A wide shot of a ceramics studio, featuring students working with pottery wheels and other tools.
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Aisha Valiulla




Aisha Valiulla is a PhD candidate in Medieval Islamic History at Northwestern University. She specializes in cultural exchange, knowledge production, and literary culture in the Medieval Indian Ocean world. In her dissertation, titled “Sailors, Scholars, and Wonders: Arabic Scholarship and the Indian Ocean World, 900—1400,” she analyzes Arabic histories, geographies, and merchant accounts to trace the transition of the Islamic world into the Indo-Islamic world and the centrality of merchant accounts in the textual conceptualization of India.

She holds a BA in History and an MA in English Literature, both from Virginia Commonwealth University. She won the Northwestern History Department's Lacey Baldwin Smith Prize for Teaching Excellence in 2020 and the Weinberg College Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award in 2023. She is a Digital Media Fellow at the Nicholas D. Chabraja Center for Historical Studies. She is also an active member of the History Graduate Teaching Committee. Her languages include Arabic, Hindi-Urdu, Spanish, and some Gujarati.


Title Department Catalog Term


Home to nearly one-fourth of the world�s population today, South Asia is a vast and chronically understudied region. This survey course will cover over two hundred years of the history of South Asia, a region that includes modern-day Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, and India, and South Asian communities and diasporas that we encounter around the world today. From the mid-eighteenth century to the present, South Asia has undergone numerous transitions�from Mughal sovereignty to British colonial rule, from colony-state to independence and post-colonial nation-building and the creation of new nation-states. In this course, we will explore a range of themes that defined, shaped, and transformed this diverse region, such as imperialism, British colonialism and its mercantile roots, religion and communalism, the questions of statehood, authority, and belonging, and the long-lasting legacy of the struggle for independence and Partition that still haunt South Asia today. Alongside such macro-scale topics, we will also dive into discourses of caste, gender, religion, culture, and ethnicity, as visualized through art, architecture, textiles, film, fiction, and poetry.

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