Inqilab: Revolution, Rebellion, and Realignments in Eighteenth-Century South Asia
Davis Center Annual Conference
February 26, 27, & 28, 2021
Perhaps due to its conceptual development in the European context, the term “revolution” has only reluctantly been applied to non-Western societies in the long eighteenth century. Yet, this was a period of ‘turns’ (literally, inqilab in Persian) for South Asia as well, whether as rebellions, innovations, or ‘restorations’ of an imagined old order on the one hand or the birth of the Company state on the other. With the devolution of political authority after the collapse of the Mughal Empire in 1707, the eighteenth century was an inflection point in the history of the Indian sub-continent. The early modern era has been increasingly understood as one constituted by global and trans-regional connections and exchange. Many developments in eighteenth-century South Asia then emerged from the intensification of ties with the rest of the world, be it the influx of New World silver, the presence of European trading companies, the Portuguese Estado da India, the activities of African slave-statesmen, and the work of Persian and Central Asian courtiers. This conference will reflect on efforts to craft new trajectories—whether in religion, politics, society, culture, or the economy—in late- or post-Mughal India. It will also discuss the ferment generated by the establishment of English East India Company rule. The conference will be attentive both to global connections as well as to the pre-colonial lineages of colonial-era changes. Through these conversations, the conference seeks to explore trajectories of historical change in South Asia as the region stood on the cusp of colonial modernity.
Keynote: Manan Ahmed Asif: “History After Destruction”
Image credit: Mehrangarh Museum Trust, Jodhpur.