'A most thrilling drama hastening to a tragic end’: The Spectacle of Ottoman Decline in Early Twentieth-Century India

Professor Faridah Zaman, University of Oxford
Seminar

Histories of pan-Islamism often stress the curiously enthusiastic nature of Indian support for the Ottoman Empire and Caliphate in the early twentieth century, culminating in the post-WWI Khilafat Movement. It is usually suggested that this support was either the product of untethered and outmoded religious romanticism or, conversely, that it was an ideological tool for bolstering Muslim political capital in India itself. This paper will instead lay out an alternative story in which Indian Muslim perspectives on Ottoman decline were simultaneously elegiac and prosaic – a story in which Indian Muslim activism in support of the Ottoman Empire and Caliphate was, counter intuitively, grounded in the briefly-tangible prospect that Indians would constitute a vital force in the future regeneration of the Muslim world.

Faridah Zaman is an historian of the modern British Empire, South Asia, and global intellectual history. She is currently Associate Professor of History at the University of Oxford and a Tutorial Fellow at Somerville College. Before coming to Oxford last year, she held a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Chicago from 2015-2018.

(Seminars start at 5.00 p.m.)