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Decolonizing History Programme

History is more than dates, more than an objective or subjective reading of past truths – history lives in us.

Through animated history explainers, posters and infographics, Hashiya takes on pasts silenced by state curriculum and an inaccessible Western academe by translating and disseminating alternative histories in the Urdu language. We want to create a space for our viewers to recognise the importance of learning about these pasts, to gain tools to critically reflect upon the silencing of histories, and to acquire insight into how legacies of violent incidents from the past continue to impact and haunt South Asian communities in the present. 

In the previous year, our most popular videos and content centered around themes of British colonialism in the Indian subcontinent, while also tackling more post-colonial subjects such as the persecution of the Ahmadi religious minority within Pakistan. For the following year, we plan to expand upon the breadth we discuss over Hashiya by diving deeper into the following:

Hashiya Lughat (dictionary): 
Introducing a specialized post format that specifically translates terms within historical analyses into the Urdu language, Hashiya hopes to charge Urdu literary and intellectual productions with a new perceptive power otherwise only accessible to those integrated within the international Anglosphere. These include terms now common in global academia such as “decolonization”, “post-colonialism”, and “apartheid”, but also terms that, within the Pakistani context, merit urgent articulations, such as “panopticon”, “biopower”, and Weberian notions of authority and power.

Continue our ongoing exploration of the parallels between various colonialisms across the world, connecting this analysis to neoliberal institutions and their effective governance over developing economies. Hashiya has already initiated this process by translating excerpts from Nivi Manchanda which expose how recent educational projects in Afghanistan pre-1996 actively encouraged militancy among young children. The works and perspectives of world-systems thinkers, as well as economic anthropologists such as David Harvey and David Graeber will inform our theoretical thrust, informed by a focus on Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa.

Continuing History Exploration: 
As our most recent content has emphasized colonialism within Africa, we are currently launching into a thematic exploration of slavery – its routes, its demand and supply centers, and its consequences, but also the unprecedented scale of slavery within the zenith of European colonialism. The depopulations and traumatic erasures of the histories of these peoples are also tied to discussions around museums and the looting of heritage in these parts of the world. These are themes almost entirely unexplored in the Urdu canon, and Hashiya’s work can provide an avenue through which Urdu readers can learn about these devastating lineages of colonialism.

Take our short films through online and in-person campus tour (based on the Covid situation in colleges) and give greater reach to these films as a means of critical engagement in students.

“So often, our history is told to us by power. And so we learn to see ourselves, each other, and the world around us only through the eyes of power. It is when we listen to each other, to stories pushed to the margins, hidden from our textbooks that we learn a different way of understanding and living in this world. Hashiya is committed to just that--to critical, alternative, peoples’ histories.”

Related project:  

Within a month of its first video release, Hashiya was able to accumulate over 4000 followers across all of its social media channels. Since then, by 2022, Hashiya has recorded over 500,000 hits on social media. To date, our video animations remain our most popular output; academics working on post-colonial or decolonizing studies have used our videos as a learning tool in classrooms, and other social media channels who are keen on Urdu literature and Urdu-language content have routinely shared and engaged with our material. Across all types of output, our material in Urdu outperforms material in English in terms of social media engagement figures.  

According to Meta analytics, most of our audience is between 18 and 32 years of age, and while much of the population engaging with this material is based in Punjab, particularly when detailing pasts relating to Afghanistan or the Pakistani provinces of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, these demographic breakdowns change considerably, and we reach audiences rarely represented within conversations in the centre. Even as we have released more controversial material through our platform, such as an animation detailing a traumatic historical episode for Pakistan’s ostracised Ahmadi community, our core audience has not reacted negatively, and we continue to unpack challenging pasts through Hashiya. 

Learn more about Hashiya: Revisiting Violent Histories here 

Meet the team:


Arafat Mazhar

Founder, Engage Pakistan and Director, Puffball Studios

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Rana Saadullah Khan


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Ali Raza

Researcher and Translator

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