Domesticity and Power in the Early Mughal World
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.
260 pages (paperback)
Cambridge University Press
“Arguably this is the most important book to appear on Mughal history for a generation…”
– Francis Robinson, University of London
Praise for Domesticity and Power
Domesticity and Power in the Early Mughal World, describes a female world quite at odds with the usual image of harem life as a place of orgiastic sexual pleasure for men, and of harsh and exploitative confinement for women…Ruby Lal, the young Indian historian whose study of the domestic life of the Mughals is likely to rewrite completely the social history of the period.
– William Dalrymple, The New York Review of Books, NY, November 22, 2007
Ruby Lal’s book breaks completely new ground and does so with an ease and a mastery that do not suggest that this is her first book. Yet it is. The book marks the arrival of a major historian of Mughal India, a historian who is not stuck in the rut of merely reading the available documents and taking them at their face value. As this book shows, she is relentless in her questioning of the source material, penetrating in the way she teases out answers (and more questions) from the documents, and fearless in the way she applies her imagination to the sources.
– Rudrangshu Mukherjee, The Telegraph, Calcutta, December 2006
After Lal’s persuasive exposé of the inextricable links between the male and female, the political and domestic worlds…, it should be impossible to write about Mughal politics without considering domestic factors and issues of gender. This book should be required reading for anyone working in the fields of Mughal history, gender history, and the history of Islamic civilizations.
– Katherine Butler Brown, The Journal of Asian Studies, Cambridge, May 2007