Synopses & Reviews
Ruby Lal explores domestic life and the place of women in the Mughal court of the sixteenth century. Challenging traditional, orientalist interpretations of the haram that have portrayed a domestic world of seclusion and sexual exploitation, she reveals a complex society where noble men and women negotiated their everyday life and public-political affairs. Combining Ottoman and Safavid histories, she demonstrates the richness as well as ambiguity of the Mughal haram, which was pivotal in the transition to institutionalization and imperial excellence.
"Ruby Lal [is a] young Indian historian whose study of the domestic life of the Mughals is likely to rewrite completely the social history of the period" - The New York Review of Books
"Lal's work is significant and achieves much that it sets out to do. Women who inhabited the world of the early Mughals are truly brought to life in the context of wider historical processes. Her argument against the public/private division is well etched out. The book is a vivid and well-written account spanning a few generations, and weaves in the momentous historical changes that occurred in that time-span. An attempt to write such a text has perhaps never been made, and it is worth reading simply for the alternative perspective that it presents." - Indian Journal of Gender Studies
Domestic life and the place of women in the Mughal court of the sixteenth century.
About the Author
Ruby Lal is Assistant Professor of Anthropology and History at the Johns Hopkins University. Her research focuses on issues of gender relations in Islamic societies in the pre-colonial world.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction; 2. A genealogy of the Mughal haram; 3. The question of the archive: the challenge of a princess's memoir; 4. The making of Mughal court society; 5. Where was the haram in a peripatetic world?; 6. Settled, sacred, and all-powerful: the new regime under Akbar; 7. Settled, sacred, and 'incarcerated': the imperial haram; 8. Conclusion.