Zaib un Nisa Aziz
I am a historian of global and imperial history with a focus on Modern South Asia and British History and am particularly interested in histories of decolonization, labour, and internationalism. In my past and present research, I seek to push the geographic, temporal, and thematic boundaries of historical studies of the end of empire and its aftermath. My current research explores the origins of global anticolonialism and the rise of national self-determination in the twentieth century.
My dissertation, Nations Ascendant: The Global Struggle Against Empire and The Making of our World traces the origins and politics of an international community of colonial activists, thinkers and campaigners and shows how they came to share ideas about universal decolonization and the end of empires. At the turn of the twentieth century, the global imperial order was in peril. In cities across the world, revolutionary factions emerged where nationalists deliberated radical, even violent paths to a post-imperial world. Vladimir Ilyich Lenin belonged to and wrote of this world - a world primarily defined by the crisis of the imperial order and the looming question of the future of national communities. As he and his compatriots seized power in Moscow in October 1917, he announced the dawn of a new era when the empires of the world will eventually fall in the throes of the impending world revolution. My dissertation shows that his call resonated with all sorts of imperial decriers, who saw in his victory the possibility of a new world. From Rio Grande to River Ganges, anti-colonialists turned to Moscow to help realize their own political visions. In the process, they forged an international revolutionary movement that sought universal liberation.
Drawing from over twenty-five archives spread around ten cities, the dissertation shows the existence of a global public sphere, whose members though not always proximate considered themselves as part of a common political community striving against imperialism. I work in English, German, French and Spanish, Urdu, Persian, Punjabi and use translations from a number of sources in Arabic, Dutch and Italian. Using an array of sources, I reconstruct the shadowy, often illicit world of imperial decriers from Calcutta to Mexico City, Moscow to Tehran, Alexandria to Tashkent, London to Kingston.
My research draws from my long-standing work on global histories of empire and its aftermath. My commitment to reading across sub-fields has led me to draw new connections across geographies and historiographies. My first article “Passages from India: Indian Anti Colonial Activism in Exile 1905-1920” was published by Historical Research in January 2016. Recently, I have published another article “Songs of Sisterhood: Feminist Political Practice Between Empire and Internationalism” with Gender and History which came out in August 2021. I have multiple forthcoming publications including a chapter for on the encounters and radical work of Asian, European, and Latin American figures in post-revolutionary Mexico City in the early 20th century. In 2019, I co-organized the Yale International History Conference on Connected Histories: Decolonization and the 20th century. I am currently one of the editors of a forthcoming special volume based on the proceedings of the conference. I regularly contribute book reviews to various journals including the Journal of Contemporary History and Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History. I am also an Editor-at-Large at Toynbee Prize Foundation.
My research has been supported by a number of grants including fellowships and awards by the Macmillan International Dissertation Research Fund, South Asian Studies Council, Baden-Württemberg Award, Gilbert Kinney Fellowship, A Bartlett Giamatti Fellowship and the Yale History Department Research Grant and the Yale Digital Humanities Lab. I was also awarded the Fox Fellowship and I was a visiting scholar at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge University in 2019-2020.
My teaching reflects my commitment to crossing regional and national historiographies. In Spring 2020, I was selected as an Associate in Teaching by the Yale Poorvu Teaching and Learning. I have developed a new seminar course on “Unmaking the British Empire 1850-2010” which I shall be teaching with my advisor Rohit De in Spring 2021.
At Yale, I am one of the student coordinators of the Yale Global and International History Workshop. I also founded the Yale Global History Working Group as a forum for graduate students to present and gain feedback on their works-in-progress. Together, these initiatives have facilitated conversations and connections amongst faculty and students across different subfields. I am also the convenor of inter-institutional cluster on Global Intellectual History bringing together graduate students from different institutions. I have worked with the Department of History, the Office of the Dean of Diversity and Faculty Development and the Yale Women’s Faculty Forum to organize panel discussions.
Beyond the History Department, I work and collaborate with a number of offices and organizations on campus including as an Urdu Language Partner at the Center for Language Study, a volunteer for the Schwarzman Center and as a Career Fellow at the Yale Office of Career Strategy.
Before coming to Yale, I was a Teaching Fellow at the Humanities and Social Sciences Department at the Lahore University of Management Sciences where I taught courses in contemporary South Asian and World History. I hold a master’s degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science in Empires, Colonialism and Globalization, where I was a Bestway Foundation Scholar. I am originally from Pakistan completed my bachelor’s in political science at the Lahore University of Management Sciences.
Please reach out to me if you would like to know more about my teaching and research and if you have any questions about the doctoral program at Yale.