Recording the Objects of a Separation: in conversation with author Aanchal Malhotra

How does one write the historical memory of the Partition of India, as told through the objects people carried with them while crossing borders? A string of pearls twisted into a dupatta, a scarf, or a cubic inch-sized Guru Grant Sahib hidden within the folds of a dastaar, a turban. What Aanchal Malhotra writes about, however, is not just these objects. She uncovers layers of material memory, finding nostalgia, trauma, and both personal and national identity within them. Radhika Shah converses with Aanchal Malhotra on materials, memory and history as seen through objects.

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How I Met My Great-Grandfather: Archives and the Writing of History

In this article, historian Sherene Seikaly reflects on a decade of research, contingent, accidental, and unconsciously autobiographical, to explore archival practices and the writing of history. What happened to a man of capital who survived the catastrophe of 1948? What allows an archive to survive that event? What stories does it record and what does it render invisible? She recounts her experience of stumbling across family papers that carried the story of Naim Cotran as a “man of capital.” She details Naim’s consumerism, his financial investments and property, and his land dispute with his brother, and then traces his experience of dispossession after the Nakba as a refugee in Lebanon.

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Theories from the South II: Interview with Aditya Nigam

Political theorist Aditya Nigam’s works have provided us with essential tools to theorize the contemporary experiences of capitalism, and to interrogate the received philosophical history of capital. This is the second part of a conversation to emerge out of the workshop "Equality and Difference: Theory from the South", on 29th September 2017. The questions were jointly addressed to Prathama Banerjee and Aditya Nigam over emails.

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Navigating Death in Migration

Through a close-reading of two accounts of boat migration in North Africa, the documentary “Les Sauteurs” and Laila Lalami’s novel “Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits”, Anna Reumert asks how migrants navigate in the nearness of death. Discussing Stefania Pandolfo’s interpretation of “barzakh”, informed by Ibn ‘Arabi’s conception of this as both a bridge and barrier for spiritual and material passage to an elsewhere, Reumert examines how death is anticipated and experienced in zones where migrants are waiting for transit. How is migration experienced for those caught in the barzakh?

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Theories from the South I: An Interview with Prathama Banerjee

Prathama Banerjee is one of the preeminent scholars in India to think of theory and history from the Global South. Her current work focuses on histories of the ‘political’ in colonial and post-colonial India. Sohini Chattopadhyay interviews her on what it means, both intellectually and in terms of academic labor, to conceive of theories from the South. The ideas discussed range from the use of the archaic, to universal history and theories of capital.

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Medieval Islamic Work and Robbery: A Study of Al-Suyuti’s Fariq

Omar Abdel-Ghaffar read’s Al-Suyuti’s Fariq complicating our understanding of three aspects of intellectual labor and property: the concept of tasnif as it relates to creativity and trustworthiness, the concept of ‘amal as an undifferentiated description of labor that transcends the dualism between the manual and the intellectual, and the relationship between author and work as a relationship of access rather than one of production.

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