International Conference With Pakistani Scholars Sows Seeds of Future Collaboration

Monday, May 16, 2016

Visiting scholars, community members and UNCW students and faculty learned about Pakistan through its traditions and food during the Festival of Basant, a Pakistani welcoming of spring celebration held May 14 on the lawn near McNeill Hall. Participants played cricket and bocce, made kites, sampled Pakistani cuisine and learned native dances.

The festival concluded a three-day conference designed to build relationships and promote collaborative scholarship. “The New Global City: Presenting and Translating Cultures within a Worldwide Citizenry” is the first in a series of international conferences to be hosted by UNCW and the International Islamic University in Islamabad (IIUI). Approximately 150 international scholars took part in the conference.

UNCW professor Cara Cilano, a member of the conference team, said the experience was invaluable for participants. Several scholars plan to collaborate on research.

All these connections and future collaborations, the seeds were sown here,” she said. “That’s fantastic! The conference brought people together.”

IIUI professor Muhammad Sheeraz, who presented his paper, “Every Writer is Dangerous: Silencing Pakistani Resistance Fiction in Urdu” during the conference, said the intercultural experience introduced him to multiple perspectives.

“There was quite a bit of dialogue, which was the goal – connecting the world,” he said. “It was a very enlightening experience. I look forward to receiving scholars from here and sharing their views and ideas with us at IIUI.”

The IIUI-UNCW University Partnership is a three-year cooperative agreement sponsored by the U.S. Department of State that links humanists and social scientists at both institutions. The collaboration is funded by a $1 million grant through the State Department. UNCW was awarded the three-year grant in October 2014.

Under the Fulbright-Hays Act (officially known as the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961), the State Department initiated the grant program linking Pakistani universities with U.S. institutions in 2012 with the mission to promote mutual understanding through educational and cultural exchanges between American citizens and citizens of other countries

--Venita Jenkins