DUE TO INCLEMENT WEATHER IN THE EAST COAST AND THE RESULTING FLIGHT DISRUPTIONS, PROF. HAKALA'S LECTURE ON FRIDAY, FEB 15, 2019 @ 4 PM, HAS BEEN CANCELED. A NEW DATE WILL BE ANNOUNCED ONCE IT IS FINALIZED. WE APOLOGIZE FOR THE INCONVENIENCE
The Institute for South Asia Studies and the Berkeley Urdu Initiative are delighted to welcome Walter Hakala, Associate Professor in the Asian Studies Program and Department of English at the University at Buffalo, SUNY, and author of Negotiating Languages: Urdu, Hindi, and the Definition of Modern South Asia, published by Columbia University Press. He is the recipient of an Honorable Mention for the 2018 AAS Bernard Cohn Book Prize for a first book on South Asia.
Hindi-Urdu (H-U) was just one among the many languages that emerged in the medieval period from the long shadows cast by Sanskrit and Persian. So-called languages of the land (deśya or desī) would eventually become symbols of and the media through which regional identities consolidated into ideologies of nationalism. But H-U, despite the efforts of its many notable regional chauvinists, never belonged to any single place. Texts on paper and inscriptions on stone are preserved across the Indian subcontinent. Beyond the courts, H-U functioned as a language of skilled trades, education, and commerce. Most histories of H-U, however, have focussed on its literature to the exclusion of all other linguistic forms. How might we construct a history of what Sheldon Pollock calls the more documentary forms of H-U in the Arabic script? What might be gained by writing a history of H-U that was based not on reconstructing the lives of a few great authors but rather the collective contributions of anonymous legions of scribes, inscriptionists, doggerelists, and children? Without the distraction of personality, I argue that an epigraphic approach permits a more rigorous analysis of H-Us varied linguistic forms and range of communicative functions.
The Berkeley Urdu Initiative was officially launched in September 2011 to sustain, enrich, and expand the Urdu Studies program at the University of California, Berkeley. UC Berkeley is a global leader in 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, interest in the study of Urdu is growing rapidly. The Urdu Initiative is committed to strengthening our engagement with this subject in the years ahead. Our present priorities for Urdu Studies at Berkeley include raising money to:
Establish a journal dedicated to Urdu Studies
Create a fund to support Urdu programming
Create an artist/scholar-in-residence program
Create an endowed book prize
We look forward to working with supportive individuals and organizations to accomplish these goals.
More about the initiative and how you can support it HERE.