University of Pittsburgh
March 9, 2004

Pitt's Asian Studies Center to Host Indian Muslim Scholar

Visiting Fulbright Specialist provides direct access to the Muslim world
Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH—Pitt is among the first group of U.S. colleges and universities to be awarded a grant to host a Fulbright visiting specialist to enrich its understanding of Islamic, Middle Eastern, North African, and South Asian societies and cultures. Pitt's Asian Studies Center (ASC) will host Naimur Rahman Farooqi, professor and chair of the Department of History at Allahabad University, India, from March 15 to April 23.

The Fulbright Visiting Specialists: Direct Access to the Muslim World program is a new initiative sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State and administered by the Council for International Exchange of Scholars (CIES) in Washington, D.C.

This new program is supporting 25 grants to American colleges and universities for two- to six-week visits by 23 scholars and professionals primarily from the Middle East and other Muslim countries. (Two of the scholars will be teaching at two institutions.) The specialists are alumni of the Fulbright Visiting Scholar program. Their visits began in February and will continue to September 2004.

Proposals from U.S. institutions to host a Fulbright visiting specialist were reviewed by CIES and, upon funding approval, were matched with a scholar approved by a Fulbright office abroad. Other institutions awarded grants in the Fulbright Visiting Specialists: Direct Access to the Muslim World program include American University, Harvard University, Syracuse University, and Vassar College, among others.

In an effort to expand current understanding and knowledge of Islamic societies and cultures both in academia and in American communities, the specialists will engage their host institutions and communities in dialogue in an effort to promote mutual understanding. They will assist in the development of courses, programs, and exchange activities.

While at Pitt, Farooqi will be team-teaching with faculty members from Pitt's history and religious studies departments. He also will be giving lectures to students and the general public at Pitt's Oakland, Johnstown, and Greensburg campuses, as well at Slippery Rock University, St. Francis University, Youngstown State University, California University of Pennsylvania, and Chatham College, among others.

Farooqi, who holds a doctorate from the University of Wisconsin, is a specialist in medieval Indian history. His research projects have focused on Mughal-Ottoman political and cultural relations, Sufism in India, and the history of Islam in India. A recent conference paper presented by Farooqi dealt with Indian Muslims' use of the past as an instrument of political mobilization and identity formation in the 19th century.

Established in 1946 under legislation introduced by the late Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, the Fulbright program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. Since the establishment of the program, 43,000 Fulbright visiting scholars have conducted research or taught in U.S. universities and more than 41,000 Fulbright scholars from the U.S. have engaged in similar activities abroad. The Fulbright program awards nearly 800 grants to U.S. scholars each year. The program operates in 140 countries worldwide. Designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries, the Fulbright Scholars program is regarded by many as one of America's best foreign diplomacy policy.

Established in 1969, ASC is within the University Center for International Studies at Pitt and promotes an enhanced understanding of the nations of Asia—including East, South, and Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands—to students and other members of the University community. In 1988, the U.S. Department of Education designated ASC as an undergraduate National Resource Center in East Asian Studies, one of only 15 such centers in the nation. This identifies the center as being among the best and most comprehensive with regards to research, public service, and teaching about East Asia.