Divya Cherian Wins Prize for Manuscript "Merchants of Virtue: Hindus, Muslims, and Untouchables in Eighteenth-Century India"

July 12, 2022

The American Institute of Indian Studies (AIIS) awarded the 2022 Joseph W. Elder Prize in the Indian Social Sciences to Divya Cherian for Merchants of Virtue: Hindus, Muslims, and Untouchables in Eighteenth-Century South Asia, forthcoming from the University of California Press in December 2022.

The prize committee praised her "well-crafted study of the Marwar kingdom of Rajasthan" for offering a "compelling and refreshing analysis of state and society in precolonial South Asia. Especially rich and provocative is your finding that a new regime of power emerged from the construction of a distinctive Hindu identity in the late eighteenth century in which merchants played leading roles, their newfound position and status alongside ruling and landed high caste elites negotiated through their “pursuit of virtue” defined in terms of asceticism, vegetarianism, and non-injury. Such an identity, furthermore, was developed not only in relation to Muslims as the Other but also lower castes denominated as ‘Untouchables.’ Your careful and imaginative use of the Jodhpur Rathor administrative records also deserves high praise."

Read more at AIIS.