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Zahir, right, speaks at the dinner

On Friday, May 16, SAI friends and affiliates gathered in CGIS at a farewell dinner for SAI’s Aman Fellow Muhammad Zahir. With delicious Pakistani food, the dinner provided Zahir the opportunity to thank everyone who had helped him during the course of his fellowship.

Zahir was SAI’s inaugural Aman Fellow for the spring semester, a position for visiting scholars who focus on Pakistan issues of science and development. Zahir has used the resources at Harvard to deconstruct and conduct a genealogical analysis of the concepts of Aryans in Pakistan archaeology. Zahir shared his research at a SAI seminar titled ‘Modern Ethnicities and Ancient Graves: The Deconstruction and Re-Analysis of the Protohistoric Cemeteries and Ethnic Origin Stories in Pakistan’ on May 1, 2014.

While at Harvard, Zahir was under the mentorship of Richard Meadow, Director of the Zooarchaeology Laboratory at the Harvard Peabody Museum, Senior-Lecturer in Anthropology at Harvard, and Project Director of the Harappa Archaeological Research Project, who has been excavating sites in Pakistan since 1974.

At the dinner, Meadow congratulated Zahir on the completion of his fellowship, and said that Zahir represents the “future of the country” of Pakistan, given that he works in a discipline that does not get a lot of attention in the country.

Left to right: Mariam Chughtai, HGSE, Meena Hewett, SAI, Asim Khwaja, HKS

Zahir thanked everyone at SAI who has been involved in his time at Harvard. “I am honoured to have been selected as the First Aman Fellow at Harvard South Asia Institute,” Zahir said about the opportunity. “It provided me an opportunity to take advantage of Harvard’s resources for my research and to connect with leading academics and researchers in the world. I discovered new avenues for my research and I will be following these leads in my academic career. I also used this opportunity to develop and submit different proposals for my future research projects in Pakistan and abroad.”

Meena Hewett, Executive Director of SAI, explained that the turnout at the event was a testament to the value of the fellowship program. It brought together faculty, students, visiting scholars, SAI staff, and community members.

Zahir will be returning to Pakistan at the end of May, and will work with the Italian Archaeological Mission to Pakistan, and will go on to another fellowship in Germany.

Read more about SAI Fellowships.