Mahmood Farooqui and the Art of Dastangoi

Mr. Mahmood Farooqui of New Delhi, India will be in residence in Ann Arbor this September and October as a “Visiting Scholars from the Muslim World” fellow, an initiative of UM’s Global Islamic Studies Center. Farooqui is a dynamic figure whose range of interests and activities make it difficult to categorize him: he is at once a historian, a theatre persona, a filmmaker, and a critic. He might best be characterized as a cultural critic, and he is one with impressive scholarly credentials. His academic training includes degrees from St. Stephens College, Delhi University, Oxford University (as a Rhodes Scholar), and Cambridge University. His scholarly publications include his recently published book of translations (from Persian and Urdu) of documents that provide keen insights into the everyday experience of the Rebellion of 1857-58 in Delhi, Besieged: Voices from Delhi, 1857 (New Delhi: Penguin/Viking, 2010). While in Ann Arbor, Farooqui will be doing research for his current writing project: a study of the late-nineteenth century publication and circulation of the forty-six volume Dastan-i-Amir Hamza in India. Farooqui’s project examines the publication of the Dastan-i-Amir Hamza as a crucial moment in the cultural history of modern India, pointing to the interconnections between oral storytelling traditions and print culture. Farooqui will be presenting a lecture on the history and practice of storytelling in the CSAS Scholarly Lecture Series on September 28th.

Farooqui’s scholarly work notwithstanding, he is perhaps best known in India for his film Peepli Live (2010), which he co-directed, a scathing critique of post-liberalization media culture and politics in India. In addition to these impressive accomplishments, Farooqui is also almost single-handedly reviving a traditional performance art of story-telling, dastangoi. He has published on this subject, and received awards for his cultural work in this arena. His engagement with dastangoi is more than scholarly, however. Farooqui is a performance artist who is reviving this art form through his own practice. His performances have been critically acclaimed, and we are very pleased that he will be performing for us on September 27th. You’ll find complete details on the performance on the Center for South Asian Studies (CSAS) website ( This is a unique opportunity to see a traditional art form in a modern guise. As always, all of our events are free and open to the public; we very much hope to see you there!