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Bhoja's Court

The Mary Albertson Lecture in Medieval Studies will be presented on Monday, February 27 at 5:00pm in Science Center 199 Cunniff Hall.

Dr. Daud Ali, Associate Professor and Undergraduate Chair of South Asia Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, will present "Place, Memory, and Kingship in Medieval India: the pasts of King Bhoja as Lieux de Mémoire. The paper will attempt to make sense of the historical traditions, stories, and local accounts that have accumulated around the famous medieval king Bhoja, widely believed to have ruled in Central India during the eleventh century of the Common Era. Modern historians, faced with a truly overwhelming amount of material related to this king, have, in Rankean fashion, undertaken the by no means easy task of reconstructing the ‘historical’ Bhoja, a kind of hybrid figure composed of fragments assembled from diverse and chronologically dispersed sources. This paper contests the coherence of this figure by disentangling the strands of evidence used to construct it through attention to what Pierre Nora once called lieux de memoire, or ‘sites of memory’. But unlike Nora’s project, the paper will read these topoi, often articulated around both real and imagined places, as departure points for histories and memories that remain radically incommensurable and unassimilable to the modernist historical projects that have retrieved, disciplined, and re-organized them into the figure widely known as Bhoja today.