Why Chand Bibi Matters Today: Legends and Histories of a Medieval Deccan Queen
This paper focuses upon the life, world, and legends of the 16th century Queen Regent of Ahmadnagar and Bijapur, Chand Bibi (1550-1600), who played a critical role in the development of the Deccan sultanates, and at one point, even successfully defeated Akbar’s Mughal imperial forces. This paper is about the important role played by women rulers in pre-modern South Asian history, who have received scant attention. It also challenges north-centric perspectives of Mughal imperial development that have long dominated histories of ‘medieval Muslim South Asia’ and emphasizes the methodological importance of primary source analysis in history and the role of legends, in a quest to reconstruct women’s lives as queens and warriors of the pre-modern world.
Dr. Sarah Waheed is Assistant Professor of History at Davidson College (North Carolina, USA) where she teaches several courses such as modern South Asian history, gender and sexuality in South Asia, and history of the Indian Ocean world from medieval times to present. Previously, she has taught at other colleges and universities in the US: Mount Holyoke, Oberlin, Georgetown and George Mason Universities. Her scholarly expertise is on the history of South Asian Islam and the shaping of modern Muslim communities and her research has focused upon nationalist movements in late colonial India and early post-colonial Pakistan. Her book, which is based on doctoral research, Writers on Trial: Censorship and Literary Ethics in South Asia, focuses upon the Urdu progressive writers’ movement and how these intellectuals responded to legislative and social forms of censorship. It is currently under review with Cambridge University Press. She has also published various articles in Modern Asian Studies, HimalSouthAsia, and Postcolonial Text. Dr. Waheed is a historian who draws upon various scholarly methodologies from history, comparative literature and anthropology, and she regularly invokes interdisciplinary approaches in her work. Dr. Waheed’s new research project is focused upon the life and world of Chand Bibi, a 16th century Queen Regent of the Deccan Sultanates.