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MEET THE AUTHORS OF AFRICAN ELITES IN INDIA:
Kenneth Robbins and John McLeod

 

Staff Report

WASHINGTON, D.C., 18 May 2006—History books are replete with the stories of African kings ruling their own continent. But few books relay the history of sub-Saharan Africans gaining positions of power and status on the continent of India.

On Saturday, 10 June at 2 p.m., at the Freer Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., Kenneth Robbins, South Asian scholar and author, and John McLeod, chair of the history department at the University of Louisville and a specialist in South Asian history, discuss their new book African Elites in India: Habshi Amarat (Mapin Publishing Pvt, Ltd). A book signing will follow.

According to the book's liner notes:

Sub-Saharan Africans have a longstanding and distinguished presence in India, where they are most commonly known as Habshis or Sidis. Habshi is the Arabic for Abyssinian or Ethiopian, and Sidi is apparently derived from the Arabic sayyidi, "my lord." In 1996, the authoritative Anthropological Survey of India reported sizeable communities of African ancestry in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka in southern India, Gujarat in the west, and the metropolises of Delhi, Kolkata, and Mumbai.

The lavishly illustrated book focuses not only on the little-known group of elite sub-Saharan African- Indian merchants, soldiers, nobles, statesmen, and rulers who attained prominence in India in the fifteenth to twentieth centuries but also on Africans who served at the courts of Indian monarchs as servants, slaves, eunuchs, or concubines. Several paintings from the Freer and Sackler collection will be featured in the lecture.


African Elites in India: Habshi Amarat
by Kenneth X. Robbins (Editor), John McLeod (Editor)
Hardcover: 224 pages
Mapin Publishing Pvt, Ltd.; 1st edition (July 2006)
ISBN: 1890206970
$65.00

Freer + Sackler Galleries
Smithsonian Institution
The Freer Gallery of Art
Jefferson Drive at 12th Street, SW
Washington, D.C.
Tel: (1) 202 633 48 80



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