Sebastian Prange studies the history of trade and traders on the Malabar Coast in southwestern India. His work argues for the importance of studying South Asia as part of the wider Indian Ocean world by exploring the trans-oceanic networks that integrated the region into circulatory exchanges of goods, texts, ideas, individuals, and allegiances.
ISLAMIC WORLD HISTORY
This course studies the history of the Islamic world in its global dimensions and contexts. It examines this history through five key themes: Islam as Religion; Islam as Polity; Islam as Cosmopolis; Islam as Ideology; and Islam as Modernity. Note that this course offers neither a conspectus of Muslim religious beliefs and practices, nor a comprehensive survey of the political expansion of Islamic states. Rather, by studying the role of Islam in world history through these five themes, it moves away from viewing Islam as a monolithic, timeless entity and instead explores its diverse pathways without privileging any single narrative or viewpoint. Ultimately, the course asks how useful the category of “Islam” is to understanding the global past.
(HIST 273 was formerly titled “Major Issues in South Asian History.”) This course offers a sweeping survey of Indian history from its ancient civilizations to the formation of the modern nation-states of South Asia. Particular attention is put on the changing conditions of everyday life, the development of religious thought and practice, the evolution of political ideology and action, and the making of India’s immensely diverse social orders across time.
The History of Violence
This course offers a conceptual engagement with the role of organized violence in history. Drawing on case studies that range from feudal warfare to modern-day insurgencies, from the business models of pirates to that of the mafia, and the operation of violent enterprises such as street gangs and terrorist networks, it asks how violence has been organized and, in turn, how organizations have been affected by violence. A central concern is the question of legitimacy, of how (or whether) violence used by the state differs functionally and analytically from that of other groups.
(HIST 387 was formerly titled “Medieval India.”) This course explores the history of medieval India (ca.500-1500) as a tale of two temples. The first temple was the showpiece of the powerful Vijayanagara empire, which is often seen as the champion of Hindu culture and revivalism in medieval South India. The destruction of the second temple at Somnath, by contrast, has come to symbolize the Islamic conquest of North India. This course probes the deeper history behind these two sites and the historical dynamics that have led to the particular stories told about them—as well as their continuing repercussions today. In the process, we examine developments in society, religion, politics, and material life of this formative period of Indian history.