Aamir R. Mufti

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I did my Ph.D. in literature at Columbia University under the supervision of Edward Said. But I was also trained in Anthropology at Columbia, the London School of Economics, and Hamilton College, and my research and teaching have reflected this disciplinary range.

At the broadest level, my work has raised questions about the fate of the societies of the Global South in the modern world. I am interested in understanding a range of forms of inequality in the contemporary world and how they impede the possibilities for historically autonomous action by social collectivities in the South. As such, my work also explores the possibilities of critical knowledge of these societies within the dominant practices of the modern humanistic disciplines.

One of the main strands of my work has reconsidered the secularization thesis in a comparative perspective, with a special interest in Islam and modernity and South Asia and the cultural politics of Jewish identity in Western Europe.

Other areas of concern include: colonial and postcolonial literatures, with a primary focus on India and Britain, and 19th- and 20th-century Urdu literature in particular; Marxism and aesthetics; Frankfurt School critical theory; the comparative history of Orientalisms; the problem of national minorities;  exile and displacement; the global cultures of immigration; refugees and the right to asylum; European unification and the question of the stranger; modernism and fascism; language conflicts; the history of world literature; global English in relation to the languages of the South; and the history of Anthropology.

I have authored two books: Enlightenment in the Colony: The Jewish Question and the Crisis of Postcolonial Culture (Princeton) and Forget English! Orientalisms and World Literatures (forthcoming, Harvard) My most recent contribution to the study of secularism is a special issue of the journal boundary 2, titled, “Why I Am not a Postsecularist.” Among my other editorial projects are “Critical Secularism,” an earlier special issue of boundary 2 and (the co-edited) Dangerous Liaisons: Gender, Nation, and Postcolonial Perspectives (Minnesota), a widely used anthology. Current work includes two book projects—one concerning exile and criticism in the work of Edward Said and the other, the colonial reinvention of Islamic traditions.

My work has appeared in such scholarly periodicals as Social Text, Critical Inquiry, Subaltern Studies, boundary 2, the Journal of Palestine Studies, Lessing Yearbook, Critical Quarterly, Annual of Urdu Studies, and Theory and Event. From time to time, I have also written for such popular outlets as the Village Voice, Voice Literary Supplement, Dawn (Karachi), Avgi and Efimerida ton Syntakton (Athens),and Greek Left Review.

I have happy memories of serving for several years as a member of the editorial collective  of Social Text while still a student in New York, but have long since changed my loyalties to boundary 2.


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