A Muslim Cosmopolis, Or, the Individual and the Nation in Global History: An Interview with Seema Alavi

Dr. Seema Alavi

People tend to assume the origins of contemporary events, alliances and disagreements belong to the recent if not the immediate past. Recent news articles highlight with surprise the Arabicization of Islamic practice in South Asia – most prominently with respect to the murder of several bloggers in Bangladesh. But India has a long history of intellectual contact with the Arab world. The Madrasa Saulatia in Mecca was set up by an Indian Muslim Rahmatullah Kairanwi – a key protagonist in Seema Alavi’s book Muslim Cosmopolitanism in the Age of Empire (2015) – as a “centre for embracive reformist Islam with a strong Indic tradition.” It remains a major scholarly hub, retaining intellectual contact with Sunni Muslim seminaries all over the world. It’s own orientation now can be described as a purist intellectual tradition of Islam. For example, it receives patronage “from the Abd-al Wahab impacted Saudi ruling house,” even as – Alavi is quick to remind us of this – its scholarly tradition stands in stark contrast to the violence that is often perpetrated in the name of Wahabi Islam. In this respect, Alavi’s book Muslim Cosmopolitanism is a fundamentally revisionist text that works through the category of the individual and of the nation. She draws out the history of how a modern vision of Islamic universal selfhood was articulated in the mid-nineteenth century: the processes that connected Indic reformist strands in Islam with Hamidian notions of modernity centred on jurisprudence. In her account, cities such as Cairo thus appear as more than just a site that elucidated anti-British nationalism. Importantly, the book foregrounds how modern histories of South Asia limit key protagonists in this larger global story to the territorial bounds of modern India, even as the records of imperial Britain show how they negotiated trans-imperial identities across South Asia and the Ottoman empire. Continue reading A Muslim Cosmopolis, Or, the Individual and the Nation in Global History: An Interview with Seema Alavi

CFP: Research Workshop “Multiplicity of Divisions: Boundaries and Borders of the Habsburg, Ottoman, and Russian Empires in the 19th-early 20th Century” (Kharkiv, Ukraine, September 28-29, 2017)

On the theme of imperial borders and boundaries in Eurasia, see this recent call for papers for a workshop to be held at Hryhoriy Skovoroda Kharkiv National Pedagogical University in Kharkiv, Ukraine. The workshop will focus on the Habsburg, Ottoman, and Russian Empires in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries: The workshop will serve as a platform … Continue reading CFP: Research Workshop “Multiplicity of Divisions: Boundaries and Borders of the Habsburg, Ottoman, and Russian Empires in the 19th-early 20th Century” (Kharkiv, Ukraine, September 28-29, 2017)

Call for Applications: PhD and MA Scholarships in Comparative History (Central European University, Budapest)

For readers of the Global History Blog or Forum interested in Eurasian history—here understood in terms of the space of interactions between the Russian, Habsburg, and Ottoman Empires and their successor states—here is a terrific call for Masters’ and doctoral scholarships at Central European University in Budapest, Hungary: The Department of History at Central European University (CEU) … Continue reading Call for Applications: PhD and MA Scholarships in Comparative History (Central European University, Budapest)

Anti-Westernism in Question: An Interview with Cemil Aydin on Pan-Asianism, Pan-Islamism, and the Idea of the “Muslim World” in History

The centrality of anti-Westernism as a subject of global debate is underlined with every new terrorist attack on the West today. Both the attack on a nightclub in Orlando, Florida, as well as attacks in France and Germany over the summer engendered many civilization-oriented questions in the minds of people, as also happened in the … Continue reading Anti-Westernism in Question: An Interview with Cemil Aydin on Pan-Asianism, Pan-Islamism, and the Idea of the “Muslim World” in History

Globalizing Time, Globalizing Capital: A Conversation with Vanessa Ogle

It’s a familiar routine for scholars of global history. Having squeezed in a visit to an archive during a spring break or stretch of summer vacation, you get off the airplane in a foreign land, stretch your legs, and feel, in spite of the local caffeine injection, tired. You set your watch, several hours ahead … Continue reading Globalizing Time, Globalizing Capital: A Conversation with Vanessa Ogle