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Daud Ali

Associate Professor

Williams Hall 804

Research Interests


Dr Daud Ali is an historian of pre-Mughal South Asia. He taught history for many years at SOAS, University of London, before relocating to Penn in 2009. His area of training and expertise is early medieval South Asia, but his research interests have expanded over the years. His research has focused on the history of mentalities and practices in pre-Sultanate South Asia, and he has published on a wide range of subjects, including courtly and monastic discipline, mercantile practices, conventions in erotic poetry and courtship, slavery, ideas of space, time and history in inscriptions, early Southeast Asian history, and, most recently, on gardens and landscape in the medieval Deccan. Future and ongoing projects include collaborative projects on the history of friendship in early and medeival South Asia, a translation of a Buddhist text on erotics, as well as a study of the production of the king Bhoja cycles in Western India.

Selected Publications


Monographs and Edited Volumes

2011. (ed., with Emma Flatt) Garden and Landscape Practices in Precolonial India: Histories from the
 (Delhi: Routledge, 2011).

2011. (ed., with Indra Sengupta). Knowledge Production, Pedagogy and Institutions in Colonial India. (New York: Palgrave, 2011).

2010. (ed., with Anand Pandian) Ethical Life in South Asia. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2010.

2004. Courtly Culture and Political Life in Early Medieval India. Cambridge University Press, 2004.

2000. Querying the Medieval: The History of Practice in South Asia (with Ronald Inden and Jonathan Walters). Oxford University Press, New York, 2000.

1999. (ed.) Invoking the Past: the Uses of History in South Asia.  Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1999.


Selected Articles:


2021. ‘Towards a History of Courtly Emotions in Early Medieval India, c. 300-700 CE’ South Asia History and Culture 12, 2-3: 129-45.

2019. ‘The Rise of Epigraphic Compacts in Medieval South India,’ Puruṣārtha 37 : 27-50.

2018. ‘The Betel-bag Bearer in South Indian History: A Study from Inscriptions’, in Manu Devadevan, ed. Clio and her Descendants: Essays for Kesavan Veluthat. Delhi: Primus Books, pp. 535-558

2017, 'The Death of a Friend: Companionship, Loyalty and Affiliation in Chola South India,’ Studies in History 33,1: 36-60.

2016. ‘Bhoja’s Mechanical Garden: Translating Wonder across the Indian Ocean, c. 800-1000 CE’ History of Religions 55, 4: 460-93.

2014. ‘The Idea of the Medieval in the Writing of Indian History: Contexts, Methods, Politics,’ Social History 39, 3: 382-407.

2013. ‘Temporality, Narration and the Problem of History: A View from Western India c. 1100-1400’, Indian Economic and Social History Review 50, 2: 237-59.

2011. ‘The Early Inscriptions of Indonesia and the Problem of the Sanskrit Cosmopolis’, in P.Y. Manguin and A. Mani, eds., Early Interactions between South and Southeast Asia: Reflections on Cross-Cultural Exchange. New Delhi, Singapore: Manohar, ISEAS, Nalanda-Sriwijaya series, pp. 277-297.

2011. ‘Padmaśrī’s Nāgarasarvasva and the World of Medieval Kāmaśāstra’, Journal of Indian Philosophy 39, 1: 41-62.

2010. ‘Between Market and Court: The Careers of Two Courtier-Merchants in the Twelfth-century Deccan’ Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 53, 1: 185-211.

2009. (with Anand Pandian). ‘Genealogies de la vertu: pratiques ethiques en Asie du Sud’. Anthropologie et Sociétés , special issue,De l'anthropologie de la morale et de l’éthique, 33, 3: 43-60. 

2009. ‘Connected Histories?: Regional Historiography and Theories of Cultural Contact Between Early South and Southeast Asia’, in Terenjit Singh Sevea and Michael Feener, ed., Islamic Connections: Studies of Muslim South and Southeast Asia. Singapore: ISEAS Press, pp. 1-24.

2008. ‘Aristocratic Body Techniques in Early Medieval India’ in Rajat Datta, ed., Rethinking a Millennium. Delhi: Aakar Books, pp. 25-56.

2007. ‘Violence, Courtly Manners and Lineage Formation in Early Medieval India’, Social Scientist 35, 9 and 10: 3-21.

2007. 'The Service Retinues of the Chola Court: A Study of the term veḷam in Chola Inscriptions', Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 70, 3: 487-509.


Courses Taught


SAST 001 401 Introduction to Modern India

SAST 003 401 History, Culture, Religion in Early India


SAST 262/562 401 The Making of Medieval India

SAST 288 401 Body, Power, and Society in Early India

SKRT 480 001 Readings in Sankrit Literature

ARTH 515 401 Art of India's Northwest (co-taught with Michael Meister)

SAST 550 401 History of Hinduism

SAST 700 301 Proseminar in South Asia Studies: History & Society

SAST 705 301 Advanced Readings in Tamil