Category Archives: Dissertations

New PhDs in Sindhi Studies: 2019-2020

The last few years have been very productive in terms of Sindhi studies. Below, four summaries reflect on the dynamics of this field, but also the diversity of approaches.

Mustafa Ahmad Khan
Making Them Look the Other Way! The (Ir)rationality of Road Building in the Sindh Borderlands of Pakistan
PhD in Anthropology, SOAS, University of London, 2019.

Nimrita Kaur Rana,
Being and Becoming: Sindhis in Accra, Ghana
PhD in African Studies and Anthropology, University of Birmingham, 2019.

Kamran
Practising Hinduism in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Devotion and the Politics of Untouchability in Ramdev Pir’s tradition of Sindh
PhD in History and Civilisations, EHESS, 2020.

Remembering Dominique-Sila Khan’s Ramdev Pir and the Ismailis in Rajasthan
By Mahek Khwaja
M.A in English Literature, Editorial Assistant at a publication house in Karachi

You can read all the summaries here: MIFS Newsletter  n°7-8 (July 2020)

Sindhi Multiscriptality, Past and Present: A Sociolinguistic Investigation into Community Acceptance

Sindhī Multiscriptality, Past and Present. A Sociolinguistic Investigation into Community Acceptance

by Arvind Vijaykumar Iyengar

Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical), University of Pune, India Master of Applied Linguistics (Honours), University of New England, Australia

A thesis submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy

Discipline of Linguistics
School of Behavioural, Cognitive and Social Sciences

University of New England, Australia, June 2017 Continue reading Sindhi Multiscriptality, Past and Present: A Sociolinguistic Investigation into Community Acceptance

PhD thesis: Water, land and politics in Sindh, 1898-1969

Timothy Daniel Haines, ‘Building the Empire, Building the Nation: Water, land, and the politics of river-development in Sind, 1898-1969’ (unpublished doctoral thesis, Royal Holloway, University of London, 2011)

“Major attempts to control the natural environment characterized government ‘developmental’ activity in twentieth-century Sind.  This thesis argues that 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.  The Raj and its successor state in Sind, Pakistan, thereby claimed legitimacy through their capacity to benefit humans by re-modelling the landscape.  These claims depended on an implied narrative of material progress, which irrigation development was expected to bring about, in a province considered technologically and socially backward.

In allocating land that was newly made available for cultivation, government officials found an unprecedented opportunity to also re-shape agrarian society.  As well as providing the means by which ‘ideal types’ of cultivator could be encouraged to proliferate, the development of Sind’s irrigation system was based on concepts of modernization that promoted increasing state intervention in agrarian life to render a ‘disordered’ society more easily governable.  This trend was constrained, however, by successive administrations’ need to balance the lure of radical modernization against the powerful claims on new land of local magnates.

The colonial belief in the agricultural, economic, and social benefits of large-scale irrigation projects was transplanted into the post-colonial state.  The construction of irrigation works, the colonization of land, and their political implications before and after Independence are therefore analyzed, in order to demonstrate how and why the logic of large infrastructure schemes remained consistent.  At the same time, differences in how successive administrations framed and enacted barrage projects are shown to have depended on contemporary circumstances.  In the process, the thesis sheds new light on the tensions between and within the central and provincial governments, demonstrating the contested nature of concepts of Imperial governance, nation-building, and material progress.”

PhD thesis: Digital Diaspora and Sindhi Hindu Identity

Raheja, Natasha, Digital Diaspora: Online Articulations of Sindhi Hindu Identity, M.A. Thesis, University of Texas at Austin, 2010. Supervisor: Madhavi Mallapragada.

“This project is located at the intersections of diasporic cultures, new media spaces, and identity building. My thesis is concerned, in particular, with the digital mobilization of and negotiation between Sindhi regionalism, Hindu nationalism, and Indian secular nationalism. In an attempt to problematize Sindhi Hindu diasporic identity formation, I have turned to websites that seek to engage as well as represent the Sindhi Hindu diaspora. I argue that the study of Sindhi Hindu identity production and cultural representation in these new media spaces can enhance our understanding of the larger ideological discourses that inform reconfigurations and imaginings of “community” and the “homeland.” Highlighting the heterogeneity of cyber-imaginations of Sindhi Hindu identity both across and within these sites, I hope to point to the ways in which the formation of a collective diasporic identity is in constant flux and negotiation as well as hesitant to be fixed within binary taxonomies.”

PhD thesis: Shiite Muslim Sub-Sects in South Asia

Mukherjee, Soumen, Community Consciousness, Development, Leadership: The Experience of two Muslim Groups in Nineteenth and Twentieth Century South Asia, Ph. D, South Asia Institute (SAI), University of Heidelberg, 2010. Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Gita Dharampal-Frick.

“My Doctoral research makes an intervention in a relatively underworked sub-field of scholarship on Islam in South Asia, viz. the history of (sub-)sectarian traditions. My work studies the political, and social life of the Shiite Muslim sub-sects of (mainly Daudi) Bohras and the Nizari Khojas. It juxtaposes smaller sub-sectarian history and culture with broader social and political questions and deconstructs the role of leadership and the different facets of their public career. From a historical perspective my dissertation explicates the entanglement of community consciousness, political and social identity, of contesting versions of social reformism and their eventual development into religiously underpinned welfarist ventures under politico-religious leaderships. The role of politico-religious leaderships in the process of identification of these splinter sub-sectarian traditions with the broader Muslim community along political lines — a process hinging upon a rhetoric of universal Islamic values and social commitment — even as retaining certain (sub-)sectarian specificities documents this nuanced trajectory of shifting community consciousness (exemplified best by the case of Aga Khan III, the 48th Khoja Imam). This was a complex process in which political and socio-religious boundaries of the smaller sub-sectarian traditions were being continually redrawn, the position of spiritual heads reappraised and the idioms of political and socio-religious negotiations reframed. My dissertation analyses this complex process. In doing so, it: (i) sheds light on the role of politico-religious leaderships in evolving certain religiously informed political culture and consensus, as well as social policies catering to community interests; and (ii) contributes to scientific enquiries into the interconnected themes of religion, various ramifications of socio-religious reformism amounting to welfarist concerns, development (understandably, encapsulating much more than mere economic concerns), the role of religious inspiration in such endeavours, religious revivalism, political mobilisation, and above all visions and functional modalities of politico-religious leadership(s).”

PhD thesis: The Iqbalian Critic of Modernity

Nazeer, Saleha, La critique iqbalienne de la modernité. Une approche comparative [The Iqbalian Critic of Modernity. A comparative Approach], Ph.D., Iranian Studies, University of Paris 3, La Sorbonne Nouvelle, 2011.

“Discussion about the characteristics, opportunities and challenges of modernity has been a prominent theme in Western and Eastern poetry, literature and philosophy over the past few centuries. Muhammad Iqbal (d. 1938) has also contributed to this discussion but his thought remains largely unknown outside the Muslim world. The present inquiry will be a small step in redressing this shortcoming. The first part of the inquiry seeks to identify the defining characteristics of modernity and the challenge that they pose to human well-being, with reference to the ideas of well-known Western thinkers (most notably Goethe and Blake). Quantification, detached objectivity, excessive reliance on technology, and subjugation of others for economic gain are the key factors in this regard. The next part describes Iqbal’s analysis and critique of modernity with respect to these four characteristics using his poetical works where his position is most succinctly expressed. Iqbal uses a wide range of sources from both the East and the West-poetry, literature, philosophy, theology, and modern science. As wide ranging as his use of different sources is, Iqbal’s analysis of modernity remains self-consciousnessly attached to the Qur’an and the prophetic tradition. This analysis also shows his ideas have been expanded upon in one part of the Muslim world – post-Independence Iran, using the works of two modern Iranian thinkers, Ali Shariati and Jalal Al-e Ahmad. The inquiry seeks to demonstrate that Iqbal’s insights remain relevant even today for all those experiencing modernity – whether in the East or in the West.”