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Pratyay Nath

Associate Professor of History, Ashoka University

Ph.D. Jawaharlal Nehru University

Pratyay Nath is Associate Professor of History, Ashoka University. He is a historian of early modern South Asia, with a focus on the Mughal Empire. His research lies at the crossroads of environmental history, military history, and imperial history. He is also interested in the histories of design, music, and the historical discipline. He is the author of Climate of Conquest: War, Environment, and Empire in Mughal North India (Oxford University Press, 2019); with Meena Bhargava, the co-editor of The Early Modern in South Asia: Querying Modernity, Periodization, and History (Cambridge University Press, 2022). and with Kaustubh Mani Sengupta, the co-editor of ইতিহাসের বিতর্ক, বিতর্কের ইতিহাসঃ অতীতের ভারত ও আজকের গবেষণা [Debates of History, History of Debates: Past India and Present Research] (Kolkata: Ananda Publishers, 2022). His latest publications include ‘War, Strategy, and Environment on South Asia’s Northwestern Frontier, 1000-1800’, in Jeremy Black (ed.), The Practice of Strategy: A Global History, ed. Jeremy Black (Roma: Societa Italiana di Storia Militare), 229-262, and ‘Pilgrimage, Performance, and Peripatetic Kingship: Akbar’s Journeys to Ajmer and the Making of the Mughal Empire’, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 33, no. 2 (2023): 271-296. He is one of the editors of The Medieval History Journal and of ইতিহাস প্রসঙ্গ, a history book-series in Bangla for Ananda Publishers, Calcutta.

Nath is currently writing his second monograph, which analyses the military campaigns during the reign of the third Mughal emperor Akbar, and their roles in the production of his kingship and empire. His ongoing projects include editing a journal special issue on ‘environment and empire in the early modern world’ ; co-editing (with Ranabir Chakravarti) a volume on the history of the horse in South Asia under contract with Cambridge University Press; co-editing a volume (with Kaustubh Mani Sengupta) on recent methodological shifts and innovations in South Asian historiography;  and editing a volume in Bangla on the history of early modern South Asia for Ananda Publishers.

At Ashoka University, Nath’s courses focus on the history of empires and warfare in South Asia, and global histories of environment, warfare, and empire. Before joining Ashoka University in 2016, he taught medieval and early modern history at Miranda House, University of Delhi. He earned his MPhil and PhD in History from Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Before this, he completed his MA in History from University of Calcutta, and BA in History from Presidency College, Calcutta. He is the recipient of DAAD-funded ‘Short-Term Guest Professorship’ (2022) and DAAD-funded ‘A New Passage to India III’ fellowship (2013-14), both to Georg-August Universität, Göttingen, Germany.

 

Monograph

Edited Volumes

  1. Nath Pratyay, and Meena Bhargava (eds), The Early Modern in South Asia: Querying Modernity, Periodization, and History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2022).
  2. Nath Pratyay, and Kaustubh Mani Sengupta (eds), ইতিহাসের বিতর্ক, বিতর্কের ইতিহাসঃ অতীতের ভারত আজকের গবেষণা  [Debates of History, History of Debates: Past India and Present Research] (Kolkata: Ananda Publishers Pvt. Ltd., 2022).

Journal Articles

  1. Nath, Pratyay. ‘Pilgrimage, Performance, and Peripatetic Kingship: Akbar’s Journeys to Ajmer and the Making of the Mughal Empire’, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 33, no. 2 (2023), 271-296. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S1356186322000153
  2. Nath, Pratyay. ‘War and the Non-Elite: Towards a People’s History of the Mughal Empire’, The Medieval History Journal 25, no. 1 (2022): 127-158. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0971945820961695
  3. Nath, Pratyay. ‘Looking beyond the Military Revolution: Variations in Early Modern Warfare and the Mughal Case’, The Journal of Military History 86, no. 1 (2022): 9-31.
  4. Nath, Pratyay. ‘What is Military Labour? War, Logistics, and the Mughals in Early Modern South Asia’, War in History 28, no. 4 (2022): 736-754.  DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0968344520918615
  5. Nath, Pratyay. ‘Through the Lens of War: Akbar’s Sieges (1567-69) and Mughal Empire-Building in Early Modern North India’, South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies 41, no. 2 (2018): 245-258. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/00856401.2018.1430467

Book Chapters

  1. Nath, Pratyay. Forthcoming. ‘Strategies of the Mughal Empire (1526-1707)’, in The Cambridge History of the Practice of Strategy, edited by Beatrice Heuser and Isabelle Duyvesteyn (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).
  2. Nath. Pratyay. Forthcoming. ‘Mughal Empire and the Natural Environment’, in Cambridge History of Modern India (2nd edition), edited by Prasannan Parthasarathi, Mrinalini Sinha and David Gilmartin (Cambridge University Press).
  3. Nath, Pratyay. Forthcoming. ‘Physical Geography and Mughal Expansion’, in Oxford Handbook of Warfare in Asia, edited by Dennis Showalter and Kaushik Roy (Oxford, Oxford University Press).
  4. Nath, Pratyay. Forthcoming. ‘Imperial Embarrassments: Shah Jahan’s Wars in Balkh and Qandahar’, in Stephan Popp (ed.), The Seventeenth Century in India (New Delhi: Primus).
  5. Nath, Pratyay. 2024. ‘War, Strategy, and Environment on South Asia’s Northwestern Frontier, 1000-1800’, in Jeremy Black (ed.), The Practice of Strategy: A Global History (Roma: Societa Italiana di Storia Militare, 2024), 229-262.
  6. Nath, Pratyay. 2023. ‘Change and Continuity in Warfare: Military Early Modernity in South Asia’, in Jeremy Black (ed.), Global Military Transformations: Change and Continuity, 1450-1800 (Roma: Societa Italiana di Storia Militare, 2023), 481-506.
  7. Nath, Pratyay. 2022. ‘Was Mughal Warfare ‘Early Modern’?’, in The Early Modern in South Asian History: Querying Modernity, Periodization, and History, edited by Pratyay Nath and Meena Bhargava (New Delhi, Cambridge University Press,), 224-246.
  8. Nath, Pratyay. 2020. ‘‘The Wrath of God’: Legitimisation and Limits of Mughal Military Violence in Early Modern South Asia’, in A Global History of Violence in the Early Modern World, edited by Peter Wilson, Erica Charters, and Marie Houllemare (Manchester, Manchester University Press), 161-176.
  9. Nath, Pratyay. 2019. ‘Narratives of Akbar’s Sieges and the Construction of Mughal Universal Sovereignty’, in The World of the Siege: Representations of Early Modern Positional Warfare, edited by Jamel Ostwald and Anke Fischer-Katner (Leiden, Brill), 175-204.
  10. Nath, Pratyay. 2016. ‘Warfare in Early Modern South Asia, c. 1520 – c. 1740’, in The Indian Ocean in the Making of Early Modern India, edited by Pius Malekandathil (London and New York, Routledge), 175-212.
  11. Nath, Pratyay. 2015. ‘Battles, Boats and Bridges: Modalities of Mughal Amphibious Warfare, 1571-1612’, in Chinese and Indian Warfare: From Classical Age to 1870, edited by Peter Lorge and Kaushik Roy (London and New York, Routledge), 146-165.
  12. Nath, Pratyay. 2014. ‘Building an Empire: Military Infrastructure and the Career of Muhammad Qasim Khan in Mughal North India’, Proceedings of the Indian History Congress, 75th Session (Delhi,), 270-274.
  13. Nath, Pratyay. 2012. ‘Rethinking Early Mughal Warfare: Babur’s Pitched Battles, 1499-1529’, in Warfare, Religion, and Society in Indian History, edited by Raziuddin Aquil and Kaushik Roy (New Delhi, Manohar), 109-145.
  14. Nath, Pratyay. 2011. ‘Siege Warfare in Mughal India, 1519-1538’, in Warfare and Politics in South Asia from Ancient to Modern Times, edited by Kaushik Roy (New Delhi, Manohar), 121-144.

Media Pieces

  1. Nath, Pratyay. ‘Remembering Rajat Datta (1956-2021): An Extraordinary Educator’Economic and Political Weekly 56, no. 50 (11 December 2021).
  2. Nath, Pratyay. ‘Three Times When the Mughal Military Juggernaut Ran up against the Immutable Force of Nature’, Scroll, 11 January, 2021.
  3. Nath, Pratyay. ‘Terracotta Tales: Entangled Histories of Bhakti, Violence and Empire from Early Modern Bengal’, The Wire, 4 September 2016.

In the Vernacular

  1. Nath, Pratyay. ‘মধ্যযুগীয় ভাবনাঃ বিশ্বের ইতিহাসচর্চায় অন্ধকার যুগের ধারণা’, নিষ্পলক  5, no. 2-3 (2023):  103-119.
  2. Nath, Pratyay. ‘সাম্রাজ্য ও পরিবেশঃ মুঘল ইতিহাসের পুনর্পাঠ’, ইতিকথা 9, no. 1 (2021): 153-185.
  3. Nath, Pratyay. ‘‘লেভায়াথান না কাগুজে বাঘ?’ মুঘল রাষ্ট্রের চরিত্র’ in ইতিহাসের বিতর্ক, বিতর্কের ইতিহাসঃ অতীতের ভারত আজকের গবেষণা, edited by Pratyay Nath and Kaustubh Mani Sengupta (Kolkata, Ananda Publishers Pvt. Ltd., 2022), 156-188.
  4. Nath, Pratyay. ‘মূর্তি’মান ইতিহাসdaakbangla.com, 9 December 2022.
  5. Nath, Pratyay. ‘যুদ্ধ-যুদ্ধ খেলা’, daakbangla.com, 29 January 2022.
  6. Nath, Pratyay. ‘পিতৃতন্ত্রের হিংসাঃ যুদ্ধ, ধর্ষণ, নারী’, Bama 1, no. 8 (2021).

Book Reviews

  1. Nath, Pratyay. Review of Sumit Guha, History and Collective Memory in South Asia (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2019), The American Historical Review 127, no. 4 (2022): 1969-1970.
  2. Nath, Pratyay. ‘Military History Meets Labour History’. Review of Radhika Singha, The Coolie’s Great War: Indian Labour in a Global Conflict 1914-1921 (New Delhi: Harper Collins, 2020), Economic and Political Weekly 56, no. 29 (2021): 32-34.
  3. Nath, Pratyay. Review of Suraiya Faroqhi, The Ottoman and Mughal Empires: Social History in the Early Modern World (London and New York: IB Tauris, 2019), Medieval History Journal 23, no. 1 (2020): 170-174.
  4. Nath, Pratyay. Review of Syed Ali Nadeem Rezavi, Fathpur Sikri Revisited (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2013), South Asian History and Culture 5, no. 3 (2013): 389-393.

Journal Special Issue under Review

  • Nath, Pratyay (ed.), ‘Environment and Empire in the Early Modern World’.

Monograph under Preparation

  • Nath, Pratyay. War and the Region: Military Campaigns in the Making of the Mughal Empire.

Edited Volumes under Preparation

  1. Nath, Pratyay, and Ranabir Chakravarti (eds), History of the Horse in South Asia, under contract with Cambridge University Press.
  2. Nath, Pratyay, and Kaustubh Mani Sengupta (eds), New Histories of South Asia: Methods, Themes, Fields.
  3. Nath, Pratyay (ed), আদি আধুনিকতাঃ ভারতীয় ইতিহাসের নতুন প্রসঙ্গ [Early Modernity: A New Horizon of South Asian History] (for Ananda Publishers).
  1. Nath is currently working on his second monograph titled War and the Region: Military Campaigns in the Making of the Mughal Empire. It is the first detailed analysis of military campaigns undertaken under the third Mughal emperor Akbar (r. 1556-1605). It explores issues of tactics, strategy, geopolitics, logistics, and representation of war. It also studies the interaction between military campaigns and the different regions of South Asia, the processes of conversion of military conquest into administrative control, and the making of the province as an administrative unit. Using a comparative historical framework, it situates these South Asian processes vis-a-vis the global military and imperial tendencies of the sixteenth century.
  2. He is editing a journal special issue titled ‘Environment and Empire in the Early Modern World’. It brings together seven different essays that explore the complex interactions between the natural environment and processes of early modern empire-building. The essays investigate a wide range of cases, including Ming China, Habsburg Spain, the Russian Empire, the Mughal Empire, the Ottoman Empire, the British Atlantic empire, and maritime polities of the Indian Ocean. The manuscript is currently under review.
  3. He is co-editing a volume titled The History of the Horse in South Asia with Ranabir Chakravarti under contract with Cambridge University Press. It presents a long-term and multi-dimensional history of the animal through a set of fifteen essays from across period-specialisations. The essays trace the role of the animal in the fields of trade, religion, literary traditions, courtly culture, veterinary discourse, warfare, gift-giving, and urban culture.
  4. He is co-editing a volume titled New Histories of South Asia: Methods, Themes, Fields with Kaustubh Mani Sengupta. Focusing on five themes – visuals, language, space, environment, and nonhumans, it brings together fifteen essays to analyse the recent intellectual shifts and methodological developments in South Asian history.
  5. He is editing a volume in Bangla titled আদি আধুনিকতাঃ ভারতীয় ইতিহাসের নতুন প্রসঙ্গ [Early Modernity: A New Horizon of South Asian History] for Ananda Publishers. It brings together nine essays that study artistic, legal, diplomatic, military, social, cultural, and material processes of South Asia between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries.

Spring 2024

  • History of India III: c. 1000-1764 (Gateway Course)
  • Kingship and Courtly Culture in the Early Modern World (History Elective)

Monsoon 2023

  • Design Histories (ISM)
  • Introduction to Mughal History (History Elective)
  • Texts and Power in the Early Modern World (History Elective)

Summer 2023

  • War: History, Politics, Society (History Elective)

Spring 2023

  • On sabbatical

Monsoon 2022

  • Making Space: History, Politics, Society (History Elective)
  • Introduction to Mughal History (History Elective)

Spring 2022

  • Negotiating Nature in the Early Modern World (History Elective)
  • The World of War in South Asia, 1000-1800 (History Elective)

Monsoon 2021:

  • War and Empire in the Early Modern World (History Elective)
  • Introduction to Mughal History (History Elective)

Summer 2021:

  • War, Politics, Society (History Elective)

Spring 2021:

  • Environment and Empire in the Early Modern World (History Elective)
  • The World of War in South Asia, 1000-1800 (History Elective)

Monsoon 2020:

  • War and Empire in the Early Modern World (History Elective)
  • Introduction to Mughal History (History Elective)

Spring 2020:

  • Environment and Empire in the Early Modern World (History Elective)
  • History of India III (Gateway Course)

Monsoon 2019:

  • The World of War in South Asia, 1000-1800 (History Elective)
  • Age of Empires: A Global History of Early Modern Imperialism (History Elective) 

Summer 2019:

  • War, Culture, Society (History Elective)

Spring 2019:

  • Introduction to Mughal History (History Elective)
  • History of India III (Gateway Course)
  • War and Empire in Central Eurasia, 1000-1700 (Independent Study Module)

Monsoon 2018:

  • War in the Early Modern World (History Elective)

Summer 2018:

  • Gender, War, History (History Elective)
  • War, State, and Society in Early Modern Europe (Independent Study Module)

Spring 2018:

  • Twentieth Century-Wars and the Politics of Representation (History Elective)
  • A Royal Performance: Kingship and Political Culture in South Asia, 1000-1700 (History Elective)
  • Space and Cartography in the Early Modern World (Independent Study Module)

Monsoon 2017:

  • Age of Empires: A Global History of Early Modern Imperialism (History Elective)
  • Medieval India (History Gateway Course)
  • War and Empire in Central Eurasia (Independent Study Module)

Summer 2017:

  • Trends in History (Foundation Course)

Spring 2017:

  • Introduction to Mughal History (History Elective)
  • War in History (Critical Thinking Seminar)

Monsoon 2016:

  • Trends in History (Foundation Course)
  • Medieval India (Gateway Course)
  • War, State, and Society in Early Modern Europe (Independent Study Module)

Pratyay Nath is currently not accepting any new PhD students. 

He is interested in supervising research on the following fields:

  • the Mughal Empire
  • state, kingship, political culture, warfare, and empire in medieval and early modern South Asia
  • medieval and early modern Bengal

Interested students are welcome to get in touch with him directly at pratyay.nath@ashoka.edu.in.

 

Ongoing and past supervision:

PhD Thesis:

  1. Nandita Goswami, ‘Heavenly Lords: Ahom Kingship and Political Culture in Early Modern Assam’ (2020-present)
  2. Akansha Singh, ‘Afghans in North India, 1556-1773: Political Culture, Identity, and State-Formation’ (2020-present)
  3. Karil Soral, ‘Body, Service, and Social Change: The Jyeshthimallas of Western India, c. 1674-1797’ (2021-present)
  4. Bidisha Sengupta, ‘Mughal Political Culture in Early Modern Bengal’ (2021-present)
  5. Mariyam Siddiqui, ‘Abdur Rahim Khan-i Khanan: The Life of a Mughal Noble’ (2022-present)
  6. Gunjan Malhotra, ‘The Socio-Cultural History of Music and the Musician Intelligentsia in Mughal Delhi, 16th -18th centuries’ (2023-present)

MLS Thesis:

  1. Shabdita Tiwari, ‘The Notion of Individuality in Banarasidas’s Ardhakathanak’ (2023-2024)
  2. Anuraag Khaund, ‘Zamindars and the Formation of the Mughal Empire’ (2019-2020)

ASP Thesis:

  1. Anushka Singh, ‘Travel and Cultural Encounter in Early Modern South Asia’ (2022-23)
  2. Shigraf Haque, ‘Non-Agrarian Communities in Sedentary South Asia, 1000-1850: The Case of the Ghakkars’ (2021-22)
  3. Tanveer Malik, ‘Nature of Mughal Kingship under Aurangzeb’ (2021-22)
  4. Raghu Malhotra, ‘The Military Labour Market of North India, 1500-1800’ (2018-19)
  5. Sadaf Bandeali, ‘Clothing Mughal India’ (2018-19)

UG Thesis:

  1. Akshaj Awasthi, ‘Power as Patronage: Imperial Art and Architecture under the Mughals and the Ottomans’ (2020)
  2. Raghu Malhotra, ‘The Making of a Mughal: Ideas of Kingship and Authority’ (2017)
  3. Sadaf Bandeali, ‘Religion, Politics, and Conversion to Islam in the Ottoman Empire and Early Modern North India’ (2017)
  4. Aastha Singh, ‘The Emperor’s Voice: Babur’s Imperial Self-Identity through the Lens of Baburnama’ (2017)
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