The University of California at Berkeley is a global leader for the study of South Asia, and one of very few institutions in the United States to offer both undergraduate and graduate degree programs focusing on numerous aspects of this vital region. As an integral part of the South Asia curriculum at Berkeley, interest in the study of Urdu as well as Pakistan's history, politics, and culture is growing rapidly. We are strongly committed to strengthening our engagement with both subjects in the years ahead.
Urdu Language Instruction
Urdu has been part of Berkeley's South Asian language curriculum since the late 1950s. Currently, we offer instruction in Urdu at all levels, from beginning to advanced. Berkeley does not combine Urdu and Hindi instruction. UC Berkeley's Urdu program is widely regarded as one of the largest and best in the USA.
CSAS also ran the Berkeley Urdu Language Program in Pakistan (BULPIP). Founded in 1973 and permanently based in Lahore, Pakistan, its purpose was to provide intensive Urdu language training to American students, scholars, and teachers who have research and professional interests in Pakistan, Islam, the Muslim communities of South Asia, and Urdu language and literature. BULPIP provided thirty weeks of Urdu instruction at the program center in Lahore, Pakistan. In addition, BULPIP also fostered cultural understanding through housing students with Pakistani families and through field trips within Pakistan. Because of a 2002 State Department travel warning prohibiting students from traveling to Pakistan, the program was moved to Lucknow, India, where it is currently administered by the American Institute for Indian Studies. We hope that as soon as the travel warning is lifted, the program will resume and return to Pakistan.
UCB Faculty with a special interest in this region:
One of the recent tenure-track professors hired in South Asia Studies at Berkeley is Munis Faruqui (South and Southeast Asian Studies), an expert in in Medieval Indian History and South Asian Islam. Other faculty members with strong interest in Pakistan Studies include Saba Mahmood (Anthropology), Atif Mian (Business), Kiren Chaudhry (Political Science) and Qamar Jalil (Urdu). Over the years, UC Berkeley has offered a wide variety of courses that have either focused on Pakistan or have included significant Pakistan related content. The box below highlights some of these courses. The course syllabus, as well as the videos used to supplement class discussion, for Nosheen Ali's class titled "Re-Imagining Pakistan" are available online.
For the past three years, CSAS has also sponsored a class and lecture series organized by Neil Joeck, former Adjunct Professor of Political Science and present National Intelligence Council member, on South Asian security. Both the class and lecture series have focused on India-Pakistan relations, and speakers have included Jehangir Karamat, former Pakistani Ambassador to the United States, and Pakistan security experts Brig. Gen. (ret) Feroz Hassan Khan, Stephen Cohen, George Perkovich, and Michael Krepon among others.
Quaid-i Azam Chair in Pakistan Studies
UC Berkeley is one of two institutions in the country that houses the Government of Pakistan funded Quaid-i Azam Chair in Pakistan Studies. The CSAS in collaboration with the Government of Pakistan established the Quaid-i Azam Chair of Pakistan Studies at UC Berkeley in 1999. It is named after Muhammed Ali Jinnah, the founding father of Pakistan, who is often referred to by the title, “Great Leader,” or “Quaid-i Azam." The goal of this chair is to encourage increased knowledge of Pakistan in the United States and to help forge better ties between American academics and their counterparts in Pakistan. According to the terms of the chair, the chairholder, chosen from a college or university in Pakistan, will have a full-time teaching and research position at UC Berkeley for up to two years. The funds for the scholar's salary and other expenses are provided by the Pakistan government's Ministry of Education.
- The first chairholder, in 2004-05, was Professor Tariq Rahman, a National Distinguished Professor and specialist in socio-linguistics. During his year on campus he taught a course titled “Language and Politics in Pakistan.” He also put together an Urdu reading group.
- The second chairholder was Professor Ishtiaq Ahmad Choudhry, the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Sargodha. He served between 2009-10. At Berkeley, he taught a course titled "Current Political Trends in Pakistan."
Urdu and Pakistan-related Library Collections
The UC Berkeley library contains one of the largest collections of publications in Pakistani languages in the world, with over 22,000 books in Urdu, 7,500 in Punjabi, 950 in Sindhi, 700 in Pushto, and 600 in Kashmiri. We anticipate our acquisition efforts to rapidly increase in the coming years thanks to the recent hiring of Adnan Malik—as the head librarian for the entire South Asia collection—as well as a series of faculty-library initiatives to build upon on our already strong Pakistan-specific holdings.
Urdu and Pakistan-related Programming
Over the years, the Center has strived to create a diverse offering with respect to Pakistan-related programming: Pakistani Journalist and official biographer of Osama bin Laden, Hamid Mir discussed the war against the Taliban; Abid Hassan Minto, the famous constitutional expert and senior lawyer of the Supreme Court of Pakistan spoke on the Pakistani Crisis and on the current situation in the sub-continent and India-Pakistan Relations; poet, scholar, and archivist, Ahmed Salim who visited the Center under the AIPS program, spoke about the Preservation and Promotion of Archives in Pakistan; and Huma Yusuf, the online Feature's editor of Dawn.com, Pakistan's largest English daily, spoke about rising anti-Amercanism in Pakistan.
Of particular note in our Pakistan related programming, was our year-long focus on Islam, Youth and New Media: a collaborative program on how Muslim youth around the world are using new media, politics and popular culture to explore their identities, find “virtual” communities, promote new agendas and confront stereotypes in the post 9/11 era." [See the Islam Today website for further details]
In Fall 2011, CSAS launched GUFTUGU, a new series featuring leading scholars, journalists, activists, artists, and media personalities conversing about contemporary Pakistan and Urdu in South Asia.
The first Guftugu - Celebrating Faiz Ahmed Faiz, our launch, was a celebration of the great Urdu poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz on the occasion of his 100th birth anniversary and featured his daughter, renowned scholar and artist, Salima Hashmi. The event also included a discussion on Faiz and his influence on poetry and art, recitation of Faiz' poetry, performance of Faiz' ghazals, and a light reception.
In Spring 2012, we had our third Guftugu - The Last Mughal. Celebrated author, William Dalrymple read from his award-winning book The Last Mughal: The Fall of a Dynasty, Delhi, 1857 and renowned vocalist, Vidya Shah put to song the sweet and poignant poetry and ghazals of the Mughal court. This evocative evening celebrated the bygone era of India's last Mughals, and through word and music, brought to life a world of emperors, poets, courtesans, politics, bayonets, intrigue and love. Photographs of the evening may be viewed here. A video recording of the event will be available soon.
Every semester we also sponsor an Urdu poetry reading group. In 2011-12, the focus was on Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib's poetry. The group is open to non-native speakers and copies of the poems are made available in Nastaliq, Devanagri, and Roman scripts.
In addition, CAL has a vibrant Pakistani Student's Association (PSA). Among other responsibilities, the PSA provides the Berkeley community a glimpse into Indo-Muslim culture through their Annual Urdu Culture show, a celebration of the Urdu language in the form of traditional dances, folk music, skits, poetic recitations, delicious ethnic cuisine, and lively speeches by various literary figures. In April 2012, The PSA show held an extremely successful Urdu Culture show in the Chevron Auditorium; it had over 450 guests. The money raised at the event went entirely towards endowing Urdu studies at Berkeley.
In the Fall semester of 2011, CSAS initiated twin campaigns to broaden and deepen Urdu and Pakistan Studies at Berkeley. Our primary priorities are:
— Financially strengthen the Urdu program
We look forward to working with supportive individuals and organizations to accomplish these goals. For further information, please contact:
|Sanchita Saxena, Associate Director |
Center for South Asia Studies
|Munis Faruqui, Professor |
Dept. of South & Southeast Asian Studies
|Saba Mahmood, Professor |
Dept. of Anthropology