Sajid, Nida

Core Areas

Transnational Intellectual Networks; Global Eighteenth Century; Comparative Poetics and Modern Indian Literature; South Asian History and Empire Studies; Caste and Religion in South Asia; Intersectionality; Gender and Material Culture; Translation Studies

Current Research

My research project aims to enhance our current understanding of the genealogical connections between eighteenth-century colonial encounters with Islam and the cultural production of Islamic polity during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century in South Asia. Through a close examination of colonial archives and literary texts, I illustrate the epistemic shift in the colonial interpretations of Islam from a ‘divine’ source of universal justice against the arbitrary powers of mercantile empires to an unregulated and archaic form of governance in need of ‘modern’ disciplining by the colonial capital. While tracing this shift, I illustrate how the localized, every-day vocabulary of maritime trade, by blurring the divide between the ‘religious’ and the ‘secular’, exerted significant influence on the ways later Islamic movements conceptualized tradition and modernity in South Asia. By exploring hitherto unidentified connections between the trade of commodities and the formation of religious discourses in South Asia, my research highlights important continuities between discussions of Islamic piety and ideologies of consumerism. Looking simultaneously at early British imperialism and the rise of Islamic nationalism, I examine how the affective and ethical elements that inform consumption at the personal, subjective level carry over into representations of broader collectivities organized around shared religious, cultural, or political affiliations.

As an interdisciplinary scholar, I also study the interstices of global enlightenment through intercultural and transhistorical research on questions of pluralism, conflict, and social justice. In a new research project, I am charting the shifting orthographic and ideological landscape of Hindi and Urdu literature through the formation of a complex discourse of political sovereignty, civil morality, and vigilant citizenry among different Dalit and Muslim communities in India. I also expand my inquiry into the ethical underpinnings of solidarity politics through translation studies, showcasing how writers transform literary texts into embodiments of affective communities and address the complex intersections of gender, religion, and caste in South Asia.

Selected Publications

  • “Resisting Together Separately: Representations of the Dalit-Muslim Question in Literature.” Dalit Literatures in India. Eds. Joshil K. Abraham and Judith Misrahi-Barak. New Delhi: Routledge, 2015.
  • “Unruly Voices/Disciplined Bodies: Games of Truth and Desire in Kishwar Naheed’s Poetry.” Forum for World Literature Studies [Special Issue: Desire, Spirituality and “Regimes of Truth” in Contemporary South Asian Literature] (2014) 6.4: 708-26.
  • “Mapping Nostalgia: The Transnational Cartography of Agha Shahid Ali’s Poetry.” RMR: Rocky Mountain Review [Special Issue: Crossing Borders/Creating Worlds] (2012) 66.2: 85-92.