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Canceled: CANCELED: Pious Labor: Islam, Artisanship, and Technology in Colonial India

Monday, March 20, 2023 at 11:00am

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Talk by Amanda Lanzillo (International History, Brunel University London)

How does studying the colonial industrial economy from the perspective of Muslim artisans and laborers shift our understanding of the consolidation of Indian social, economic, and religious hierarchies under colonial capitalism? How did Indian Muslim artisans make sense of rapid shifts in industrial practices and social hierarchies wrought through colonial capitalism? This lecture argues that across north Indian cities and large towns, Muslim artisans negotiated rapid industrial change, emerging technologies, and consolidating class and caste hierarchies by engaging with Muslim pasts for their trades.  It centers on the experiences of north Indian Muslim metalsmiths, tailors, and press workers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The lecture will show that, through an increasingly accessible popular press and intersecting forms of orality, artisans asserted Muslim traditions "from below." Artisan claims on the Islamic piety of their work reflected an effort to reassert authority over technology and material knowledge at a moment when technical authority was increasingly vested in the colonial state and the middle class. By engaging with new sites of knowledge circulation that expanded from the mid-nineteenth century—especially vernacular print and urban industrial workshops—Muslim artisans sought to challenge their economic, technical, and religious marginalization within Indian class and social hierarchies. 

Amanda Lanzillo is a Lecturer in South Asian History at Brunel University London. A historian of labor, technology, and religion in South Asia, her first book will study the histories of Muslim artisan communities and their engagement with industrial change in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Her work has appeared in peer-reviewed journals, including Modern Asian Studies, The Journal of Social History, and South Asia. She also writes for public-facing publications like The Wire, Himal South Asian, and Ajam. Lanzillo was previously a Cotsen Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts at Princeton University and holds a Ph.D. in history from Indiana University. She has been the recipient of fellowships, including an Association of Asian Studies Publication Support Grant, a Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Fellowship, and an American Institute of Indian Studies Junior Fellowship.

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Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, Asian Studies, Comparative Muslim Societies Program, South Asia Program, Religious Studies Program


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