Writing Mughal Empire: The Memoirs of Babur

Babur greets courtiers at the Id Festival (1595, British Library, Johnson 2, 12)

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Examining the Baburnama

Zahiruddin Muhammad Babur, the 16th-century founder of the Mughal Empire in India, was not only a prince and military commander, but an accomplished poet and writer. Among his writings are his renowned memoirs, the Baburnama, rare manuscripts of which can be found at the British Library. 

Beginning in the 19th century, English translation and reception of the memoirs have proven somewhat Eurocentric and narrow, focusing upon its autobiographical features. In this presentation, such readings will be critiqued in favour of understanding the work rather for its imperial significance as a narrative of active empire building. Furthermore, the paper will consider Babur’s use of Chagtai Turkic in writing the memoirs, arguing that this choice of language is a marker of the Mughal Empire’s celebration of matrilineal imperial heritage. The speaker is Lubaaba Al-Azami, an AHRC funded doctoral candidate in English Literature at the University of Liverpool. Her research project explores pre-western colonial encounters between Europe and the Islamic worlds with a focus on early modern English engagements with Mughal femininity.


Name: Writing Mughal Empire: The Memoirs of Babur
Where: Foyle Visitor and Learning Centre
The British Library
96 Euston Road
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When: -
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