Introductory Seminar in South Asia
Description: Hyderabad was the largest, wealthiest, longest-lived, and most complex of all Mughal successor states. After the death in 1748 of its founder, Nizam ul-Mulk, however, as post-Mughal political and economic behaviors became more prominent, a half-century ensued which historians generally have avoided, seemingly unable to bring themselves to undertake close examination of the strategies and rationales which its elites and regimes adopted and proposed. This is because post-Mughal political and economic behaviors involved the indigenous reactions to European dominance, intrusion, manipulation, and exploitation that marked the beginnings of the British Indian Empire. Conventional history has regarded this era as a Dark Century, full of rulers with alleged personal failings, and elites who were self-absorbed, dejected, and indecisive.
This course examines Hyderabad’s history in the round, including not only its political and economic, but its cultural, intellectual, environmental, gender, and religious aspects. Comprehensively treating the context of Mughal fragmentation, European competition for commercial and political dominance, and military threats from surrounding regional powers, we attempt not only to locate beginnings of modernity and their effects, but also reasons for its survival as a viable political entity until 1948, the year after Indian independence. There is a vast literature on Hyderabad, not only in English but in French, Urdu, Persian, Marathi, and Telugu, but enrollees are not required to learn a new language to join the class.
First-year seminars were originally designed around current faculty’s research projects under way, but very few have been as immediately connected as this, which is the topic of my next monograph.
Requirements: No exams. Evaluation will rest on class discussion (40%), plus three closely-edited and polished essays of two, three, and six typed pages, at intervals (60%). No late or handwritten papers will be accepted without a truly superb excuse, such as a life-changing emergency. I will edit and comment intensely, and you will resubmit revised versions of papers two and three. This course satisfies the second writing requirement.
Readings average 75 pp/week. Besides a photocopy packet, our texts will be chosen from among these:
Karen Leonard, Hyderabad and Hyderabadis (New Delhi: Manohar, 2014)
Harriet Ronkin Lynton and Mohini Rajan, The Days of the Beloved (Berkeley: U.C. Press, 1974)
Omar Khalidi, The British Residency in Hyderabad: an Outpost of the Raj (London: PACSA, 2005)
Narendra Luther, Hyderabad: a Biography (OUP India, 2005)
Alison Mackenzie Shah, “Constructing a Capital on the Edge of Empire: Urban Patronage and Politics in the Nizams’ Hyderabad, 1750-1950” unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, U. of Pennsylvania, 2005