Inaugural Speaker

Inaugural Speaker

Aijaz Ahmad Inaugural Speaker

Aijaz Ahmad has taught in universities in India, the US and Canada. Currently, he is a Distinguished Visiting Professor of Comparative Literature and Critical Theory at University of California, Irvine. In New Delhi, where he normally resides, he has been a Professorial Fellow at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library. He has also held the Rajiv Gandhi Chair at Jawaharlal Nehru University and the Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan Chair at Jamia Millia Islamia University. He also serves on the editorial board of the Delhi-based publishing house, LeftWord, and Senior Editorial Consultant for news-magazine Frontline where his political essays appear frequently. His analytic and theoretical work appears in a range of journals such asSocialist RegisterNew Left Review, Race & ClassSocial Scientist etc. He writes in English, Urdu, and much less often, Hindi. His writings are frequently translated into several Indian languages as well as such other languages as Chinese, Turkish, Portuguese, Korean, French, and Arabic. Some of his books in English are: Ghazals of Ghalib (New York, 1971; New Delhi, 1994), In Theory: Classes, Nations, Literatures (London, 1992; New Delhi 1995), Lineages of the Present (New Delhi, 1996; London, 2000), Globalisation and Culture: Offensives of the Far Right (New Delhi. 2004) and Afghanistan, Iraq, and The Imperialism of Our Time (New Delhi, 2004).

He is currently editing a Reader on Political Islam for Columbia University Press. His work-in-progress is provisionally entitled In Our Time: Empire, Politics, Culture. He would deliver the Inaugural lecture at ILF Samanvay 2015 titled The Languages of a Union on November 26, 2015 at 06:00 pm.

Aijaz Ahmad

In India, political unity does not automatically give us, or requires of us, a literary or linguistic unity. Hence, the study of Indian literature should be historically grounded and organised primarily in terms of particular linguistic traditions and regional clusters, and discussed on the model of ‘comparative literature’. The points of intersection of different linguistic-literary traditions, along with causes and consequences of those overlaps, should be established through careful investigation. The hierarchical relations of power that exist among languages and traditions must be examined, and a system of education that profoundly addresses the question of multilinguality, developed. Such a system must also give room to understand the widespread connection between the linguistic-literary and the performative.”
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