Three Ways To Be Alien
Travails and Encounters in the Early Modern World
Author: Sanjay Subrahmanyam
Series: Menahem Stern Jerusalem Series
Sanjay Subrahmanyam’s “Three Ways To Be Alien” draws on the lives and writings of a trio of marginal and liminal figures cast adrift from their traditional moorings into an unknown world. The subjects include the aggrieved and lost Meale, a “Persian” prince of Bijapur (in central India, no less) held hostage by the Portuguese at Goa; English traveler and global schemer Anthony Sherley, whose writings reveal a surprisingly nimble understanding of realpolitik in the emerging world of the early 17th century; and Nicolò Manuzzi, an insightful Venetian chronicler of the Mughal Empire in the later 17th century who drifted between jobs with the Mughals and various foreign entrepôts, observing all but remaining the eternal outsider. In telling the fascinating story of floating identities in a changing world, Subrahmanyam also succeeds in injecting humanity into global history and proves that biography still plays an important role in contemporary historiography.