Professor Nandini Das wins the British Academy Book Prize for Global Cultural Understanding

courting india
nandini das

We’re delighted to share the news that Nandini Das, Professor of Early Modern Literature and Culture, has won the British Academy Book Prize for Global Cultural Understanding for her book Courting India: England, Mughal India and the Origins of Empire (Bloomsbury). 

Professor Nandini Das said: "Receiving this award is an honour and a privilege, and I want to thank the panel and the British Academy for it. And I want to thank them even more for bringing together the extraordinary other books and writers from whose work I have learned so much already, with whose approach to the role of the researcher, the writer, to the place of the humanities within our current, fraught cultural discourses, so much of my own thinking resonates. To be considered part of that company is equally an honour."  

Professor Charles Tripp, the chair of the judging panel, commented on behalf of the panel:

“Nandini Das has written the true origin story of Britain and India. By using contemporary sources by Indian and by British political figures, officials and merchants she has given the story an unparalleled immediacy that brings to life these early encounters and the misunderstandings that sometimes threatened to wreck the whole endeavour. At the same time, she grants us a privileged vantage point from which we can appreciate how a measure of mutual understanding did begin to emerge, even though it was vulnerable to the ups and downs of Mughal politics and to the restless ambitions of the British.

“Through her beautiful writing and exceptional research, the judging panel was drawn to the contrast between an impoverished, insecure Britain and the flourishing, confident Mughal Empire and the often-amusing, sometimes querulous exchanges between their various representatives. Moreover, we were reminded through this story of the first ambassadorial mission of the value of international diplomacy, but also of the cultural minefields that surround it in ways that still have resonance today.”

The judging panel included Professor Madawi Al-Rasheed FBA, Professor Rebecca Earle FBA, Fatima Manji, and Professor Gary Younge Hon FBA.

Professor Julia Black, President of the British Academy, said:

“The power of good writing and a well-told story in getting people to understand each other should not be underestimated. This book does just that, drawing on the best of the academic and the literary traditions to shed light on how we are today.”

Find out more about the prize on the British Academy website.