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Recovering a Missing Voice from Mughal India: The Imperial Discourse of Jahāngīr (R. 1605-1627) in his Memoirs

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This article argues against the common view according to which the Mughal emperor Jahāngīr was a political lightweight who was dominated by his famous spouse Nūr Jahān. Beginning with a discussion of the historiographical processes which presided over the construction of such a negative image, the essay continues with a thorough re-examination of the emperor's memoirs entitled Jahāngīr Nāma. This text brings out a coherent and original political voice, in which Jahāngīr skilfully connects his identities of sovereign, naturalist, and collector. The conclusion evaluates the impact of this discourse through a brief analysis of the reaction of the Mughal political and religious elite. Cet article s'élève contre l'opinion commune suivant laquelle l'empereur moghol Jahāngīr fut une figure politique mineure, dominée par sa célèbre épouse Nār Jahīn. Il s'ouvre sur une discussion des processus historiographiques qui présidèrent à la construction de cette image négative, et se poursuit par une réexamen serré des mémoires de l'empereur (ou Jahāngīr Nāma). En ressort une voix politique cohérente et originale, Jahāngīr articulant habilement ses identités de souverain, de naturaliste et de collectionneur. La conclusion évalue l'impact de ce discours à travers un rapide analyse de la réaction qu'il suscita auprès de l'élite politique et religieuse du royaume.

Affiliations: 1: CNRS, Paris;, Email: co.lefevre@gmail.com

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