This talk will focus on the study of South Asian history from the 11th to 18th centuries. After critiquing conventional approaches to the subject, which tend to focus on religion – in particular, Hindu-Muslim relations – the will talk propose an alternative approach that focuses on a Persian analogue to Sheldon Pollock’s notion of a “Sanskrit Cosmopolis”. These refer to the wide range of culture based on a transregional language, its literary canon, and its concern with moral and social order. Since India happens to be where the Persianate and Sanskritic worlds overlapped, the talk will touch on the long, complex, and ever-changing relations between them.
Richard Eaton is a Professor of History at the University of Arizona. After graduating from college, he spent several years in Iran with the American Peace Corps. While there, he toured India and Pakistan for several weeks with two friends and was instantly struck by South Asia’s contrasts and similarities with Iran. After obtaining a Master’s in History at the University of Virginia and a PhD in History from the University of Wisconsin, he began teaching at Arizona, interspersed with research trips to South Asia, with the diffusion of Islam in the Deccan, Punjab, and Bengal being a principal object of investigation.
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