Connected Histories

Discussion points for In an Antique Land

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Giancarlo Casale suggests questions and topics to encourage and guide group discussion.

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In an Antique Land

One of the most difficult topics addressed in Amitav Ghosh’s book is the issue of slavery in the medieval Muslim world.  How does the slavery experienced by Bomma differ from the system of chattel slavery known to us from U.S. history?  Is “slavery” even an appropriate term for this institution? 

What is the orientation of Ghosh himself to Islam?  And to “the West”? Is he an outsider, an insider, or neither?  How is his own position, and the ambiguities surrounding it, communicated through his writing? 

What is the relationship between history and the present in In An Antique Land?  Is it one of harmony or of conflict, symmetry or contrast?  How is this reflected in the title, and in the way the book itself is organized? 

Compare In an Antique Land with at least one of the other books in the "Connected Histories" series. In what ways are they in conversation with one another, be it in terms of subject matter, genre, or content? Are there things that the unorthodox style and structure of Ghosh’s book allow him to communicate that the others do not? At what cost? And how does this relate to the problem of writing "Connected Histories"?

How to Cite This Page

"Muslim Journeys | Item #277: Discussion points for In an Antique Land", January 21, 2018 http://bridgingcultures.neh.gov/muslimjourneys/items/show/277.

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