Registration for this Zoom workshop is required, and you may do so here.
Religious identity in South Asia has been shaped within the context of a fraught and contentious history, ranging from issues of “communalism” in colonial India to the question of “radicalization” and political Islam in post 9/11 Pakistan. Yet, religious practice has developed in relation to longstanding sacred geographies and networks in South Asia, intersecting with modern identity formations in unusual and unexpected ways. In this conference, we will explore the relationship between religion, identity, historical networks and sacred landscapes to understand the formation of religious thought and practice in Pakistan. Through a multidisciplinary approach, this conference aims to cultivate a discussion of transnationalism, sectarianism, marginality, inter and intra-religious dynamics. We will engage with the work of scholars and artists from Pakistan, Europe and the United States concerned with a variety of religious groups in Pakistan, and the complex ways that religious practice has been shaped through interactions between distinct identities, not only along the lines of religion, but also gendered and social difference. While focusing on Pakistan, we hope to challenge prevalent assumptions about the current configuration of borders and explore deeper and continually relevant connections between distinct religious spaces and practices in South Asia.
Friday, April 2, 2021
Opening Remarks (9:30-9:45)
Panel 1: Religious Thought and Tradition Among Differences (9:45-11:15)
Ali Usman Qasmi (Associate Professor of History, Lahore University of Management Sciences), “One Nation, One ‘Id?: Controversies About Moon Sightings in Pakistan”
SherAli Tareen (Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Franklin and Marshall College), “The Promise and Peril of Hindu-Muslim Friendship”
Simon Wolfgang Fuchs (Lecturer in Islamic and Middle East Studies, University of Freiburg), "Potentials of Periphery: How Pakistan's Religious Scholars Engage Global Islam”
Film-Screening Break (11:15-11:45)
The Making of Teesri Dhun (The Third Tune, 2015), Jo Range, So Range (Any Color You Like, My Love, 2015) and Vadhai (The Gift, 2019)
Performing Pieties (11:45-12:45)
Claire Pamment (Assistant Professor of World Theatre, The College of William and Mary), "Performing Pieties in Pakistan’s Transgender Rights Movement"
Saturday, April 3, 2021
Opening Remarks (9:30-9:45)
Panel 2: Crossing Islamic Frontiers (9:45-11:15)
Neelam Khoja (Inter-Asia Connections Postdoctoral Associate at the Macmillan Center, Yale University), "Afghan Spaces in Early Modern 'Pakistan"
Nosheen Ali (Global Faculty-in-Residence at the Gallatin School, New York University), "Mannkahat: Poetic Knowledge and Shah Abdul Latif through Sur"
Teren Sevea (Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies, Harvard Divinity School), “Pakistan Dreams: Visions of Islamic Statehood from the East’”
Keynote: Jamal Elias (Walter H. Annenberg Professor in the Humanities and Professor of Religious Studies, University of Pennsylvania) (11:30-1:00)
"Glimpsing History Through Literature's Window: Religious Sentiments, Emotional Styles, Punjabi Poets"
Glimpsing History through Literature's Window: Religious Sentiments, Emotional Styles, Punjabi Poets
Jamal J. Elias, Walter H. Annenberg Professor of the Humanities and Professor of Religious Studies, University of Pennsylvania
Much of the discussion around Sufi poets and poetry emphasizes their appeal to a broad audience that transcends religious community, caste and class. Reading and listening audiences take this ecumenical or pluralistic message as characteristic of such poets and of Sufism at large. The purpose of my talk is to examine this premise through a focus on specific Sufi poets from the Punjab, using their work to analyze how they imagined and configured Muslim identities. Important questions emerging from such an investigation include how religious identity is configured, what purposes lie in behind choices of linguistic register, and how one expresses emotions and values in different contexts.
Jamal J. Elias is the Walter H. Annenberg Professor of the Humanities and Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. A recipient of many grants and awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the (U.S.) Social Science Research Council (among others), he has lectured and published extensively on a broad range of subjects relevant to the medieval and modern Islamic world. He is the author, coauthor, or editor of nine books and numerous articles dealing with a range of topics in Islamic history, thought, literature, and art and his writings have been translated into at least ten languages. His most recent books are Alef is for Allah: Childhood, Emotion and Visual Culture in Islamic Societies (Berkeley, 2018); Aisha’s Cushion: Religious Art, Perception and Practice in Islam (Cambridge Massachusetts, 2012); and On Wings of Diesel: Trucks, Identity and Culture in Pakistan (Oxford, 2011).