Northwestern Events Calendar


"Bankrolling Empire: Family Fortunes and Political Transformation in Mughal India" Sudev Sheth (University of Pennsylvania)

When: Wednesday, April 17, 2024
3:30 PM - 5:00 PM CT

Where: Kresge Hall, 1515, 1880 Campus Drive , Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Cindy Pingry   (847) 467-1933

Group: South Asia Research Forum

Category: Academic


In this talk, Sudev Sheth will trace how a family of diamond dealers deployed wealth to play off political leaders and survive the collapse of the Mughal Empire. The story highlights the unique role played by Jain and Hindu bankers in the daily affairs of Islamic, Hindu, and early colonial forms of Indian government. Sheth employs unconventional sources to tap into the thrilling lives of moneyed persons. Excerpts from Persian diaries, Gujarati poems, French trading manuals, Marathi letters, Sanskrit hymns, and Dutch shipping records tell new tales and are presented in English translation for the very first time. Spanning several political dynasties and still thriving today as a billion-dollar family firm in its fourteenth generation, the entrepreneurs featured in this talk help us see state power and social change through fresh eyes. How did capitalists outsmart politicians, and what insights can we gain for our own times?

About the speaker:

Dr. Sudev Sheth is Senior Lecturer in History at the Joseph H. Lauder Institute of Management & International Studies and in the Department of History at the University of Pennsylvania where he teaches across the School of Arts & Sciences and the Wharton School. He was previously on the faculty at Harvard Business School where he held the Harvard-Newcomen Fellowship in Business History.
His writings have appeared in top academic journals and popular outlets, including The Conversation, Economic & Political Weekly, Mint, Manuscript Studies, and Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient.


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