Organized Panel Session
This panel reconsiders the independent southern Indian state of Mysore and its ruler, Tipu Sultan (d. 1799) through the lens of narrative, memory, and the region’s polyvocal pasts in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Tipu, often identified as a “Magnificent Exception” in South Indian history, continues to inspire popular retellings and scholarly reassessments. A rich historiography, drawing on eclectic archives in Persian, Kannada, Marathi, English, French, and German, has sought to rehabilitate Tipu as a harbinger of modernity or, at times, consigned him to Oriental Despotism. Moving beyond Tipu’s personhood and the question of legitimacy, this panel illustrates four different iterations within Mysore’s court culture.
Through Dakkani heroic-historic poems by Persianate literati, Dayal traces the movement of a pan-regional literary idiom from the Deccan to the Karnatak and its role in encapsulating political uncertainties amongst Mysore, the Nizam of Hyderabad, and the Marathas. Simmons addresses the construction of fidelity and infidelity in Tipu’s Mysore, discussing letters to other rulers where kingly righteousness was defined through political allegiance rather than religious tradition. Welsch turns to the decades immediately following Tipu’s death, arguing that Mysore’s historical memory played a conspicuous role in both elite and popular critiques of the emerging colonial state, especially its military structures. Kanalu addresses the nature of Islamicate sovereignty during Tipu’s reign by interrogating the preparation of the Zawabit-i sultani or the “Sultanic Regulations”, tracing the filtration of doctrinal elements proposed by jurists and considers the relevance of legal networks for exercising political authority in Mysore.