Cosmopolitan ventures during times of crisis: a postcolonial reading of Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s “Dasht-e tanhai” and Nadeem Aslam’s Maps for Lost Lovers

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Amina Yaqin


In this essay I engage with two writers whose work includes elements of both internationalism and cosmopolitanism. Generations apart they connect with the idea of the national from positions of exile igniting a very contemporary and historical debate on the position of faith and the location of culture in the modern postcolonial nation. I argue that exile in the case of the Pakistani poet Faiz Ahmad Faiz is informed by an internationalism tied to national sovereignty, whereas the British Pakistani novelist Nadeem Aslam responding to a post 9/11 world turns to a utopian model of cosmopolitanism, looking for the universal theme of love to repair a dysfunctional society.

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Amina Yaqin, SOAS, University of London

Amina Yaqin is Senior Lecturer in Postcolonial Studies and Urdu and Chair of the Centre for the Study of Pakistan at SOAS. She has recently co-edited a book on Culture, Diaspora and Modernity in Muslim Writing (Routledge, 2012), and is the co-author (with Peter Morey) of Framing Muslims: stereotyping and representation after 9/11 (Harvard University Press, 2011). She has written numerous articles on themes of gender, sexuality, Urdu poetry, communal politics and South Asian literature in English. She is currently working on her next book Imagining Pakistan: narratives of nation, culture and gender and a collaborative research initiative on Muslims,Trust and Cultural Dialogue.