The Instagram Chronicler of History

Ahsun Zafar, better known as brownhistory, has built an Instagram following, one sepia-toned South Asian story at a time.

Poornima Apte

May 10, 2019

The Instagram Chronicler of History

Ahsun Zafar’s first post on Instagram as brownhistory, on September 24, 2017, was of the last Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar, as an old, frail man in exile in Burma. It has since received 428 likes — a fraction of the 18,000+ likes on his most popular post in April 2019. The photograph shattered Zafar’s notions of royalty. “Most of Bollywood or paintings make these emperors really fancy. Yet, here was this weak, sad, and powerless man.”

“I realized that we don’t really hear about our own, that people from our culture have struggled against racism and other forms of oppression and fought back. All that gets diluted in the background,” Zafar said. “Brownhistory lets me put it together and in context.”