Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Lecture (3): Barbara Metcalf on a Begum of Bhopal in Colonial India

At the risk of turning into one of those blogs that incessantly links to videos, I present to you a third lecture, this time concerning a female Muslim ruler in colonial India, Shah Jahan Begum of Bhopal, by Barbara Metcalf. Metcalf requires no introduction to scholars of South Asia or historians in general; she most recently served as president of the American Historical Association (AHA). I had the pleasure of seeing Barbara Metcalf when she came to give a talk at McGill University (more or less on the same subject as the videos linked below).

There are two things that I'd like to comment on that speaks, in some ways, volumes about Dr. Metcalf. The first was that at the talk we had quite a few South Asian studies faculty members who, for a lack of a better word, were giddy to see Dr. Metcalf's talk. In the Q&A that followed the respect and admiration that they felt for Dr. Metcalf was very apparent in their comments and questions (read: all that was missing was "let me start by saying I'm a big fan"; indeed, most scholars of South Asia are). The second was that how friendly and personable Dr. Metcalf was. After the Q&A she spoke individually to each person who asked her a question, their names, their research, and engaged with it as best she could. Dr. Barbara Metcalf's erudition, humility, and social graces were something that really stuck with me. I have linked to her talk, this time given at the Presidential Address at the AHA.

Barbara Metcalf, "Islam and Power in Colonial India: The Making and Unmaking of a Muslim Prince(ss)" January 7, 2011. For a transcript click here courtesy of AHA.

Part 2 and 3 are available after the break.

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