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Gotha Manuscript Talks: "What is the Delhi Collection and why does it matter?"

As part of the "Gotha Manuscript Talks" series, the Gotha Research Library of the University of Erfurt invites all interested parties to the next online lecture on Wednesday, 27 April, at 6.15 pm. Dr Nur Sobers-Khan (MIT, Aga Khan Documentation Center) will give a talk entitled "What is the Delhi Collection and why does it matter? Looting, Restitution and Islamic Manuscripts in 1857 Delhi" about the so-called Delhi Collection of the British Library in London. The event will be held in English.

The Delhi Collection has long been considered a remnant of the Mughal Library, consisting of some 1957 volumes of Arabic manuscripts, 1550 Persian and 157 Urdu manuscripts. However, by closely examining the manuscript records of a 19th century scholar, it is possible not only to reconstruct his intellectual network, but also to show that the Delhi collection contains the libraries of private scholars whose collections were looted in 1857. This scholar belonged precisely not to the milieu of the Mughal court, but was connected to the anti-colonial network of Muslim scholars of the Madrasah Rahimiyah. By observing the colophons and entries in conjunction with the content of the manuscripts, it is possible to sketch the biography of this scholar, his patronage network, and the intellectual motivations and tendencies that led him to copy the texts. In this way, the lecture shows, something of the Muslim intellectual world of Delhi before 1857 can be captured, which British colonial violence was trying to destroy.

Nur Sobers-Khan is the director of the Aga Khan Documentation Center, a research centre and archive on Islamic visual culture and urbanism at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. From 2015 to 2021, she was the Senior Curator of South Asian Collections at the British Library in London. There she was Curator of the South Asian Book and Manuscript Collections and led the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)-funded "Two Centuries of Indian Print" project (2016–2021). Nur Sobers-Khan's current research focuses on the temporal transition from manuscript to print in South Asia and the creation of new genres and forms of reading through the circulation of lithographed texts on cosmology, dream interpretation and other divine literatures. She has taught at the University of Cambridge, St Mary's University College and Habib University, where she designed the undergraduate courses "Dream Interpretation: A Decolonial History" and "Islamic Art and Visual Culture: From the Middle East to South Asia".

The event can be accessed via the following link: https://uni-erfurt.webex.com/meet/veranstaltungen.fb.
Registration is not required.

About the lecture series:

The Gotha Research Library preserves the third largest collection of Oriental manuscripts in Germany. These approximately 3,400 manuscripts, most of which came into the library around 1800, are relevant to all fields of scholarship and shed light on the most diverse aspects of manuscript cultures. By inviting renowned researchers to the "Gotha Manuscript Talks", the Gotha Research Library would like to use the material in a webinar series to provide impulses for an increased exchange on manuscript cultures across disciplinary boundaries and to bring researchers and interested parties into conversation with each other about oriental manuscripts. All lectures will be held in English.


Further information / contact:

Curator of the Oriental Manuscript Collection
(Gotha Research Library)
Gotha Research Library (Gotha, Schlossplatz 1)
Office hours
on appointment
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