Delighted that my article “Emotions in Indian Music History: Anxiety in Late Mughal Hindustan” has just been published open access.

It could not be more relevant to the plight of Afghan music, poetry, and other arts in this most anxious of times.…
In this essay I ask: what emotions arose when historical listeners were threatened with the loss of music — that crucial source of emotional stimulus—and how were those negative emotions expressed through historical texts?
I consider the Hayy al-Arwāh, a music treatise and tazkira (biographical collection) written by an ex-Mughal official from Delhi living in exile in Patna c. 1785–88, Miyan Zia-ud-din ‘Zia’.
Zia-ud-din’s work reveals much about the emotions felt by musicians and music lovers affected by the violent political upheaval centred on late Mughal Delhi c1740–80 – but not in obvious ways. For such an emotional subject, his writing is curiously dispassionate.
Nevertheless, I argue that his writing was impelled by one very powerful emotion in particular: anxiety. I argue it is precisely Zia-ud-din’s detatched attention to detail, as he traced hundreds of lost and scattered musicians and listeners, that reveals…
the emotional driving force behind the writing of the Hayy al-Arwāh to be a deep and abiding anxiety engendered by the very real existential threat of war and exile to the music of late Mughal Delhi.
In writing the Hayy al-Arwāh, Zia-ud-din acted as witness and record keeper for his community to insure against the potential loss of the music of his beloved homeland.
At the same time, the work of gathering and reporting information acted to alleviate his anxiety over the threatened disappearance of what was to him a most important source of personal solace.
This is for my Afghan musician friends. “Wherever you are now, may God bless you with health and safety…for you are my beloved friends.” ❤️

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13 Sep
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