Nathan Tabor

Photo of Nathan Tabor
Nathan Tabor
Assistant Professor of History
(269) 387-4643
4410 Friedmann Hall, Mail Stop 5334
Mailing address: 
Department of History
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5334 USA
  • Ph.D., Asian Cultures and Languages, The University of Texas at Austin, 2014

Nathan Tabor is an assistant professor in the Department of History at Western Michigan University.

Nathan Tabor is a historian of Muslim South Asia and the wider Middle East, specializing in Urdu and Persian literatures and their patronage from the early modern period to the present. His research focuses on sociability and how Islamicate societies construct publicity and popular cultures. He uses ethnographic, historical, and digital humanities approaches to analyze a variety of Persian-, Hindi-, and Urdu-languages sources from the seventeenth century to the present.
Currently, he is finalizing a book manuscript entitled A Market for Speech: Literary Salons in Eighteen-Century Mughal India, a history of the Urdu- and Persian-language poetry gathering. Urdu speakers today call this the musha'irah, one of the world's largest institutions for the performance, circulation, and enjoyment of lyric verse. This book analyzes the musha'irah’s early history through the diaries, poetry collections, and lore that document famous gatherings held in Mughal India over the 1700s. The book considers how period writers, patrons, and chroniclers constructed social networks built through the circulation of lyric verse during a period when literary patronage and history writing moved beyond the Mughal court. The history of the musha’irah helps us to re-evaluate class-based connections to literature and to better understand popular culture in Islamicate South Asia and the Middle East today.
A new project considers a popular wrestling manual written in verse and its extensive commentaries written in prose. This composition from late seventeenth-century Isfahan remained popular in India into the late-nineteenth century. This research considers constructions of Islamicate erotics, masculinity, and embodiment through sports and particular linguistic registers. A second book manuscript, tentatively titled A Miraculous Death: Communalism and Popular Culture in 1980s Muslim India, considers the rise of populist Muslim voices in Urdu literature during a period of economic expansion and rising communal politics. Further interests include histories of drugs and trade on the Indian Ocean and Islamic devotional musics.
Nathan Tabor teaches courses in world history, specifically on the Middle East, Islamic history, and South Asia. He is also heading a university-wide educational initiative funded by a grant from the Department of Education which brings new undergraduate courses on Hindi language and South Asian culture to WMU through curricular development and community outreach.
HIST 3030, World History Since 1500
HIST 3015, History and Film
HIST 3850, Modern Middle East