The book under review is the outcome of a Herculean task of reviewing the status of both pure and interdisciplinary disciplines of the social sciences in Pakistan. The review has been done on the basis of quantitative growth, qualitative development and identification of the factors that limited or fostered the disciplines. Without following any chronology of the development disciplines the editors have collected the articles on different disciplines randomly.
While quantitative research has been rightly critiqued for not being able to adequately address issues within social science research, one of the major problems facing those engaged in cultural studies especially around the media industry is access to facts and descriptive work. Available through market research and surveys, this information is often confidential, for the exclusive use of insiders in the industry. Seen against this backdrop, Imagi-Nations and Borderless Television by International Business scholar Amos Owen Thomas that uses a comprehensive descriptive and factual terrain to look at the phenomenon and spread of transnational television in Asia and some of its convergent cultures with scholarly rigour is a significant book for students and media researchers.
Postcolonial Muslim societies have been mostly understood through the prism of modernization theory. Very often, the focus of these studies has been the ‘modernizing imperative’ of the postcolonial state. Society as an arena of the non-state was studied only in relation to ways in which it corresponded to the modern demands of postcolonial states. Social groups and institutions which could not fit this theoretical conceptualization were seldom made subjects of scholarly attention.
In the 21st century Muslims no longer rule lands peopled by a majority of non-Muslims, but that was not the case before the 18th century. Wherever Muslims reigned, it was not unusual for them to assert the presence of their religion, Islam, by spectacular monuments, such as domes and towers, particularly the latter. Two such lands are Spain and north India, each having a monumental tower, both contemporaries — the Giralda at Seville in Spain (1184-1198) and the Qutb Minar in north India (1199 –c. 1369). The former may be aptly characterized as the queen of Muslim towers, and the latter the king.
Weapons have always intrigued mankind, because mankind has always been intrigued by war. The author further refers to an old quotation—”War is a joyous thing… can anyone who has tasted that pleasure, fear death”. These thoughts belong to the heroic Homerian era, long long past. War is no longer a joyous thing. A.E. Housman wrote: Now no more of winters biting. Filth in trench from fall to spring Summers full of sweat and fighting For the Kesar or the King.
This book has been in print for almost thirty years and it is a tribute to Regula Burckhardt Qureshi and her pathbreaking account of qawwali that she has had such a loyal readership in India and Pakistan, the home of this pre-eminent form of sufi music. Qawwali together with ghazal and khyal was one of the genres of music to be recorded on 78rpm discs from the early decades of the twentieth century. From the 1950s qawwali was also widely used in Hindi films giving it an audience and reach of the commercially popular song.
The Lamp of Love is an account of the writer’s experiences of travel, first to Pakistan, and then with the famous Pakistani qawwali singers, the Sabri brothers, to various Sufi shrines in India and Pakistan. The work is however neither a travelogue in the conventional sense nor a book about music: it is best described as a personal account of faith and spiritual conversion. The account is unusual, to say the least: the writer was an Australian national, and she describes how she experienced a vision of the late Haji Ghulam Farid Sabri, which drew her to the Sabri family with whom she finds a new home.
Mahdi Hasan Khan (MHK) was among the outsiders Salar Jung I, Diwan of Hyderabad, brought in when he reformed the state administration. He belonged to Fathpur, now in Barabanki district, UP. From a prosperous Avadhi Shia family, he was educated at Canning College, Lucknow, trained to become a revenue officer and lawyer, and married Ellen Gertrude Donnelly, daughter of an Irishman living in Lucknow. He arrived in Hyderabad in 1883 with a letter of recommendation from Sayyid Ahmad Khan the day after Salar Jung died,
D.H.Kolff’s pioneering study Naukar, Rajput and Sepoy : The Ethno-History of the Military Labour Market in Hindustan, 1450-1850 (1990) has dealt with an unexplored aspect of medieval Indian economy. His aim is to investigate the contribution of manpower as a factor in the formation and upholding of the state. In order to understand the nature of medieval Indian economy, specifically its redistributive aspect, he has identified Rajputs as one of the major social groups in Eastern Hindustan or Purab who offered their soldiering services in the military labour market in North India.
For the global citizen, Tariq Ali needs hardly any introduction. Born in Lahore into a Communist family in 1943, Tariq was sent to England for studies, mainly for his personal safety. His uncle who headed the military intelligence was convinced that his nephew stood a good chance of being incarcerated in Pakistan, even running the risk of getting killed by the state. Tariq flourished in Oxford and became president of the Oxford Union in 1965. At the time of the global outrage against America’s war on Vietnam, Tariq became famous with his much publicized debate with Henry Kissinger.
There is consensus that America is the only superpower, and that no one can prevent it from going its chosen way or hold it accountable. After 9/11 the voices of dissent and criticism were largely silenced in America and abroad. That has given the US President almost unlimited discretion and immunity from scrutiny. This book brings together views from around the world outlining possible scenarios during Bush’s second Presidency.