New PhDs in Sindhi Studies: 2020

Fatima Quraishi, Necropolis as Palimpsest: The Cemetery of Maklī in Sindh, Pakistan, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University 2019.

Abstract: The Maklī Necropolis is a vast funerary complex constructed on a ridge along a tributary of the Indus River in southern Sindh, Pakistan. This veritable city of the dead, stretching along four kilometres was established in the late fourteenth century, with monumental construction continuing until the late seventeenth century. The prolonged history of building, during which significant socio-political transformation took place in the region, resulted in a site where multiple architectural traditions and local artistic practices intersected. A further layer to this history is the ritical role played by religion—emerging from both orthodox Muslim traditions and popular piety—in shaping the site. It was here that mystics were transformed in death into venerated saints whose bodies, through burial, enshrinement, and pilgrimage, became the spatial anchors of a sacred landscape. This dissertation engages with Maklī as a transregional and transcultural space, investigating the movement of multiple ethnic and religious groups across the region involving different, sometimes intersecting, and overlapping circuits of mobility of artisans, craftsmen, and patrons, and their impact on the necropolis’ architecture. In so doing, this study of a frontier region at the threshold of Central Asia, the Indian subcontinent, and the Indian Ocean ecumene, touches upon themes of memory, mobility, piety, and temporality and sheds light on the modalities of artistic transmission and the value of architecture as witness to a vibrant intercultural dialogue across the longue durée, topics that resonate well beyond a little-known corner of South Asia.

Brian Bond, A Heavy Rain Has Fallen Upon My People: Sindhi Sufi Poetry Performance, Emotion, and Islamic Knowledge in Kachchh, Gujarat, CUNY, 2020

Abstract: My dissertation examines Sindhi Sufi sung poetry performance as a medium of Islamic knowledge transmission in rural Muslim communities in Kachchh, a border district in western India. I argue that the pedagogical efficacy of poetry performance is undergirded by its potential to index layers of meaning so that local knowledge and history, lived experience, and Islamic significance resonate affectively together. Locating an ecology of Sufi poetry performance practices in the socio-religious and political context of contemporary Gujarat, I discuss the polarizing effects that Islamic reform and Hindu nationalism have had on Kachchhi musical life since the 1970s.


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