“Strategies of Presenting Text and Illustrations: Turning the Pages of a Sixteenth Century Book of Wisdom”: An Interview with Seher Agarwala

  Last week, I “sat” down via Zoom with Seher Agarwala, a PhD student in the Art History and Archeology Department at Columbia , and asked her a few questions related to Indo-Persian manuscripts, the Muslim World Manuscript project and her own dissertation, which addresses the politics and ethics of 16th c. aesthetics in the […]

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Black Lives Matter International

  “You watched my brother die.  That could have been me.  I am my brother’s keeper. You in the United Nations are your brothers’ and sisters’ keepers in America, and you have the power to help us get justice for my brother George Floyd.  I am asking you to help him.  I am asking you […]

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On World Refugee Day 2020 — Rohingyas

One of many current global refugee crises is that of the Rohingyas. A Muslim group long resident in Myanmar, many Rohingyas have been displaced as refugees to South Asia (and other regions), most especially Bangladesh and India. Rohingyas have also experienced lack of welcome in South Asian countries. While often viewed in news reports as a […]

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Celebrating Dr. Ambedkar’s Birthday and Legacy

Ambedkar Jayanti (Bimbhao Ambedkar’s  birthday), which takes place on April 14th, comes upon us this year in most unusual and harsh circumstances, when an enormous percentage of people across the planet is sheltered at home and the COVID-19 pandemic has taken the lives of tens of thousands. Under these unprecedented realities which expose the deeply […]

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December 10th: International Human Rights Day: an interview with Chris Laico, Archivist at RBML

  For the occasion of International Human Rights Day, which falls on December 10th every year, I sat down with Chris Laico, Archivist at RBML, who along with Catherine Carson Ricciardi and  Carrie Smith*, is responsible for processing human rights related collections. I asked Chris a few questions about archives, human rights, his daily work, […]

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South Asia Open Archives (SAOA) Launched

The South Asia Open Archives (SAOA) was launched on Friday, October 18th, in conjunction with the Annual Conference on South Asia in Madison, Wisconsin. A collaborative initiative of (currently 22) US libraries and (currently 4) partners from South Asia, SAOA is administratively hosted by the Center for Research Libraries (CRL) and available globally open access […]

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Toni Morrison and Africa

On August 5, 2019, a great tree fell in the forest of my imagination. Toni Morrison, the great African American writer and international humanist, had died.  I could not ignore the sadness.  I was personally moved to read, re-read, and to become more familiar with Morrison’s novels and non-fiction writing, including her books for children, […]

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Medicine, Religion and Alchemy in South India (Siddha conference)

Last week, I had the opportunity to participate in a conference on Medicine, Religion and Alchemy in South India: Resources and Permutations of Siddha Traditions and Siddha Medicine that convened at Tübingen University, Germany, 25-27 July 2019. The conference brought together scholars from Austria, France, Germany, India, Poland, Switzerland, and the United States who met […]

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The Muslim World Manuscript Project: A great Pedagogical tool! What can manuscripts teach us?

The summer months at Columbia University allow more mental space and time to savor enjoyable conversations and delve into the numerous treasures that the Columbia University Libraries offers to the scholarly community. Last week, I sat down with Prof. A. Tunç Şen, (who just had a baby) and asked him a few questions about his […]

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Dr. Ambedkar and Columbia University: A Legacy to Celebrate

 Dr. Ambedkar and Columbia University: A Legacy to Celebrate Every morning, I look forward to glancing at Dr. Ambedkar’s bust, in the far East corner of the Lehman Social Sciences Library, on my way to work. My eyes first rest on the bright garlands (offerings of admirers) that often adorn the bust, hanging around the […]

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