Conference held on Research in Medieval Indian History

Aligarh: The 3-day International Conference on “Exploring the Frontiers of Research in Medieval Indian History”, under the aegis of the Centre of Advanced Study, Department of History at Aligarh Muslim University featured eight academic sessions with participation from thirty-seven scholars representing universities from India and abroad.

Scholars from prestigious institutions such as the University of Delhi, Jamia Millia Islamia, University of Pondicherry, Institute of Oriental Studies in Russia, Orientale University of Naples in Italy, University of Vienna in Austria, University of California in USA, and University of Oxford in UK presented papers on diverse themes of medieval Indian history, including environment, power dynamics, ethics, material culture, merchants, trade, commerce, education, health, Sufism, literature, architecture, and religions.

Prof. Gulfishan Khan in her paper on the significance of the Mughal gardens of Kashmir said that textual reconstruction of gardens, though mostly in a dilapidated state, will be of great use for the archaeologists, conservationists, and for the understanding of original layout, landscaping, water technology and architectural features of medieval gardens.

Dr. Jaimee Comstock-Skipp of the University of Oxford explored the interconnectedness between early modern Central Asia and Medieval India. She threw light on the role of Abul Khairid and Shibanid rulers in shaping the transition of Timurid to Mughal in South Asia.

Professor Eugenia Vanina from the Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences discussed vernacular historical texts with the Persian chronicles showing that both exhibited differences as well as similarities and a common approach to historical writings in medieval India.

Dr. Stefania Cavaliere from the Orientale University of Naples discussed the popular religiosity as expressed in popular devotional literature i.e. Bhaktamala and Kabir sakhis.

Prof. Syed LH Moini emphasized the significance of the dargah of Ajmer in the promotion of communal harmony and as a symbol of Indo-Muslim cultural synthesis.

Shalin Jain from the University of Delhi highlighted the significance of the Jain trading community and how their interaction between ideological and material factors led to connecting them with the larger world as well as to the local and wider community.

Dr. Naiyer Azam from the University of Pondicherry discussed how the mosque architecture of Babur shows the Timurid-Iranian chahar taq plan.

Prof. Raziuddin Aquil delivered the plenary lecture on the theme ‘Sufism during the Sultanate Period’. Exploring Sufi ethics he argued that the central feature of Sufi ethics is love for the eternal divine and service to His entire creations, humans as well as the environment which they nurtured.

Aprajita Das from the University of California discussed the Mughal state’s relations with forest dwellers in the 17th and 18th centuries using visual and literary sources.

Dr. Zeyaul Haque shed light on the rich historical tapestry woven in the advice literature known as the Mirror for Princess.

Dr. Stephan Popp from the University of Vienna presented an analysis of Riyaz al-Insha, a 15th-century collection of diplomatic letters of Vizier Mahmud Gavan of Bahmani Sultanate which throws light on medieval India’s relations with Iran and the Ottoman Empire.

Prof. Farhat Nasrin from Jamia Millia Islamia discussed how historical figures such as Babur, Humayun, Akbar, and Jahangir navigated the complexities of power, emotion, and spirituality, offering valuable insights into their quest for personal fulfillment.

An important feature of the conference is the photographic exhibition on the theme Shahjahanabad: City and Monuments, which will continue till March 5, in the the Musa Dakri Museum of the University. Several photographs of the city of Shahjahanabad founded by the Mughal Emperor Shahjahan in between 1638-1648 are displayed. The structures like the Red Fort, the Jami Masjid, Eidgah, Sheesh Mahal and the Jami Mosque and Fatehpuri Masjid, photographed by an exploratory team of the Archaeology Section of the Department under the supervision of Professor Gulfishan Khan, Coordinator of the Musa Dakri Museum, are on display. The exhibition is curated by Dr. Lubna Irfan, aleem Ahmad, and Shoeb Ahmad.

A book exhibition on Medieval India was also organized in the Audio-Visual Room of the Department. It was inaugurated by Dr. Stefania Cavaliere. Dr. Lubna Irfan proposed a vote of thanks in the valedictory session.

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