I recently spent a week in Ahmedabad consulting script specialists at the L.D. Institute of Indology, meeting retired history professors Makrand Mehta and his wife Shireen Mehta, and identifying resources that I will depend on during my year-long dissertation research visit in 2015.
The L.D. Institute of Indology contains over 50,000 monographs and thousands of rare manuscripts from the subcontinent. I met Dr. Preeti Pancholi and showed her some materials written in old-cursive Gujarati from the MS University of Baroda. We discussed ways to read the 18th & 19th century writings and exchanged contact information so that we could arrange a subsequent meeting in 2015.
I also met octogenarian Professor Makrand Mehta and his wife Professor Shireen Mehta. The Mehta’s taught history at Gujarat University and have written extensively on merchant cultures, business history, western India, and industrialization in the 18th & 19th centuries. Professor Makrand Mehta let me browse his library collection and photocopy materials related to my research. He also had a lively discussion with me about “merchant cultures”, and urged me to go beyond materialist-Marxist readings of my evidence. We talked about the ways that histories of the household and family across generations could be one way to better understand how the social and economic worlds of merchants merged.