Chasing India in Mexico City

A paradox informs the writing of Mexican and Indian history. In Malintzin's Choices: An Indian Woman in the Conquest of Mexico (2006), Camilla Townsend writes that Mexico was conquered and could never be conquered because indigenous ways of being in the world survived, adapted, and continued. Similarly, in A Book of Conquest: The Chachnama and Muslim Origins in South Asia (2016), Manan Ahmed Asif writes that Sindh was conquered by British armies but cities such as Uch, in which shrines and trees remain imbued with the sacred, point to that which is impossible to conquer. If change itself has unchanging essence embedded within it (we must know what Sindh or Mexico are in order to recognize that they have changed), then what would it mean for postcolonized historians to think more deeply about what historical narrative cannot conquer, tame, or control? How might we think about ways of doing history that we have internalized despite these being products of European conquest themselves? To reflect on these questions, I draw on my forays into Mexican history as a Mughal historian and discuss how examining premodern and modern encounters between the Muslim world and the Americas might open windows into unexplored ways of inhabiting the past and present.