News story

Workshop on Community and Civic Life: New Directions in the Study of the Ismaili Living Traditions of South Asia.

1st May 2006

A panel was organized by the Department of Academic Research and Publications on 4th December with four scholars conducting research on the Ismailis of South Asia. The presentations illustrated parallel themes and ideas on the formation and negotiation of identity of the Ismailis of the Indian Subcontinent throughout the nineteenth century to the present. Each of the panelists provided perspectives on how traditions are negotiated and transmitted from generation to generation and the historical circumstances which inform the process in each of their specific contexts.

Workshop Programme


Zulfikar Hirji, Research Associate with the Department of Academic Research and Publications, provided the welcome and introductory remarks, speaking about the importance of tradition bearers and their critical role in the history of the community in South Asia. Michel Boivin and Amrita Shodhan presented detailed studies on historic circumstances and events during the period of British rule in India, elaborating on how these events impacted the evolving Ismaili community structure and organization in India.


Laila Halani and Karim Gillani presented their current field research conducted (respectively) on marriage ceremonies in Gujarat and the Ismaili Ginaninfo-icon tradition from the Indian Subcontinent. They provided many rich audio-visual samples of these traditions and asked important questions about the Ismaili diaspora, and its ongoing response to new circumstances, contexts and pressures (internal and external). Dr. Samira Sheikh, a Research Associate with the Department of Academic Research and Publications, closed the day's proceedings with summary remarks concerning the vast amount of work needed on the social and cultural history of the communities of South Asia.


Zawahir Moir, Francoise Mallison, Ali Asani and Tazim Kassam were among some of the special guests who traveled from afar and attended the day-long workshop.