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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”

Svati P. Shah on Sex Work and Day Wage Labor in Mumbai’s Informal Sectors

Svati P. Shah on Sex Work and Day Wage Labor in Mumbai’s Informal Sectors published on
Svati P. Shah
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
“Sex Work and Day Wage Labor in Mumbai’s Informal Sectors”
Thursday, March 12, 4-6pm
Fayerweather 511
Discussant: Durba Mitra, Fordham University

12Mar2015 Svati Shah@Columbia


This talk reviews the major contributions of Svati Shah’s recently published ethnography, Street Corner Secrets: Sex Work and Migration in the City of Mumbai (Duke University Press 2014). The book challenges widespread notions of selling sex in India by examining solicitation in three spaces within the city that are seldom placed within the same analytic frame – brothels, streets, and day-wage labor markets (nakas) – where women who have migrated to the city may solicit clients for sex work alongside other income-generating activities, such as construction work. Shah discusses access to housing and water, policing practices and violence, and the production of urban space in relation to the idea of sexual commerce. Showing that illicit and licit economic activities are often solicited from the same spaces, the talk will review the book’s arguments that pertain to the ways in which different modes of solicitation are signaled through the time codes that operate within these urban spaces. These differential temporalities of solicitation both produce and are produced by the legal liminality through which landless migrants secure a living in the city.


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)

*EVENT CANCELED: Paul T. Zeleza on the African Diaspora

*EVENT CANCELED: Paul T. Zeleza on the African Diaspora published on

Paul T. Zeleza
Department of History
Quinnipiac University

“Domestic Transformations in Contemporary Africa: What Role for the Diaspora?”

Wednesday, March 4, 4-6pm Fayerweather 411

Discussant: Ndieme Ouleye Ndoye

Prof. Zeleza Poster

Zeleza’s academic work has crossed traditional boundaries, ranging from economic and intellectual history to human rights, gender studies and diaspora studies. He has published more than 300 journal articles, book chapters, reviews, online essays and short stories.
Topics include political, economic development and human rights issues as well as the impact of globalization on Africa, the continent’s relationships with its diasporas and the impact of the Obama presidency in terms of the diaspora paradigm.

Zeleza won Africa’s most prestigious book prize, the Noma Award, for “A Modern Economic History of Africa” and “Manufacturing African Studies and Crises.” His recent books include “Barack Obama and African Diasporas: Dialogues and Dissensions” and “In Search of African Diasporas: Testimonies and Encounters.”

He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Malawi and his master’s from the University of London, where he studied African history and international relations. He holds a Ph.D. in economic history from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.


“The Little Book of Kabul,” Talk with the Authors

“The Little Book of Kabul,” Talk with the Authors published on
10Dec2014 Little Book of Kabul@Columbia
Join us for an in depth look into The Little Book of Kabul, with authors,​ Dr. Francesca Recchia & Lorenzo Tugnoli, in conversation with Professor Manan Ahmed, Columbia University.

Wednesday, December 10th
411 Fayerweather
4:15 – 5:45pm 

The Little Book of Kabul, is a book project that depicts a portrait of Kabul through the daily activities of a number of artists who live in the city. With an evocative tone, it focuses on the tiny details that escape grand narratives. Colours and gestures, smells and accents. In 20 short stories and 47 black and white photographs, The Little Book of Kabul dives into the lives of the three main characters exploring what it means to be an artist in Kabul and hence unveiling the beauty and brutality of the city.

Dr. Francesca Recchia is an independent researcher and writer who has worked and taught in different parts of the world, including India, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine. She is interested in the geopolitical dimension of cultural processes and in recent years has focused her research on urban transformations and creative practices in countries in conflict. She was the director of the 4th Afghanistan Contemporary Art Prize and is the author of three books, The Little Book of Kabul (with Lorenzo Tugnoli), Picnic in a Minefield and Devices for Political Action (with a photo-essay by Leo Novel).

Lorenzo Tugnoli is a documentary photographer based in Kabul. His work has been published by The New York Times, Le Monde, Newsweek, Time Magazine, Wired, The New Republic, The Atlantic, Der Spiegel as well as several Italian magazines. He is a regular contributor of the The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal.

​Read more about the Little Book of Kabul, here.
​Read more about the Center for International History here.