Vazira F-Y Zamindar Associate Professor of History

Vazira Fazila-Yacoobali Zamindar is a historian of modern South Asia, with an interest in twentieth century histories of decolonization, nation-state formation, displacement, war, resistance and the visual archive. Her book, The Long Partition and the Making of Modern South Asia: Refugees, Boundaries, Histories, was published by Columbia University Press in 2007, the Indian and Pakistani editions of the book came out in 2008, and the Urdu translation in 2014. Stories from the book have also been performed by the Delhi-based, Dastangoi. 

While minorities, partitions, and refugees remain enduring concerns, she is presently working on a book on the history of archaeology, visual practices and war on the northwest frontier of British India, on the borderlands with Afghanistan, and has received the International Institute of Asian Studies Fellowship, the Fulbright, and the National Endowment for Humanities Fellowship, amongst others, for this project. Tied more intimately to the present, she has been following the ordinary stories of a single death to ask how, if at all, can one give an account of a displaced life.

As co-director of the South Asian Studies Program. she has helped organize several speaker series, the South Asia Documentary Film Festival, 2011, the Brown-Harvard Pakistani Film Festival, 2014 and 2015, as well as the inter-disciplinary Theory from the South reading group.

With a commitment to public engagement, she has been involved in organizing large 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.

Brown Affiliations

Research Areas

scholarly work

'South Asia in Dark Times: Homogenizing Nation-States and the Problem of Minorities,' Current History, April 2015.

'Altitudes of Imperialism,' The Caravan: A Journal of Politics and Culture, August 2014.

‘Memory and War in Bangladesh,’ Public Books, 19 June 2013.

“India-Pakistan Partition and Forced Migrations,” The Encyclopedia of Global Migrations, Spring 2012.

‘1947: Recovering Displaced Histories of Karachi’, Interpreting the Sindhi World: Essays on Culture, History and Language, edited by Michel Boivin and Mathew Cook. Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2009.

The Long Partition and the Making of Modern South Asia: Refugees, Boundaries, Histories, New York: Columbia University Press, 2007. (Paperback, 2010; Pakistani edition, Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2008; Indian edition, Delhi: Penguin India, 2008; Urdu translation, Mashal Press, 2014)

'Edward Said and Eqbal Ahmad: Anti-Imperialist Struggles in a Post-Colonial World', ISIM Review, No. 13. December 2003. Also on the Eqbal Ahmad: Cherishing His Courage website:

'Sadequain: The Making and Unmaking of a National Artist', The Holy Sinner, edited by Salima Hashmi. Karachi: Herald Publications, 2003:

'Yeh mulk hamara ghar: the national order of things and Muslim identity in John Mathew Mattan's Sarfaroosh', in Contemporary South Asia. Vol. 11, no.2 (2002):183-198.

'Rite of Passage: The Partition of History and the Dawn of Pakistan', Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies, Vol. 1, no.2 (1999):183-200. [Republished in Partition and Post-Colonial South Asia: A Reader, Volume I, edited by Tan Tai Yong and Gyanesh Kudaisya, London: Routledge, 2007.]