Zahra Shah completed her DPhil in History at the University of Oxford in November 2017. Her doctoral thesis, entitled ‘Between Classical and Cosmopolitan: Persian in Early Colonial India, c.1757-1857’, studied Persianate literary culture in north India and sought to understand the changing social relations which underpinned literary production and circulation under the English East India Company. Before joining the LSE as a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow in 2021, she taught at Government College University, Lahore.
Zahra’s current project studies the Wazir Khan Mosque in late Mughal and early colonial Lahore. Her work explores the ways in which experiences of Islam shaped daily lives and historical consciousness in the early modern world, seen through the prism of the Wazir Khan Mosque Lahore. Drawing on a unique collection of manuscripts associated with the Mosque, alongside private Naqshbandi Sufi collections, the project proposes that everyday experiences of Islam shaped attitudes towards decline, destruction and the preservation of the past. Global in its relevance due to the cosmopolitanism of centres such as Lahore, this is also the one of the first serious attempts to situate Lahore in the historiography of early modern South Asia. Her other research interests include early modern and colonial Indian literary cultures, the history of the printed book in South Asia and female authorship in eighteenth-century India.