Associate Professor of History


Vazira Fazila-Yacoobali Zamindar works on decolonization, displacement, war, non-violence, anticolonial practice, and the visual archive.

Her book, The Long Partition and the Making of Modern South Asia: Refugees, Boundaries, Histories (Columbia University Press, 2007; Penguin India 2008; Mashal Books, Urdu edition,  2014) combined oral histories with archival research to examine the signficance of refugees in nation-state formation in the devastating aftermath of 1947. Stories from the book have been performed by the Delhi-based Dastangoi (Dastaan-e-Partition), and the book has been an inspiration for Mara Ahmad’s film A Thin Wall (2015), Shayma Sayid’s dance Kanhaiya yaad hai kuch bhee hamari (South Bank Center, London, August 2017), for the San Francisco Enacte Arts’ play The Parting (2018), and more recently for the first episode of the animated anthology Lost Migrations (2022).

Her second book takes on archaeology, art history, photography, film, war and the anticolonial struggle on the northwest frontier of British India, on the borderlands with Afghanistan, and has been supported by several fellowships, including the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Fulbright, over the two decades of research behind it. She is working on a graphic novel with Sarnath Banerjee on Gandhi and Abdul Ghaffar Khan, and the works she has created from her visual archive are presently on exhibition in a solo show entitled Anticolonial at the Canvas Gallery in Karachi, Pakistan (June 6-16, 2023). She is also part of the collaborative Decolonial Initiative on Migration of Objects and People.

When she directed the South Asian Studies Program from 2012-2016, she co-organized Love, War and Other Longings, the Brown-Harvard Pakistani Film Festivals of 2014 and 2015, which is now a collection of essays on cinema in Pakistan (Oxford University Press, 2020). She also ran Theory from the South as an interdisciplinary reading group which then continued from 2018 to 2020 as Art History from the South. Two off-shoots of Art History from the South include the co-edited book How Secular is Art? The Politics of Art, History and Religion in South Asia (Cambridge University Press, 2023), and another collaboration Art History, Postcolonialism and the Global Turn which is forthcoming as an Art Margins special issue in July 2023.

With a commitment to public engagement, she has been involved in organizing teach-ins on campus, and has worked with Primary Source and the Choices program, FirstWorks Providence, the RISD Museum, as well as the Lahore Museum. She has appeared on Christopher Lydon's Open Source Radio and the BBC Radio series Museum of Lost Objects, and her articles have appeared in HyperallergicThird Text Online, Times of India, The News, Dawn, Time Out Delhi, Caravan, Current History and The Wire

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