Babur [right] and Humayun with Courtiers (Detail), Late Shahjahan Period, ca. 1650.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

O medieval, diverse thou art!

The elusive Second Session of our Club is only 6 days away. I am presuming that by now, most of you have finished off your assigned readings. I personally have had the opportunity to read a few of these and was quite astonished about how diverse the catagorisation of the medieval has been in different cultures. The politics behind naming a period medieval, the attributes used to define it, the temporality assigned to it -- all changes as one shifts one's focus from one socio-cultural milieu to another. Moreover, the notion of the medieval is used in various ways to justify/condemn one's actions in the present ormodern times. We are all familiar with how medieval Indian history has emerged as a battleground in the post-colonial Indian nation in the hands of warring political parties. Our readings would suggest that similar tendencies are noticeable in lands as diverse as Iran, Japan and Ireland, among others. With the Second Session round the corner, I think it would not be inappropriate to share such curious, if not intriguing, findings on this forum. Feel free to make separate posts for the different readings. We might consider it a dress rehearsal!