Abstract: This talk will introduce some important ideas from sociolinguistics that are relevant to understanding the history of language. It will therefore reject the philological study of 'great works' and 'great thinkers' that has, I believe, distorted the historical study of imperial practices of power. I will then present a summary and comparative analysis the working of imperial languages in South Asia after c.1200 at two levels:
- the court-centered imperial project
- the office-centric clerical.
I will then gesturally mention the modern linguistic legacy of these processes in South Asia.
Speaker bio: Sumit Guha is Professor of History at the University of Texas at Austin. He was born in New Delhi, India and received his M.A. from JNU Delhi before winning a scholarship to the University of Cambridge where he was awarded the PhD in History in 1981.
He taught at St. Stephen’s College, Delhi from 1981 to 1991 and the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta, 1996-1999. He was appointed S. P. Das Professor at Brown University in 2000. He left Brown in 2004 to become Professor II at Rutgers University and joined the University of Texas in 2013.
His most recent book is Tribe and State in Asia through Twenty-Five Centuries (Published by the Association for Asian Studies, 2021). His next work is a study of the political ecology of empires in South Asia from 1400 to 1900.