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Oxford Early Modern South Asia Project

Oxford Early Modern South Asia Workshop

‘Discipline, Sect, Lineage and Community: Scholar Intellectuals in India, c. 1500-1800’

St Antony’s College and Radcliffe Humanities Building, Oxford

Friday 31 May-Saturday 1 June 2013

India’s ‘early modern’ centuries saw an extraordinary revival in intellectual and religious cultures.  It created a complex landscape for scholars and men of religion, who worked within, as well as across the boundaries between intellectual disciplines, sectarian affiliations, family commitments and their own personal interests.  To explore these themes, the workshop brings together researchers in the Sanskrit, Persian and vernacular language traditions, and in intellectual as well as social history. 


Yigal Bronner (Chicago), Madhav Deshpande (Michigan), Elaine Fisher (Columbia), Jonardon Ganeri (Sussex), Jon Keune (Goettingen), Corinne Lefebvre (Paris), Lawrence McCrea (Cornell), Christopher Minkowski (Oxford), Polly O’Hanlon (Oxford), Parimal Patil (Harvard), Ram-Prasad Chakravarti (Lancaster),  Valerie Stoker (Wright State), Audrey Truschke (Cambridge), Anand Venkatkrishnan (Columbia), David Washbrook (Cambridge), Michael Williams (Vienna).

Conference Organizers: Christopher Minkowski, Polly O’Hanlon and David Washboook

To register, please contact Polly O’Hanlon.

Workshop Programme
Workshop Poster
Workshop Proposal
Workshop Abstracts


Oxford Early Modern South Asia Project

Recent research in the history of early modern South Asia has emphasized its remarkable commercial, political and cultural successes. By the middle of the seventeenth century the region had emerged as the world’s premiere exporter of craft manufactures. Externally, the Mughal imperial state had established itself as a major player in the exchanges between Asia’s emerging ‘universal’ empires, and within the region had devised a framework of rule effective in its ability to incorporate regional power-holders in return for support for their own local authority. The region was also home to an extraordinarily fertile linguistic and literary landscape, in which regional vernaculars flourished and in a complex interplay with the cosmopolitan languages of Persian and Sanskrit. Underpinning these changes and linking together the worlds of court and household, temple and lodge, market, manufactory and military camp, were developing networks of specialists - service and scribal people - who constituted a vital resource as much in the households of local elites as at the courts of imperial and regional states.

As its broad framework of enquiry, this project poses questions of social agency: of the roles of service communities with different skills and expertise in shaping South Asia’s political, commercial and cultural dynamism from the mid-sixteenth to the mid- eighteenth century. In the first instance, the project will focus on the intellectual, literary and instrumental skills of scribal people.

Sponsored by the Faculty of Oriental Studies, Oxford, St Antony’s College, Oxford, Trinity College, Cambridge and The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities.