The Department of Social Sciences and Liberal Arts of the School of Economics and Social Sciences (SESS) of the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) Karachi conducted a two-day workshop titled “Making History ” in Pakistan to provide a platform for historians who are working in Pakistan as well as “on” Pakistan and South Asia at large, to discuss issues related to their discipline and reflect on how they can adopt a more innovative approach to the themes and subjects they teach and the modes in which they teach them to students at local universities.
The keynote address was delivered by Dr Katherine Butler Schofield, Lecturer in South Asian Music and History, King’s College London, UK, while four academics from Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU), Beaconhouse National University (BNU), University of Lahore Management Sciences (LUMS), and IBA Karachi graced the event as speakers and commentators.
Explaining the rationale behind the selection of speakers for the panels, Ms. Zahra Sabri, Chief Workshop Organizer and Lecturer in Indo-Islamic History and Literatures at SESS, IBA Karachi shared that she tried to bring together scholars doing various types of history in Pakistan, to educate the public about the discipline and what type of history should or should not be done in Pakistan, but also to get a solid and specific insight into the various branches of history that leading scholars in Pakistan are currently working on.
The Executive Director of IBA Karachi, Dr. S. Akbar Zaidi, said in his opening remarks, “Where are the food historians, labor historians, cultural historians or even institutions trained in Pakistan, not to mention Pakistani historians who teach Latin American or African ‘History’ or, for that matter, historians tackling questions of theory and themes of global or interconnected history ‘He said that the event hosted at the IBA would address these vital issues and welcomed students and teachers attending the event.
The first panel, “Knowledge and Identity in the Persian Ecumene”, included presentations dealing with the history of science, literary/cultural history and the history of architecture. Dr. Moiz Hasan from the IBA, spoke about the Iranian polymath theologian Sayyid al-Sharif al-Jurjani and his vision of mathematical sciences; Ms. Zahra Sabri from the IBA, spoke of the famous Indian poet Amir Khusrau’s sense of pride in the linguistic and literary achievements of the people of Delhi who wrote in Persian; and Dr. Shayan Rajani of LUMS, analyzed the architectural heritage of South Asia and Central Asia to highlight how places like Kandahar and Sindh were historically linked by ties of Mughal sovereignty.
The second panel, “National Narratives and Local Histories,” focused on intellectual history and explored how local and regional histories interacted with (aligning or diverging from) traditional versions of history. or promoted by the state. Dr. Tahir Kamran of BNU, explained how the arrival of an Arab Sufi pir Abdur Rahman in Jhang district of Punjab over a thousand years ago is preserved in the collective memory of the local people through literary genres oral; Mohammad Nabeel Jafri of the IBA, drew on ethnographic examples of political themes dealing with Iqbal and Jinnah in the oratory practices of Shia scholars to demonstrate how multiple nationalist and historiographical narratives exist and proliferate in the imagination and the practices of Urdu-speaking Shiites. In Pakistan; and Dr S Akbar Zaidi of the IBA, presented evidence from late 19th century Urdu newspapers and other writings to demonstrate how an embarrassed feeling of having suffered “humiliation” at the hands of colonial rulers British has become a force for socio-religious action. reform and revival among Muslims in northern India after 1857.
The third and final panel of Day 1, “Historization of Labor, Ecology, and the Economy,” addressed topics related to economic history. Dr. Ahmad Azhar of LUMS drew on the concrete example of the Lahore railway workers’ movement to analyze fundamental theoretical debates in the field of labor history in South Asia and to argue for an understanding of distinct working-class cultures according to their own terms; Dr. Hasan Haider Karrar of LUMS, analyzed the effect of salinization and seawater incursion on the Indus Delta and explained how longer histories of development and construction of the state can be told through visible environmental transformations and oral histories; and Dr. Fakhar Bilal of QAU presented findings from his historical case study of Madrassah Jami’ah Khair ul-Madaris to analyze how the socio-economic circumstances of post-partition land allocation and the excess financial wealth generated by the green revolution in Punjab contributed to the successful relocation of a Deobandi madrasa from Jalandhar, in eastern Punjab (now India), after partition, to a city like Multan which has long been associated with more traditional expressions of Islamic mysticism or Sufism.
Dr. Katherine Butler Schofield’s keynote address, ‘Archives Differing: Stereophonic Methods, Auditory History, and the Paracolonial Indian Ocean c. 1760-1860’ focused on music history and addressed the challenges of writing history worlds of sound in South Asia and the greater Indian Ocean region before the era of recorded music. Through rich visual illustrations and textual quotations, she demonstrated the value and importance of looking at diverse types colonial and indigenous textual archives and paintings to form notions of past musical contexts via documents and musical treatises in Persian, English, Urdu, Braj and Hindi.
The last session of the workshop was a panel discussion bringing together many speakers to highlight the directions in which the study of history in Pakistan has gone in recent years, and the need to improve and diversify teaching practices and research in the field. Dr Syed Jaffar Ahmed, Dr S Akbar Zaidi and Dr Tahir Kamran spoke about the damage that has been done to the discipline of history by simply limiting it to something called “Pakistani studies” and tying it to projects state-sponsored ideologies. nation building.
They highlighted how even while teaching Pakistani history as a compulsory compulsory subject at college level, teachers can embrace creative solutions to bring more diverse and critical material into the classroom rather than a simple, dry narrative. legal and political steps involving the creation of Pakistan. Dr. Hasan Karrar has advocated for teaching a wide variety of history courses to benefit students in all fields, not just history majors.