Mohit Manohar specializes in the arts of South Asia, with a special focus on Deccan India. His research examines the processes, motivations, and meanings through which premodern patrons and makers constructed architectural and urban spaces. Alongside, his scholarship explores how architecture and urbanism can shed light on issues of race, religion, cross-cultural encounter, and ecology in premodern South Asia.
Manohar is at work on first book, provisionally titled Refracted Cities: Daulatabad and Delhi in Late Medieval India. Daulatabad is a city located in Deccan India, and between the thirteenth and the fifteenth century, Daulatabad and Delhi were of comparable size and prestige. Historical actors frequently moved between the two cities and attempted to construct Daulatabad in the image of Delhi. Yet the buildings and urban spaces in Daulatabad were never a one-to-one copy of those in Delhi. The Delhi buildings were reinterpreted—indeed “refracted”—in ingenious ways at Daulatabad. Studies of Delhi that do not take Daulatabad into account present only a partial picture of late medieval urbanism; nor can Daulatabad be examined without looking at Delhi. Refracted Cities thus presents a connected history of these two urban centers as can be narrated through their architecture. The project theorizes “refraction” as a useful heuristic to examine cities closely linked to one another. Furthermore, the project uncovers the political, religious, and racialized ideas embedded in architectural spaces at Delhi and Daulatabad.
Manohar received his B.A. from Princeton University and his Ph.D. from Yale University. His dissertation, The City of Gods and Fortune: An Architectural and Urban History of Daulatabad, ca. 13th–15th centuries, was awarded a UC Berkeley South Asia Art and Architecture Dissertation Prize and Yale University’s Frances Blanshard Prize. His research has been supported by grants and fellowships from the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, the Mellon Foundation, the Society of Architectural Historians, the Yale Center for British Art, and the Macmillan Center at Yale. Manohar is also a practising fiction writer and has received a PEN/Dau Prize for his creative work.