Organized Panel Session
Persian was a prominent language of written discourse on the Indian subcontinent from the thirteenth to the nineteenth centuries. The study of Indo-Persian writing in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in particular has often focused on the decline of imperial patronage and the replacement of Persian by English and vernaculars, or centered exclusively on elite "men of letters". This panel interrogates the limits, geographies, and contours of Indo-Persian and concepts of the Persianate in the eras of Mughal decentralization and European imperial consolidation. The papers approach late Indo-Persian not as fossilized or the domain of a small elite, but rather as language that formed sites of exchange and meaning-making with localized and colonial literary and translation practices.
The papers in this panel consider Indo-Persian texts spanning the mid-eighteenth century to the opening of the twentieth century, across genres of historical, administrative, and literary writing. Through her paper on Persian-language accounts authored by itinerant soldiers, Naveena Naqvi analyzes non-elite historical writing in Persian. Amanda Lanzillo draws our attention to shifting Persianate practices among mobile Indian administrators who navigated between British India and quasi-autonomous states in the late nineteenth century. Aqsa Ijaz’s paper analyzes translation as a discursive practice in colonial India through Urdu translations of Indo-Persian romance literature. By contextualizing eighteenth and nineteenth century Indo-Persian sensibility in autobiography, translation, and other discursive undertakings, the papers demonstrate that such works were not imitations of earlier imagined golden ages, but rather reflective of their own historical present.