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SeemaAlavi
2009–2010
William Bentinck-Smith Fellow
Jamia Millia Islamia (India)
History
Travel, Migration, and the Wahabi Diaspora: The Turn toward Arabic Learning and Culture in Nineteenth-century South Asia

Seema Alavi is a professor of history at Jamia Millia Islamia in New Delhi, India. She specializes in medieval and early modern South Asia, with an interest in the transformation of the region’s legacy from Indo-Persian to one heavily affected by British colonial rule. She has written books on the military and medical cultures of the region from medieval to modern times. Her most recent book is Islam and Healing: Loss and Recovery of an Indo-Muslim Medical Tradition, 1600–1900 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008).

By mapping the migration of Arabic men of learning from India to West and Southeast Asia, Alavi is currently exploring the making of an Arabic imperium that existed alongside British colonialism in nineteenth-century South Asia. She will study the impact of such diasporic networks on the politics and culture of colonial India.

Alavi earned her PhD from the University of Cambridge in England. She has twice been a Fulbright Scholar and a Smuts Visiting Fellow at Cambridge and was a visiting scholar at the Harvard-Yenching Institute. She wrote Sepoys and the Company: Tradition and Transition in Northern India, 1770–1830 (Oxford University Press, 1995) and translated, with Muzzafar Alam, A European Experience of the Mughal Orient: The I‘jaz-i Arsalani (Persian Letters 1773–1779) of Antoine-Louis Henri Polier (Oxford University Press, 2001). She edited The Eighteenth Century in India (Oxford University Press, 2002) and serves on the editorial board of several journals, including Modern Asian Studies.

This information is accurate as of the fellowship year indicated for each fellow.
Photo by Tony Rinaldo