Modern South Asian Studies Seminar: HT20: Week 5: A millenarian sultan and a teacher to the world: New directions in early modern Indo-Muslim kingship

Conveners: Imre Bangha, Nayanika Mathur, Matthew McCartney, Polly O’Hanlon, Kate Sullivan de Estrada, and David Washbrook

Speaker: Roy S. Fischel

The language of kingship in early modern India has often been discussed as an issue of power and spiritual authority with a millenarian flavour. Multiple origins were grouped to create a composite yet coherent idea of kingship that linked the local with Islamicate tropes, casting kings in the mould of Solomonic rulers. This representation, however, does not account for all aspects of Indo-Muslim kingship. Focusing on imperial as well as Perso-Islamic and Turco-Mongol concepts, much of the historiography underplays the role of localised, Indic-infused concepts. This preliminary paper asks to examine these often overlooked aspects of Indo-Muslim kingship. Focusing on Ibrahim Adil Shah II of Bijapur (r. 1580-1627), I argue that additional elements took part in shaping his royal image. These ranged from Indic concepts and symbols of rulership to artistic expression and affective projection. Identifying these aspects, I suggest, will shed new light on royal practices and their public display in Bijapur and beyond. By that, the paper will suggest possible directions towards a more nuanced understanding of this central institution.



Roy S. Fischel (PhD, University of Chicago, 2012) is a Lecturer in the History of South Asia at SOAS University of London. His work focuses on the political and social history of pre-colonial India and its links to questions of early modernity and empire. His monograph Local states in an imperial world: Identity, society and politics in the early modern Deccan is scheduled to be published by Edinburgh University Press in April 2020.

All are welcome.