April 2023


Online Via Zoom


The Ottoman Sultan and the Arakkal Queen: Questions of a Matrilineal Sovereign

Indian Ocean and Beyond: Outward Bound from Gujarat

Mahmood Kooria

Visiting Faculty
Ashoka University

The Ottoman archives have not been explored much to write south Indian history. Taking a letter from the Sultan Abdul Hamid I (r. 1774-1789) of the Ottoman Empire to Junumabe II (r. 1777-1819), the Queen of Arakkal Ali Raja Dynasty in Kannur on the southwest Indian coast, this talk explores layered notions of sovereignty circulated between two Muslim dynasties in the eighteenth century. How did divine, historical, transregional, and matrilineal conceptions of power enable the validation of a Muslim woman’s rule at a time when her sovereignty was challenged? Why did she request a distant ruler’s support instead of any subcontinental sovereigns who far outshone any contemporary Asian kingdoms such as the Mughals?

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Mahmood Kooria

Mahmood Kooria holds research positions at Leiden University (the Netherlands) and the University of Bergen (Norway) and is a visiting faculty of History at Ashoka University (India). He read his PhD at the Leiden University Institute for History in 2016, authored Islamic Law in Circulation: Shāfiʿī Texts across the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean (Cambridge University Press, 2022), and co-edited Malabar in the Indian Ocean World: Cosmopolitanism in a Maritime Historical Region (Oxford University Press, 2018) and Islamic Law in the Indian Ocean: Texts, Ideas and Practices (Routledge, 2022). He was a visiting professor at the National Islamic University, Jakarta, Indonesia, and a research fellow at the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS) and African Studies Centre (ASC), Leiden; Dutch Institute in Morocco (NIMAR), Rabat.