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A political sociology of empire: Mughal historians on the making of Mughal paramountcy

Sood, Gagan D. S. (2022) A political sociology of empire: Mughal historians on the making of Mughal paramountcy. Modern Asian Studies, 56 (4). 1253 - 1294. ISSN 0026-749X

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Identification Number: 10.1017/S0026749X21000378


In this article, Mughal understandings of their own past are reconstructed from the standpoint of Mughal paramountcy in around 1700. That was the moment of the empire's greatest territorial reach, when it knew no peer nor threat. To reconstruct contemporary understandings of how this situation came about, histories of the Mughal empire composed by governing officials of the time are analysed using a novel approach rooted in a particular distinction between constants and contingencies. These understandings allow us to recapture the political sociology of empire as apprehended by the Mughal elites. The article's findings are of value for two reasons. Narrowly construed, they help fill a lacuna in mainstream views on Mughal historiography, traditionally dominated by Akbar and his reign, and imbued with the logic of decline (and of its corollary, the transition to colonialism). More broadly, because of the weight accorded to knowledge of the past in the formation of Mughal ruling elites, the findings provide fresh insights into the cognitive framework within which these elites operated at a moment recognized as highly significant then, and in retrospect.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2021 The Author
Divisions: International History
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DS Asia
Date Deposited: 22 Oct 2021 23:10
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2024 17:09

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