Modern South Asian Studies seminar TT21 Wk 4: Printing the Urdu Public: Madinah Newspaper and Lithography as a Muslim Technology

Conveners: Imre Bangha, Polly O'Hanlon, and Kate Sullivan de Estrada

Speaker: Megan Eaton Robb (University of Pennsylvania)



This talk will discuss how a small-town Newspaper used lithographic technology to cast a significant slice of Urdu journalism conversation as distinctively Muslim. Discussing a chapter of the recently published book Print and the Urdu Public: Muslims, Newspapers, and Urban Life in Colonial India, the talk will discuss the development of the newspaper Madinah as an extension of networks of correspondence and kinship in North Indian qasbahs. Distinctive deployment of lithographic technology helped to transform the far-flung qasbah of Bijnor into an imagined "city" both intimately connected to the world and a place set apart from dangerously Westernized cities.



Megan Eaton Robb is the Julie and Martin Franklin Assistant Professor in Religious Studies. She is primarily a historian of Islam in South Asia, and her work overall investigates Islam in South Asia, viewed from the perspective of Urdu print publics. She presses on issues that illuminate the religious identity of Muslims in the 20th century and adds attention to material texts to studies of Urdu journalism. Her first book Print and the Urdu Public: Muslims, Newspapers, and Urban Life was published with Oxford University Press in October 2020. The book focuses on how the changing cultural and political climate of colonial India urged Muslims to expand the influence of existing print networks and make them distinctly Muslim. She analyzes this connection from a microstudy of both the discourse and materiality of Madinah newspaper, a paper printed from Bijnor qasbahthat presented itself as a voice for Muslims. A version of a chapter of this book appeared in Contemporary Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East in September 2020.


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