Muslim Intellectual History in Mughal South Asia

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Muslim Intellectual History in Mughal South Asia

Conference, October 6-7, 2023

Asad Q. Ahmed, S. Shiraz Ali, and Daniyal Channa

Cosponsored by CMES and the Institute for South Asian Studies


Fresh waves of research on the postclassical Islamic East are reshaping the shores of South Asian and Islamic studies. Recovering from the long shadow of decline theories and narratives, the ongoing study of Muslim intellectual pursuits in the subcontinent is bringing to light a world far more dynamic than previously believed. The region appears better situated within transregional contexts, while offering unique intellectual trajectories with reverberations across a broader range of fields. This conference invites specialists to present research on Muslim intellectual history in Mughal South Asia within the following areas:

I. Philosophy, Theology, and Science

II. Rhetoric, Law, and Scripturalist Disciplines

III. Islamo-Sanskrit Engagements

IV. Socio-Intellectual History

Despite great strides in the study of the social, political, and cultural institutions of early modern South Asia, these efforts are yet to be reconciled with parallel developments in the study of knowledge production across Persianate frontiers. Meanwhile within history of ideas, we are only gradually overcoming the trappings of conventional accounts of intellectual life in the region, specifically the sweeping theses of intellectual marginality and decline grounded in dichotomies like canon vs. commentary, rationalism vs. mysticism/scripturalism, Arabic orthodoxy vs. Persian/Indian cosmopolitanism, and their projection onto the source material at face value, i.e., as exhaustive binaries that tend to obfuscate actual disciplinary frameworks, literary practice, and transmission of knowledge. While there is growing consensus that the postclassical intellectual currents were longer lasting and more intricate than previously believed, the variegated details of this past pose new methodological challenges.


The conference invites current research on Muslim intellectual history in Mughal South Asia across areas like philosophy, theology, astronomy, rhetoric, jurisprudence, hadīth, tafsīr, Perso-Sanskrit interactions, infrastructures of knowledge production. The event will be hosted at U.C. Berkeley on October 6-7, 2023, with travel and accommodation covered for visiting participants. Please submit abstracts of 300-400 words to Abstracts must be received by June 23. Selected applicants will be notified by July 7. The final articles will be published as a special issue or volume edited by the organizers. The submission deadline for articles is March 15, 2024.

Center for Middle Eastern Studies
University of California, Berkeley
340 Stephens Hall, Berkeley, CA  94720-2314



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