Conferences Prof. Sumit Guha, CEIAS/EHESS, 14-15, 18-19 March 2013

Sumit Guha has been a Professor in the Departement of History at Rutgers University since 2004. He is interested in the political, cultural and linguistic processes by which identities take historical shape. His primary research area is western and central India.
He will deliver four lectures at the CEIAS/ EHESS (190-198 Av. de France 75013 Paris), Room Thorner (662):
• ‘Between Purity and Elegance: the Rival Pull of Sanskrit and Persian on the Marathi language c. 1400-1800’, on 14 March, 2 pm to 4 pm, in Caterina Guenzi and Raphaël Voix’s seminar Idéaux de vie dans le monde hindou: corps, habitat et communauté.
• ‘Iberian Voyages, the Western Discovery of Hinduism and the Creation of ‘Caste’ from the 16th to the 20th Century’, on 15 March, 1 pm to 3 pm, in Catherine Clementin-Ojha’s seminar Historiographie de l’hindouisme: Anciennes et nouvelles perspectives.
• ‘Scribal Elites and Islamic Empires in India, c. 1300-1800’, on March 18, 10 am to 12 am, in the research group coordinated by Corinne Lefèvre and Ines G. Županov Constructions du passé de l’Asie du Sud.
• ‘Secret Sharers: the Shadow (Underground) Economy of Mughal Rule from Marathi Sources’, on March 19, 10 am to 12 am, in the research group coordinated by Corinne Lefèvre and Ines G. Županov Constructions du passé de l’Asie du Sud.

Sumit Guha

CEIAS  –  190 avenue de France  –  75013 Paris
Sumit Guha, Professeur d’histoire – Rutgers University, donnera une série de conférence en mars 2013

Between Purity and Elegance: the rival pull of Sanskrit and Persian on the Marathi language c.1400-1800

le 14 mars 2013, de 14h à 16h en salle 662

Literary Marathi emerged from the shadow of Sanskrit at the beginning of what Sheldon Pollock has termed the ‘vernacular millennium’. It suffered a set-back with the destruction of the Yadava dynasty of Devagiri but re-emerged vigorously as a literary and administrative language two centuries later. By then, Marathi-using soldiers and administrators were spreading across peninsular India and retaining their language even as they ruled and fought in areas far removed from their linguistic home. But the high diplomatic and official language of Mughal India was Persian, even as the rise of  Marathi-speaking gentry culminated in the establishment of the Bhosle kingdom as far south as the Kaveri delta. Maratha power also spread into North India. Southern Brahmans were closely associated with this. This lecture will examine how the rival pulls of the ancient sacred language and the new language of West Asian courtly governance competed in this milieu.

Iberian Voyages, the western discovery of Hinduism and the creation of ‘caste’ from the sixteenth to the twentieth century

le 15 mars 2013, de 13 à 15h en salle 662

In an important  book published in 2001, Nicholas Dirks wrote that when “thinking of India, it is hard not to think of caste.”  It was a “central symbol for India, indexing it as fundamentally different from other places as well as expressing its essence.” This lecture will examine the long process by which the Spanish-Portuguese “casta”  was transmuted into the modern Indian “caste”  and came to be viewed as embedded in the structure of Hinduism.

Scribal elites and Islamic empires in India, c. 1300-1800

le 18 mars 2013 de 10h à 12h en salle 662

The last six centuries of the past millennium saw the emergence of major empires that dominated every part of the world. Inevitably, then these imperial formations governed diverse and polyglot peoples. They also developed complex systems of governance that deployed unprecedented numbers of scribes and accountants, often drawn from groups culturally distinct from the military elites. Literati serving Western empires have been much studied of late; but the phenomenon did not originate with them. This paper examines one such prominent group – the Brahmans of peninsular India – through five centuries. It explores little-known aspects of their professional training. It then analyzes how they rose to a dominance that persisted even into the colonial era and deeply impacted the contemporary politics of India to the present day.

Secret Sharers: the shadow (underground) economy of Mughal rule from Marathi sources

 le 19 mars 2013 de 10h à 12h en salle 662

Asian empires from the time of Machiavelli through Bernier to Marx have been represented as despotically crushing local society under the weight of their absolutist rule. This image was then adopted in India by the « Aligarh school » of history that has then constructed a view of the Mughal state and economy that sees it as centered on imperial power. I will re-read some of their sources and then challenge their model by using Marathi sources that significantly undermine their arguments.


  • le jeudi 14 mars 2013  de 14h  à 16h
  • le vendredi 15 mars 2013  de 13h  à 15h
  • le lundi 18 mars 2013  de 10h  à 12h
  • le mardi 19 mars 2013  de 10h  à 12h

Camille Rhoné

Agrégée d'histoire, titulaire d'une thèse de doctorat en histoire de l'Islam médiéval ("Défendre le territoire en Iran nord-oriental - Khorassan et Transoxiane -, IXe-XIe siècle"), Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne.

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