Current Institutional Affiliation
Assistant Professor, History, Oberlin College

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2012
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
History, Cornell University
Empire and Self in Early Modern India: Mughals in the Indian Ocean World, c. 1605-1707

My dissertation asks, how did the expansive regimes of circulating goods, peoples, and ideas in the seventeenth and eighteenth-century Indian Ocean influence the complex ensembles of political sovereignty and individual subjectivity in Mughal India? It seeks to illuminate the historical and ideological lineage of the early modern concept of Universal Empire in Islamicate India through a study of the sprawling networks of commerce, pilgrimage, and diplomacy that connected the subcontinent to the worlds of the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. Further, the study aims to reveal how itinerant subjects of the Mughal Empire crafted new visions of the self as they pursued distinctive religious, aesthetic, and social interests while journeying through these dizzying terrains of oceanic mobility. In short, my dissertation contends that novel notions of ecumenical Islamicate authority and personal subjectivity emerged in India as a consequence of newly forged circuits of oceanic movement in the early modern era. Conjugating previous histories of sedentary politics and mercantile trafficking and trade, this project grounds itself in multi-sited research in Mughal (Persian), Ottoman (Turkish), European, and Indian vernacular sources and archives to inquire into the globally contingent history of local formulations of empire and self in precolonial South Asia.