NRI, PIO, ET

Sanjay Subrahmanyam's  Three Ways to be Alien: Travails and Encounters in the Early Modern World looks at individual trajectories in an early modern global context. It draws on the lives and writings of a trio of marginal figures who were cast adrift from their traditional moorings into an unknown world.

The subjects include

  • a “Persian” prince of Bijapur in Central India held hostage by the Portuguese at Goa
  • an English traveller and global schemer whose writings reveal a nimble understanding of realpolitik in the emerging world of the early seventeenth century
  • 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 injects humanity into global history and shows that biography still plays an important role in contemporary historiography.

Anthony Pagden says "With his wry humor, keen eye for detail, and gift for startling juxtaposition, no one can match him." while Stuart Schwartz feels that "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.” 

From Permanent Black. In our History and Gossip sections, in hardcover,  248 pages, Rs 595. ISBN: 9788178243399

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