Mughal Lives in Frontier Sindh

Sunday, January 8, 2012: 8:50 AM
Belmont Room (Chicago Marriott Downtown)
Manan Ahmed, Institute of Islamic Studies, Freie Universitšt Berlin
My paper will examine three histories produced in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in the Sindh principality - which often operated with some dissonance from Mughal authority. Tarikh-i Masumi (1600), Mazhar-i Shahjahani (1634) and Tuhfat-ul Kiram (1767) collectively form a singular block of Persian historiography on Sindh and are often invoked to understand the economic and political powers exerted by the Mughal state, but rarely as contemporary accounts of the cultural footprint of Mughal bureaucracy, as it operated at the margins of Mughal dominion. I will highlight the imprint of scribes, cataloguers, and news-compilers who were employed by the Mughal court to report on Sindh. I will bracket these accounts against the role played by Sindh as a cultural category within the Mughal cosmology and trace the ways in which the self-representation of these appointees partook of the categories of "exile" or "service". In breaking away from more well-studied canonical Mughal texts and moving further afield from Delhi, Agra or Lahore, this investigation brings into relief the wider Mughal World and the lives it shaped.