Dr Nur Sobers-Khan completed a PhD in Islamic History in 2012 at the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at the University Cambridge, having previous completing a BA in Oriental Studies (Arabic and Persian) at the same institution in 2006. Her PhD dissertation, entitled, ‘Slaves without Shackles: Forced Labour and Manumission in the Galata Court Registers: 1560-1572,’ consisted in a microhistorical study of the social and cultural context of slavery in the early modern Ottoman Empire, using a selection of legal and archival documents as well as manuscripts in Arabic, Ottoman, Persian and various European languages. From 2012 to 2013, Dr. Sobers-Khan was the Iran Heritage curator for Persian manuscripts at the British Library, where she was engaged in creating a digital reference tool for the Persian manuscripts held in the BL, refining the catalogue of the Delhi Persian collection, and digitizing the notes for the unpublished Volume III of the BL’s Persian manuscript catalogue, for which she was awarded a separate grant by the Barakat Trust. In 2014-2015, she worked as a curator at the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar, where she curated two exhibitions: ‘Building Our Collection: Mughal and Safavid Albums’ and co-curated ‘Qajar Women: Images of Women in 19th-century Iran’.
Her current research focuses on intellectual and material exchange in the early modern Islamic world, stretching geographically from the Ottoman to the Mughal Empire, with a particular interested in the circulation of texts and manuscripts between the Ottoman and Mughal spheres and the influence of Timurid-era developments in religious education on the later Ottoman and Mughal madrasa curricula. Following this vein of inquiry, she also become very interested in Mughal-era fiqh and hadith scholarship and is currently researching 17th-century manuscripts from the Mughal library that shed light on the contours of religious and scientific scholarship at the Mughal court, to understand issues of translation and transmission of knowledge. Other current areas of interest include translation between Latin, Arabic, Persian and Urdu at the Mughal and Deccan courts.
Dr Nur Sobers-Khan is currently Lead Curator for South Asia at The British Library in London.