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Abhishek Kaicker Talk

Abhishek Kaicker Talk published on

The Center for International History presents

A Hidden History: Popular Politics in 18th c. Delhi
Abhishek Kaicker (University of California Berkeley)
Thursday, Oct 31
Fayerweather Hall 411
Columbia University

A long-held preconception in the study of premodern South Asia has been that ordinary people were the passive objects of imperial sovereignty. By contrast, this talk will make the case that by the late seventeenth century, a distinct politics of the people in relation to kingship had become manifest in the cities of the Mughal empire, and particularly its capital Shahjahanabad. Such a popular politics, however, cannot come into view until we both rethink our conceptions of both sovereignty and politics before colonialism.

Abhishek Kaicker is an assistant professor of history at the University of California, Berkeley. He received his PhD from Columbia University in 2014. His first book, The King and the People: Sovereignty and Popular Politics in Mughal Delhi (Oxford University Press, NYC) will appear in print in March, 2020.

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)

Iraqi Studies: Past, Present, and Future

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. A keynote panel of senior scholars will critically reflect on the state of Iraqi studies. Confirmed speakers for the Keynote Panel: Dr. Dina Khoury (George Washington University); Dr. Orit Bashkin (University of Chicago); Dr. Eric Davis (Rutgers University); Dr. Sara Pursley (New York 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?

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
Seminar on Ottoman and Turkish Studies
Department of Art History and Archaeology
Middle East Institute (MEI)
Sakıp Sabancı Center for Turkish Studies
The Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy (ISERP)

In order to attend and to be added to our mailing list for updates related to the conference, please register here

Preliminary Program


9:00-9:30 Registration and Opening Remarks by Zainab Bahrani (Columbia University)

9:30- 11:00      Panel 1: Methods and Approaches: Writing Iraqi History

Discussant: Dina Rizk Khoury (George Washington U.)

Wisam Alshaibi (UCLA), The Dark Archive of the Wars in Iraq: Introducing the Kanan Makiya Papers

Nadje Al-Ali (Brown U.), Feminist Approaches to Iraqi Studies: Beyond an add-women- and- stir approach

Sara Farhan (American U. of Sharjah), Towards a History of Medicine of Modern Iraq

Orcun Okan (Columbia U.), Reflections on the Use of First-Person Narratives for Writing Histories of Modern Iraq

11:00-11:15     Break

11:15-12:45     Panel 2: The Iraqi Nahda

Discussant: Marwa Elshakry (Columbia U.)

Annie Greene (College of William and Mary), The Nahda in Iraq

Camille Cole (Yale U.), “The Last Vestiges of Arab Independence”: Khaz‘al Khan and the Making of Gilded Age Basra and Khuzestān, 1897-1914

Kevin Michael Jones (U. of Georgia), Baghdad Days and Cairo Nights: The Arab Nahda and the Construction of Iraqi National Identity

Gabriel Young (NYU), On India’s Path: Transnational Histories of Iraq and the Political Economy of ʿAbd al-Fattah Ibrahim

12:45-13:30 Lunch

13:30-15:00     Panel 3: State Formation and Resistance

Discussant: Sara Pursley (NYU)

Mélisande Genat (Stanford U.), State Justice and Tribal Law in the Sinjar Region (1932-1958)

Carl Shook (Loyola U., Chicago), Imperialist Invention or Uncertain Enterprise? Understanding British power through the political geography of Iraq

Huma Gupta (MIT),  The Architecture of Dispossession and State-Building in Iraq

Amir Taha (Utrecht U.), War and Insurgency in Southern Iraq: The Case Study of Shinafiyah, 1979-1991

15:00-15:15     Break

15:15-16:45     Panel 4: Beyond Sectarianism

Discussant: Eric Davis (Rutgers U.)

Michael Degerald (Lund U., Sweden), Race in modern Iraqi History: Questioning the not-so-sectarian dimensions of social tensions

Christopher Cooper-Davies (Cambridge U.), Between sectarian populism and anti-sectarianism: mechanisms for Shi’i national integration in Hashemite Iraq

Joseph Edward Kotinsly (U. of Texas at Austin), The Politics of Suffering: An examination of the Iraqi Shi’i Opposition Movement’s response to the 1991 March Uprisings 

Jinan Al-Habbal (LSE), The Evolution of the Iraqi Army

16:45-17:00     Break

17:00-18:30     Keynote Panel: Prof. Orit Bashkin (U. of Chicago), Prof. Dina Rizk Khoury (George Washington U.), Prof. Eric Davis (Rutgers U.), Prof. Sara Pursley (NYU)



10:00- 11:30      Panel 5: State Power and Natural Resource Development

Discussant: Natasha Pesaran (Columbia U.)

Dale Stahl (U. of Colorado, Denver), The Third River: Oil, Water, and the Iraqi Development Board

Tiffany Floyd (Columbia U.), The Rivers of Time: Deep Time, Petromodernity and Iraqi Modern Art in Al Amiloun Fil Naft

Isacar Bolaños (Loyola U., Maryland), The French Connection: Informal Empire, Environmental Management, and Foreign Technocrats in Hamidian Iraq

Şehnaz İyibaş (Koç U., Istanbul), Irrigation in the Late Ottoman Iraq: The Hindiya Barrage 1890-1914

11:30-11:45     Break

11:45-13:15     Panel 6: Formation of Iraqi Identities and Social Classes

Discussant: Orit Bashkin (U. of Chicago)

Hala Fattah (Independent Scholar), The Invisible Iraqis: Georgian, Daghistani and Circassian Families in Early Twentieth Century Iraq

Pelle Valentin Olsen (U. of Chicago), Iraqi Jews and the Production and Consumption of Leisure

Andrew Alger (CUNY), Clinical Behavior: Institutionalized Medicine and Urban Space in Baghdad, 1917 – 1958


13:15-14:00     Lunch

14:00-15:30     Panel 7: Beyond the Nation: Iraq in Global Perspective

Discussant: Nadje Al-Ali (Brown U.)

Esmat Elhalaby (NYU Abu Dhabi), India in Iraq/Iraq in India

Noga Efrati (Open University of Israel),, Revisiting early women’s activism in Iraq: a transnational perspective

Hilary Falb Kalisman (U. of Colorado, Boulder), Global Iraq: Gender, Education and Travel

Kate Tietzen (Kansas State U.), Iraqis in Russia: The Organizations of Iraqis Outside the Region-Moscow in the 1990s

15:30-15:45     Break

15:45-17:15     Roundtable


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

The Enclosure of Movement:​ How Travelers, Officials and Jurists Negotiated Rights of Passage in the Old Reich​

The Enclosure of Movement:​ How Travelers, Officials and Jurists Negotiated Rights of Passage in the Old Reich​ published on
Luca Scholz, European University Institute
Department of History
Columbia University
The Enclosure of Movement: How Travelers, Officials and Jurists Negotiated Freedom of Movement in the Old Reich
Tuesday, April 28, 4:15-6pm
Fayerweather 411
With Discussant Carl Wennerlind, Barnard
Luca Scholz - FINAL

In the fragmented political landscape of early modern Germany, control over moving goods and people was a permanent object of contention between travelers and more than three hundred competing polities. Such conflicts were often framed as matters of “conduct”, a term denoting the sovereign right to escort travelers and to levy customs duties on passing goods and people. Although only certain forms of movement were subject to conduct restrictions, public officials constituted a considerable obstacle for the unhampered movement on the roads and rivers traversing the patchwork empire. Accordingly, attempts at “monopolizing the legitimate means of movement” (John Torpey) clashed at more or less open forms of resistance from the side of those to be controlled. Drawing on the physical, symbolic and intellectual conflicts occasioned in this context, the talk explores the fundamentally controversial nature of these polities’ grasp on human mobility. Confronted with fragmented, multi-layered forms of territoriality, double-edged claims of protection and ubiquitous appeals to free movement, we are called to reflect on the border through the eyes of a past that knew restricted mobility as an all-pervasive but much-disputed principle of socio-spatial organization.

Karl Jacoby: “Between the Color Line and the Border Line: A Trickster’s Tale from the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands”

Karl Jacoby: “Between the Color Line and the Border Line: A Trickster’s Tale from the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands” published on
Karl Jacoby
Department of History
Columbia University
“Between the Color Line and the Border Line: A Trickster’s Tale from the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands”
Tuesday, April 21, 4-6pm
Fayerweather 411
With Discussant Sarah Beckhart
“Between the Color Line and the Border Line: A Trickster’s Tale from the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands”
“Between the Color Line and the Border Line: A Trickster’s Tale from the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands”