In 1508 the legendary Sulṭān of Sindh, Niẓām al-Dīn Jām Nindō, of the Samma dynasty (1351–1522) died. The Sulṭān’s death occasioned a major political shift in Sindh at the turn of the sixteenth century, which ultimately led to the fall of the Sammas in 1522. This period is marked with repeated instances of military and civil unrests and dethroning attempts. The primary theme of this article is to demonstrate that these particular cycles of political instability defined the parameters of contemporary architectural undertakings. For this purpose, two of the most ambitious funerary constructions in the Samma royal necropolis of Maklī at Thatta (southern Sindh)—the tomb enclosure of Samma military commander Mubārak Khān and the monumental mausoleum of Sulṭān Niẓām al-Dīn—are reassessed. The article also locates political undertones in the architecture of these mausolea, and deciphers the implicit subtext interlaced into their epigraphic as well as visual motifs.
In this Philological Conversation, Carlo Ginzburg reflects on the place of philology in his work and explores the connections between philology, microhistory, and casuistry. We talk about the people who inspired his early thinking, including his father Leone Ginzburg, his mother Natalia, and his grandfather, moving on to Erich Auerbach, Leo Spitzer, and Sebastiano Timpanaro. We discuss the ethical and political implications of his research and reflect on the power of philology to give voice to the marginalized and suppressed. The conversation, which was edited for readability, took place during the Corona pandemic over three meetings via Zoom on July 13, September 10, and September 17, 2021.
The ethnicity concept frames discussions of regional politics in Pakistan today, as in many other parts of the world. However, this concept only became established in popular and academic discourse in Pakistan in the late 1980s. This article considers the conceptual apparatus for apprehending the region, in particular the region of Sindh, that was in place before ethnicity. It argues that Sindh was a heterogeneous idea articulated at times at the intersection, and at other times in the divergence, of concepts of religion, race, language, and nation. The article considers three historic moments in the context of broad global transformations: Sindh’s communalization and racialization in the nineteenth century; provincialization in the early twentieth century; and finally its culturalization in the early decades of Pakistan’s history. In doing so, it charts a history of the region before ethnicity and also offers a genealogy of the region as a cultural entity.
This article reads Raḍwā ʿĀshūr’s novel Farag as an afterlife of the global anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist political culture of 1968. I argue that Farag entangles post-1968 Egypt and France from a position of decentered interlocality, which places the histories of Egypt’s 1970s student movement and France’s Third-World-Marxist left in critical dialogue. At a time when the Egyptian left was paralyzed by state co-optation, the political awakening of the novel’s protagonist, Nadā, is fostered by her exposure to the independent left of 1968 France. After she is imprisoned in Egypt several years later for participating in the student movement, however, Nadā must reckon with the incongruities of her postcolonial experience and interrogate French theory’s Eurocentric claim to universality. Thereafter, ʿĀshūr’s novel charts the tragic demise of the radical left across the Global South through the declining parallel figures of Nadā’s French mother and two Egyptian student movement leaders.