Congratulations to Manpreet Kaur, for receiving the Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship 2020, awarded by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation.
Manpreet's research centers on the figure of Baba Farid (d. 1265 CE), a vernacular Sufi Shaikh of the Punjab region who is venerated across Hindu, Muslim, and Sikh religious groups of present day north-western India, and whose presence is recorded across the textual repositories and performance repertoires of each of these religious communities. Her dissertation, "A Performance History of Farid", uncovers and explains the labor of performance in the collation and transmission of sacred texts and the relationship of this process to the coalescence of vernacular devotional communities in early modern south Asia (14th-18th centuries). By illustrating this network of historical actors and activities within the comparative frame of the early development of religious groups like the Sikhs, Hindu Dadupanthis, and Chishti Sufis, it becomes evident that reciprocal collaboration and public co-existence were normal—- not the exceptional phenomena that they are often presented as in contemporary historiography. What is exceptional is the imprint of this collaborative literary and performative output on the social memory of the region of greater Punjab— a geographic, linguistic, cultural zone now split between the modern nation-states of Pakistan and India. The dissertation closes with recording present-day attempts to suture back this memory, in contemporary post-partitioned east Punjab, where invented festivals and residual ritual practices commemorate this shared history.