The Poetics of the People’s Movement: From Paul Robeson to Gaddar

Afsar Mohammad and Sri Vamsi Matta

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Rm 1418, Van Hise 1220 Linden Dr, Madison, WI 53706
@ 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Talk by Afsar Mohammad, followed by a discussion moderated by Sri Vamsi Matta

Focusing on the contemporary relevance of solidarity networks among the various people’s movements, this talk debates how different global and local cultural figures reshaped our understanding of political activism and the aesthetics of resistance. Beginning with Paul Robeson’s activist poetics centered on equal citizenship, this talk takes us to the India’s famous radical balladeer Gaddar to demonstrate a continuity of political resistance.


Afsar Mohammad is an acclaimed South Asianist working on the Hindu-Muslim relations in South India. His new book “Remaking History: 1948 Police Action and the Muslims of Hyderabad” (Cambridge University Press, 2023) focuses on the post-Partition developments in Hyderabad, India. Afsar explores the question of Muslim being and belonging in the wake of the turbulent consequences of the police action. His previous book “The Festival of Pirs: Popular Islam and Shared Devotion in South India,” (Oxford University press, 2013) was also well-received for its ethnography and theorization of local Islam. Now teaching at the University of Pennsylvania, Afsar has also received many prestigious awards for his creative writing in Telugu and English.