CMD & IDRAC present ‘Alef is for Allah: Children, Cuteness, and Society in Pakistan, Iran and Turkey’ – A Talk by Professor Jamal J. Elias

05/09/20166:00 pm-7:00 pm
Soorty Hall

Monday, September 5, 2016
6:00 – 7:00 PM
Soorty Hall, Habib University

Abstract of the Talk: 

Childhood innocence and cuteness are cornerstones of societal constructions in many parts of the world. But beneath the brittle veneer of idealized childhood lies a range of problematic assumptions and constructions. This seminar uses a variety of visual materials from Turkey, Iran and Pakistan – picture books, comics, posters, stamps – to examine moral and religious constructions of children. Issues to be examined include the relationships between cuteness, helplessness, innocence and virtue; the construction of childhood as singular stage of life; and adult anxiety regarding childhood agency and subsequent processes of infantilization and control.

About the Speaker:

Jamal J. Elias is the Walter H. Annenberg Professor in the Humanities, and Professor of Religious Studies and of South Asia Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. He also serves as Special Advisor to the Provost of Aga Khan University.

Elias has written on a broad range of subjects relevant to the medieval and modern Islamic world. He is the author, coauthor, or editor of eight books and numerous articles dealing with a range of topics in Islamic history, thought, literature, art and material culture. His most recent books are Aisha’s Cushion: Religious Art, Perception and Practice in Islam (Cambridge Massachusetts, 2012) and On Wings of Diesel: Trucks, Identity and Culture in Pakistan (Oxford, 2011), and his previous writings have been translated into Arabic, Chinese, German, Japanese, Persian, Portuguese, Turkish, and Urdu.