Category Archives: Books

Book: Building the Empire, Building the Nation by Daniel Haines

Daniel Haines, Building the Empire, Building the Nation: Development, Legitimacy, and Hydro-Politics in Sind, 1919–1969, Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2013.

Daniel Haines, British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at Royal Holloway, University of London

“European empires disintegrated during the twentieth century, leaving newly-formed postcolonial states in their wake. In this turbulent period, governments sought new political idioms to support their claims to legitimacy as modern states. In Sindh, a part of British India and (later) of Pakistan, the late colonial and early post-colonial states combined major attempts to control the natural environment with a serious engagement with representative politics in their bid for legitimacy. The construction of three barrage dams across the River Indus, along with a network of irrigation canals, enacted human control over nature as a political project; while the complicated relationship between bureaucracies and legislatures moved towards a democratic ideal after the First World War. Continue reading Book: Building the Empire, Building the Nation by Daniel Haines

Book: Nocturnal Music in the Land of the Sufis by Jürgen Wasim Frembgen

Nocturnal Music in the Land of the Sufis  Unheard PakistanJürgen Wasim Frembgen, Nocturnal Music in the Land of the Sufis. Unheard Pakistan, Karachi, OUP, 2012.

“In Nocturnal Music in the Land of the Sufis, Jürgen Wasim Frembgen takes the reader along on his fascinating journeys into the world of mystic music in Pakistan. In rich descriptions, he relates his personal experiences and emotions during ecstatic nights of transcendental music at Sufi shrines. He also recounts trance rituals and the sublime rapture of classical music in private music rooms in Lahore. In his ethnographic narrative, he unfolds authentic cultural contexts and life-worlds in which music is deeply embedded, tracing how music is perceived and ‘tasted’ by listeners. He himself listens with all his senses, above all with the ‘ear of the heart’, to the nuances in sounds which seek to remove the veils between man and God. Thus, he experiences spirituality and discovers the enormous power of music in the land of the Sufis – experiences and discoveries that he shares with the reader in this volume.” Continue reading Book: Nocturnal Music in the Land of the Sufis by Jürgen Wasim Frembgen

A comparative review of recent books on Pakistan (EPW)

In her review article (“Contesting notions of Pakistan“, Economic & Political Weekly, November 10, 2012, vol. XLVII, n°45.), S Akbar Zaidi, a political economist based in Karachi, draws a comparative, critical and stimulating analysis of six recent books focusing on Pakistan. These books, of varying genres (journalistic, policy-oriented, academic, literary…) and covering various themes (history, state formation, religion, politics, economy…), offer contrasting views, analysis and interpretations of today’s Pakistan. Continue reading A comparative review of recent books on Pakistan (EPW)

Book: Poetry, Islam and Ethnicity in Postcolonial Pakistan

Nukhbah Taj Langah, Poetry as Resistance: Islam and Ethnicity in Postcolonial Pakistan, New Delhi, Routledge India, 2011.

“Focusing on the culturally and historically rich Siraiki-speaking region, often tagged as ‘South Punjab’, this book discusses the ways in which Siraiki creative writers have transformed into political activists, resisting the self-imposed domination of the Punjabi–Mohajir ruling elite. Influenced Continue reading Book: Poetry, Islam and Ethnicity in Postcolonial Pakistan

Book: A Modern History of the Ismailis

Farhad Daftary, A Modern History of the Ismailis: Continuity and Change in a Muslim Community, London, I.B. Tauris Publishers, 2011.

“The Ismailis have enjoyed a long, eventful and complex history dating back to the 8th century CE and originating in the Shi’i tradition of Islam. During the medieval period, Ismailis of different regions – especially in central Asia, south Asia, Iran and Syria – developed and elaborated their own distinctive literary and intellectual traditions, which have made an outstanding contribution to the culture of Islam as a whole. At the same time, the Ismailis in the Middle Ages split into two main groups who followed different spiritual leaders. The bulk of the Ismailis came to have a line of imams now represented by the Aga Khans, while a smaller group – known in south Asia as the Bohras – developed their own type of leadership.This collection is the first scholarly attempt to survey the modern history of both Ismaili groupings since the middle of the 19th century. It covers a variety of topical issues and themes, such as the modernising policies of the Aga Khans, and also includes original studies of regional developments in Ismaili communities worldwide. The contributors focus too on how the Ismailis as a religious community have responded to the twin challenges of modernity and emigration to the West. ‘A Modern History of the Ismailis’ will be welcomed as the most complete assessment yet published of the recent trajectory of this fascinating and influential Shi’i community.”

The introduction can be downloaded on the website of the Institute of Ismaili Studies. The table contents and the entire bibliography of the book can also be consulted from there.

“Farhad Daftary is Associate Director and Head of the Department of Academic Research and Publications at the Institute of Ismaili Studies in London. An international authority on Ismaili studies, his many acclaimed books in the field include The Ismailis: Their History and Doctrines, The Assassin Legends: Myths of the Ismailis, and A Short History of the Ismailis.”

Book: Interpreting the Sindhi World: Essays on Culture and History

Michel Boivin & Matthew A. Cook (Ed.), Interpreting the Sindhi World: Essays on Culture and History, Karachi, Oxford University Press, 2010.

The book edited by Michel Boivin (CNRS, Paris) and Matthew Cook (North Carolina Central University) provides an array of papers dealing with society and history. The topics are thus varied. Some of them are devoted to Pakistan, others to India and also to the Sindhi diaspora. One of the main effects of the book is to show that Sindhi studies are growing all over the world, since the authors belong to a world wide diversity of academic institutions. Among the most innovative papers, one has to mention Lata Parwani’s study of Jhule Lal. She “deconstructs” the myths of Jhule Lal, a regional Hindu god who was made the community God of the Hindu Sindhis of India. It played a leading role in the construction of a Sindhi Hindu identity in India. Paulo L. Horta highlights how Sindh was a salient experience in Richard Burton’s formation in Orientalism. He was nevertheless highly embedded in the British colonial agenda in asserting poetry as the expositor of the Sindhis.