This essay argues that a convergence of global and postcolonial scholarship has led to a dominant mode of reading precolonial records in ways that are colonial in their perspective and political purpose. It traces this dominance between the eighteenth and the twentieth centuries. The first section contains a historically specific discussion of wealth-in-people to situate Afro-Asians in the subcontinent. The second outlines two Mughal historians of the late eighteenth century who also remembered these Afro-Asian lineages in honorable ways. A third section outlines moments of emancipation during the nineteenth century that redeployed the same peoples for colonial navies and rendered them into subalterns. The fourth section concludes with a brief discussion of modern historiography, which places all Afro-Asians in diaspora and confirms nationalist border thinking.

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