The importance of Persian education to families living in late-nineteenth century North India is often overlooked, perhaps because colonial rhetoric in the period treated Persian as irrelevant and emphasized the English-vernacular debate in education. Nonetheless, for many Indian elites, Persian remained a vital part of a well-rounded education. Persian literacy offered access to an extra-colonial identity marker and extra-colonial forms of employment and patronage.
Bombay’s history is woven around tales of cosmopolitanism. But while the grandiose architecture of the colonial city gets all the attention, the vernacular architecture built by the cosmopolitanism from below in the so-called “Native Town” nearby is too often overlooked.
In the southern Indian port city of Kochi, millennia of merchant cosmopolitanism have contributed to the growth of a diverse and syncretic culture that combines faiths, practices, and forms from across the Indian Ocean rim. The history of Syriac Christianity and Sephardic Judaism in the region offer a unique perspective on Kerala’s historic relationship with the Middle East.
Ajam co-editor-in-chief Alex Shams interviews Shahana Rajani and Zahra Malkani about their new edited volume “Exhausted Geographies,” which explores representations of the urban space of Karachi, Pakistan through mapping.
Despite the Zoroastrian community’s waning numbers, the urban fabric of Mumbai’s older neighborhoods remain dominated by symbols and reminders of the Parsi and Irani communities’ success in the Subcontinent.
The post-Soviet art of Central Asia and the Caucasus comes out of a Soviet-era conversation of artistic styles that looks not just to Moscow but also to Mecca. An understanding of the high and low registers of this Soviet cultural heritage allows the humor and self-confidence of the work to be appreciated — aesthetically as well as financially — by audiences.