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Presented By: Center for South Asian Studies

CSAS Trautmann Honorary Lecture | Bhoja Among the Gonds: Place, Memory and the Afterlives of Kingship in Medieval India

Daud Ali, University of Pennsylvania

Daud Ali, University of Pennsyvlania Daud Ali, University of Pennsyvlania
Daud Ali, University of Pennsyvlania
The presentation will consider the social memory of the eleventh-century medieval king Bhoja, widely known as a polymath, author, patron, and adventurer across a wide array of local, regional and pan-regional communities in South Asia. Bhoja, unlike other kings that have been studied under the rubric of 'popular memory', is not primarily associated with a 'heroic' tradition of memory in early modern India. The talk will explore his life and actions as remembered by communities of itinerants, Adivasis, and others with seemingly little or no connection to the highly textualized memories preserved among bardic, monastic and courtly societies that have left the greatest textual legacies of the king for modern scholars. The presentation will outline an overview of the project before focusing on Bhoja’s memory among itinerants and forest-dwellers to suggest several important conclusions about collective memory, kingship, and place that have not been addressed by existing scholarship.

Dr Daud Ali is Associate in the Department of South Asian Studies, University of Pennsylvania. He received his Bachelor of Arts at the College of William in Mary in Religious Studies and English Literature before going to the University of Chicago, where he completed a Master of Arts in History of Religions at the Divinity School and a PhD in the History Department. Dr Ali taught South Asian history at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, for fourteen years before his arrival at the University of Pennsylvania in 2009. Dr Ali’s research has focused on mentalities and everyday practices in pre-Sultanate South Asia. He has published works on monastic discipline, mercantile networks, historical writing and inscriptions, but his most enduring work has been on the culture of aristocratic society in early medieval India. In 2004 he completed Courtly Culture and Political Life in Early Medieval India (Cambridge), the first book-length study to focus exclusively on the development of the royal court as a social and cultural institution in early India. More recently, Dr Ali has written on various themes related to courtly life, including the composition of service retinues, the use of gardens and landscapes, concepts of gestural and bodily grace, the formation of everyday ethics through poetic verbal culture, and changing notions of the body in Sanskrit sex-manuals. His most recent work concerns the history of tellings of the life of king Bhoja in medieval India and a study of Islamic diasporic communities in the Southern Tamil Nadu during the medieval period.

If there is anything we can do to make this event accessible to you, please contact us. Please be aware that advance notice is necessary as some accommodations may require more time for the university to arrange.

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