Associate Professor, Department of History
Rajeev Kinra specializes in South Asian intellectual history, particularly in early modern north India. His research draws on several linguistic traditions (including Persian, Hindi-Urdu, and Sanskrit), and speaks to a number of related themes: literary and political culture; modes of cultural translation and religious dialogue; memory and historiography; literary periodization and canonicity; Orientalist constructions of the past; and the South Asian imperial imagination, from antiquity to the present. Many of these themes are explored in his dissertation, “Secretary-Poets in Mughal India and the Ethos of Persian: The Case of Chandar Bhan ‘Brahman’”, which examines the life, Persian writings, and cultural-historical milieu of the celebrated Mughal litterateur, Chandar Bhan ‘Brahman’—who rose from a provincial clerkship in seventeenth-century Punjab all the way to the rank of imperial Chief Secretary (mir munshi) during the reign of Emperor Shah Jahan (the famous builder of the Taj Mahal, r. 1628-58). Each chapter treats some facet of Chandar Bhan’s writings and related historical or literary materials as a focal point from which to address matters of more general concern for our understanding of the long trajectory of Indo-Persian literary culture and history. In addition to review articles and opinion pieces, his current publications include “The World the Mughals Made,” an instructional manual chapter for the Longman’s Anthology of World Literature (edited by Sheldon Pollock), and he has three articles in preparation: on Dara Shukoh’s eclectic 17th-century cultural circle; on the framework of literary-historical periodicity in the Mughal poetics of taza-gu’i (“speaking the fresh/new”); and on the deep history of virtue and ethics as articulated in Indo-Persian secretarial culture.