Jahfar Shareef Pokkanali

PhD Researcher

Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies
Room 2.021
Niebuhrstraße 5
D-53113 Bonn
Phone: +49 228 73 62484

Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Julia A. B. Hegewald, Prof. Dr. Finbarr Barry Flood (New York University, US)

Member of: 
Jahfar Shareef Pokkanali.jpg
© Barbara Frommann

Academic Profile

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.

since 2019                 
Ph.D. in Oriental Art History, University of Bonn, Germany

M.Phil. Centre for the Study of Social Systems, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India

M.A. in Sociology, Centre for the Study of Social Systems, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India

B.A. in Sociology, Farook College, University of Calicut, Kerala, India

since 2019             
Research Associate in Research Area B Embodied Dependencies, University of Bonn, Germany

since 2019             
Assistant lecturer, Department of Asian and Islamic Art History, University of Bonn, Germany

Archivist focused on vernacular Islamic texts and the visual and material culture of mosques and Sufi shrines of South India

  • 2023. "Chapter 7. Mediating Śakti: Embodied Dependencies and Senses in Teyyam, Malabar, South India." In Embodied Dependencies and Freedoms: Artistic Communities and Patronage in Asia, edited by Julia A. B. Hegewald, 195–238. Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter. Open access
  • 2018. "Sailing Across Duniyav: Sufi Ship-Body Symbolism from the Malabar Coast, South India." In South Asian Studies. Access
  • 2015. "Book review: Hilal Ahmed, Muslim Political Discourse in Postcolonial India: Monuments, Memory, Contestation." In South Asia Research 35: 257–259. Open access
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