Imperial Sovereignty and Local Politics takes at its focus the historically significant interconnections between local polities and imperial formations in South Asia. Using the relationship between the Bhadauria Rajputs and the Mughal, Maratha and British Empires as a prism to evaluate the constitution of sovereignty and the process of state formation, it demonstrates the enduring relevance of symbolism and ritual, the persistence of pre-colonial political forms and ideologies and the continuing importance of local power networks in moulding imperial projects. Employing theories of state formation borrowed from anthropology, Singh emphasizes the need to conceptually separate political authority from symbolic sovereignty and examine the local context of imperial politics. This work provides a compelling re-orientation of the way we understand the nature of imperial states, the experience of sovereignty and the processes of political change in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Publisher: Penguin Random House India Private Limited
Category: Literary Collections
Sixteen Stormy Days tells the story of the first amendment of the Constitution of India, passed in June 1951 in the face of tremendous opposition within and without the Parliament, and the subject of some of Independent India's fiercest parliamentary debates. It was a pivotal moment in Indian constitutional and political history. The first amendment broke new ground to curb the freedom of speech-public order, the interests of the security of the state and relations with foreign states; enabled caste-based reservations in education by restricting freedom against discrimination; circumscribed the right to property; validated zamindari abolition; and, finally, created a special schedule where laws could be placed to make them immune to judicial challenge even if they violated fundamental rights. How did fundamental rights-the heart and soul of the Constitution-so ceremoniously and pointedly given in 1950, become the lacunae in the same Constitution and the cause of grave difficulties by 1951? What led to the leading framers of the Constitution turning on their own creation within fifteen months, and to the Government of India and the Congress party taking the extraordinary step of radically amending the Constitution they had piloted in 1950? Who got up to defend the newly granted fundamental rights when the moment came, and how did this climactic battle unfold? And, finally, what were the consequences? Were there lacunae in the Constitution, as Jawaharlal Nehru believed, or was man (and the government) 'vile', as B.R. Ambedkar had asserted before the constituent assembly? These are the questions this book seeks to explore, and within them lies the story it seeks to tell.
From being elected as Congress president in 1929 till his death in 1964, Jawaharlal Nehru remained a towering figure in Indian politics, a man who left an indelible stamp on the history of South Asia. As a leading light of the nationalist struggle and as India's first and longest-serving prime minister, his ideas shaped the political contours of the country and left an imprint so deep that his legacy continues to be debated furiously today. In life, as in afterlife, Nehru was many things to many people. Going beyond the imposed labels of contemporary discourse, this book illuminates four encounters that Nehru had with contemporaries from across the political spectrum - Muhammad Iqbal, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Sardar Patel and Syama Prasad Mookerjee - that are critical to understanding his ideas, and his long afterlife and impress on the present. Nehru may no longer be alive to answer his critics today, but there was a time when he pitted himself vigorously against his opponents in the marketplace of ideas, debating the most profound questions in South Asian history and decisively influencing political events. It is this intellectually combative Nehru whom we meet in this book - voicing ideological disagreements, forging political alliances, moulding political opinion, offering visions of the future and staking out the political field - a key figure in the debates that defined India
In the seventeenth century, the Mughal Empire in South Asia witnessed a remarkable political experiment of imperial centralization taken to its apogee, similar to global early modern trends elsewhere such as French Absolutism or Habsburg rule. The dissertation examines the Great Timurid emperor, Aurangzeb ʿAlamgir's (r. 1658-1707) peripatetic statecraft and reconstructs how Hanafi legal canonization and juridical attitudes forged imperial governance and its everyday operations. While contemporary scholarship focuses on cosmopolitan mobility and exchange during the "first globalization" to the neglect of early modern state formations, this study turns our attention towards legal systems of land-based empires that remained resilient well into the eighteenth century. It illustrates how Mughal centralization was molded by layered interactions with local elites, gradations in property regimes, and flexible bureaucracies across the Indian subcontinent. It covers Rajasthan and Gujarat in the west to Kashmir in the north, large swathes of the Indo-Gangetic plains to the east and central India to the Deccan in the empire's southern fringes. I analyze the configuration of Mughal sovereignty around the Hanafi "law of the land," showing how the imperial canonization, Al-fatawa al-ʿalamkiriyya ("The Institutions of the World Conqueror") formed the pivot for reforming the empire's legal architecture. From a transregional perspective, the study articulates the Central Asian heritage of the Mughals and compares their shared legal affiliation with the Ottomans. Weaving an intellectual history around the effects of canonization, this study evaluates different registers in which Hanafi law proliferated. Starting from the compilation of the fatawa by a team of imperial jurists under Shaikh Nizam's supervision in 1660s, the dissertation moves to its everyday application across the empire. It demonstrates that a critical appraisal of the place of law in Mughal India must proceed from canon to practice, that is, the translation of the Muslim learned scholars' legal opinions into daily habits in society. It draws on an extensive corpus of hitherto unexamined materials ranging from jurisprudential treatises to volumes of correspondence and sundry documentary genres in Arabic, Persian, and several regional languages. This study shows that Mughal legal culture remained highly resilient during the empire's collapse and continued to provide templates for transitory post-Mughal polities and the British East India Company rule in the fragmented world of the eighteenth century. This study intervenes in two longstanding controversies in South Asian historiography-first, the nature of precolonial land tenures and second, the mechanisms through which precolonial states shaped the political economy. I establish the absence of allodial property in agrarian tracts; instead, the Mughal State nominally owned all land like the Ottoman miri in West Asia and Northern Africa. Explaining the practice of leasing state lands to agrarian communities for a contractual rent, I unearth the Hanafi juridico-economic principles behind Mughal revenue settlements. This reinterpretation opens new perspectives to provide reasons for India's agrarian crises generated by tectonic shifts towards freeholding under colonial rule. Next, in a predominantly agrarian economy, the study reveals how unprecedented suburban expansion took place through imperial privileges given to elite military officers, who incentivized artisan migration from rural to peri-urban settlements. During this expansion, judicial courts became key sites for offering legal intermediation and adjudication for ensuring the claims of lower-rung subjects. I show how the Mughal system of legal brokerage molded the legal subjectivity of the empire's inhabitants belonging to diverse ethnic and caste communities. The diffusion of Hanafi law in the subcontinent's ecological landscape, at the intersection of regional dynamics and the imperial order, secured autonomy and entitlements to local communities overseen by middling officials. The dissertation thus uncovers multiple notions of liability as well as forms of financial intermediation and representation that proliferated among trading groups, rural chieftains, and soldiers. Centralized state management was set within a normative Hanafi understanding of political economy, which enabled macroeconomic interventions through monetary policy and public credit by the late seventeenth century. This dissertation thus challenges the prevalent historiographical orthodoxy that reduces Aurangzeb ʿAlamgir's rule to an umbrella term called "Muslim orthodoxy." Based on contemporary reified notions of the shariʿa and an instrumental view of the emperor's decisions, it is often argued that he radically altered Mughal public culture. Instead, I excavate two tendencies that demarcate the logic of Mughal relations to their subjects during his long reign. First, non-Muslim castes and communities-the "protected communities" of the Muslim State-were treated as autonomous in personal affairs while being legally equal in public life. This dichotomy, the study argues produced a legal normativism of a distinct treatment where "Hindus" were ironically less controlled by the State than "Muslims" in their social life. Second, contractual procedures mirrored degrees of standardization across the empire with regular bureaucratic reforms responsive to ground-level realities. Through instructions from above and intelligence reports from below, the imperial court produced, accessed, and transmitted information to state agents; thereby it was never distant from local concerns. Questioning colonial and postcolonial narratives of custom, this dissertation demonstrates that written Hanafi juridical doctrine-whose living historical memory is an embodied vernacular knowledge to this day in "Indian" mentalit -shaped South Asia's public legal system well until the mid-nineteenth century when English Common law eclipsed it under British colonial rule. Tracing the genealogy of Hanafi ideas in Mughal public culture, "Mirrors and Masks of Sovereignty" charts the contours of a new-style imperial governance perfected during the empire's middle phase (1630s-1720s)-a break from conventions of its earlier iterations under Akbar and Jahangir-that created one of the strongest dirigiste states in the early modern world. This dissertation rejects both king-centered paradigms that overemphasize the emperor, Aurangzeb ʿAlamgir's personality and notions of fluid precolonial legal pluralisms that fail to situate law in a functional mode of social regulation and economic control within Mughal society layered with hierarchical stratifications of entrenched inequities. Rather, by examining gradations of proprietary rights and how they functioned through the state legal infrastructure, it reinterprets Mughal sovereignty as a juridical and financial relation of the governing elite to the governed. Examining Aurangzeb ʿAlamgir's theological-legal authority as much as his strategic acumen geared towards a holistic appreciation of state affairs, the dissertation conceptualizes the institutional mechanisms that went into wielding the greatest concentration of public power the Indian subcontinent witnessed in its precolonial past. In conclusion, I argue that it is high time to move beyond reductive caricatures of the emperor's image-modern inventions that have little to do with Mughal subjects' quotidian experiences. Instead, I propose an analytical framework for rethinking afresh the dynamic interplay between power, law, and political economy at the height of Mughal rule.
In the seventeenth century, even as the Spanish Habsburg monarchy entered its irreversible decline, the capital of its most important overseas territory was flourishing. Nexus of both Atlantic and Pacific trade routes and home to an ethnically diverse population, Mexico City produced a distinctive Baroque culture that combined local and European influences. In this context, the American-born descendants of European immigrants—or creoles, as they called themselves—began to envision a new society beyond the terms of Spanish imperialism, and the writings of the Mexican polymath Carlos de Sigüenza y Góngora (1645-1700) were instrumental in this process. Mathematician, antiquarian, poet, and secular priest, Sigüenza authored works on such topics as the 1680 comet, the defense of New Spain, pre-Columbian history, and the massive 1692 Mexico City riot. He wrote all of these, in his words, "out of love for my patria." Through readings of Sigüenza y Góngora's diverse works, Baroque Sovereignty locates the colonial Baroque at the crossroads of a conflicted Spanish imperial rule and the political imaginary of an emergent local elite. Arguing that Spanish imperialism was founded on an ideal of Christian conversion no longer applicable at the end of the seventeenth century, More discovers in Sigüenza y Góngora's works an alternative basis for local governance. The creole archive, understood as both the collection of local artifacts and their interpretation, solved the intractable problem of Spanish imperial sovereignty by establishing a material genealogy and authority for New Spain's creole elite. In an analysis that contributes substantially to early modern colonial studies and theories of memory and knowledge, More posits the centrality of the creole archive for understanding how a local political imaginary emerged from the ruins of Spanish imperialism.
The revelation that the U.S. Department of Defense had hired anthropologists for its Human Terrain System project—assisting its operations in Afghanistan and Iraq—caused an uproar that has obscured the participation of sociologists in similar Pentagon-funded projects. As the contributors to Sociology and Empire show, such affiliations are not new. Sociologists have been active as advisers, theorists, and analysts of Western imperialism for more than a century. The collection has a threefold agenda: to trace an intellectual history of sociology as it pertains to empire; to offer empirical studies based around colonies and empires, both past and present; and to provide a theoretical basis for future sociological analyses that may take empire more fully into account. In the 1940s, the British Colonial Office began employing sociologists in its African colonies. In Nazi Germany, sociologists played a leading role in organizing the occupation of Eastern Europe. In the United States, sociology contributed to modernization theory, which served as an informal blueprint for the postwar American empire. This comprehensive anthology critiques sociology's disciplinary engagement with colonialism in varied settings while also highlighting the lasting contributions that sociologists have made to the theory and history of imperialism. Contributors. Albert Bergesen, Ou-Byung Chae, Andy Clarno, Raewyn Connell, Ilya Gerasimov, Julian Go, Daniel Goh, Chandan Gowda, Krishan Kumar, Fuyuki Kurasawa, Michael Mann, Marina Mogilner, Besnik Pula, Anne Raffin, Emmanuelle Saada, Marco Santoro, Kim Scheppele, George Steinmetz, Alexander Semyonov, Andrew Zimmerman
The unpredecented political power of the Ottoman imperial harem in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, a period popularly known as "the sultanate of women", is widely viewed as illegitimate and corrupting. Arguing against this viewpoint, The Imperial Harem examines the sources of royal women's power and assesses the reactions of contemporaries, which ranged from loyal devotion to armed opposition. In the Turkish heritage of the Ottomans, sovereign power was viewed as a right shared by the whole royal family. Whereas previous scholars have concentrated on the uneasy sharing of power among male dynasts, this book argues that the internal politics of the royal family made the power of women not only inevitable but integral to the dynasty's survival. By examining political action in the context of household networks, Peirce demonstrates that female power was a logical, indeed an intended, consequence of political structures. Peirce not only provides an overview of the dynasty's policies regulating the production of children by slave concubines and the choice of spouses for its members, but examines the ways in which women's power was manifested in day-to-day politics. Royal women were custodians of sovereign power, training their sons in its use and exercising it directly as regents when necessary. Furthermore, they played central roles in the public culture of sovereignty - royal ceremonies, large-scale building projects, and patronage of artistic production. The Imperial Harem argues that the exercise of political power in the Ottoman empire was tied to definitions of sexuality. Within the dynasty, the hierarchy of female power, like the hierarchy of male power, reflected the broadersociety's concern for social control of the sexually active.
This book presents an exploratory study of the Mughal state and its negotiation with local power relations. By studying the state from the perspective of the localities and not from that of the Mughal Court, it shifts the focus from the imperial grid to the local arenas, and more significantly, from form to process . As a result, the book offers a new interpretation of the system of rule based on an appreciation of the local experience of imperial sovereignty, and the inter-connections between the state and the local power relations. The book knits together the systems- and action-theoretic approaches to power, and presents the Mughal state as a dynamic structure in constant change and conflict. The study, based on hitherto unexamined local evidence, highlights the extent to which the interactions between state and society helped to shape the rule structure, the normative system and the moral economy of the state .