Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2019
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Art History/Architecture
Places of Piety, Sites of Sovereignty: Temple and Mosque in Medieval Malwa, c. 1050-1450

How did architecture engage the performance of power, piety and memory in medieval India? My project pursues this question through an intensive, diachronic study of Udaypur, a hinterland settlement in the Malwa region of central India. At its centre stands a major Shiva temple built in 1080 under the Paramara dynasty, alongside a mosque erected on the same platform in 1337-38 when the region came under Sultanate rule. The presence of Hindus and Muslims in adjacent spaces of worship is seen as a jarring anomaly in the current climate of sectarian politics in India, frustrating a holistic understanding of how communities interacted with architecture across generations and religious affiliations. The exceptionally rich architectural and epigraphic evidence at Udaypur's temple complex will be systematically studied here for the first time, building on recent advances in scholarship to address issues of political authority, small-scale urbanism, religious practice, and historical conceptions of community and conquest that have far-reaching ramifications. Inscriptions in Sanskrit, Persian and Hindi reveal the temple's remarkable continuity as a place of worship, local pilgrimage centre, landholding institution, and repository of memory until recent times. While this data promises fresh insights into the history and historiography of the "Hindu-Muslim encounter", it also compels us to reconsider established frames of reference in radically new ways. An integrated approach to the architectural, topographic, and epigraphic data from a specific locale (Udaypur) in a well-defined region (Malwa) makes for a highly feasible opportunity to develop a more connected understanding of architecture in a period fragmented by entrenched disciplinary protocols, linguistic boundaries, and religious presuppositions. Additionally, it allows us to redress the privileging of individual monuments to the exclusion of their built environment, urban topography, and cross-regional networks.