Spring 2013


Wednesday, March 27

“Walking the World: Mappings”
Professor Ghulammohammed Sheikh
Painter, poet, and critic
4:30 p.m.
Blue Parlor Room, East Duke Bldg
Duke East Campus

reception to follow
Gulam Mohammed Sheikh poster

In “Walking the World: Mappings,” renowned Indian artist Ghulammohammed Sheikh brings back to life—and art—one of the most famous of the medieval European maps of the world (mappa mundi), originally created in the 13th century. It was rediscovered in the early 19th century in Erbstorf, only to be lost forever in 1943 during the Allied bombing of northern Germany.

Beginning in the last decade, Sheikh has been working on a series of digital collages titled The Mappa Mundi Suite in which the Erbstorf mappa mundi has been poetically and provocatively brought into artistic dialogue with other visual traditions in which he is at home, especially the Indian and the Islamic. The result is that in these works, “the world is turned upside down (both re-sited and re-cited) in the hope that such a massive disorientation…will destabilize contemporary global chauvinisms,” according to art critic Peter Maddock.

Sponsored by the Center for South Asia Studies, Center for European Studies, Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Duke University Center for International Studies, BorderWork(s) Humanities Lab, and Duke Islamic Studies Center.

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Friday, April 5

“Iron, Ink & Islam: The Frontiers of Empire and the Birth of Muslim Printing”

John F. Richards Annual Lecture
Nile Green
University of California, Los Angeles
Poster for Nile Green lecture

Friday, April 5
3.00 PM
Perkins Library, Room 217
Duke University West Campus
Reception following

Muslim communities passed through early modernity without adopting the printing press that transformed religious and intellectual life in Europe. But between 1810 and 1830 Muslims began printing in a series of distant but connected cities from Calcutta, Cairo, Valetta and Lucknow to Tabriz, Kazan, Saint Petersburg and Singapore. Surveying the first presses, printers and books in each of these places, the lecture reconstructs the global interactions that gave birth to Muslim printing as European industrial products crossed cultural and political frontiers through closer contact with Indian, Iranian, Tatar, Malay and Arab middlemen. From its nursing by Christian missionaries and their trans-cultural journeymen, we follow the infancy of Muslim printing through responses to European industrialization on the distant frontiers of empire.

Co-sponsored by the Duke University Center for International Studies

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Saturday, April 6

“Writing and the Inscription of Power in South Asia”

Saturday, April 6
229 Carr Bldg
Duke University

This workshop draws on a range of disciplines (history, anthropology and literature) to explore questions of how writing literally under-wrote projects of cultural dominance and resistance in this key region of the world.  Beyond the activity of mere inscription, our workshop focuses historically on the material and symbolic ways writing served to establish and maintain cultural forms of power.  We also seek to explore questions about how writing was a strategy for redefining and transforming the historical terrain on which people in South Asia constructed and organized their lives. Our various participants bring together a mixture of language varieties (classical and vernacular) in various scripts and genres to demonstrate how writing in different political and social constituencies impacted cultural life in South Asia, especially in regions beyond the Hindi heartland. The workshop thus has the overall goal of advancing a more general and comparative understanding of the relationship between language, culture and power in South Asia.
View Program and Abstracts

(Keynote by Nile Green — Friday, April 5)

Saturday Presenters

Matthew A. Cook (North Carolina Central University/Duke)
When Writing Fails: The Mid-Nineteenth Century Colonial History of Sindhi’s Khudawadi Script

Whitney Cox (School of Oriental and African Studies)
The Absent Palm: On Some Modes of Philology in Late-medieval South India

Sumit Guha (Rutgers)
Written Deposition, Authenticating Seal and Generic Symbol: Durable Records in Adjudicatory Processes in Western India c.1400-1800

James McHugh (University of Southern California)
The Hindu Love of Writing, and the Manuscript as Event

Samira Sheikh (Vanderbilt)
The Many Faces of Lalludas Diwan: Language and Genre in Early Modern Gujarat

Indira V. Peterson (Mount Holyoke College)
Marathi Inscriptions, Imprints and Historical Texts in Nineteenth-century Tanjore: Raja Serfoji II and Multiple Modalities of Writing, Culture and Power

Discussants: William Elison (Duke) and Sujata Mody (NCSU)

For further information, please contact Matthew Cook (mcook@nccu.edu) and Rich Freeman (jrf15@duke.edu)