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Sugata Ray

June 3 - June 23, 2013

Project Title: Of Muslim Kings and Hindu Gods: Remembering Mughal Visual Culture in Colonial North India

Project Abstract: The emperor Aurangzeb’s death in 1707 purportedly rang the death-knell for the Mughal empire in India. Yet, it was precisely at this moment that “successor states” drew on Mughal courtly cultures to create a new way of life. But how did non-Muslim communities beyond these “successor states” remember the Mughals? My research suggests that the material culture of modern Hinduism was indelibly transformed by earlier Mughal visualities. Indeed, the god Krishna was often depicted in courtly settings, seated on Mughal floral carpets similar to those preserved at Shangri La. The paradisiacal symbology of Mughal floral imagery resonated well with theological imaginings of Krishna inhabiting a bejeweled garden. Through a study of the DDFIA’s collection of Mughal arts, I would like to suggest that the appropriation of earlier Mughal visual forms in colonial India allowed for an anti-colonial sentiment articulated through a politics of inheritance that resisted the colonial present.

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. Sugata 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. 

See Sugata Ray's Lecture

See Sugata Ray's Working Paper

Each of the four scholars selected by a juried review process in 2013 pursued research projects on the following theme: "Islamic South Asia."

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