Rao Mohsin Ali Noor is a PhD candidate in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations with interests in the socio-religious and intellectual history of the early modern Ottoman Empire in general, and the place of the body in Ottoman politics, culture and society in particular. His ongoing PhD dissertation titled, “Contending with Crisis: Embodied Pieties, Attendant Anxieties and the Ottoman Struggle for Order in the 17th Century” explores how the late 16th and early 17th centuries witnessed a marked proliferation of interest in embodied manifestations of sacral kingship, saintly power, talismanic piety and religious ritual in the Ottoman Empire. It argues that, in an age of crisis typified by a breakdown of the socio-political order across Anatolia and the Balkans, questions about the projection of dynastic power, communal leadership in town and village, the protection of one’s life and property, and forms of religious practice conducive to salvation all came to be worked out on the contentious terrain of the body. This project will thus contribute to a growing body of scholarship on the nature of religious change in the late 16th and 17th century Ottoman Empire, challenge narrow understandings of "religion" and "the political" in early modern period, and shed light on contemporary debates on such topics during the unprecedented age of the Covid-19 pandemic, accelerating climate change and widespread income inequality.
Mohsin received an MA in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Chicago in 2016 and a BA in History from the Lahore University of Management Sciences in 2014.