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Bringing together the writings of eminent historians, Exploring Medieval India, volumes I and II, delve into the many interpretations, perspectives and complexities of Indian history across the sixteenth to the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
Probing different aspects of India’s society and culture, this volume comprises four thematic clusters—diverse forms of culture; gender and medievalism; patterns of transition; and region, regional formations and the Mughal Empire. A comprehensive introduction places the essays in perspective showing how the Mughal Empire remained composite, intricate and loosely-structured, perhaps hegemonic but over a disparate, divergent, energetic and lively economy and society.
Focusing on culture in its diverse forms, section one brings to the fore the expansion of Persian as the language of power, the development of insha as a literary trend, the nuances of Mughal architecture, the importance of Mughal paintings and how they became a medium of recording the history of the Mughal empire, the various genres of music and their explicit manifestations of the gender politics. Concepts of love, the politics of marriage and reproduction, and the role of women within and outside the confines of the Mughal household, form the second section. The third section discusses the emergence of provincial and regional political configurations, the shifts in the Indian economy and traces the growing European influence in the rise of the East India Company. The last section contributes to the understanding of how and to what extent different geographical conditions determined the logistics of the outer frontiers of the Mughal empire, the importance of centralisation of authority around local rulers, the reasons behind Akbar’s territorial expansion, and the continued presence of pluralistic socio-cultural centres characterised by Hindu-Muslim symbiosis.
This book will be essential reading for students and scholars of history, linguistics, art and aesthetics, gender, regional history and those studying the transition period.
Meena Bhargava is Associate Professor at the Department of History, Indraprastha College, University of Delhi.
List of Figures and Maps
SECTION ONE: CULTURE: DIVERSE FORMS
1. The Pursuit of Persian: Language in Mughal Politics
2. Development of Insha Literature to the End of Akbar’s Reign
Ishtiyaq Ahmad Zilli
3. On the Margins of Utopia: One more look at Mughal Painting
4. Mapping Hindu-Muslim Identities through the Architecture of Shahjahanabad and Jaipur
Catherine B. Asher
5. Nau Ruz in Mughal India
Stephen P. Blake
6. Gender Politics and the Urdu Ghazal: Exploratory Observations on Rekhta versus Rekhti
SECTION TWO: GENDER AND MEDIEVALISM
7. The ‘Domestic World’ of Peripatetic Kings: Babur and Humayun, c. 1494–1556
8. The Capture of Maryam-uz-Zamani’s Ship: Mughal Women and European Traders
Ellison Banks Findly
9. Regulating the Domestic: Notes on the Pre-colonial State and the Family
10. Representing ‘his’ Women: Mirza Abu -alib Khan’s 1801 ‘Vindication of the Liberties of Asiatic Women’
Michael H. Fisher
SECTION THREE: PATTERNS OF TRANSITION
11. Eighteenth Century India: Another View
12. The First Age of Global Imperialism, c. 1760–1830
C. A. Bayly
13. Credit, Work and Race in 1790s Calcutta: Early Colonialism through a Contemporary European View
14. Europeans in late Mughal South Asia: The Perceptions of Italian Missionaries
David N. Lorenzen
SECTION FOUR: REGION, REGIONAL FORMATIONS AND THE MUGHAL EMPIRE
15. Evolution of the Rathor State of Marvar: Horses, Structural Change and Warfare
Norman P. Ziegler
16. Abul Fazl’s Account of Akbar’s Expansionism: Ambit of Reason and Tolerance?
Ahsan Raza Khan
17. The Limits of Empire
18. Role of Sufis and Bhaktas in North-Western India during the Eighteenth Century
Zahir Uddin Malik