Workshop on Sehwan, 27 January 2009, CEIAS-EHESS

Plurality of sources and interdisciplinary approach:

A case study of Sehwan Sharif in Sindh

Maison de l’Asie, Grand Salon (1st floor), 22 avenue du Président Wilson, 75016 Paris

 

As part of activity of the research team “History and Sufism in the Indus Valley” (CEIAS), led by Michel Boivin, a workshop will be held on 27 January 2009 at the EHESS in Paris. Several members of this team will focus on how to integrate the plurality of sources in comparison with the interdisciplinary approach of a Sufi pilgrimage, that of Sehwan Sharif located in the region of Sindh in Southern Pakistan. Beginning on the work of the French Archaeological Mission in Sindh (1989-2002), different sets of research materials will be presented by the speakers: epigraphical sources, colonial archives, cartographic representations, vernacular sources, etc. If the primary objective of this workshop is to make an inventory of sources and materials collected, and eventually to compose a typology by disciplines, it also aims at multiplying angles of approach to a specific site, between local history and regional history. At the end of the day, a brief account of the field mission in October 2008 will be presented and commented, as well as various parallel projects around issues of data management and sharing (archiving and cataloging, GIS, website).

Programme

9h30: Opening remarks by Michel Boivin, CNRS

Morning session

Chair: Véronique Bouiller (CNRS)

10h-10h30: Monique Kervran (CNRS), The archaeology of Sindh and Sehwan Sharif: the work of the French Archaeological Mission in Sindh

10h30-11h: Annabelle Collinet (Louvre Museum), Sehwan Sharif through the study of ceramics: 2nd-8th until 11th-17th centuries

Coffee break

11h15-11h45: Claude Markovits (CNRS), Sindh through colonial archives

11h45-12h15: Reza Dehghan (University of Aix-Marseille), Sindh and commercial trade between India and Baghdad

Afternoon session

Archives at the Mukhtyarkar office in Sehwan

Chair: Christophe Z. Guilmoto (IRD)

14h-14h30: Johanna Blayac (EPHE), Epigraphy and architecture in Sehwan and southern Sindh

14h30-15h00: Rémy Delage (CNRS), Sehwan Sharif and Sindh represented cartographically

Tea break

15h-15h50: Michel Boivin (CNRS), La’l Shahbâz Qalandar through vernacular sources; Annabelle Collinet (Louvre Museum): Commentary on the Qalandar’s begging bowl (kishtî)

15h50-16h20: Frédérique Pagani (Paris X-Nanterre), Studying the Sindhis in India

16h20-17h: Michel Boivin (CNRS) and Rémy Delage (CNRS), Brief account of the field mission in 2008, Parallel projects and Mission in Sehwan Sharif 2009

 

Book: Journey to God. Sufis and Dervishes in Islam

Jürgen Wasim Frembgen (2008) Journey to God. Sufis and Dervishes in Islam, Karachi, Oxford University Press.

Since 1981, the author has been conducting ethnographic fieldwork on Islamic mysticism and Sufi cults in South Asia and more particularly in Pakistan. His latest book is a revised English version translated of the German one by Jane Ripken. Jürgen Wasim Frembgen here focuses on the role played by Sufis and dervishes in shaping social and cultural environments in the whole Muslim world from Africa across the Middle East to South Asia, with special emphasis on India and Pakistan. While describing everyday practices, perceptions and representations, the author intents to show how Sufi cults and saints became popular forms of Islamic religiosity at the local level, as well as components of mass devotional movements in Muslim societies.

Rémy Delage

 

More infos

http://www.oup.com

 

Book: Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, le messager du qawwali

Pierre Alain Baud (2008) Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, le messager du qawwali [Nusrat Fath Ali Khan, the mesenger of qawwali], Paris, Editions Demi Lune.

Pierre-Alain Baud has published a number of papers on Sufi music from Pakistan. Although he began by focusing on Shah Latif’s musical tradition at Bhit Shah in Sindh, he was one of the first Westerners to personally meet Nusrat Fath Ali Khan in the 1980s. He accompanied him on several tours in Europe and elsewhere. Since the book is published for a large audience of French-speaking readers, the approach is more journalistic than academic. He nevertheless draws a useful  contextualization regarding Sufism in Pakistan, and the Sufi milieu in which Nusrat grew up. It must be remembered that Nusrat’s most famous hit was Dama dam mast Qalandar, a song devoted to La’l Shahbâz Qalandar of Sehwan Sharif that he converted into a universal hymn of tolerance.

Michel Boivin

More infos

http://www.editionsdemilune.com

 

Book: Ginân. Texts and Contexts

Tazim Kassam and Françoise Mallison (eds) (2007) Ginân. Texts and Contexts. Essays on Ismaili Hymns from South Asia in Honour of Zawahir Moir, New Delhi, Matrix Publishers.

The ginâns are devotional hymns of the Khojas, Nizari Ismailis of South Asia, disciples of Shâh Karîm, better known in Europe as Aga Khan IV. The contributions collected in this volume by Tazim Kassam and Francoise Mallison are offered to Zawahir Moir. Following the foreword by Christopher Shackle, the book offers a bibliography of Zawahir Moir who is without doubt the most knowledgeable expert on ginâns. The fifteen contributions reflect the diversity and dynamism of ginân studies. Among the issues under discussion, are ginâns the devotional heritage shared by the Khojas and other communities in Gujarat and Sindh. Historians also point out the interest of the role of the ginâns in the construction of Khojas identity during the 19th and 20th centuries.

Michel Boivin


Book launch in Karachi, AFK, 15 October 2008

 

On the occasion of the visit of MIFS members to Pakistan, the French Alliance of Karachi (AFK) hosted an evening with Michel Boivin who presented his new edited book:

Michel Boivin (ed) Sindh though History and Representations. French Contributions to Sindhi Studies. Karachi, OUP, 2008.

The AFK, the MIFS and OUP co-organised on that occasion the second seminar conference on the cultural and historical legacy of Sindh and Pakistan:

Dr Michel Boivin, CNRS (Paris)
Introduction to the book “Sindh Through History and Representations”

Dr Rémy Delage, CNRS (Paris)
Sehwan and Sindh through the maps

Dr Michel Boivin, CNRS (Paris)
Managing the sources for writing Lal’ Shahbâz Qalandar’s biography

Sohail Bawani, Karachi University
Ethnographic Reflections on the performance of the dhammâl at the shrine of La’l Shahbâz
Qalandar

Ameena Sayyid at the gathering

Special Guests

Ameena Sayyid, Managing Director of OUP

Dr. Fateh M. Burfat, Head of Department of Sociology, University of Karachi

Book: The Other Shiites. From the Mediterranean to Central Asia

Alessandro Monsutti, Silvia Naef & Fabian Sabah (eds) (2007) The Other Shiites. From the Mediterranean to Central Asia, Bern, Peter Lang.

This collective volume is the proceedings of an international conference, which took place at the University of Geneva in 2002. The « Other » in the title refers to the fact that none of the articles are devoted to Iran. It provides a general perspective on the diversity and multiplicity of Shiism outside Iran during the past two centuries. The word Shia is used here in a wider sense, since one paper is devoted to the Alevis and another to Ismailis. The book brings together thirteen contributions, five of which are devoted to South Asia, particularly Pakistan. Of particular interest is the contribution of Mariam Abou Zahab on the politicization of Shiites in Pakistan in the 1970’s and 1980’s, and that of Alessandro Monsutti on the social organization and the role of `Ashura’ among the Hazaras of Quetta (Baluchistan) .

Michel Boivin

 

More infos

http://www.peterlang.com

 

Interview with Monik Kervran, 2008

Monik Kervran, a researcher at CNRS, headed the French Archaeological Mission in Sindh (MAFS) between 1989 and 2002. We interviewed her in October 2008 to reconstruct the scientific itinerary that led her from the Persian Gulf to the Indus Valley and the region of Sindh, specifically the site of Sehwan Sharif.

On the excavation site, Sehwan Sharif

Can you describe us the steps that led you to open new sites of excavation in the Indus Valley?

In the 1970s the Persian Gulf opened up to scientific expeditions from the West, including archaeologists, iranologists and islamologists. At that time, the scientific challenge was to deepen our knowledge of commercial activities between the Arab and Iranian coast. Trade with Asia, India and China, was also a field to be studied, in particular the period from antiquity to the Islamization of the Indian subcontinent. When I did excavation in Bahrain and Oman, I was intrigued by the strong presence of a very special sort of ceramic, which is red and strongly micaceous. Following this discovery, I decided to find the export ports of this ceramic, which led me on the side of the Indus Valley.

The common thread running through your scientific route is the presence of these red glazed tiles, so you wanted to discover its origins.

Yes indeed. During a private trip in Sindh in 1987 or 1988, I was quickly fascinated by the presence of red glazed tiles in the oldest ports that we could find, that of Barbariké/Daybul now called Banbhore. We dated it between 400-300 BC and 950-1000 AD.

Is it there that you opened the first excavation site of the MAFS?

No, not at all. In fact, after negotiations between France and the Government of Sindh for the opening of an archaeological excavation site, an agreement was reached and the French Ministry for Foreign Affairs was ready to finance the project. But in 1989, when we arrived in Pakistan to begin the excavation, the new Director of Antiquities in Karachi did not agree that we work in Banbhore, ostensibly for security reasons. We finally started our excavation work at Ratto Kot (see map), an outpost of Banbhore located fifteen kilometers downstream. Between 1989 and 1995, the MAFS was principally interested in this outpost and then in a second port, the Juna Shah Bandar or Lahori Bandar, mentioned in written sources from the 10th century. During this mission, six ports were discovered in the lower Indus Valley, but only some of them were excavated.

What have you learned from this first campaign of the MAFS?

The excavation of these two ports has helped us to highlight the mechanism with which ships were cleared for entry into Sindh. Such a device was also described by a source dating from the 16th century. But this system met its match when faced with more important invaders, for instance the Arab armies who conquered Daybul and Sindh in 711 or the Portuguese invasions of the 16th century. Having no reference study, we had problems dating the ancient and medieval ceramics. So we had to find a new site in order to have a stratigraphic reference, necessary for the calibration and timing of our samples found in the Indus Valley. After an initial refusal by the authorities (1994) to open an excavation site in the city of Hyderabad, again for security problems, we obtained the necessary permits for the site of Sehwan Sharif.

Why did you particularly choose the site of Sehwan Sharif?

Firstly, this city, which had suffered the invasion of Alexander in 325 BC and of British troops in the 1840s, had the advantage of having a tell overlooking the city and separated from it by a ditch. The site had never been excavated and archaeological layers were clearly visible. The first sounding, from the top of the tell up to the initial layer, that is more than twenty meters sounding, delivered vital information. Seven phases of cultural occupation of the city were made clear and were easily interpretable, from the 4th century BC until the 16th century AD. Finally, we were able to draw up the necessary stratigraphic reference for dating the sites discovered in the Indus delta. This has also delivered a number of clues allowing a better understanding of the history of the city and the region. For instance, we found confirmed that in the 13th century, when the city fell under the thumb of the Delhi Sultans, the tell became essentially a garrison and local people occupied the southern part of the fortress. The stratigraphic reference from Sehwan Sharif between 1996 and 2002 allowed us to put forward many other hypothesis for historical research. The opening of another site in the town of Sehwan itself would have enabled us to look for signs of more ancient urbanization.

More on Monik Kervran

Monique Kervran (2005), “Pakistan. Mission Archéologique Française au Sud-Sind”, Archéologies. 20 ans de recherches françaises dans le monde, MAE, Maisonneuve et Larose/ADPF-ERC, pp. 595-598.

Monique Kervran (1996), “Le port multiple des bouches de l’Indus: Barbariké, Dêb, Daybul, Lâhorî Bandar, Diul Sinde”, Res Orientales, VIII, pp. 45-92.

Monique Kervran (1993) “Vanishing medieval cities of the northwest Indus delta”, Pakistan Archaeology, 28, pp. 3-54.

Monique Kervran (1992), “The fortress of Ratto Kot at the mouth of the Banbhore River (Indus delta, Sindh, Pakistan)”, Pakistan Archaeology, 27, pp. 143-170.

Book: Schooling Islam. The Culture and Politics of Modern Muslim Education

Robert W. Hefner & Muhammad Qasim Zaman (eds) (2007) Schooling Islam. The Culture and Politics of Modern Muslim Education, Princeton and Oxford, Princeton University Press.

The topic of religious education of Muslims has become of interest to many researchers for at least two decades. This volume reflects the momentum generated by a gathering of eminent specialists of the Muslim world, including here Morocco, Egypt, India, Pakistan, Iran, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia. In contrast to the image portrayed by Western media of the Muslim educational system, often described as motionless and a vector of militant and radical Islam, contributors here provide a more nuanced vision. While describing the diversity of cultural contexts of educational institutions, they raise the question of the evolving nature and modernity of the relations between Islam and the State.

Rémy Delage

 

More info

http://press.princeton.edu

 

Society, Culture and Territory