LAHORE – A virtual conference on “Emotions and the Subject of Modern History” was hosted by the newly established Institute of History at Government College University on Sunday. Speakers said: “Emotions create us as individuals and being aware of the emotions of individuals and societies of the past allows us to appreciate the complexities of history.
Leading scholars in the field have discussed the history of emotions in the context of religious intolerance, the institutionalization of Sufi shrines and medieval monasteries, material culture and the creation of knowledge.
In his opening remarks, GCU Vice-Chancellor Prof. Asghar Zaidi said: “Emotions have a history over time and have undergone various transformations by invoking, creating and negotiating with different social, political and cultural contexts. ”
He added: “Over the past two decades, the study of emotions has become an important site for historians who wish to study societies of the past. Prof Zaidi stressed the need to understand human emotions to enable political institutions to design plans that could promote and shape societies where people are aware of and respect the emotions of individuals and communities.
“I see this as the only way forward in this world that is full of all kinds of extremism.”
John Corrigan, a distinguished professor of religion and the history of emotions at Florida State University, discussed how emotions in American society have led to religious intolerance. Hussain Ahmad Khan, cultural historian and director of the Institute of History, explained that inanimate objects have the power to shape a historical process. Albrecht Diem, Historian of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages at Syracuse University, presented a paper on the regulation of passions and feelings in monasteries. He argued that the monastic rules of the early Middle Ages not only provided outlines for the organization of communities, standards of behavior and disciplinary measures, but also aimed to control, suppress and foster emotions. Lauren Mancia of Brooklyn College, CUNY, and historian of emotions and medieval art, explained how medieval monks were prescribed emotional redirection through a process of ‘confession’ from a sense of devotion “Cold” to a feeling of “warmed up” or righteous devotion.
Professor Mancia explained how even the most godly monks needed textual and material tools to feel emotionally connected to the divine.
Ayaz Gull, historian of emotions at the Institute of History, explained Zuljanah’s role in evoking and expressing the tears of Shia Muslims in the Punjab.
Yasmin Syed from the University of Barcelona discussed the relationship between reason, emotions and the construction of knowledge.
Shehar Bano of the Institute of History highlighted the role of tears in building social relationships between communities based on shrines.