Translating Courtliness and Violence in Early Modern Eurasia
Harvard University Press 2012
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.