Hazratbal Shrine in Kashmir, India

FEATURE

Georgetown Student To Study Sufi Shrines and Peacebuilding in Kashmir as New International Reporting Fellow

May 5, 2021

Syed Taha Kaleem (SFS‘22) has been selected as the Berkley Center-Pulitzer Center international reporting fellow for summer 2021. His project will explore Sufi shrines as sites of interfaith peacebuilding in Kashmir.

“The goal of this project is to highlight the importance of religious life in Kashmiri society and the profound impact it has on how the population deals with conflict and trauma on a daily basis,” Kaleem says.   

The fellowship, made possible through a partnership between the Berkley Center and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, offers one Georgetown student annually the opportunity to pursue a journalistic project that investigates the religious dimension of an international issue. Projects aim to bring to light what is often overlooked, untold, or misunderstood.

“In the mainstream media, Kashmir is often stereotyped as a place of conflict,” Kaleem explains. “While there certainly is conflict in Kashmir, it has obscured other realities present on ground—like the role of Sufism in providing people a space to heal or resist.”

Kaleem, who is majoring in international politics at Georgetown University in Qatar, grew up in Kashmir. His family comes from a long lineage of Sufi practitioners, helping to shape his interest in lived religion in Kashmir. 

“I aim to interview individuals who are responsible for the maintenance of Sufi shrines,” explains Kaleem, who hopes to carry out the project in a hybrid manner, with some local and some remote reporting. “I also plan to visualize the spaces around which these shrines are located and bring about the essence of worshipping and attending these holy spaces.” 

As part of the fellowship, Kaleem will work closely with Pulitzer Center staff and mentors to craft journalistic pieces reporting on Sufi religiosity and conflict resolution in Kashmir. He will receive assistance from the Pulitzer Center in trying to place articles in high-profile news outlets.

The fellowship also gives Kaleem the opportunity to participate in the Washington Weekend hosted by the Pulitzer Center, where fellows gather to share their experiences and receive practical advice on pursuing careers in journalism. He will become part of a growing network of promising international journalists, which includes past Georgetown fellows Rhya Evans (NHS‘22), Kaitlyn Johnson (G‘20), and Julia Friedmann (SFS‘19). 

Learn more about the Berkley Center-Pulitzer Center International Reporting Fellowship.