Dr Geoffrey Philip Nash (Associate Professor, University of Sunderland, UK) today delivered a guest lecture on ‘From Post-Colonialism to Islamophobia: An Academic’s Research Trajectory’ at the Arts Faculty Lounge of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU). The talk was a part of a lecture series organised by the Department of English, AMU.
He delineated an alternative perspective on Britain’s late imperial period by looking at the lives and the writings of the men who chose to defy the conventional social and political attitudes of the British ruling classes towards the Near East.
Dr Nash pointed out that from the Greek revolt in 1830 to the fall of Caliphate in 1924; a different kind of voice was heard that was anti-imperialist..
He elaborated W S Blunt’s enthusiasm for the Egyptian reformers of the Azhar, David Urquhart’s passionate belief in his ideals, E G Browne’s zeal for the Persian revolution and Marmaduke Pickthall’s advocacy of the cause of the Young Turks into their political and historical context and into the context of their writings.
Quoting from original sources, Dr Nash spoke on how travel writing and cultural history in the context of international politics deepens the understanding of Orientalism. He provided valuable insights on which those seeking today to re-order the Middle East could usefully reflect.
Dr Nash further complimented Edward Said’s ‘Orientalism’ for introducing a new discourse on Arabs and Muslims.
“As English turned into a global language, more and people became multilingual leading to useful translation work all over the world,” said Dr Nash adding that translation of popular literature, religious texts and other documents brought cultures closer to each other.
While reading an extract from Leila Aboulela’s novel ‘Translator’, which is a story of a young Muslim Sudanese widow and her relationship with a secular Scottish Middle Eastern scholar, Dr Nash said that the book shows Muslim experience in globalised world and that there is a need of such literature to deconstruct stereotypes that prevail in West.
During the welcome address, Prof Mohammad Asim Siddiqui (Chairperson, Department of English) pointed out that the Department of English, which is as old as the University had Walter Raleigh (Scholar on Shakespeare) as one of the early teachers who later taught at Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow and Merton College, Oxford. Prof Siddiqui also discussed the changing nature of English studies and how today’s academic scholarship is rooted in its context.
Conducting the programme, Dr Akbar Joseph A Syed pointed out that Dr Nash’s deep interest in Muslim and Islamic studies—his scholarly analysis of the life and times of Abdullah Quilliam and Muhammad Mark Picktall and his understanding of Sufism, Bahaism, Ahmediyyas and mainstream Muslim confessions are noteworthy.
Prof Mohammad Rizwan Khan, Prof Samina Khan, Prof Raashid Nehal, Prof Sami Rafiq, Dr Md Sajidul Islam and Ms Alisha Ibkar were present.
On the occasion, research scholars Ms Fareeba Jaffery and Ayesha Suhail presented bouquets to Dr Nash and his wife Mrs Meena Nash. The programme saw attendance of research scholars from the Department of English and other departments. Many Iranian and Arab students attending AMU were also present.
Dr Mohammad Asif proposed the vote of thanks.