On the Verge of India: Self and Society in Jawaharlal Nehru and Abul Kalam Azad
Lecture by Aamir Mufti, UCLA
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
12:00 PM - 2:00 PM
11377 Bunche Hall
This paper, which is extracted from Enlightenment in the Colony: the Jewish Question and the Crisis of Postcolonial Culture (Princeton, forthcoming February 2007), argues that the political and intellectual career of Abul Kalam Azad, influential Quranic scholar and leading Muslim participant in the Indian nationalist movement, is best read as an internal critique of the nationalist culture with which he is often entirely identified. In particular, Azad’s writings dismantle the terms in which the “secular” and “rationalist” form of nationalist thinking associated with Jawaharlal Nehru sought to offer a resolution of the crisis of identity in modern India and in particular of the crisis concerning the particularity of the Muslims. The paper argues that Azad views these proffered Nehruvian resolutions as reproducing the Euro- and Anglocentric structure of colonial culture itself and offers what Aamir Mufti calls vernacular forms of thinking about the problem of culture and community in modern India.
Aamir Mufti is Associate Professor of Comparative Literature at UCLA and specializes in colonial and postcolonial literatures, with a primary focus on India and Britain, and twentieth century Urdu literature in particular. His interests range over such issues as Marxism and aesthetics, genre theory, canonization, minority cultures, exile and displacement, the cultural politics of Jewish identity in Western Europe, human rights, refugees and the right to asylum, modernism and fascism, language conflicts, and the history of Anthropology. He is the author of Enlightenment in the Colony: The Jewish Question and Dilemmas in Postcolonial Culture (forthcoming February 2007), and has co-edited Dangerous Liaisons: Gender, Nation, and Postcolonial Perspectives (1997). Articles on such subjects as secularism, minority culture, blasphemy and literature, the post-literate public sphere, literary criticism and social critique, and the short story in Urdu literature have appeared in periodicals like Social Text, Critical Inquiry, and Subaltern Studies. He was for several years associated with Social Text and is now member of the editorial collective of the journal boundary2.
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Sponsor(s): Center for India and South Asia