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Some 70 years after the British left India it is timely to look back at how the kings and queens of the United Kingdom came to amass one of the largest private collections of South Asian art in the world. Two conjoined exhibitions currently showing at the Queen’s Gallery do just that.
In Room 145 of the Ceramics Galleries of the Victoria & Albert Museum, at the top of case 50, you can see an ‘architectural fragment’, which, according to its label, ‘once ornamented a palace in Yuanmingyuan or “garden of perfect clarity”’.
In this history of representations and knowledge formation Sanjay Subrahmanyam turns a historian’s gaze to the problems both implicitly and explicitly embedded in all histories of the early modern and modern world: why did Europeans represent and construct India and by extension, the non-European world in the ways that they did? Why and how did these constructs evolve?
It is becoming increasingly clear that our understanding of the Mughal Empire, and early modern empires in general, is benefiting greatly from work dedicated to overcoming preconceptions of power, authority and imperial culture.
The Indo-Persian state secretary has occupied center stage in the emerging discourse on bureaucracy, administration and the political formation of the Mughal state. The status and role of the munshī (the Indo-Persian state secretary) within the Mughal bureaucratic structure in 17th and 18th century have formed the basis of recent historical analysis.
Knowledge is power. Over the last three decades this old aphorism of political philosophy has been central to the study of colonialism in history, anthropology, and literary and cultural post-colonial studies. Revised and re-launched in social theory by Michel Foucault, the theme gained momentum after the publication of Edward Said’s highly influential book, Orientalism, in 1978.
Early in his study of radio in the USSR, Stephen Lovell quotes Rick Altman: ‘new technologies are always born nameless’ (p. 2). New technologies, that is to say, do not arrive with a self-evident purpose, and are understood initially relative to what already exists.
Bangladesh today is the only nation-state in the Indian subcontinent with levels of ethnic homogeneity similar to Western or Central Europe.
The collection of essays edited for Brepols by Kate Dimitrova and Margaret Goehring, Dressing the Part: Textiles as Propaganda in the Middle Ages, addresses the significance of cloth and clothing in visual culture during the Middle Ages.
In Kimono: A Modern History, textile historian Terry Satsuki Milhaupt encourages her readers to ‘reflect deeply and broadly on what the kimono has meant at various points in its long history’ (p. 287). In this ambitious project, she identifies ‘modern’ with the period from the 1850s onwards.