Sarah Waheed Awarded Fulbright Award for Study in India

Sarah Waheed, assistant professor of history has received a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program award to India.

Though her travel has been delayed by the pandemic, Professor Waheed will travel to India in 2021 to research at University of Hyderabad as part of a project entitled, “Chand Bibi Sultana: Why a Medieval Muslim Queen from Southern India Matters Today,” to investigate women rulers of the medieval Deccan, a geographical region which comprises four linguistically distinct states in southern and western India.

The project focuses in particular on the life and world of the 16th century Queen Regent of Ahmadnagar and Bijapur, Chand Bibi Sultana (1550-1600), a “warrior queen” who played a fascinating role in the development of the Deccan Sultanates and in one battle, even successfully defeated Mughal imperial forces.

“The research highlights the important and overlooked role Muslim women rulers played in medieval and early modern Indian history,” Waheed said. “While there are many books about queens and other women rulers of Europe, books on medieval Muslim queens are rare, particularly from the region of South Asia. 

“The book also challenges narratives of an India long characterized by perpetual Hindu-Muslim conflict, where Muslim women, if they figure in them at all, largely exist ‘behind the veil’ as oppressed victims of enduring patriarchy.”

As a Fulbright Scholar, Waheed will share knowledge and foster meaningful connections across communities in the United States and India. Fulbrighters engage in cutting-edge research and expand their professional networks, often continuing research collaborations started abroad and laying the groundwork for forging future partnerships between institutions.

The Fulbright is one of a handful of major milestones in Waheed’s work. She was recently awarded an AIPS grant (American Institute of Pakistan Studies) that will fund Waheed’s research about the city of Karachi, and in particular, looks at migrants who settled there since the Partition of India and creation of Pakistan in 1947. 

Most recently, Waheed also signed a book contract with Cambridge University Press, a leading press in her field. The book, based on her doctoral work, is about censorship, literature, and the politics of leftist Muslims of the mid-twentieth century, in late colonial India and early postcolonial Pakistan.

“Given that India and Pakistan are both undergoing some of the most severe periods of censorship in their histories, the work is timely and quite relevant to the political conditions in both countries,” Waheed said.

The book, tentatively titled, Hidden Histories of Pakistan: Censorship, Literature, and Secular Nationalism in Late Colonial India, is scheduled to be published in early 2021.