History of Art and Architecture

Mrinalini Rajagopalan Colloquium

Wednesday, March 28, 2018 - 12:00pm

Room 202, Frick Fine Arts Building

“Africans in India: An Exhibition at the UAG [February 15-March 21, 2019]”

A seventeenth-century painting shows the Mughal Emperor Jahangir (r. 1605-1627) shooting the decapitated head of his arch enemy Malik Ambār—an Abyssinian general who arrived in India as a slave, rose to the rank of general, and later ruled a principality that challenged Mughal imperial expansion. Compare this image of Malik Ambār to another from the same period that shows him dressed in simple yet stately white clothes. In this image he is both pious Muslim and dignified nobleman; unmistakably African while also Indian Muslim; simple devotee as well as formidable warrior.

These paintings are only two examples of the rich corpus of images that make up the Africans in India: From Slaves to Generals and Rulers exhibition. An initiative of the Schomburg Center at the New York Public Library, the exhibition first toured internationally in 2014 and 2015. In this colloquium I will be speaking about the exhibition and the related programming that my collaborator (Neepa Majumdar, English) have planned around its showing at Pitt. I invite colleagues and graduate students to come and learn about the exhibition and think about ways in which they might incorporate its material, the lectures, and film screenings into their courses for Spring 2019.