Call for Papers: AAS Panel on Responses to the New and Foreign in Early-Modern and Colonial South Asia

Mou Banerjee's picture
Call for Papers
July 31, 2017
Massachusetts, United States
Subject Fields: 
Colonial and Post-Colonial History / Studies, Early Modern History and Period Studies, Intellectual History, South Asian History / Studies

Dear all,

We are two South-Asianists, looking for two more papers for the panel we are organizing on "Encountering the Exotic: Responses to the New and Foreign in Early Modern and Colonial South Asia". The draft-abstract is given below. We would very much like to put together a diverse panel, and the abstract below shows that there is considerable lee-way in presenting, both in terms of temporal and thematic scope and content. If interested, please send your abstracts to either me at or to Nicolas Roth at, by the 1st of August 2017.

Our very best wishes,

Mou Banerjee and Nicolas Roth.

Panel Abstract -

Encountering the Exotic: Responses to the New and the Foreign in Early-Modern and Colonial South Asia

The Columbian Exchange and the later rapid expansion of European trade and colonial power, brought a staggering array of new artifacts, materials, commercial goods, flora and fauna, and new people to South Asia. These immense encounters with "newness" resulted in novel exchanges of information and creation of new information networks, and facilitated new modes of engagement in intellectual, legal and political thought and practice. Despite considerable and well-received scholarly work on European engagements with the exotic, research on South-Asian intellectual responses to these novelties is a comparatively new and growing field. 

The papers in this panel will examine this hitherto little-explored perspective through a series of case studies from different parts of the sub-continent, and based on archival materials in a number of South-Asian literary languages. In other words, this panel hopes to reverse the lens of what is familiar and what is exotic, by privileging the views of South Asians as they encountered new life-worlds, from the fifteenth century to the early nineteenth century.

This panel, thus, will shed light on how novel and foreign material good and ideas entering the region were noted, scrutinized, celebrated, criticized, pointedly rejected, or conspicuously ignored by South Asians of all classes, elite intellectuals or subalterns. The panel hopes to probe the socio-cultural commitments and intellectual choices behind these representations of the exotic.



Contact Info: 

Mou Banerjee, Dept. of History, Harvard University (

Nicolas Roth, Dept. of South Asian Studies, Harvard University (