Dr. Navras J. Aafreedi's Biography 

Indo-Judaic Studies Scholar

    Dr. Navras Jaat Aafreedi is an Assistant Professor in the Department of History at Presidency University, Kolkata, where he teaches a course each in Jewish History, Genocide Studies, Interfaith Relations, and Minority Studies. He is the author of the monograph Jews, Judaizing Movements and the Traditions of Israelite Descent in South Asia (New Delhi, 2016), several papers in peer-reviewed journals, and chapters in edited books published by prestigious academic publishing houses. He has also published numerous articles and essays in quasi academic publications, leading newspapers, and popular media, and has  guest edited several special thematic issues of the online magazine Cafe Dissensus. Other than English, his writings have appeared in German, Spanish, and Urdu. He writes on Indo-Judaic Studies, Interfaith Relations, Antisemitism Studies, Genocide Studies, and Jewish Literary History, with focus on South Asia. He has spoken at scholarly forums in all continents, except South America, and held visiting fellowships at the universities of Oxford, Tel Aviv, and Sydney, and at the Woolf Institute, Cambridge, UK. He received the degrees of PhD, MA, and BA from the University of Lucknow.

    He is the first person to make any worthwhile contributions to Jewish Studies in the Urdu language, the lingua franca of almost all South Asian Muslims, though he primarily writes in English and Hindi.

    From May 2008 to March 2010 he worked for the betterment of inter-faith relations, including Jewish-Muslim, in Lucknow, for the Centre for Communication and Development Studies, Pune, a social change resource centre focusing on the research and communication of information for change, under the auspices of its civil society and youth outreach initiative called Open Space.

    Before joining the Presidency University, Kolkata, Dr Aafreedi taught at Gautam Buddha University in Greater NOIDA, near Delhi, for six years as an Assistant Professor in its School of Humanities & Social Sciences.

    While studying the history of medieval and modern India, he was increasingly attracted towards the history of Jews; the vicissitudes of their struggle for survival; and their singular achievements despite seemingly insuperable difficulties. He realised that the history of Jews in India needed to be researched; and he applied himself to the task with great enthusiasm. He hopes to continue his study of Indian Jews and the World as a life-long vocation.  He also seeks to establish a centre dedicated to Indo-Judaic Studies in India, a country where Jewish Studies are not recognized as an academic discipline. He is actively involved in creating an awareness of the Shoah among Indians and in combating Holocaust denial and minimization.

    His research has received press coverage in sixteen languages, viz., English, French, Hebrew, German, Russian, Slovak, Dutch, Spanish, Finnish, Turkish, Lithuanian, Romanian, Italian, Bahasa Indonesia, Urdu and Hindi, on his blog http://navrasaafreedi.blogspot.com

    He has to his credit the first ever Holocaust films retrospective in South Asia which he organised in 2009 at the universities in Lucknow, a major centre of Muslim scholarship; the first ever Holocaust themed Hindi language play, Sipahi (Soldier), which he inspired his students to write and enact at Gautam Buddha University in January 2015, and the first ever international multidisciplinary conference aimed at generating Indian scholarly interest in the Holocaust, which he co-convened at O P Jindal Global University in Sonipat, near Delhi in May 2016, which was followed by another Holocaust focused international multidisciplinary conference that he organised at Presidency University, Kolkata in February 2017.   

One can read about his hometown, the Afridi settlement of Malihabad, on his blog dedicated to the place – http://malihabad.blogspot.com