Tuesday, 16. June 2015, 15:30
Politics, History and Folklore and the Making of Hazrat-i Dehli, ca 1200-1300 CE
Abstract Historians of politics are only slowly divesting their scepticism about myths and legends and finding in folklore interesting questions and materials with which to texture their robust histories of the state. Myths are, after all, like 'histories' in their ability to construct a semblance of truth and normalcy about past relationships and identities, to discourse on power often using normative structures to support or question the establishment. My paper concerns Delhi of the 13th and 14th century, a period in Indian history associated with the great might of the city’s Sultans. It considers three sites from Sultanate Delhi and assesses why they were historically important to its Sultans. It also evaluates different kinds of supernatural interventions that were associated with these sites -- myths and folklores that historians sometimes narrate without quite assessing their significance. Through a juxtaposition of these different 'histories' I would like to explore the dialectic of power that suffused the terrain of Sultanate Delhi and the reasons why any reference to the city as Hazrat-i Dehli, or "The Auspicious City" will be filled with exclusions and silences.