My friend, this youth is loss
I lost all day on the way . . .

Song of Habba Khatoon (1554–1609)

Once upon a time, Kashmir was a pivotal point on the Silk Road. A melting pot for an array of cultures, faiths, and creeds, it facilitated exchanges between them. It was vital for the spread of Buddhism to Central and East Asia. Over the years, its lush landscape, circled by the heady Himalayas, inspired many a Sufi saint, Bhakti mystic, and Christian missionary. For the Muslim Mughals, who bedecked the valley with some of its most enchanting gardens and architectural monuments, it was a paradise on earth. It is tempting to look back to the history of Kashmir’s past as a symbol of the inherent hybridity of Indian-ness; the memory of which seems to be fast fading in the subcontinent today. Could we argue that in their multi-cultured and colored references, Raqib Shaw’s gilt-edged images stage a reenactment of Kashmir’s lost syncretism?

Join Dr. Zehra Jumabhoy, curator of Raqib Shaw: Ballads of East and West, for this talk that will explore the plural history of the subcontinent that the image of Kashmir summons. It will trace the geopolitics of the region and the way it has figured in memory, myth, and metaphor in contemporary Indian art. 

About Dr. Zehra Jumabhoy

Dr. Zehra Jumabhoy is a lecturer in the history of art at the University of Bristol, UK. She is an art historian, curator, and writer specialising in modern and contemporary South Asian art, including its connections with British pasts and presents. Zehra was the Steven and Elena Heinz Scholar at the Courtauld Institute of Art, London, where she completed her doctorate and, subsequently, lectured on undergraduate and postgraduate programmes (2016–20). She has been a visiting lecturer at various academic institutions in the UK, India, Pakistan, and Singapore. In 2018, she cocurated the landmark exhibition The Progressive Revolution: A Modern Art for a New India at New York’s Asia Society Museum. Among other ventures, she is the curatorial research fellow at the Glynn Vivian Museum in Swansea, a position funded by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, which will culminate in the major exhibition Imperial Subjects: (Post)Colonial Conversations between India & Wales in autumn 2024.

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