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Monday, March 18, 2019 - 5:15pm to 7:00pm

Class of 1978 Pavilion, 6th floor, Van Pelt-Dietrich Library


The Urdu newspaper Madinah was published from 1912 until the early 1970s from the qasbah of Bijnor of Uttar Pradesh in British controlled India. In this presentation, I will offer a visual and discursive analysis of the paper to argue that there was a discursive relationship between the form and aesthetic appearance of written Urdu and the construction of religious identity among Muslims in early twentieth century British India. Although scholarship on Islam in 19th and 20th century South Asia has emphasized the turn toward Arab and English models for printing, publication, and religious models, I hope to demonstrate the persistence of a Persian visual culture in the form of lithographed newspapers. Through analysis of Madinah newspaper’s choice of printing method, style of calligraphy, and aesthetic history I will explore the ways in which lithographed newspapers were technologies significant to cultural formation, political resistance, and piety for Muslims in South Asia in the twentieth century.

Megan Robb is the Julie and Martin Franklin Assistant Professor of Religious Studies. She is currently interested in the link between print publics and group identity formation, particularly in the first half of the twentieth century in South Asia. Her monograph, forthcoming with Oxford University Press, is entitled Printing the Urdu Public: Muslims, Newspapers, and Urban Life 1900-1947. She is the co-editor of the volume Muslims Against the Muslim League: Critiques of the Idea of Pakistan published with Cambridge University Press. Among her recent publications is an article in Modern Asian Studies focusing on the trend toward men writing in women’s voices in mainstream and reformist Urdu newspapers, and the insights those practices lend to performances of masculinity in early twentieth century South Asia.


All are welcome! Those who do not hold University of Pennsylvania ID cards should bring another form of photo identification in order to enter the library building.