It is with profound sadness that we announce that Professor Allison Busch, Associate Professor of Hindi Literature in the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies passed away Saturday, October 19. Prof. Busch received her Ph.D. in Hindi literature from the University of Chicago in 2003 and joined MESAAS in 2005. Her expertise is in the early modern period (c. 1550-1850), with a special interest in courtly India. In 2018 she was awarded the Vishwa Hindi Samman (the World Hindi Award) to honor her “remarkable and outstanding contributions to the spread of Hindi language and Hindi literature.”
Her book, Poetry of Kings. The Classical Hindi Literature of Mughal India (Oxford, 2011) is an impressive examination and reevaluation of the Mughal era’s literary achievements (the courtly poetry of classical Hindi literature), while astutely reframing the debates about its disenchantment and decadence/abandonment as a result of British colonialism. In addition, she also addresses the various factors that contributed to the decline of courtly poetry.
A recent co-edited volume (with Dutch Hindi scholar Dr. Thomas de Bruijn), Culture and Circulation: Literature in Motion in Early Modern India (Brill, 2014), draws together essays by leading scholars of Hindi, Bengali, Persian, and Marathi literature in an attempt to foster conversations about the importance of multilingualism and literary cross-pollination in the Indian milieu.
Prof. Busch also contributed enormously to the department in her capacity as Director of Undergraduate Studies and Director of Graduate Studies. Remarkable was her warmth and continual willingness to serve the department, particularly her ability to focus and clarify the discussion in department meetings. On the university level, she chaired the Junior Faculty Advisory Board (JFAB) in the School of Arts and Sciences, playing an important role in transforming the experience of tenure-track faculty at Columbia University. Prof. Busch was also a member of the Steering Committee of the Directors of Graduate Studies. She was a member of the executive committee of the South Asia Institute and served as Chair of the University Committee on Asia and the Middle East.
One colleague writes that her cheerful face cannot be erased from his memory despite the gravity recognizing that this persistent image, shared by many colleagues and friends, is the only way of conquering death. For another colleague, she was an inspiration, an ally, and a guide.
Prof. Mamadou Diouf
Leitner Family Professor of African Studies and History
Chair of Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies