Sunday, August 12, 2012

Glad Tidings: Shah Jahan

Good news for those interested in Shāh Jahān's reign (r. 1628-58), as two new projects from the Institut für Iranistik at the Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, seek to examine at greater depth the historiographic and architectural production during the time period. The first of the two projects will, in addition to producing an analytic study of history writing under Shāh Jahān, undertake a translation of Qazvīnī's Bādshāhnāma (though unclear whether to German or English, I'm naturally rooting for the latter).

For an introductory survey of sources for Shāh Jahān's reign see M. Hidayat Hosain, "Contemporary Historians During the Reign of the Emperor Shāh Jahān," Islamic Culture 15 no. 1 (1941): 64-78.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Lecture (8): Faith and Allegiance in Mughal Rajasthan

I had been meaning to put this up for a while. An excellent talk by Prof. Ramya Sreenivasan given at Harvard University on March 23, 2012, on the topic "Faith and Allegiance in Early Modern Rajasthan: Perspectives from the Mughal Era." Sreenivasan looks at how court elites viewed Rajput conversions to Islam under the Mughal empire, a topic that has become contentious due to retroactive labeling of nationalist identities.

Akbar presiding over discussions in the Ibadat-khana (from a ms. of the Akbar Nama)
by Nar Singh, ca. 1597 (Dublin: Chester Beatty Library)

Prof. Ramya Sreenivasan's well known publications include: 

The Many Lives of a Rajput Queen: Heroic Pasts in Indian History c. 1500-1900. New Delhi: Permanent Black, 2007.

"Drudges, Dancing-girls, Concubines: Female Slaves in Rajput Polity, 1500-1850". In Slavery and South Asian History, edited by Indrani Chatterjee and Richard Eaton. Indiana University Press, 2006.

The video can be viewed here courtesy of the South Asia Initiative at Harvard University. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A Day at the Archives

I have been meaning to write about some of my experiences exploring some of the resources would-be academics might find in Lahore (or at least that was the plan at the beginning of the summer) but haven't gotten around to doing it, partly due to my own laziness about doing such exploration and partly due to the kind of brick wall everyone who has ever come to Lahore knows too well. As a good friend who decided to move back from the states to write her PhD dissertation here once said, "I have completely nativized and therefore have become lethargic." Well said. Lahore: 1, native and earnest would-be academics: 0.

I did however, through the kindness of others, manage to get access to the library of the Lahore fort. Although I could document my misadventures, a friend of mine who accompanied me to it recorded it much more brilliantly than I could attempt to. The day was not a total wash since sights were seen. 

From the pen of the ever-acerbic Fayes T. Kantawala:

Inspired as I am by my recent sojourn to Istanbul (I have repainted my room in ‘Turkish Tile’ – my delusions are my sanity), I was excited when a friend asked me to accompany him to the Lahore Fort Archives. He has been researching Mughal history at a Canadian university as part of his PhD and needed a book found only there. That he had to travel 5,000 miles into the snow and change nationalities to be able to study the Mughals is an irony not lost on him; and I must say I didn’t grasp the whole of it until we went to the archives.

Not gonna lie: I didn’t even know we had an Archive in the Fort. Turns out no one else did either. Carrying only a reference number (and murmuring a prayer), we set out at 9 a.m. for the old city.

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