Shounak Ghosh is a doctoral candidate of early modern South Asian history. His research examines diplomacy as an expression of statecraft and a language of power in the Persianate world from the late fifteenth to the mid-seventeenth centuries. It investigates the changing meanings ascribed to ambassadorial performance, scribal practices of diplomatic letter-writing, and courtly rituals of gift-giving for the enactment of sovereignty and articulation of political ideology. His project critically engages with Persian manuscript collections and archival documents in various textual genres such as ḵẖat̤-wa-kitābat (epistolatory correspondence), munshaʼāt (literary compositions), waqāʼiʻ (reports of events), tārīḵẖ (court histories), ʻarẓ-dāsht (petitions), and farmān (royal orders). His research interests center around medieval institutions of statecraft and governance; diplomatic encounters, scribal and documentary practices, and material cultures in the Persianate world; regional histories of the Deccan, western coastal India, and north India; Portuguese trade in the Indian Ocean; and legal histories of the early modern world. His advisor is Professor Samira Sheikh.
Prior to joining Vanderbilt, Shounak received his education and training in History from Presidency College, Kolkata and the Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. His M.Phil. dissertation, titled “Negotiating Rivalries: Trade, Territoriality and Diplomacy in Sixteenth-Century Coastal Gujarat and Western Deccan”, sought to locate South Asian politics within the contested trading world of the western Indian Ocean through a study of diplomatic encounters between competing dynasties and polities. He has also served as an editorial assistant for Studies in History, a leading peer-reviewed journal of South Asian studies, published bi-annually from CHS, JNU by SAGE publications.