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Eqbal Ahmad Papers

Identifier: MG5

Scope and Contents of the Collection

Correspondence, notes and writings document the life and thought of this eminent Third World scholar. Eqbal Ahmad's major interest in politics and political theory led him to analyze many of the revolutionary and liberation movements of the modern Third World, while remaining vehemently opposed to war and violence. His work examines the consequences of imperialism for developing countries, including anti-imperialist movements, revolutions, and terrorism. His particular area of concern was the Middle East, North Africa, and India and Pakistan, but his interests were wide ranging, and his published writings include works on China, Japan, the Balkans, Latin America and South-east Asia. He was outspoken in his opposition to oppression of all kinds, and many of his columns for the Pakistani newspaper Dawn castigate government corruption, inefficiency and indifference to the plight of the common people. He was an inspiring teacher and an untiring promoter of the value of education, as shown by his work on the Khaldunia University project which proposed an alternative liberal arts college for Pakistan.

Also present are records of the Harrisburg 7 conspiracy trial of 1971-1972, which exemplified the FBI's response to Vietnam war protestors, among whom Eqbal Ahmad must be considered a charter member.

The collection is primarily in English, though a small amount of material is present in French, Arabic, Urdu, Spanish and other modern European languages.

The collection consists of 12 boxes (32 x 27 x 39 cm., 14 cu. ft.) of paper records and AV materials, and 4 tubes (10 x 110 cm., 1.25 cu. ft.) of rolled posters. It includes material dating from 1956 to 1999, with the bulk from 1966 to 1999.


  • Creation: 1956-1999 1966-1999

Conditions Governing Use note

Although the collection was donated to Hampshire College for use by qualified scholars, copyright for unpublished material was retained by the donor. Contact information is available from the Hampshire College Archives.

Biographical Note

Eqbal Ahmad, scholar, teacher, writer, international political activist.

Eqbal Ahmad was born in the state of Bihar, India in 1932. When he was 4, his father was killed in a land dispute; in 1948, during the partition of India, he and his family (who were Muslims) moved to Lahore, Pakistan. He attended Foreman Christian College in Lahore, then came to Occidental College in California on a Rotary scholarship in the mid-1950s. He entered Princeton in 1958, where he obtained his doctorate in 1965. He taught at Cornell in the 1960s, was appointed a fellow at the Adlai Stevenson Institute of International Affairs, at the University of Chicago, and later joined the Washington Institute for Policy Studies. He was the first directory of the Transnational Institute in Amsterdam. He married Julie Diamond in 1969, and had one daughter, Dohra.

In 1971, he was one of the Harrisburg 7 indicted for plotting to kidnap Henry Kissinger to protest the U.S. involvement in Vietnam. He was acquitted in 1972, along with all the other alleged co-conspirators. After teaching at various universities, in 1982 he became Professor of Politics and Middle East Studies at Hampshire College, where he taught until he retired in 1997. In his later years he pursued a project of creating an alternative liberal arts college, Khaldunia, for Pakistan, and also wrote a regular column for the Pakistani newpaper, Dawn. Eqbal Ahmad died in 1999, in Islamabad, Pakistan, of complications following surgery for cancer.

A prolific writer, Ahmad wrote extensively on the relationship between the West and the post-colonial states of Africa and Asia. His constant concern for the welfare of people as individuals led him to vehement opposition to war and violence, whether by nation states or by ideological, nationalist or fundamentalist movements. His power of critical analysis made him a valued counselor, as well as an unsparing critic, of leaders and intellectuals in the Middle East and Pakistan, as well as many other parts of the world.

Edward Said wrote of him, "His life was an epic and poetic one, full of wanderings, border crossings, and an almost instinctive attraction to liberation movements, movements of the oppressed and the persecuted, causes of people who were unfairly punished--whether they lived in the great metropolitan centres of Europe and America, or in the refugee camps, besieged cities, and bombed or disadvantaged villages of Bosnia, Chechnya, south Lebanon, Vietnam, Iraq, Iran, and, of course, the Indian subcontinent." (AlAhram Weekly, May 9, 1999)


12 boxes

Language of Materials



Correspondence, notes and writings document the life and thought of Eqbal Ahmad (1932-1999), an eminent Third World scholar. Ahmad's major interest in politics and political theory led him to analyze many of the revolutionary and liberation movements of the modern Third World, while remaining vehemently opposed to war and violence. Also present are records of the Harrisburg 7 conspiracy trial, in which a group of Vietnam War protestors, Ahmad among them, were indicted, and later acquitted, for plotting to kidnap Henry Kissinger. The collection also includes research material collected by Ahmad for his work, and a collection of posters for liberation and revolutionary movements, many from Cuba.

General Physical Description note

(15.25 cubic ft.)

Processing Information note

The Eqbal Ahmad Papers were donated to the Hampshire College library in June 1999 by his daughter Dohra Ahmad. The collection was received in two filing cabinets, one large and one small, and in several boxes of papers and miscellaneous materials removed from Ahmad's on-campus apartment. Additional material was received in two boxes in the spring of 2001. The collection includes correspondence, subject files, notes, research material, published and unpublished writings, AV materials, and posters. The collection was received in file folders usually labeled with subjects or names, but was in no discernable order, except that most of the material relating to the conspiracy trial was in the same file drawer. During processing, the collection was organized by type of material, refiled in acid-free folders, and filed alphabetically by the original heading, where one was present. Writings were filed alphabetically by title. Material weeded during processing consisted of four boxes of newspaper clippings on various subjects not directly related to Eqbal Ahmad but used by him in his work. Clippings about Ahmad were filed in the Subject Files section; also all clippings concerning the conspiracy trial were kept with that section. Five boxes of photocopied articles appearing in academic and popular periodicals were also weeded. A bibliography of these articles was prepared and is included as the first file under Research Material.

Eqbal Ahmad Papers, 1956-1999
Finding Aid
Edited Full Draft
Finding aid prepared by Susan A. Dayall.
© 2001
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Repository Details

Part of the Hampshire College Archives and Special Collections Repository