The mobility of skilled service communities has been an important theme in the social history of India’s ‘long eighteenth century’. This symposium explores the experience of service people-scholars and artists, record-keepers and revenue managers, ritualists and military men-who moved within and between the regional polities of the period. How did the experience of migration shape their mental worlds and condition their writing? Did new horizons of opportunity remake older strategies for the pursuit of service and patronage? What were the social arrangements that sustained family and professional mobility? Many scholars have suggested a remarkable ‘newness’ in the intellectual and literary life of Mughal India, when skilled service people were a key presence in its courts and polities. But what happened to their energies in the generations that followed, as they traversed the networks connecting the new regional states of the eighteenth century, and the expanding power of the European trading companies? Might their experience offer us new ways to understand the balance of subcontinental forces during the long eighteenth century transition to colonialism?
With the kind support of the Faculty of Oriental Studies, Oxford; John Fell Fund; Max Muller Fund; Radhakrishnan Memorial Bequest Fund; Trinity College Oxford