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Three Ways to Be Alien
Travails and Encounters in the Early Modern World
Sanjay Subrahmanyam

The Menahem Stern Jerusalem Lectures

2011 • 248 pp. 7 illus. 3 maps. 6 x 9"
World History

$35.00 Paperback, 978-1-58465-992-1
$34.99 Ebook, 978-1-61168-019-5

Check your ebook retailer or local library for ebook availability.

“Covering an impressive geographical area and chronological span, from the Western Mediterranean to India, from the 1530s to the 1720s, Subrahmanyam draws on a vast range of sources—letters, contracts... [continued in Reviews below]”—American Historical Review

A study of individual trajectories in an early modern global context

Sanjay Subrahmanyam’s Three Ways to Be Alien draws on the lives and writings of a trio of marginal and liminal figures cast adrift from their traditional moorings into an unknown world. The subjects include the aggrieved and lost Meale, a “Persian” prince of Bijapur (in central India, no less) held hostage by the Portuguese at Goa; English traveler and global schemer Anthony Sherley, whose writings reveal a surprisingly nimble understanding of realpolitik in the emerging world of the early seventeenth century; and Nicolò Manuzzi, an insightful Venetian chronicler of the Mughal Empire in the later seventeenth century who drifted between jobs with the Mughals and various foreign entrepôts, observing all but remaining the eternal outsider. In telling the fascinating story of floating identities in a changing world, Subrahmanyam also succeeds in injecting humanity into global history and proves that biography still plays an important role in contemporary historiography.

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Reviews / Endorsements

“Covering an impressive geographical area and chronological span, from the Western Mediterranean to India, from the 1530s to the 1720s, Subrahmanyam draws on a vast range of sources—letters, contracts, diplomatic records, testaments, personal chronicles—to tell the stories (always in the plural) of identities caught between cultures. . . . This is an extraordinarily elegant study of individuals who lived at the intersection of cultures, religions, and political systems, and of the creative strategies they deployed, more or less successfully, to negotiate their presence therein.”—American Historical Review

“Through case-studies of three quite remarkable ‘aliens’ and ‘border-crossers’ Sanjay Subrahmanyam has given us a startling new vision into the intricacies and the day to day realities of the always unsteady, always conflictual nature of cultural ‘encounters’ across and within the European and Muslim empires of the early-modern world. With his wry humor, keen eye for detail, and gift for startling juxtaposition, no one can match him.”—Anthony Pagden, author of Worlds at War: The 2500 Year Struggle between East and West

“Integrating biography, microhistory, and world history in the study of cultural border crossers, Subrahmanyam’s book will probably initiate a whole new generation of studies in the field of cultural encounters in which individual lives figure prominently. Few scholars in the world can match his mastery of the political and economic history of the Early Modern empires of Asia and Europe, or the ease with which he crosses historiographical traditions to bring their history together in this lucid and innovative study.”—Stuart B. Schwartz, Yale University

SANJAY SUBRAHMANYAM is the Navin & Pratima Doshi Chair of Indian History at UCLA. He is the author of numerous books, including The Career and Legend of Vasco da Gama.

Thu, 14 Mar 2019 13:08:17 -0500