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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Eqbal Ahmed - Amitava Kumar

Among anticolonial intellectuals, Pakistani scholar and activist Eqbal Ahmad (1933–99), who toward the end of his life spent fifteen years teaching at Hampshire College in Massachusetts, holds a special place. He never published a classic text on the order of Frantz Fanon’s Wretched of the Earth or Edward Said’s Orientalism, nor did he achieve anything like fame. (The closest he came was a passing notoriety during the Nixon era, when he was indicted on charges of conspiring to kidnap Henry Kissinger.) Yet everyone who was someone in the vast but—in the West—obscure world of Third World radicalism knew Ahmad, and even his adversaries had a grudging respect for him. As much as Said, he was a mentor to a generation of thinkers, mostly South Asian, who have been active in protest struggles in the West as well as in the subcontinent.


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