Writing the Inter-Imperial World in Afghan North India ca. 1774 – 1857
- Author(s): Naqvi, Naveena
- Advisor(s): Green, Nile
- Subrahmanyam, Sanjay
- et al.
Drawing upon the writings of service professionals, including soldiers, scribes, legal officials and petty bureaucrats, Writing the Inter-Imperial World in Afghan North India (ca. 1774 – 1857) is a study of perspectives on political and social change during the transition to colonialism. From 1774, as the East India Company conquered the semi-autonomous Rohilla state and introduced new administrative measures, service professionals—who were key mediators of changes in governance—were faced with a choice: should they implement, actively resist or escape this development? Departing from historiography that has seen such figures through the eyes of the Company archive, this dissertation seeks to investigate how they documented their encounter with incipient modes of colonial rule. In a range of original works, comprising Persian and Urdu memoirs, biographies, chronicles and poetry, they elaborated their circumstances within and beyond the former Afghan principalities, reflecting on the regional frontiers that were constantly shifting in their lifetimes as an older skein of imperial provinces was being eroded. My dissertation argues that through their writings these figures generated a political discourse centered on distinctive conceptions of regional and imperial politics, history, service, and customary law. This discourse continued to echo in the provinces through the nineteenth century, even as the history of these actors was obscured by the rise of colonial and nationalist modernity.