The Genealogical Prison

Wednesday, 29 January 2020 - 5:00pm6:30pm

Widener Auditorium, Penn Museum, 3260 South Street

The Genealogical Prison

Kinship as a Historical Problem

Shahzad Bashir

Aga Khan Professor of Islamic Humanities, Brown University

Jamal Elias

Walter H. Annenberg Professor in the Humanities, University of Pennsylvania

Our notions of premodern history are often the result of applying the principle of lineage to literary sources. Information about the past is made to fit the gridlines of ruling dynasties, social elites, and inheritors of religious authority and charisma. Yet how can we use familial rhetoric, which can project both intimacy and conflict, as a historical resource, without being seduced by its seeming inherent logic? Drawing on Persian literature produced in South Asia around 1550–1800 CE, Professor Bashir treats kinship as “valorized temporality.” Penn Professor Jamal Elias, who has written and lectured widely on Islamic intellectual history and culture, joins Bashir in conversation to consider how history and the family are intertwined aspects of human social imagination.


Cosponsored by Penn’s Departments of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Religious Studies, and South Asia Studies.

Pre-registration requested.

Free and open to the public.

ASL Interpretation provided.