Category Archives: Dissertations

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‘Building the Empire, Building the Nation: Water, land, and the politics of river-development in Sind, 1898-1969’ (unpublished doctoral thesis, Royal Holloway, University of London, 2011)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

PhD thesis: A Hindu Cult in South India and its Diaspora

Pierre-Yves Trouillet, A Social and Cultural Geography of Tamil Hinduism. The Cult of Murugan in South India and in the Diaspora, PhD thesis in Geography, University of Bordeaux III, 13 December 2010.

“Murugan is one of the gods of the Hindu pantheon, whose religious figure has been present in the South of India for at least two thousand years. Its worship is strongly associated with the cultural identity of Tamil Nadu (the « Tamil country » in the South of India), the cardinal points of which are marked by the presence of its six largest pilgrimage centres. This symbolic and geographic interaction between the temples of Murugan, the territory and the religious circulations dates back at least to the Middle Ages. It is to be found today at the local level too, either of a village or an urban area; it is to be found at the international scale of the diaspora as well, which is reinventing the geography of worship by giving it a transnational configuration. For all cases under study, the survey shows that in relation to the other gods of the Hindu pantheon, the definition of this Hindu deity has endowed it with particular symbolic characteristics, which trigger and direct human actions that are printed in the geographic space, such as the construction of temples or the devotional pilgrimages towards its sacred places. Thus the situation of its temple on the hill that overlooks the Mailam village (Tamil Nadu) depends as much on Murugan’s thousand-year-old association with peaks as on its position in relation to the places of worship of other deities. This happens to be the case in a local geography where deities, social groups and the relating spaces are both classified and classifying. In Mauritius, the famous processions for Murugan and the over representation of its temples suggest a context of assertion of the Tamil community against the Hindu majority originating from the North. It also confirms the degree of significance of the places and circulations associated to this worship, to the point of producing territorial acts.”

Keywords: India, Tamil Nadu, Mauritius, Hinduism, temple, place, circulation, territory, scale, pantheon, caste, ethnicity, diaspora, Murugan

MA dissertation: Interdisciplinarity and Research in Social Sciences

Sohail Bawani, Integrating Interdisciplinarity in research and teaching/learning at higher educational level in Pakistan: exploring the case of Sehwan Interdisciplinary Project (SIP), MA thesis in Sociology, University of Karachi , 20 July 2010.

“This qualitative case study seeks to explore ways of integrating interdisciplinarity at the higher educational level in Pakistan, with special reference to illustrate viable moves for policy and practices in the area of research and teaching/learning. With this aim, this research provides an indepth analysis of the Sehwan Interdisciplinary Project (SIP) as a case in action of integrating interdisciplinarity to draw key empirical insights for theory and practice in Pakistani academia.

The research focuses on examining the meaning, nature, processes and challenges of integrating interdisciplinarity in the Sehwan Interdisciplinary Project (SIP) through its team members. The research finds that interdisciplinarity is an evolving process than a fixed construct: from its multi/pluridisciplinary phase to its full-grown interdisciplinary stage. The nature of  interdisciplinarity within the SIP is a sort of disciplinary enrichment. In this case, each discipline explores and extracts from plurality of disciplinary sources to address the research problematic. In this regard, SIP had gone through a number of processes, procedures and related challenges to integrate such dynamics at the level of meaning and nature into the Project.

Lastly, while analyzing the following recommendations from SIP team members, the research provides useful insights for integrating interdisciplinarity at the higher educational level in Pakistan: (a) rethinking the conception of knowledge in the Pakistani academia; (b) seeking national interdisciplinary research initiatives, knowledge production and dissemination practices; (c) harnessing interdisciplinary research in social sciences by seeking cross cultural/institutional collaborations; (d) developing intradisciplinary/departmental synergies through creating new objects of inquiries; and (e) institutionalizing interdisciplinarity at macro and micro levels in higher education.”

Keywords: knowledge process, interdisciplinarity, multi/pluridisciplinary, integration, procedures, challenges, social sciences, teaching/learning, research, higher education, policy and practice

MA dissertation: Hurs and the Historiography of Sindh

Abdul Haque Chang, The Issue of Hur: Representation in the Historiography of Sindh, MA thesis in Cultural Anthropology, University of Texas, Austin, 2010.

“This thesis aimed at understanding how certain narratives about the Hurs of Sindh generated by British colonial administers have become dominant tropes of the Hur identity and representation. However, the present study sought to question established assumptions and argue that the British construction of Hur identity has also been accepted uncritically by Sindhi historians, writers, nationalist as well as scholars trained in western academic discourses. Two novel are presented here – one by H. T Lambrick The Terrorist (1972) and another by Muhammad Usman Deplai, Sanghar (1963) – in order to show how both authors have articulated the Hur identity in a particular way and how these writings became later standard texts to write fictional and non-fictional narratives of the Hurs. The thesis also argues that some trends that have emerged recently to salvage the Hur history and re-write it from a Sindhi nationalist perspective, should also be subjected to critical questioning. Different genres of writing are discussed here to show that within Sindh different scholars and literary traditions exist, that are embedded in modernism, nationalism, and the Marxist tradition, and take different positions on modernity, development and social change. The thesis is concluded with the argument that the issue of Hur representation needs to be studied within the broader perspective of representation and history of Sindh, by bringing in oral narratives, public memory, Subaltern Hur voice and by critically examining dominant and alternative Hur narratives.”