Chair: Anila Daulatzai, Visiting Assistant Professor of Women’s Studies and Islamic Studies, Harvard Divinity School
Omar Shahid Hamid has served with the Karachi police for twelve years, most recently as head of counterterrorism. During his service, he has been actively targeted by various terrorist groups and organizations. He was wounded in the line of duty and his office was bombed by the Taliban in 2010. He left Karachi for a sabbatical when there were too many contracts on his life. He has a master’s in criminal justice policy from the London School of Economics and a master’s in law from University College London.
Much like the protagonist in his police procedural, The Prisoner, Hamid was forced to navigate the byzantine politics, shifting alliances, and backroom dealings of Karachi police and intelligence agencies. In his novel, Hamid exposes that dark side of Karachi, as only a police officer could. His writing has garnered praise for rejecting a romanticized take on slum life—as is characteristic in Pakistani English literature—in favor of gritty realism.
A thinly veiled fictional interpretation of real-life events, the novel follows Constantine D’Souza, a Christian police officer charged with rescuing kidnapped American journalist Jon Friedland (a.k.a., 2002 captured Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl). With no leads, D’Souza recruits Akbar Khan, a rogue cop imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit (modeled on Pakistan’s famed take-no-prisoners officer Chaudhry Aslam Khan). Caught between Pakistan’s militant ruling party and the Pakistani intelligence agencies, D’Souza finds himself in a race against time to save a man’s life—and the honor of his nation.
Chair: Madhav Khosla, Ph.D. Candidate in Political Theory, Department of Government, Harvard University
On April 25, Nepal was hit by a devastating earthquake. Almost 5000 people have died and the numbers are steadily increasing. The full scale of losses in terms of human casualties, homes destroyed and cultural heritage reduced to rubble is still not known. The earthquake has tested the already limited resolve of the Nepali state, which is struggling to cope and respond to the disaster – especially in rural areas. In this backdrop, what is the current situation on the ground and challenges ahead for the government? How did Nepal get here and could a functional political order have equipped the country to deal with this better? What will be the possible political implications of this disaster – in terms of the quest for a new constitution? What has been the role of India in relief efforts – and in general in Nepal? Where does the rest of the international community come in? The talk will focus on these and related issues.
Note: This event was originally scheduled to be titled ‘Remaking a nation: Nepal’s tryst with peace, constitutionalism and sovereignty.’
Sanchita Saxena,Director of the Chowdhury Center for Bangladesh Studies, Berkeley; Executive Director, Institute for South Asia Studies, UC Berkeley
Fauzia Ahmed, Assistant Professor of Sociology and Women’s Studies, Miami University; SAI Research Affiliate
Chair: John A. Quelch, Charles Edward Wilson Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School; Professor in Health Policy and Management, Harvard School of Public Health
By analyzing the garment sector through the lens of domestic coalitions, Made in Bangladesh, Cambodia, and Sri Lanka: The Labor Behind the Global Garments and Textiles Industries presents new and innovative ways of conceptualizing the garment and textiles industries that include the possibility for change and resistance from a vantage point of cooperation among key groups, rather than only contention. The book utilizes the established policy networks framework, which has traditionally only been applied to the United States and European nations, but expertly adapts it to countries in the global South. Saxena’s domestic coalitions approach, which can be thought of as a precursor to a full policy network, differs from the policy network approach in crucial ways by highlighting the importance of other actors or facilitators in the network, recognizing that interactions among stakeholders are just as important as interactions between groups and the state, as well as the incentives associated with expanding the existing coalition.
Luke Patey, Senior Researcher at the Danish Institute for International Studies
Rohit Chandra, PhD candidate, Harvard Kennedy School
Ahmad Al-Mahi, MPA candidate, Harvard Kennedy School
Note: Due to heightened security because of visiting dignitaries, please enter the Rubinstein building from the JFK park entrance on October 2. Non-Harvard attendees should contact Rohit Chandra (firstname.lastname@example.org) ASAP otherwise they may be unable to enter the building.
For over a decade, Sudan fuelled the rise of China and India’s national oil companies. But the political turmoil surrounding the historic division of Africa’s largest country, with the birth of South Sudan, challenged Asia’s oil giants to chart a new course. The outbreak of conflict in South Sudan last December only deepened the instability and insecurity and sent Chinese and Indian diplomats scrambling to reinvigorate their foreign policies to protect their interests and bring an end to the conflict.
The lecture will discuss the overseas investments of Chinese and Indian national oil companies, their close ties with their respective governments in Beijing and New Delhi, and experiences with political and security risks in Sudan and South Sudan. It draws from Luke Patey’s recent book The New Kings of Crude: China, India, and the Global Struggle for Oil in Sudan and South Sudan. Beyond examining the economic and political impact of Chinese and Indian engagement in Sudan and South Sudan, the book argues that the two Sudans are examples of how Africa is shaping the rise of China and India as world powers.
Luke Patey is a senior researcher at the Danish Institute for International Studies. His work focuses on the political economy of oil in Sudan and South Sudan, the role of China and India in Africa, and the global investments of Chinese and Indian national oil companies. He has written for the Financial Times, The Guardian, The Hindu, and VICE News. He has been a Visiting Scholar at Peking University (Beijing), the Social Science Research Council (New York), and the Centre d’études et de recherches internationales (Paris).
V.V. (Sugi) Ganeshananthan, Bunting Fellow, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University; Author of Love Marriage
Chair: Charles Hallisey, Yehan Numata Senior Lecturer on Buddhist Literatures, Harvard Divinity School
Book sale to follow event.
For three decades, Sri Lanka’s civil war tore communities apart. In 2009, the Sri Lankan army finally defeated the separatist Tamil Tigers guerrillas in a fierce battle that swept up about 300,000 civilians and killed more than 40,000. More than a million had been displaced by the conflict, and the resilient among them still dared to hope. But the next five years changed everything.
Rohini Mohan’s searing account of three lives caught up in the devastation looks beyond the heroism of wartime survival to reveal the creeping violence of the everyday. When city-bred Sarva is dragged off the streets by state forces, his middle-aged mother, Indra, searches for him through the labyrinthine Sri Lankan bureaucracy. Meanwhile, Mugil, a former child soldier, deserts the Tigers in the thick of war to protect her family.
Having survived, they struggle to live as the Sri Lankan state continues to attack minority Tamils and Muslims, frittering away the era of peace. Sarva flees the country, losing his way – and almost his life – in a bid for asylum. Mugil stays, breaking out of the refugee camp to rebuild her family and an ordinary life in the village she left as a girl. But in her tumultuous world, desires, plans, and people can be snatched away in a moment.
The Seasons of Trouble is a startling, brutal, yet beautifully written debut from a prize-winning journalist. It is a classic piece of reportage, five years in the making, and a trenchant, compassionate examination of the corrosive effect of conflict on a people.
Jocelyne Cesari, Senior fellow at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, Visiting Associate professor in the Department of Government, Georgetown University; Director of Islam in the West, Harvard University
Chair: Asad Ahmed, Assistant Professor, Social Anthropology Program, Harvard University
In this book, Jocelyne Cesari explores the relationship between modernization, politics, and Islam in Muslim-majority countries. She contends that nation-building in these environments has produced national ideologies rooted in the politicization of Islam, rather than liberal democracies following the Western model. Cesari’s historical examination covers the post-WWII period to the Arab Spring and informs the book’s consideration of the role of Islam in contemporary Middle Eastern emerging democracies.
In 1903, a young woman named Sujaria and a young man named Abdul Aziz left the port of Calcutta in separate ships, sailing westward. Sujaria was pregnant and alone; she and the others on her ship were indentured laborers, headed to sugar plantations in the British colony of Guiana. Abdul Aziz was a peddler of chikon embroidery from a village in Hooghly; he traveled with three other young men, all headed for the beach boardwalks of New Jersey, and ultimately, the neighborhood of Tremé in New Orleans, aiming to sell goods and send money home. What happened to Sujaria and Abdul? What kind of lives did they lead after emigrating from colonial India? And what other experiences, like theirs, have been “lost” in previous accounts of South Asia and its diasporas?
In this special joint reading and conversation, Gaiutra Bahadur, author of Coolie Woman: The Odyssey of Indenture (2013, University of Chicago Press) and Vivek Bald, author of Bengali Harlem and the Lost Histories of South Asian America (2013, Harvard University Press) will present excerpts from their work and discuss their common experiences excavating and bringing to life the stories of previously unacknowledged South Asian migrants from the early 20th century. The conversation will be moderated by Walter Johnson, Winthrop Professor of History and Professor of African and African American Studies at Harvard University and author, most recently, of River of Dark Dreams: Slavery and Empire in the Cotton Kingdom (Harvard University Press, 2013).
Gaiutra Bahadur is a journalist, book critic, and recent Harvard Neiman Fellow whose work has appeared in the New York Times Book Review, the Washington Post, Ms., and the Nation, among other publications. In Coolie Woman, she embarks on a journey into the past to find the story of her great-grandmother, Sujaria. Traversing three continents and trawling through countless colonial archives, Bahadur excavates not only her great-grandmother’s story but also the repressed history of some quarter of a million other “coolie women”, shining a light on their complex lives. Coolie Woman is a meditation on survival, a gripping story of a double diaspora–from India to the West Indies in one century, Guyana to the United States in the next–that is at once a search for one’s roots and an exploration of gender and power, peril and opportunity.
Vivek Bald is a writer, scholar, filmmaker, and Associate Professor of Comparative Media Studies and Writing at MIT. In Bengali Harlem, he pieces together fragments of archival evidence to uncover the histories of two populations of South Asian Muslim migrants who lived, settled, and intermarried within African American and Puerto Rican communities from the late 19th to mid-20th centuries. The first, a group of “Oriental goods” peddlers from West Bengal, established a peddling network in the 1890s, that spread throughout the Jim Crow South and into the Caribbean. The second consisted of hundreds of steamship workers who, beginning in the 1910s, escaped British ships in New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore and established clandestine networks to access restaurant and factory jobs and build new lives in the shadows of anti-Asian immigration laws.
Walter Johnson is a distinguished historian whose work focuses on slavery, capitalism, and imperialism in the nineteenth century United States. His award-winning first book, Soul by Soul (1999) used the slave market as a way to think about the fantasies, fears, negotiations, and violence that characterized American slavery. His second book, River of Dark Dreams: Slavery and Imperialism in the Mississippi Valley (2013), embeds the history of slavery in the U.S. in the histories of global capitalism – the cotton trade and the Atlantic money market – and U.S. imperialism – the Louisiana Purchase, the illegal invasions of Cuba and Nicaragua in the 1850s, and the effort to reopen the Atlantic Slave trade on the eve of the Civil War.
Harvard Book Store welcomes award-winning author RAMACHANDRA GUHA and President of the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, PRATAP BHANU MEHTA for a discussion of Guha’s new book Gandhi Before India.
Here is a revelatory work of biography that takes us from Mohandas Gandhi’s birth in 1869 through his upbringing in Gujarat, his two years as a student in London, and his two decades as a lawyer and community organizer in South Africa. Ramachandra Guha has uncovered a myriad of previously untapped documents, including private papers of Gandhi’s contemporaries and co-workers, contemporary newspapers and court documents, the writings of Gandhi’s children, secret files kept by British Empire functionaries. Using this wealth of material in a brilliantly nuanced narrative, Guha describes the social, political, and personal worlds in which Gandhi began his journey to become the modern era’s most important and influential political actor. And Guha makes clear that Gandhi’s work in South Africa-far from being a mere prelude to his accomplishments in India-was profoundly influential on his evolution as a political thinker, social reformer, and beloved leader.
Ramachandra Guha has previously taught at Yale and Stanford universities, the University of Oslo, the Indian Institute of Science, and the London School of Economics. His books include a pioneering environmental history, an award-winning social history of cricket, and the award-winning India After Gandhi.He writes regularly on social and political issues for the British and Indian press, including columns in The Telegraph and the Hindustan Times, and also for The New York Times.
Husain Haqqani, Director of the Center of International Relations; Professor of the Practice of International Relations, Boston University; Former Ambassador of Pakistan to the United States
Shuja Nawaz, Director of the South Asia Center at the Atlantic Council
Chair: Asim Khwaja,Sumitomo-Foundation for Advanced Studies on International Development Professor of International Finance and Development, Harvard Kennedy School
Husain Haqqani is the former Ambassador of Pakistan to Sri Lanka (1992–1993) and the United States (2008–2011). He is currently Senior Fellow and Director for South and Central Asia at the Hudson Institute and co-edits the journal ‘Current Trends in Islamist Ideology’ published by Hudson Institute’s Center for Islam, Democracy and Future of the Muslim World. Ambassador Haqqani is also Director of the Center of International Relations, and Professor of the Practice of International Relations at Boston University.
Shuja Nawaz, a native of Pakistan, was made the first director of the South Asia Center at the Atlantic Council in January 2009. He is a political and strategic analyst. Mr. Nawaz writes for leading newspapers and websites and speaks on current topics before civic groups, at think tanks, and on radio and television worldwide. He is the author of Crossed Swords: Pakistan, its Army, and the Wars Within/ He is also the principal author of FATA: A Most Dangerous Place, Pakistan in the Danger Zone: A Tenuous US-Pakistan Relationship, and Learning by Doing: The Pakistan Army’s Experience with Counterinsurgency
Harvard alumni and friends will gather in Kolkata for a conversation with Diana Eck about her most recent book, India: A Sacred Geography.
Diana Eck,Professor of Comparative Religion and Indian Studies and Fredric Wertham Professor of Law and Psychiatry in Society in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and Member of the Faculty of Divinity, Harvard University