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Practice Without a Genre: Sanskrit Literary Histories of Muslim-led Incursions and Rule
Practice Without a Genre: Sanskrit Literary Histories of Muslim-led Incursions and Rule
WhenThursday, May 30, 2019, 3 – 4:30 p.m.
Campus locationDenny Hall (DEN)
Campus room211 (NELC Seminar Room)
Event typesLectures/Seminars
Event sponsorsSouth Asia Center

Islamic migrations to India and the associated cultural and political changes constitute one of the single biggest shifts of the last one thousand years in South Asian history. Starting with the Ghurids in the 1190s, would-be Islamic rulers came to the subcontinent, and multiple Muslim dynasties controlled parts of northern and central India for more than half a millennium. Scholars have long drawn upon political histories written in Persian and Arabic in order to understand this series of historical ruptures and the views of those who enacted and lived through them. But scholars have devoted far less attention to parallel records written in Sanskrit, a major literary language of premodern India’s Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain elites. In this lecture, I introduce a scholarly project to analyze a robust body of Sanskrit historical works on Indo-Islamic political events circa 1190 – 1720 CE and give examples from several texts. This project seeks to recover the historically relevant identities—religious, regional, ethnic, political, linguistic, and so forth—that Sanskrit thinkers perceived and projected through their encounters with Islamicate and Persianate political figures. By elaborating the specific ideas, languages, and identities at play in premodern Sanskrit historical works, I expand our historical and conceptual resources for understanding premodern South Asia, Indian intellectual history, and the impact of Muslim peoples on non-Muslim societies.

Audrey Truschke is Assistant Professor of South Asian History at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey. She received her Ph.D. in 2012 from Columbia University, and her research focuses on the cultural, imperial, and intellectual history of medieval and early modern India. She is the author of two books: Culture of Encounters: Sanskrit at the Mughal Court (Columbia University Press, 2016) and Aurangzeb: The Life and Legacy of India's Most Controversial King (Stanford University Press, 2017). She is currently receiving support from the National Endowment for the Humanities to support work on a third book that analyzes Sanskrit narratives of Muslim-led incursions and rule, circa 1190 – 1720 CE.

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