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Three Ways to Be Alien

Travails and Encounters in the Early Modern World

Sanjay Subrahmanyam

Publication Year: 2011

Sanjay Subrahmanyam's Three Ways to Be Alien draws on the lives and writings of a trio of marginal and liminal figures cast adrift from their traditional moorings into an unknown world. The subjects include the aggrieved and lost Meale, a "Persian" prince of Bijapur (in central India, no less) held hostage by the Portuguese at Goa; English traveler and global schemer Anthony Sherley, whose writings reveal a surprisingly nimble understanding of realpolitik in the emerging world of the early seventeenth century; and Nicolo Manuzzi, an insightful Venetian chronicler of the Mughal Empire in the later seventeenth century who drifted between jobs with the Mughals and various foreign entrepots, observing all but remaining the eternal outsider. In telling the fascinating story of floating identities in a changing world, Subrahmanyam also succeeds in injecting humanity into global history and proves that biography still plays an important role in contemporary historiography.

Published by: Brandeis University Press

Series: Menahem Stern Jerusalem Lectures

Title Page

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pp. iii


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pp. vii


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pp. viii

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pp. ix-xiii

There was a time, some five centuries ago, when restless Europeans headed east, as did many enterprising Iranians, and curious North Indians set out either for Central Asia or for the wild and barbarous lands of the Marathas, Tamils, and Telugus to the south. Most of them were men, though there were also some colorful, adventurous, polyglot women like Nicolò Manuzzi’s English-Portuguese wife, Elisabetta...

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pp. xv-xviii

This is actually an uncomplicated book, which (alas) as usual took far too long to complete. Visits to Jerusalem have been a regular feature of my life since the mid-1990s, owing largely to my long friendship and ongoing collaboration with Velcheru Narayana Rao and David Shulman. Cooking sambar with David and Eileen in their...

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1: Introduction: Three (and More) Ways to Be Alien

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pp. 1-22

“From the day that I returned to this country, I have had neither pleasure nor rest with the Christians and even less with the Moors [Muslims]. The Moors say I am a Christian, and the Christians say I am a Moor, and so I hang in balance without knowing what I should do with myself, save what God [Deus] wills, and Allah will save whoever has a good comportment. . . . Today...

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2: A Muslim Prince in Counter-Reformation Goa

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pp. 23-72

Goa, the city and the territory around it, is a place that somehow tends to attract and accumulate clichés, and this was already the case in the sixteenth century. Goa Dourada, “Golden Goa,” was the phrase that was deployed by many contemporary travelers...

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3: The Perils of Realpolitik

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pp. 73-132

At the turn of the nineteenth century, a minor Mughal prince by the name of Mirza ‘Ali Bakht Azfari wrote his memoirs, in which he detailed a life in two parts: a first half of about thirty years when he was a prisoner in Delhi in a sort of gilded cage (or qa’id-i salātῑnῑ); and a second half when he wandered through much of the Indian subcontinent in search of political support before eventually settling in the region of Chennai (Madras). Reflecting on the difference between these two..

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4: Unmasking the Mughals

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pp. 133-172

The fall of Constantinople in late May 1453 to the forces of the Ottoman sultan Mehmed “the Conqueror” ensured that no European intellectual worth his salt could afford from that time on to ignore the existence of the “Turk,” as they liked to term the scions of the House of Osman. A few weeks after this event, the rather appropriately named Aeneas...

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5: By Way of Conclusion

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pp. 173-176

My conclusion will be brief and somewhat schematic. In the preceding chapters, the method followed has essentially been one of the case study, bridging as it were the gap between microhistory and world history.2 We have looked at three instances, running from the 1530s through to the 1720s, and in a large space that has taken us from western India to the western Mediterranean. We have examined some quite complex...


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pp. 179-212


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pp. 213-228

E-ISBN-13: 9781611680195
E-ISBN-10: 1611680190

Page Count: 248
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: Menahem Stern Jerusalem Lectures