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Sanjay SubrahmanyamCourtly Encounters: Translating Courtliness and Violence in Early Modern Eurasia

Harvard University Press, 2012

by Carla Nappi on December 5, 2012

Sanjay Subrahmanyam

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Sanjay Subrahmanyam’s new book explores translations across texts, images, and cultural practices in the early modern world. Courtly Encounters: Translating Courtliness and Violence in Early Modern Eurasia (Harvard University Press, 2012) uses three key themes in early modern history – diplomacy, warfare, and visual representation – to show how commensurability across cultures, rather than existing prior to an encounter, had to be actively made by its agents. Subrahmanyam brings us into the many faces of a key battle in the sixteenth-century history of the Deccan, a dramatic martyrdom by cannon in the Malay world, and a circulation of visual tropes across European and Mughal contexts in a fascinating analysis of the ways that insult, intimacy, violence, and paint shaped relationships within and among the courtly ecologies of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The book expertly weaves a series of compelling microhistorical narratives into a larger story that takes us across the Indian Ocean and beyond, and is a must-read for anyone interested in global history or early modernity.

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