Zain Alam

Age: 22
Home Town: Kennesaw, Georgia
Education: BA in the College of Social Studies at Wesleyan University; certificates in South Asian studies and social, cultural, and critical theory
Specific Field Interests: Diasporas; migration; cosmopolitanism; nostalgia and belonging in the making of homelands; formations of composite culture, interstitial identity, national narrative; community development
Placement: 1947 Partition Archive (Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh)
Area of Focus: Education

Highlights: Zain's interest in his heritage and passion for the subcontinent was awakened in a course at his university almost a thousand miles away from his home and family in suburban Georgia. While studying the history and geopolitics of South Asia in that course, he recalled vivid memories of his grandparents' recounting their family history: a relatively peaceful and content existence in Lucknow‰ÛÓthe only home they ever knew‰ÛÓdisturbed by Partition. These were the seeds that grew into his senior thesis which explored Partition, the storied Indian Muslim experience, and the uniqueness of his family history‰ÛÓa history marked by migration, loss, and diasporization since 1947. With help from the Davenport Grant for study of public affairs, as well as the Tololyan Fund for study of diasporas and transnationalism, he was able to traverse the subcontinent and interview family members. The experience confirmed his love for stories and their potential to build compassion, a love that will find continued expression in the historical, archival, and educational work he will pursue during his time with AIF and the 1947 Partition Archive in India. Given his previous work in the subcontinent, Zain's match with the archive and its mission to facilitate greater understanding and cooperation through narratives is particularly serendipitous. Aside from his academics, Zain is a music enthusiast who has played guitar in a variety of punk and electronic outfits, and served as President of the Eclectic Society, a hub of artistic and musical activity at Wesleyan. In past summers, his dedication to social causes has taken him from working on reproductive rights campaigns with the ACLU to strengthening the case for workers seeking to unionize their hotels in New York City. He most recently organized a lecture by a Syrian-American college student on his year with the Free Syrian Army after meeting the student on a humanitarian trip to refugee camps in Antakya, Turkey. The work of finding stories, sharing them, and giving them new voice has come to define much of Zain's career, and now, under the auspices of AIF and the Archive, he hopes he can shine new light on a past deeply deserving of remembrance and reflection.

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