Falak Sufi was born in Pakistan in 1983. She possessed a generous heart, the urge to engage with and change the world, and a brilliantly original, vivacious mind. She graduated from the National University of Singapore with first class honors in Political Science. While young, she began to publish the work that showed her great gifts and talent. Among her interests were women and gender in South Asia, the historiography of this region, and the strength of the humanities. However, no list can capture the range of subjects about which she thought, spoke and wrote. She was a much beloved, deeply admired graduate student in Near Eastern Studies at New York University when she died tragically in Spring 2008. In honor of her memory and with the support of her family, the Kevorkian Center launched the Falak Sufi Scholarship and Memorial Essay Prize in 2010.
The Falak Sufi Scholarship
In fond memory of Falak Sufi, the Falak Sufi Scholarship, inaugurated in 2010, is awarded annually to support students from countries with a majority Muslim population in South Asia who might not otherwise be able to obtain a graduate education in the United States. These students, preferably female, enroll in the two-year master's program in Near Eastern Studies. The scholarship recipients embody the intellectual spirit and promise of Falak Sufi and possess a deep and abiding commitment to the role of women in academia and to the questions that she explored, primarily the study of gender in the countries of the Near East, Middle East, and/or South Asia with a majority Muslim population. The scholarship includes a full stipend, tuition, student health insurance, and registration and services fees for up to two years, provided that academic standards of the Graduate School and the graduate program are met.
2017-2018's Incoming Falak Sufi Fellow
Ms. Zuha Siddiqui will matriculate at NYU as a student in the Near Eastern Studies/Global Journalism program in Fall 2017. A native of Karachi, Zuha is set to graduate from the Lahore University of Management Sciences in May with a B.S. in Political Science. While at NYU, Zuha plans to examine the politics of class and ethnicity within the context of contested spaces -- for instance, do various political actors, such as politicians and political elites, state officials, members of law enforcement agencies, exist in concurrence, along with the state? Zuha is also interested in the intersection of gender and politics within the Near East and South Asia, with a particular interest in the examination of how women – central as victims but marginal as agents – exercise various forms of agency within the overtly masculine framework of the post-colonial state.
2017-2018's Continuing Falak Sufi Fellow
Shandana Waheed joined the Hagop Kevorkian Center in Fall 2016 from Forman Christian College in Lahore, Pakistan, where she completed her BA in political science in 2016. As an undergraduate, she was interested in the plight of religious minorities in Pakistan—a subject she has studied through case studies of historical minority endowments and research in Punjab archives in Lahore. In her first year, she has explored cultural studies courses on neoliberalism, sexuality, consumption, modernity, nationalism, and memory. She has spent time adapting to and enjoying the pace of life in New York city. She recently presented her work in the MEESAS graduate conference at Columbia University, and is spending this summer 2017 interning at the South Asia Institute at Heidelberg University in Germany.
2016-2017's Graduating Falak Sufi Fellow
Sabahat Zakariya completed her MA in Near Eastern Studies and Global Journalism in May 2017, with a capstone project on “The Rise of Single Women in Pakistan” that follows the impact of urban and social infrastructures on single women and divorcees who choose to lead alternative lifestyles. She conducted interviews during summer 2016 in support of this project, which she plans to turn into a book to complicate popular images of modern Pakistani women. She did not complete this two-year journey alone—her teenage son has been at her side throughout all the joys and challenges of moving to New York City, attending a high school in Brooklyn. Sabahat says that learning to balance the intellectual demands of student life with the domestic pressure of family life has made her feel like a true adult, cultivating a work ethic that seemed alien to the more laid-back pace of life in her home city of Lahore.
Past Falak Sufi Scholars
- 2016: Aqsa Khalid
- 2014: Maham Javaid
- 2013: Fatima Malik
- 2012: Mehvash Ansari
- 2011: Wajiha Naqvi
|The 2014-2015 Falak Sufi Scholars and Essay Prize Winners celebrate with members of Falak Sufi's family at the Kevorkian Center on April 2, 2015. From left to Right: Raza Sufi' Azhar Sufi; Aqsa Khaled, '16; Maham Javaid, '15; Anna Reumert, '15; Jeffrey Eamon, '15; and Rashiq Sufi.
The Falak Sufi Memorial Essay Prize
In honor of the memory of Falak Sufi and with the support of her family, The Kevorkian Center awards the annual Falak Sufi Memorial Essay Prize in recognition of outstanding and innovative scholarship by MA students of Near Eastern Studies.
2017 Falak Sufi Memorial Essay Prize Submissions (in alphabetical order)
- Rohan Advani: Socio-economic Realities in Mandate Palestine
- Saghar Bozorgi: Who Can Speak for Us? Electoral Struggles in the First Elections in Tabriz, Iran (1906)
- Miray Cakiroglu: “A Key to İstanbul”: The Making of the City and the Desirable Urban Citizen
- Ghayde Ghraowi: ‘If I regard you as a body’: Love and Immanence in three works from ‘Abd al-Ghani al-Nabulusi (1641-1731)
- Layla Quran: Domestic Labor in Jordan
- Zavier Wingham: “Who Are These People?” The Projection of the Past for the Future, AfroTurk’s Oral History
Olga Verlato: “Even if the sons of Rum are not like him”: Circulation and Replication of an Upper Egyptian Song of the Late Nineteenth Century
An honorable mention goes to a compelling essay that traces the authorship, circulation, and meaning of “al-Jihadiya,” an Upper Egyptian popular song narrating the farewell of a mother to the son recruited to war, and her helpless attempt to save him. Placing it in its historical context, the author uses the song to open a complex set of questions that also reflect on how Egypt came to be gradually conceived as a nation.
Gabriel Young: Development Work: Labor at the Aswan High Dam, 1960-1971
The winning paper analyzes the Egyptian press during the period of the Aswan Dam’s construction, juxtaposing these media narratives with the complex, contentious processes of labor at the worksite itself. The essay also reconstructs the methods of recruitment, production, and remuneration at the High Dam, and situates worker unrest in 1962 in a trajectory of changing labor-management relations. It is a thorough and well-written historical essay that, in focusing on representations and processes of labor, brings to light social dimensions of development that both practitioners and scholars often elide.
Competition for next year’s award will take place at the beginning of the spring semester 2018. The Hagop Kevorkian Center remains indebted to the family of Falak Sufi for supporting this recognition of outstanding and original M.A. scholarship.