Jan 29 2021

MANA KIA, “Social Bonds and Service in Persianate Asia: Love, Friendship, and the Problem of Hierarchy”

Art History Colloquium

January 29, 2021




Chicago, IL 60612

Aqa Mirak

NOTE: This talk will begin at 3pm rather than the usual 4pm start time.

Persianate polities cohered around hierarchically structured social bonds linking individuals and groups marked by dissimilar origins, religious affiliations, social locations, occupational groupings, and claims to power. Because of the way the political grew out of the social, in times of political devolution or collapse, social bonds could stabilize localities, maintain regional linkages and provide continuity and coherence in unstable times. This paper explores the language and practices of social bonds, according to their broader and longer histories, in the midst of shifting political structures in 18th-century Hindustan. I specifically attend to the ways relations of service and patronage were spoken in terms of love and friendship. To realize and render these relations legible required the production and exchange of images, compositions, books, and objects, as well as particular bodily practices. Scrutinizing the ways hierarchical relations of service and patronage were spoken in terms of love and friendship calls into question analytic assumptions about the significance of freedom and consent in social relationships, as well as blurs historical distinctions between family and others. The understanding that many of our textual and material sources were produced as objects of exchange meant to enact social bonds also suggests new ways of receiving them.

Mana Kia is an Associate Professor in the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies at Columbia University. Her interests are the early modern connected social, cultural, intellectual histories of West, Central, and South Asia from the 17th - 19th centuries, with a particular focus on Indo-Persian literary culture and social history. Her first book, Persianate Selves: Memories of Place and Origin before Nationalism, explores how early modern conceptions of place and origins provided expansive possibilities of Persian selfhood. She is working on a second book, which outlines how a shared sense of aesthetic and ethical form (as culture) was imagined and enacted in the transregional circulation of people, texts, and ideas between Iran and Hindustan.

To request a Zoom link for this talk, please email arthistory@uic.edu


UIC Art History

Date posted

Jan 7, 2021

Date updated

Jan 12, 2021