June 21, 2013 Scholar Uncovers the Autobiographies of India and Their Significance to South Asian History

Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: Jason Steinhauer (202) 707-0213
Contact: Request ADA accommodations five business days in advance at (202) 707-6362 or ada@loc.gov
Request ADA accommodations five business days in advance at (202) 707-6362 or ADA@loc.gov

Historian Sanjay Subrahmanyam, in a lecture at the Library of Congress, will argue that early modern autobiographies and first-person annals of India are important to the story of how the history of South Asia came to be written.

These little-known texts of the Mughal Empire period (1500-1800) have largely been excluded from scholarly accounts of Indian history and early modern history more generally. Subrahmanyam examines them anew, casting light on the authors and the period.

Subrahmanyam will present “The Hidden Self: Some First-Person Narratives from India 1500-1800,” at 4 p.m. on Thursday, July 11 in Room 119 on the first floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C. Sponsored by the John W. Kluge Center at the Library, the lecture is free and open to the public. Tickets are not needed.

“There has long been an interest on the part of historians of the early modern period in first-person narratives,” Subrahmanyam says. “In this discussion, South Asian diarists and annalists have had a very minor role to play. This lecture argues that significant [Indian] first-person narratives can be found, which should be linked to the transformation of history-writing in the region.”

Subrahmanyam has spent the past four months at the Kluge Center as Kluge Chair in Countries and Cultures of the South, examining the first-person narratives of South Asia during the 16th and 17th centuries. His findings will eventually be included in a book to be jointly authored with Professor Muzaffar Alam of the University of Chicago.

A leading scholar of the early modern period, Subrahmanyam is newly appointed to the prestigious Collège de France, in Paris, as the Chair in Early Modern Global History. In 2012, he received India’s Infosys Prize for Humanities-History. He teaches at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), where he was the founding director of UCLA’s Center for India and South Asia.

The Kluge Chair in Countries and Cultures of the South is a distinguished senior research position in residence at the Library, appointed by the Librarian of Congress. Using research facilities and services at the Library, the scholar is expected to explore the history of the regions of Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia, and the islands of the Pacific including Australia and New Zealand, using the immense foreign language collections in the Library’s specialized reading rooms.

Through a generous endowment from John W. Kluge, the Library of Congress established the Kluge Center in 2000 to bring together the world's best thinkers to stimulate and energize one another, to distill wisdom from the Library's rich resources, and to interact with policymakers in Washington. For more information about the Kluge Center visit www.loc.gov/kluge/.

Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution. The Library seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs, publications and exhibitions. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its website at www.loc.gov.


PR 13-123
ISSN 0731-3527