Speaker: Sugata Ray, Scholar-in-Residence
When: June 22, 2013
Where: Shangri La
It has been argued that the Emperor Aurangzeb's death in 1707 and the subsequent rise of European powers in India rang the death-knell for the Mughal Empire. Yet, it is at this very moment that we find non-Muslim communities in India claiming the visual cultures of the Mughal court. In eighteenth and nineteenth-century paintings, the Hindu god, Krishna is thus represented in royal regalia, adorned with Mughal jewelry, and seated on Mughal floral carpets. Similarly, motifs from Mughal architecture appear on contemporaneous Hindu temples. Did this appropriation of earlier Islamicate courtly cultures in colonial India produce an anti-colonial sentiment expressed through a politics of inheritance? Could we read this remembering as enunciating subjectivities and desires that operated beyond the tyranny of modernity and its claim to the universal? How might this astounding moment of cross-cultural transgression impact our understanding of post-Mughal South Asia in particular and the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries more broadly?
Sugata Ray (Ph.D., University of Minnesota, 2012) is Assistant Professor of South Asian art at the History of Art Department, University of California, Berkeley. Ray holds an M.Phil. from the Center for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta and an M.A. from the Department of Art History, M.S. University, Baroda. His research interests include the visual culture of modern pilgrimage in India, global art history, and museological practices in the colony. Sugata Ray is a Scholar in Residence at Shangri La from June 3-23, 2013.