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In its recent history, South Asia has witnessed a deep polarization of society fueled by ideologies that seek to exclude “the other,” variously defined through the lens of caste, religion, ethnicity, language, gender, sexual orientation, and race. Promoted through various media, these exclusionary discourses have overshadowed the region’s rich legacy of inclusion and humanism expressed through its vibrant literary and performative traditions, best exemplified by Amir Khusrau, South Asia’s legendary historian, poet, musician, and mystic.

This presentation, which features performances by musician and writer, Ali Sethi, and Dastango (story-teller), journalist, and writer, Himanshu Bajpai, with commentaries by Harvard Professor Ali Asani, aims to highlight this cosmopolitan ethic and shared cultural history by showcasing Khusrau’s work and legacy. Through the dastan-goi or qissa, traditional form of storytelling, and the qawwali, the iconic form of South Asian Sufi poetry, the presentation will offer an alternative lens through which we may engage with and appreciate difference.


  • Ali Asani, Murray A. Albertson Professor of Middle Eastern Studies and Professor of Indo-Muslim and Islamic Religion and Cultures, Committee on the Study of Religion and Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University
  • Ali Sethi, singer and writer
  • Himanshu Bajpai, Dastango, writer, and journalist

Time: 7:30a EST / 5.00p IST / 4:30p PKT / 5:30p BST 

Venue: Live on 24 hours of Harvard website 

This online session is presented as part of “24 Hours of Harvard,” a special feature of Worldwide Week at Harvard 2020