Sunday, April 21, 2013

Lecture (14): Sufism in South Asia

It's that time of the semester again folks! Term paper deadlines! Applications for summer research and teaching assistant positions! Waking up in a cold sweat wondering if next year's grant applications will pan out! Applying for conferences and workshops! Filling out an unnecessary amount of paperwork that could have been sent earlier but wasn't just 'cos! I think it is the only time where I secretly hope for miserable weather outside so that if I can't bask in springtime glory, no one else can.

Anyway, we return to sunny California with our lecture series today and return to two old favourites, the Center for South Asia at Stanford University which earlier gave us Munis Faruqui's talk and Nile Green, whose previous lecture has been one of the most popular posts ever on the Mughalist! Nile Green delivers the Annual Lecture at the Center for South Asia, Stanford University, titled "From Religious Establishment to Reformation: Sufi Islam in South Asia and the World".

Nile Green is a prolific author on the subject of Sufism in South Asia and beyond. His publications include his first monograph Indian Sufism since the Seventeenth Century: Saints, Books and Empires in the Muslim Deccan (London: Routledge, 2006); the textbook Sufism: A Global History (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012); and a collection of his essays entitled Making Space Sufis and Settlers in Early Modern India (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012).

But before proceeding to Nile Green's lecture, I would like to post a brief excerpt here from his interview with Jadaliyya on the institutional challenges facing the study of Muslims in South Asia: 
Ziad Abu-Rish: What are some of the major issues facing research in your field? Are there any areas of research that you think are missing?

Nile Green: One of the perennial problems that are inherent to the field of South Asian history is the dominance of the Indian nation-state in framing the questions asked and sources used. South Asia becomes a problematic field when so many linguistic domains and social groups are excluded because they do not fit the dominant narrative of the formation of the Indian nation-state. I often find myself in conversation with people whose research field is the Middle East. Most scholars on India have done very little work on Islam and almost no research in Arabic and Persian. One manifestation of this is that categories for dealing with what some term “Indian religions” leave little room for Muslims and Islam. Many academic departments focusing on South Asia are premised on the idea of “Indian religion,” meaning Hinduism and Buddhism, as the originator of South Asian culture. This is quite problematic when one considers the impact of Islam, the presence of Muslims, and the historical legacy of the Mogul Empire. These exclusions have become inherent to the twentieth-century historiography of India. [...] We need to expand our inquiries and break through the limits imposed by nation-state-centric fields.

The entire interview can be accessed here.

And now onwards to Prof. Green's lecture:

CSA Annual Lecture and Reception: "From Religious Establishment to Reformation: Sufi Islam in South Asia and the World" from Center for South Asia on Vimeo.

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