Manan Ahmed

Manan Ahmed

Research Interest


Ph.D. – University of Chicago, 2008
B.A. – Miami University, Ohio 1997
B.A. – Punjab University, 1991

Service AY '17-18

Departmental: Graduate Admissions Committee, Summer School Co-ordinator

University: EPPC Evaluation Sub-Committee, EPPC Tenure Teaching Evaluation Sub-Committee

Interests and Research

Manan Ahmed, Assistant Professor, is interested in the relationship between text, space and narrative. His areas of specialization include Muslim intellectual history in South and Southeast Asia; critical philosophy of history, early modern and modern South Asia. His monograph, A Book of Conquest: The Chachnama and Muslim Origins in South Asia (Harvard University Press, 2016) is an intellectual history of a text— the early thirteenth century Persian history called Chachnama— and a place— the medieval city of Uch Sharif in southern Punjab, Pakistan. From the vantage point of that text and space, the book presents a vision of being Muslim in South Asia over this longue durée, while resisting the narratives of ‘foreign-ness’ and ‘otherness’ that assemble around the Indian Muslim subject. His current research is a comparative, global project on philosophy of history stretching from the thirteenth through nineteenth century, focusing on Arabic, Persian and Urdu histories and their relationship to the emergence of “World History” (Weltgeschichte) in the nineteenth century. He recently co-organized two scholarly gatherings in regards to this project— “A History of Difference: Piety and Space in Early Modern West Asia” and Indo-Ghuria: Continuities and Ruptures in 12th-13th-Century South and Central Asia

He is the co-founder of the Group for Experimental Methods in the Humanities at Columbia. His work in Digital History focuses on spatial and textual understandings of medieval past— a recent collaborative project is "Delivering post by foot in medieval north India.” He is also guiding the “Manuscripts of the Muslim World” digitization project.


Manan Ahmed teaches a survey of South Asia from medieval to the early modern period in the Fall semester. His regular courses are "Worlds of Mughal India," "Borderlands: Towards the Spatial History of Empire," "Walking & Colonialsm." He incorporates a Digital History Lab with most of his courses and is currently developing a Lab course on the sixteenth century chronicle of Mughal India, the Akbarnama. The syllabi for the various courses are available here.


His articles and reviews can be accessed via Columbia Academic Commons.

Manan Ahmed Asif. Quarantined histories: Sindh and the question of historiography in colonial India- Part I. History Compass, 2017;15:e12403. 

Manan Ahmed Asif. Quarantined histories: Sindh and the question of historiography in Colonial India—Part II. History Compass. 2017;15:e12398.

Manan Ahmed Asif. Narratives of Earliest Hindu-Muslim Encounters. Oxford Handbook of the Mughal World. 2017.

Manan Ahmed Asif. A Book of Conquest: The Chachnama and Muslim Origins in South Asia. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2016.

Manan Ahmed Asif and Anand Vivek Taneja, “Introduction to Ethics, and Enchantment in South Asia and the Middle East” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East Vol. 35, No. 2, 2015 

Manan Ahmed Asif, "Idols in the Archive." The Journal of Asian Studies, February, 2014: 73(1).

Manan Ahmed Asif, "Advent of Islam in South Asia" in Roger Long (edited), History of Pakistan, (Karachi: Oxford University Press) April, 2014.

Manan Ahmed Asif, "A Demon With Ruby Eyes." The Medieval History Journal, October, 2013; 16 (2).

Manan Ahmed Asif."Future's Past" in Adil Najam and Moeed Yusuf (edited) South Asia 2060, (London: Anthem Press) July, 2013 

Manan Ahmed. "The Long Thirteenth Century of the Chachnama." The Indian Economic and Social History Review, 49, 4 (2012): 459-91.

Manan Ahmed. "Adam's Mirror: The Frontier in the Imperial Imagination" in Rohit Chopra (ed) Reflections on Empire Redux, Economic & Political Weekly, vol. XLVI, no. 13, March-April, 2011.

Manan Ahmed. Where the Wild Frontiers Are: Pakistan and the American Imagination. Just World Books, 2011.