Upcoming Events

Matthew A. Cook: Sindh, Graphic Pluralism, and Sufism

  5 - 7 p.m.
  Room 185 Social Sciences Building

Matthew A. Cook
Munis D. Faruqui

The Institute and Pakistan@Berkeley, a campaign to broaden and deepen Pakistan related research, teaching and programming at UC Berkeley, are proud to announce the tenth "Mahomedali Habib Distinguished Lecture on Pakistan" by historian of South Asia, Sindh, and colonialism, Prof. Matthew A. Cook.

This presentation focuses on debates about graphic pluralism that led to the 1856 British declaration that an Arabic-style script (i.e., naskh) would be the mandated writing system for the Sindhi language. Before this time, Sindhi speakers from different communities wrote their mother tongue in multiple scripts. It combines anthropology, linguistics, and history to question how language underwrote imperial dominance and colonial difference. I argue that the modern Sindhi script was a crucial point of application through which imperialism inserted itself into colonized people's daily lives. I also make the case that the British choice of an Arabic-style script was vital to Sufism developing as a core tenant in Sindhi society and culture.

Speaker Bio
Prof. Matthew A. Cook is Professor of South Asian and Postcolonial Studies at North Carolina Central University. His research focuses on the history and anthropology of South Asia, Sindh and colonialism. His publications include Discovering Sindh’s Past: Selections from the Journal of Sindh Historical Society, 1934-1948, with Michel Boivin and Julien Levesque (OUP, 2017), Annexation and the Unhappy Valley: The Historical Anthropology of Sindh’s Colonization (Brill, 2016), Willoughby’s Minute: Treaty of Nownahar, Fraud and British Sindh (Oxford University Press, 2013), Observing Sindh: Selected Reports of Edward Paterson Del Hoste (Oxford University Press, 2008), and, with Michel Boivin, Interpreting the Sindhi World: Essays on Society and History (Oxford University Press, 2010).

Dr. Cook was a Humanities Writ Large Visiting Faculty Fellow at Duke in 2012-13. He has been a faculty coordinator of the FHI-NCCU DH Fellows program since its inception. He is currently serving as the President of the American Institute of Pakistan Studies.

The Mahomedali Habib Distinguished Lecture on Pakistan is named in honor of one of the leading figures in the history of the Habib family. In addition to successfully guiding the Habib family’s transition from India to Pakistan following independence in 1947, Mahomedali Habib laid the foundations for the House of Habib, a group of powerful business and financial companies. The group has a long-standing history of philanthropy and social service and is currently leading the establishment of Habib University, a liberal arts and sciences university, in Pakistan which aims to bridge the gap between global academia and Pakistan. Toward honoring the legacy of Mahomedali Habib – who was distinguished by his love for Pakistan and his deep commitment to education and philanthropy – the Habib family has decided to endow an annual lecture series in his name. Through this lecture series the Habib family aims to improve and diversify conversations about Pakistan in the United States as well as create opportunities for US and Pakistan-based scholars to dialogue.

This event is presented under the aegis of the Berkeley Pakistan Initiative

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