Ajam Podcast #21: Reimagining Baloch “Mercenaries” in the Western Indian Ocean

Episode 21 August 17, 2020 00:35:03
Ajam Podcast #21: Reimagining Baloch “Mercenaries” in the Western Indian Ocean
Ajam Media Collective Podcast
Ajam Podcast #21: Reimagining Baloch “Mercenaries” in the Western Indian Ocean
/

Show Notes

In this episode Lindsey interviews Ameem Lutfi, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Middle East Institute at the National University of Singapore. The legacy of the Baloch in Indian Ocean historiography has been confined to their role as soldiers or “mercenaries” of various rulers. Dr. Lutfi’s work is interested in interrogating what it meant for the Baloch to conquer on behalf of rulers without ever ruling those territories themselves. He grapples with the tension between the power that they have as conquerors - precluding them from being categorized as subaltern - and the fact that their history has been primarily passed down through folklore rather than texts. Dr. Lutfi reminds us that in the past, states frequently relied on “mercenary” outsiders to staff their armies, and professional citizen soldiers only became the norm in the last century. He explains that although the Baloch have been perceived by many as a diaspora group, they see themselves as critical parts in the formation of the nation itself. In this vein, their work as soldiers and more recently policemen, has created deep, highly mobile Baloch networks between the shores for centuries.

Episode Transcript

No transcript available...

Other Episodes

Episode 14

June 03, 2019 00:28:08
Episode Cover

Ajam Podcast #14: Reformist Political Thought in Iran

In this episode, Rustin speaks with Eskandar Sadeghi-Boroujerdi, Lecturer in Comparative Political Theory at Goldsmiths, University of London. He is the author of [Revolution and its Discontents: Political Thought and Reform in Iran (Cambridge University Press, 2019).](https://www.cambridge.org/ge/academic/subjects/history/middle-east-history/revolution-and-its-discontents-political-thought-and-reform-iran?format=HB#contentsTabAnchor) Dr. Sadeghi-Boroujerdi gives an overview of the history and ideological development of Reformism in Iran. Following the death of Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989 and the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, left-leaning factions of the Islamic Republic's political elite found themselves sidelined and kicked out of the corridors of power in the Islamic Republic. Throughout the discussion, Dr. Sadeghi-Boroujerdi outlines how the reformist movement was not only shaped by their members' political marginalization, but also by a global network of post-cold-war theoretical writings championing incrementalism, economic liberalism, and strengthening civil society. The conversation concludes with current state of reformism--of its contradictions, lessons learned, and opportunities missed. ...

Listen

Episode 4

October 24, 2018 00:34:59
Episode Cover

Ajam Podcast #4: Gender and Tajik Labor Migration to Russia

While Kamyar is traveling for work, Rustin is joined by guest co-host Yan Matusevich in Tbilisi, Georgia. Yan is a Vienna-based researcher and journalist focusing on issues of migration in the post-Soviet space. He is also the host of the [ZamZaman](https://cba.fro.at/series/zamzaman) podcast, which showcases music from Eastern Europe and Eurasia at large. Yan and Rustin talk to Mariana Irby, a PhD student at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research focuses on nationalism, gender, and post-socialism in Tajikistan and Tajik migrant communities in Russia. She is also the author of a recent Ajam article, ["Dressing the Nation: Tajikistan’s Hijab Ban and the Politics of Fashion in Post-Soviet Central Asia" ](https://ajammc.com/2018/09/30/national-islamic-fashion-tajikistan/). In this episode, Mariana delves deeper into the interplay between gender, articulations of nationhood, and the Tajik labor economy. Yan closes out the episode with a track from the ZamZaman archive: ["Dilro Bubin," Makhfirat Hamroqulova & Gulshan (Tajikistan, 1985) ](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WT0122kn6fQ&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR3m8n3d2oNh27w5S61YH8EZOxjmndOPHPRgLMv-oUht08D4erh6wLPOn_8) Related Readings: Madeleine Reeves, "[Clean fake:Authenticating documents and persons in migrant Moscow"](http://http://russianmodernisation.fi/material/living-with-risk/Further_readings_Aitamurto2.pdf) Nicholas Muller, ["Russia: New migrant registration rules threaten tenuous livelihoods"](https://eurasianet.org/russia-new-migrant-registration-rules-threaten-tenuous-livelihoods) ...

Listen

Episode 37

April 26, 2021 00:34:37
Episode Cover

Ajam Podcast #37: Sufi Miracle Workers of Malaya

In this episode, Lindsey, Rustin, and Ali interview Dr. Teren Sevea, Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies at Harvard Divinity School about his recent book, Miracles and Material Life: Rice, Ore, Traps and Guns in Islamic Malaya (Cambridge University Press, 2020). Dr. Sevea reveals the significance of Islamic miracle workers, called pawangs or bomohs, in the Malay world from the 19th century to the present. He maps out the spiritual economy of the Indian Ocean world and its many human and non-human actors. These figures, steeped in the practice and cosmology of Sufism, were instrumental to the material life of the societies they lived in. They frequently directed the extraction of natural resources, the adaptation and use of new technologies, and the navigation of land and sea. Combining an analysis of overlooked sources, including manuscripts and personal interaction with modern pawangs, Dr. Sevea shows how these miracle workers interacted with the Unseen world to aid and direct labor in the societies they lived in. For example, they were seen as masters of prospecting and mining tin, taming elephants and tigers, or even shooting guns. Even British colonial officials who dismissed them as “primitive” sought out their aid and guidance when it came to navigating the material world, admitting their skill despite their “superstitions.” To further complicate matters, some pawangs even considered these very same colonial officials as their own “companions” even while some of their peers encouraged war against their imperial masters. Despite their centrality to the past, pawangs and bomohs today are marginalized in official discourse and media within Malaysia and Singapore today. Yet they are still very present, whether in guiding their followers, healing the sick, or even ...

Listen