Ph.D. (SALC)– University of Chicago, 2008
B.A. (History)– Miami University, Ohio 1997
B.A. (Math & Physics)– University of the Punjab, 1991
Manan Ahmed, Associate Professor, is a historian of South Asia and the littoral western Indian Ocean world from 1000-1800 CE. His areas of specialization include intellectual history in South and Southeast Asia; critical philosophy of history, colonial and anti-colonial thought. He is interested in how modern and pre-modern historical narratives create understandings of places, communities, and intellectual genealogies for their readers.
He is a member of Columbia's Center for Study of Ethnicity and Race, Center for the Study of Muslim Societies, and Committee on Global Thought. He is an Executive Editor for Journal of the History of Ideas, and a Senior Editor at Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East. He is the Chair of the South Asia Council at Association for Asian Studies, and on the Editorial Board for the journals Philological Encounters and Al-'Usur Al-Wusta: The Journal of Middle East Medievalist.
His first monograph, A Book of Conquest: Chachnama and Muslim Origins in South Asia (Harvard University Press, 2016), is on the intellectual life of an early thirteenth-century history Chachnama. You can listen to two podcasts on the book--New Books and Ottoman History. There is also a book talk in Urdu.
His second monograph, The Loss of Hindustan: The Invention of India (Harvard University Press, 2020; pbk 2023) is a concept-history of “Hindustan,” focusing specifically on the work of the seventeenth century Deccan historian Firishta (fl. 1570-1620). The Loss of Hindustan was shortlisted for the Cundill History Prize 2021. An Arabic translation by Ayman Shehata Assal, Diyā Hindstan, came out in July 2022 from Al-Maktab Al-Arabe Lil-Maaref Egypt. You can listen to a podcast about the book with HistoryExtra.
His third monograph, Disrupted City: Walking the Pathways of Memory and History in Lahore is forthcoming in early 2024 from The New Press. His next book project is on the history of AI and Area Studies. He is also co-editing a volume of the forthcoming Cambridge History of Colonization and Decolonization with Profs Stephanie Smallwood (UW-Seattle) and Evelyn Hu-DeHart (Brown).
He has extensive background in digital history, in the history of archives in the global south and the problems of access and control to digitized materials. He founded Chapati Mystery--a cultural and intellectual history blog--in 2004. His recent projects include: Torn Apart/Separados which focused on the humanitarian crisis on the southwestern border in Summer 2018) and Targeted Harassment of Academics by Hindutva: A Twitter Analysis of the India-US Connection--a study focused on right-wing social media. He is currently working on community based archival project in Harlem.
He is one of the lead faculty in two major international research projects: "Decolonization, the Disciplines and the University" (2019-2025) funded by the Mellon Foundation and "Muslims in India" (2020-2023) funded by the Luce Foundation. He directs the "Qalam Pakistan Initiative" at the History Department at Columbia.
Manan Ahmed teaches “History of South Asia I” — a survey from medieval to the early modern period — in the Fall semester. His other 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. The syllabi for the various courses are available here.
His articles and book chapters (and reviews) can be accessed via Columbia Academic Commons.