SALC 25312 1 (Autumn 2018) India between Empires: Regions, Remembrance, and Representation

SALC 25312 1 (Autumn 2018) India between Empires: Regions, Remembrance, and Representation

Andrew Halladay
Monday and Wednesday, 4:30–5:50 PM
Cobb Hall 304

Many major themes in contemporary South Asia—such as the rise of Hindu nationalism, the relationship between the regions and the center, and the position of religious and other minorities in both India and Pakistan—must be understood with reference to the turbulent years straddling Mughal and British rule (approx. 1700–1850). The Mughal Empire had been the dominant power in South Asia for nearly two hundred years, but over the course of the eighteenth century it splintered into an array of autonomous regional powers that were soon absorbed into the expanding networks of the British East India Company. This perceived decline, widespread regionalization, and eventual colonial subjugation were not only hugely consequential in their own time, but endure in the arts, literature, and film of modern South Asia.

Every Monday, we will explore a particular region—Punjab, Maharashtra, Mysore, Bengal, etc.—during its transition from Mughal to British rule. On Wednesday, we will examine the same region and period through plays, television specials, poetry, blogs, Bollywood films, and other art forms. Such sources will help us interrogate two broad questions: First, how do social and political agendas inflect the construction of history in South Asia and beyond? And, second, what role has historical memory played in negotiating the relationship between the nation and its constituent parts? Evaluation will be based primarily on student engagement and a short final paper.


Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh in Bajirao Mastani (2015), which represents 18th–century Maharashtra


Course Requirements

          I. Attendance and Participation (25% of the final grade)

Consistent attendance and participation is your key to success in this course. Illness and important obligations may impede your attendance on rare occasion, but please inform me as to the reasons for your absence and visit my office hours to ensure that you do not fall behind. Come prepared and participate in class as actively as you can. I realize that participation in the classroom is easier for some than others, and I therefore encourage you to supplement your participation with optional reflections on the course blog. I will use those comments and questions to kickstart discussions.

     II. Midterm Paper (20% of the final grade)

You will be required to submit a short, 1,000–1,500-word paper by midnight of Week 6, Wednesday, November 7. In consultation with me, you will choose a historical topic and consider some of the ways that it has been represented in the colonial or contemporary period. Since the goal of this exercise is for you to demonstrate your engagement with the course material, you will not be required to undertake outside research. Central to my evaluation is your ability to identify what about a particular period, historical figure, or event resonates with (or is made to resonate with) the concerns of the thinkers or artists you examine. How has the history represented been used, appropriated, or weaponized, and towards what political or social ends? What are the implications of this use?

     III. Class Presentation (20% of the final grade)

Each student will offer one short, ten-minute presentation about an assigned text. Taking your preferences into account, I will assign presentations during the second session of Week 2. Good presentations identify the key arguments and issues at stake in a particular text, but the best gesture towards their relationship with broader course themes. You should be critical and identify unstated assumptions in the reading but should also locate what within it is useful for our goals. Presentations must include two analytical questions for class discussion.

     IV. Final Paper (35% of the final grade)

The final paper constitutes the most significant portion of your grade. For this assignment, you will select a textual or visual source from the colonial or postcolonial period that engages Indian history. Sources may include, but are by no means limited to, poetry collections, short-stories, paintings, comic books, plays, novels, films, podcasts, YouTube channels, architecture, or blogs. You will then interrogate how your source uses history and toward what ends. Does it only aim for entertainment or are sociopolitical assumptions embedded within its representation of history? You will be presented with a list of sample sources, although you are of course welcome (and, indeed, encouraged) to find your own. Ideally your source would represent Indian history from “between empires,” but exceptions may be granted for medieval, classical, or ancient themes if they align closely with broader course aims. The paper should be 2,000–3,000 words and will be due by 5:00pm on Friday, December 14.


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Shivaji Park, Mumbai. We will explore the legacy of the Maratha ruler Shivaji in Week 2.


Other Guidelines

Papers: Please only submit papers that are double-spaced with standard margins and 12-point, Times New Roman font. Electronic copies—as either a Pages or Word document—are strongly preferred. Use footnotes rather than endnotes or in-text citations and employ the Chicago style to the best of your ability. Resources for the latter are available here.

General: Students will come to this course with vastly different backgrounds in South Asian history. No prior knowledge is required, and please do not let your lack of familiarity with a topic prevent you from speaking in class or pursuing an argument in your writing. Sometimes the best insights are made from a distance.



A frame from Satyajit Ray's Shatranj Ke Khilari (The Chess Players), on the British conquest of Awadh (modern-day central Uttar Pradesh).


Reading Schedule:

Be sure to read in the listed order for a given week, since readings move from more general to more specialized topics. Although there may be many readings listed for a particular session, some are very short, such that the total number of assigned pages for a given week should not exceed eighty. Bracketed items are optional; those in red are recommended for presentations.


Week 1—The Mughal Empire in Decline

Monday, October 1: Introduction: The Pull of the Past


[John F. Richards, "The War of Succession," The Mughal Empire (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1995): 151–85.]

[Muzaffar Alam and Sanjay Subrahmanyam, "Introduction: The Old and New in Mughal Historiography,"Writing the Mughal World: Studies on Culture and Politics (New York: Columbia University Press, 2012), 1–23.]


Wednesday, October 3: Reading Aurangzeb in Pamphlets and Street Signs

M. Athar Ali, “The Passing of Empire: The Mughal Case,” Modern Asian Studies 9, no. 3 (October 1975): 285–96.

Jadunath Sarkar, History of Aurangzib Based on Original Sources (Calcutta: M.C. Sarkar, 2012), xi–xxvi.

Girish Shahane, “Aurangzeb Was a Bigot Not Just by Our Standards But Also by Those of His Predecessors and Peers,”, Nov. 1, 2017,

Editorial Board, “Erasing History,” The Hindu, Sept. 2, 2015,

[Excerpt from Audrey Truschke, Aurangzeb: The Man and the Myth (London: Penguin, 2017)]


Week 2—The Regions Rise: The Marathas

Monday, October 8: Shivaji: From “Mountain Rat” to Maratha Raja

Stewart Gordon, The Marathas, 1600–1818 (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press: 2007), 59–90.

James Laine, "Introduction" and "Five: Cracks in Narrative," Shivaji: Hindu King in Islamic India (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), 3–6, 89–106.


Wednesday, October 10: Shivaji as National(ist) Icon in History-writing and Poetry

Jadunath Sarkar, Shivaji and His Times (London: Green and Co., 1920), 427–49.

Dipesh Chakrabarty, The Calling of History: Sir Jadunath Sarkar and His Empire of Facts (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015), 133–66.

“‘Maratha’ Activists Vandalise Bhandarkar Institute,” Times of India, Jan. 6, 2004,

“Supreme Court Lifts Ban on James Laine’s Book on Shivaji,” Times of India, July 9, 2010,


In Class:

Rabindranath Tagore, “Shivaji" and "Bondi Bir."

Selections from Me Shivajiraje Bhosale Boltoy, directed by Santosh Majrekar (Mumbai: Everest Entertainment, 2009) and Sant Tukaram, directed by Vishnupant Govind Damle and Sheikh Fattelal (Pune: Prakash Film Company, 1936).


Week 3—Militancy and Metamorphosis: The Sikh Confederacy

Monday, October 15: The Formation of the Khalsa and Banda Bahadur

J. S. Grewal, "Rise to political power, (1708–1799)," in The Sikhs of the Punjab. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University press, 1990.

Muzaffar Alam, “Sikh Uprisings under Banda Bahadur, 1708–1715,” The Panjab Past and Present 16 (1982): 95–107.


Wednesday, October 17: Confronting Loss, Commemorating Victory

Purnima Dhavan, When Sparrows Became Hawks: The Making of the Sikh Warrior Tradition, 1699–1799 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 3–22. (Sarthak)

Amiya Dev, “Tagore and Sikhism,” The Fourth Sirdar Kapoor Singh Memorial Lecture, 2014, Punjabi University, Patiala.

Mohd. Akram Lari Azad, “Was Aurangzeb Guilty of Guru Tegh Bahadur’s Execution?” Proceedings of the Indian History Congress 50 (1989): 204.

“Baba Banda Singh Bahadur War Memorial,” Ajitgarh Online,


Week 4—Maharashtra Ascends, Hyderabad Teeters: The Peshwas of Pune and the Nizam of Hyderabad

Monday, October 22: Eighteenth-Century Pune and the Court of the Peshwas

Stewart Gordon, The Marathas, 1600–1818 (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press: 2007), 114–32.

Balakrishna Govind Gokhale, Poona in the Eighteenth Century: An Urban History (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1988), 1–36.

Discussion Board


Wednesday, October 24: The Peshwas in the Pictures and the Nizam in New Historiography

Munis D. Faruqui, "At Empire's End: The Nizam, Hyderabad and Eighteenth-Century India," Modern Asian Studies 43, no. 1 (January 2009): 5–43.

Saionee Chakraborty, “The Bajirao Look,” Dec. 20, 2015, The Telegraph,

Discussion Board

In class:

Bajirao Mastani, directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali (Mumbai: Eros International, 2015).


Week 5—Out of the Ashes: Invasion in Delhi and Ascension in Jaipur

Monday, October 29: The Campaigns of Nadir Shah and Ahmad Shah Durrani and the Founding of Jaipur

Khushwant Singh, “Ahmed Shah Abdali and the Sikhs” in A History of the Sikhs: Volume 1: 1469–1838 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).

Kaushik Roy, India’s Historic Battles: From Alexander the Great to Kargil (Hyderabad: Orient Blackswan, 2004), 80–94.

[Susan N. Johnson-Roehr, "Centering the Chārbāgh The Mughal Garden as Design Module for the Jaipur City Plan," Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 72, no. 1 (March 2013): 28–47.]

[Rachna Singh and Upasana Mantri, "Hawa Mahal's recent makeover leaves many unhappy," Times of India, June 30, 2010,]


In Class:

Mir Taqi Mir, "Dar Hal-e Lashkar"

Discussion Board


Wednesday, October 31: Colonial Sensibilities and Modern Sensitivies: Jaipur and Panipat

A. N. D. Haksar, “When the Dead Speak,” Hindustan Times, March 7, 2012,

James Tod, Annals of Rajasthan. New York: E. P. Dutton and Co., 1835. Section the founding of Jaipur (1341–56). [The selection on Nadir Shah's invasion of Delhi (472–95) is optional.]

Giles Henry Rupert Tillotson, "Victorians and Aesthetes" in Jaipur Nama: Tales from the Pink City. New York: Penguin Books, 2006, 138–85. (Armaan)

Discussion Board


In class:

Rudyard Kipling, "With Scindia to Delhi."


Week 6—The Calm before the Storm: The Nawabs of Bengal

Monday, November 5: Murshidabad and the East India Company

Robert Travers, Ideology and Empire in Eighteenth-Century India. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2007, 31–66. (Brett)

Sashi Sivramkrishna, “The Role That Currency Played in the Great Bengal Famine of 1770,” The Wire, Dec. 12, 2016,

Discussion Board


Wednesday, November 7: The Bengal Famine and Muslim Rule in a Bengali Novel

Nani Gopal Chaudhuri, “Some of the Results of the Great Bengal and Bihar Famine of 1770,” Proceedings of the Indian History Congress 12 (1949): 239–44. (Ahona)

Asghar Ali Engineer and Santimay Ray, “The Lessons of Murshidabad,” Economic and Political Weekly 23, no. 37 (September 1988): 1876–77.

Selections from Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, Abbey of Bliss, trans. Nareschandra Sen-Gupta (Calcutta: The Cherry Press, 1906), xv–37.

“Muslim Era,”,

Discussion Board


Week 7—An Empire is Built: New Aspirations in Punjab and Kashmir

Monday, November 12: Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, Alha Singh, and Ranjit Singh

Purnima Dhavan, When Sparrows Became Hawks: The Making of the Sikh Warrior Tradition, 1699–1799 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 99–123. (Yasmeen)

J.S. Grewal, “Introduction” in The Reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh: Structure of Power, Economy and Society (Punjab Historical Studies Dept., Punjabi University, 1981).

[Link to Guru Gobind Singh's Zafarnama.]

Discussion Board


Wednesday, November 14: Representing the Sikh Tradition in Shrines and Websites

Anne Murphy, The Materiality of the Past: History and Representation in Sikh Tradition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 109–50. (Priya)

Nadeem Dar, “Samadhi of Ranjit Singh—A Sight of Religious Harmony,” Pakistan Today, Jan. 16, 2016,

“Sikh Period,” Pakistani National Fund for Cultural Heritage,

Sadaat Hasan Manto, "Toba Tek Singh," trans. Tahira Naqvi Mānoa 19, no. 1 (Summer 2007): 14–19.

Discussion Board


Week 8—A Glimmer of Hope: Tipu Sultan

Monday, November 19: The Mysore State and the British

Kate Brittlebank, “Sakti and Barakat: The Power of Tipu’s Tiger, An Examination of the Tiger Emblem of Tipu Sultan of Mysore,” Modern Asian Studies 29, no. 2 (May 1995): 257–69. (Ishaan)

Janaki Nair, Mysore Modern: Rethinking the Region under Princely Rule (Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press, 2011), 27–60. (Haya)

Ravi Varma, “Tipu Sultan: A Fanatic Muslim,” in Tipu Sultan: Villain or Hero?"(New Delhi, Ansari Road, 1990).

Prakash Chandra Asdhir, “Scandalous Tele-Serial on Tipu Sultan,” in ibid.

[Kaveh Yazdani, “Haider ‘Ali and Tipu Sultan; Mysore’s Eighteenth-Century Rulers in Transition,” Itinerario 38, no. 2 (2014): 101–20.]

[Blake Smith, “Robot of Jihad? A Guide to Tipu’s Tiger,” The Appendix 2, no. 2 (April 2014),]

[Irfan Habib, “Introduction” in Confronting Colonialism: Resistance and Modernization under Haider Ali and Tipu Sultan (London:  Anthem Press, 2002).]

Discussion Board


In Class:

Selections from The Sword of Tipu Sultan, directed by Sanjay Khan and Akbar Khan (Mysore: Premiere Studio, 1990–91).


Wednesday, November 21: No Class–Thanksgiving Break


Week 9—In the Middle of it All: The Nawabs of Awadh

Monday, November 26: The Right Hand of the Emperor

Richard Barnett, "Introduction" to North India between Empires: Awadh, the Mughals, and the British, 1720–1801 (Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1980), 1–15. (Arnav)

Muzaffar Alam and Sanjay Subrahmanyam, "Epilogue" in Writing the Mughal World: Studies on Culture and Politics (New York: Columbia University Press, 2012), 467–84. 

Discussion Board


Wednesday, November 28: The Loss of Lucknow in Urdu Literature

Selections from Abdul Halim Sharar, Lucknow: The Last Phase of an Oriental Culture, ed. and trans. E. S. Harcourt and Fakhir Hussain (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994), 29–36; 99–102; 193–206. (Sunaina)

Premchand, “The Chess Players," (36–47).

Frances W. Pritchett, “‘The Chess Players’: From Premchand to Satyajit Ray,” Journal of South Asian Literature 22, no. 2 (Summer–Fall 1986): 65–78.

[Rosie Llewellyn-Jones, The Last King in India: Wajid Ali Shah, 1822–1887 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), 1–10 and 275–82.]

Discussion Board


Week 10—The City Mourns: Delhi and Lahore

Monday, December 3: Mutiny or Rebellion? Delhi on the Eve of 1857

G. C. Narang and Leslie Abel, “Ghalib and the Rebellion of 1857,” Mahfil 5, no. 4 (1968–69): 45–57. (Matt)

Chanchal Dadlani, "Introduction," From Stone to Paper: Architecture as History in the Late Mughal Empire (Yale: Yale University Press, 2018), 58–81.

[[William Dalrymple, "The Sword of the Lord of Fury" in The Last Mughal  (London: Bloomsbury, 2006),143–92.]]

[[Kim A. Wagner, The Great Fear of 1857: Rumours, Conspiracies and the Making of the Indian Uprising, 79–99.]]

Discussion Board


Wednesday, December 5: The Ghosts in the Bricks: Architecture as Memory

Hilal Ahmed, “Mosque as Monument: The Afterlives of Jama Masjid,” South Asian Studies 1 (2013): 51–59. (Shreya)

Nayanjot Lahiri, “Commemorating and Remembering 1857: The Revolt in Delhi and Its Afterlife,” World Archaeology 35, no. 1 (2003): 35–60. (Prady)

James Wescoat, Michael Brand, and Naeem Mir Gardens, “Roads and Legendary Tunnels: The Underground Memory of Mughal Lahore,” Journal of Historical Geography 17, no.1 (January 1991): 1–7.

Taymiya R. Zaman, “Nostalgia, Lahore, and the Ghost of Aurangzeb,” Fragments 4 (2015),;view=fulltext.

[Anand Taneja, “Archival Amnesia and Islamic Theology in Post-Partition Delhi,” in Jinnealogy: Time, Islam, and Ecological Thought in the Medieval Ruins of Delhi (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2017).]

Discussion Board


To Be Shown in Class:

Selections from Mangal Pandey: The Rising, directed by Ketan Mehta (Mumbai: Yash Raj Films, 2005).

Course Summary:

Date Details