Saturday, February 25, 2012

Speaking of Ideal goals and bitter realism...

Spring break *ahem* reading week came and went without any of the expected productivity. I was hoping to begin research on my Ottoman history paper and perhaps even begin working on my Persian Historiography one but both are simply out of the question. I am dashing to re-work parts of my paper I am submitting for a possible publication; its quite nerve wracking when you actually critique someone not in the form of a thesis or term paper that only a professor will read. I envy people who good prose writers, mine tends to be obtuse, labored, and repetitive. If anyone has painted with watercolors I feel my writing ends up being a painting with one too many touch-ups. I suppose an analogy to runaway plastic surgery would also work. I wonder if it's because I have not read fiction in a while. I shall put that on my to do list for the summer. 

In other news, turns out there is a Association for Asian Studies Conference in Toronto in two and a half weeks time, which is exciting news. I had no clue, not surprising being in a department of Near and Middle East Civilizations (AAS does not include the Middle East as part of its geographic scope, understandably given MESA). The really exciting part is the numerous panels on Mughals! Two in particular I am very excited for:

Session 39: Indo-Persian Power: Practice and Dynamics in the Mughal Empire
Indo-Persian Kingship in Practice: A Heretical Mode of Legitimacy, Ahmed Azfar Moin
The Power of Patronage: Mughal Relations with Sanskrit Intellectuals, Audrey A. Truschke
Mughal Power Suspended: Mahabat Khan’s Capture of the Court of Jahangir, Munis D. Faruqui
Who were the Mughal ulama? Power and religious authority in seventeenth century India, Supriya Gandhi

Session 96: Poets, Princes, and Holy Men in 16th-17th c. Lahore: Perspectives on a Mughal Ecumene
Lahore between Imperial Playground and Sacred Space in Mughal Court Poetry, Sunil Sharma
Urban Life in the Mughals' Frontier Metropolis: Revisiting Chandar Bhan Brahman's Lahore , Rajeev K. Kinra
Drums and Diadems: Princely Investiture and Patronage in Mughal Lahore, Colin Mitchell
Mughal Lahore: A Welcoming Capital for Jains?, Basile Leclere, co-author w/leclere, Christine Chojnacki

Also presenting are Catherine Asher and Richard Eaton! I wonder if it would be odd to go up and ask him to autograph my Sufis of Bijapur. I suspect I may not be the only person to be star struck when I see esteemed scholars, and registration is definitely cheaper than a Madonna ticket.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Idealistic Aspirations and Realistic Goals

One of the problems of having a supervisor whose mastery of a great many different languages is that one often begins to think it is possible to come close to those language skills. A three and a half hours session of closely reading Bayhaqi reminds the would be aspirant to just focus on bringing their Persian up to scratch. In an ideal world a scholar working on Mughal history would have:

1) Persian
2) Urdu
3) Brajbhasha and/or Arabic depending on their interests.

If one was feeling particularly ambitious they could add
1) Russian
2) Chaghatay Turkish

It would also not hurt to have a combination of the following:
1) Portugese
2) French
3) German

Those working on a particular region would do best to equip themselves with one of the following:
1) Bengali
2) Punjabi
3) Marathi 
4) Telugu

While day dreaming I am often torn between learning Brajbhasha or Chaghatay Turkish, or resuscitating my long dead Arabic (I had sadly moved on before it was cold in the grave), but realistically, I know for the next couple of years its going to be Persian, Persian, Persian. It is in such moments I understand how Mughal history as a field has lost out to scholars working on the colonial/post-colonial period.