Social Stratification at a Muslim Qasbah: The Case of Amroha in Colonial India
The central concern of the research project is to understand various conceptions and categorizations of social stratification and hierarchy existing among Muslims in colonial North India. This project primarily studies Urdu vernacular texts on tarikh and genealogy, produced at the qasbah of Amroha located in the Rohilkhand region of the United Provinces during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Through a discussion of the Urdu sources from the qasbah, comprising of works on tareekh (history) of the qasbah town and discussions of ilm al nasab (study of genealogies), my project attempts to understand the conceptions of social hierarchy that existed among Muslims of colonial North India. The underlying methodological approach guiding this research project is the understanding that modes of social stratification prevalent in a society can be gauged through interactional patterns among different social groups, but also through exploring what different communities mean and make of social stratification themselves. There are two methodological approaches that inform this study, that involve an understanding of both notions and the practice of social stratification. Firstly, I examine ashraf sources, mostly in the form of tareekh literature, texts on genealogy, including discourses on piety, akhlaq and adab. Secondly, the emphasis is to further our understanding of the perceptions of the non-ashraf groups, mainly the working classes or occupational groups, who also form the majority of the Muslim population, both in colonial and contemporary India. The second approach requires inputs from sources and methods that emerge from the field of labour history for an evaluation of industrialization and its relation to specific occupational groups at the end of the nineteenth century and early twentieth century. Further substantiation of the above understanding is attempted through an examination of source material emerging through the proliferation of vernacular literature, newspapers, pamplets, and initiatives of social organization pioneered by various social groups at the local level of the qasbah.
First Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Margrit Pernau
Second Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Torsten Tschacher
Third Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Gayer