at Columbia University

Nikhil Rao on Urban expansion and the fates of cooperative housing in Bombay

Nikhil Rao on Urban expansion and the fates of cooperative housing in Bombay published on
Department of History
Wellesley College
“From ‘Improvement’ to ‘Slum Rehabilitation’: Urban expansion and the fates of cooperative housing in Bombay”
Friday, February 27, 2-4pm
Fayerweather 411
Discussant: Tania Bhattacharyya




Professor Rao is a scholar of urban history and urban economic and political development in South Asia. Rao is the author of House, but No Garden: Apartment Living in Bombay’s Suburbs, 1898–1964 (Minnesota, 2012)


*(poster image is detail from UGO Architecture‘s imagined redesign of Dharavi)

Indian Secularism on a Global Stage

Indian Secularism on a Global Stage published on

19Nov2014 Indian Secularism on a Global Stage

Indian Secularism on a Global Stage: Reconsidering Muslim Belonging in Nehru’s India

by Prof. Taylor C. Sherman, London School of Economics and Political Science

Discussant: Prof. Manu Bhagavan, Hunter College/CUNY

Wednesday, Nov 19, 2014
208 Knox Hall

Muslim belonging in India since independence has been anchored using the language of secularism. However, the rise to power of the BJP in recent decades and the concomitant anti-Muslim violence in India has led some to declare that India’s secularism is in crisis. Much of the discussion surrounding this issue is predicated upon the assumption that India’s secularism was firmly established under the rule of the first Prime Minister of independent India, Jawaharlal Nehru. This paper takes a new look at secularism in Nehru’s India. Rather than focusing on what Nehru said in his speeches and letters, this paper examines notions of secularism as the term was deployed on multiple levels of government and in wider society. It reassesses Nehru’s influence, and explores the ways in which calculations about the treatment of Indian Muslims in India were often worked out on a global stage.