Irfan Habib is an Emeritus Professor of the Dept of History but he still appears daily in the department where he sits in the office of Professor Shireen Moosvi and interacts with all of the students, other professors, Communist party activists and others who move in and out of the office throughout the day. Irfan Habib always provides hospitality to these guest, endless cups of tea and biscuits.
It was some time before I could convince him to sit down with me for a formal interview about his experiences during the 1930s and 1940s in Aligarh. He was very skeptical of the methodology of my research, being as he is, a historian of medieval India and deeply invested in the investigation of documentary sources. Interviews, he reminded me, would only catch a person’s “bias,” and not “The Truth.”
The economic ties between the United States and Mexico are well over a century old, but the coverage of the border rarely contextualizes it in these terms. In order to understand the violence we see today, we must consider the violence that erupted there in the early 1990s.
S.M. Mehdi was surprised to see me, but agreed to answer my questions though he cautioned he could not be considered an expert on Aligarh. He told me, instead, of his experiences during partition as a Communist in Bombay. He worked for thirty years in the Soviet Embassy in New Delhi and has been a lifelong Communist.
Academy Award-winning director Clint Eastwood presents a biopic of one of the most powerful and controversial figures of twentieth-century America in the film J. Edgar.
So freedom is now to be defined against those too poor to deserve its benefits by the edifices and procedures of totalitarianism. What kind of freedom is it, then, that we enjoy in the countries of the West – those exclusive, increasingly well-guarded enclaves of ours?
College freshmen have no personal knowledge of the Cold War. Born after the Berlin Wall’s fall and the Soviet Union’s collapse, the threat of nuclear Armageddon seems far removed from their experiences, a relic of a bygone age. Yet, today, more countries than ever hold weapons whose scale of destruction can dwarf that of every bomb used in World War II.
As an historian of American empire at the turn of the last century, I am constantly surprised by the number of people who have never heard that the United States annexed the Philippines at the end of the Spanish-American War in 1899. When I tell people about my research, they often have no idea this nation was in fact a formal empire from 1899 until 1946, when the Philippines achieved independence.
In 2009, I spent five months living at the Aligarh Muslim University in the town of Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh, India. I was there to research the role and experience of Aligarh students in the movement for Pakistan during the 1940s. As part of this research, I actively sought out university employees and former students of the university from that period. I was referred to S.M. Mehdi through a chance encounter with a university official and arrived at his home without an appointment.
On September 13, 2011, the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues released its report on the syphilis experiments conducted by the US government in Guatemala in the 1940s. Over 1300 prisoners, prostitutes, psychiatric patients, and soldiers in Guatemala were infected with sexually transmissible diseases (through supervised sexual relations among other methods), in an attempt to better understand treatments for diseases such as syphilis.