Jahfar Shareef Pokkanali
© Jahfar Shareef Pokkanali

Jahfar Shareef Pokkanali

University of Bonn
Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies
Research Associate in Research Area B
Embodied Dependencies
Niebuhrstraße 5
D-53113 Bonn
Phone: +49 / (0)228 / 73 62484


Entangled Dependencies and Venerated Spaces:
Islamic Material Culture in the Littorals of Pre-modern South India 

Focusing on the pre-modern Indian Ocean networks of religion–trade–slavery, which were complicit in the formation of the South Indian Muslim communities, my project intends to elaborate on the production of Muslim venerated spaces (mosques and shrines) in the littorals of South India.

My study situates these religious spatialities and related artifacts of belief within the entangled network of dependencies mentioned above; and how disruptions and displacements in these oceanic networks were constitutive to the formation of a unique Islamic material-visual culture of pre-modern littoral South India. Placing the agency of 'things', material artifacts, and venerated bodies at the forefront of studying asymmetrical dependency, my research is informed by the material turn in the study of religion as well as by the recent literature in Islamic art history that responds to the idiosyncrasies of Muslim material and visual culture seen in the contact zones of the pre-modern Indian Ocean. My study brings a material history that is largely ignored within the discipline of Islamic art history.


  • 2019–2022                 Ph.D. in Oriental Art History, University of Bonn, Germany
  • 2013                             M.Phil. Centre for the Study of Social Systems, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India
  • 2010                             M.A. in Sociology, Centre for the Study of Social Systems, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India
  • 2008                             B.A . in Sociology, Farook College, University of Calicut, Kerala, India

Academic Position

  • 2019–present             Research Associate in Research Area B Embodied Dependencies, University of Bonn, Germany
  • 2019–present             Assistant lecturer, Department of Asian and Islamic Art History, University of Bonn, Germany
  • 2014–2016                  Archivist focused on vernacular Islamic texts and the visual and material culture of mosques and Sufi shrines of South India


Recent Publications

  • Sailing Across Duniyav: Sufi Ship-Body Symbolism from the Malabar Coast, South India. In: South Asian Studies (August 2, 2018), Routledge. Download the abstract here2.
  • Book review, Hilal Ahmed, Muslim Political Discourse in Postcolonial India: Monuments, Memory, Contestation. In: South Asia Research 35 (2015) 257–-259, Sage. Download the book review here3.
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