Tag Archives: History of Iran

The Idea of Iran: The Safavid Era

The Idea of Iran: The Safavid Era

27 October 2018, Brunei Gallery, SOAS London

The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries saw the establishment of the new Safavid regime in Iran, heir not only to the succession of leadership of the Safavid sufi order, but also to the Aq Qoyunlu dispensation of western Iran and more remotely to the Timurid Empire in the East. Along with reuniting the Persian lands under one rule, the Safavids initiated the radical transformation of the religious landscape by introducing Imami Shi‘ism as the official state faith and in this as in other ways, laying the foundations of Iran’s modern identity. While sometimes viewed as a period of decline from the highpoints of classical Persian literature and the visual arts of preceding centuries, the Safavid era was nevertheless a period of great literary and artistic activity in the realms of both secular and theological endeavour. In addition, with the establishment of comparable polities in across western, southern and central Asia at broadly the same time, interactions with Ottoman, Mughal and Uzbek neighbours ensured fruitful interactions with other Muslim states also making the transition for the medieval to the modern world. Finally, European encounters with these worlds provide rich new layers of information and evidence of material and intellectual transmission.What does the Idea of Iran mean at this period? Can we discern the ways that contemporaries viewed their traditions and their environment (natural or built); what was the view of outsiders, and how does modern scholarship define the distinctive aspects of the period? These are some of the questions we hope to explore in the symposium dedicated to this rich and highly productive period that took Iran to the eve of modernity.Convened by Sarah Stewart, SOAS and Charles Melville, University of Cambridge.

Continue reading The Idea of Iran: The Safavid Era

Jewish histories of twentieth-century Iran

  1. Sternfeld, Lior B. 2019. Between Iran and Zion: Jewish histories of twentieth-century Iran. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press.

Iran is home to the largest Jewish population in the Middle East, outside of Israel. At its peak in the twentieth century, the population numbered around 100,000; today about 25,000 Jews live in Iran. Between Iran and Zion offers the first history of this vibrant community over the course of the last century, from the 1905 Constitutional Revolution through the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Over this period, Iranian Jews grew from a peripheral community into a prominent one that has made clear impacts on daily life in Iran.

Drawing on interviews, newspapers, family stories, autobiographies, and previously untapped archives, Lior B. Sternfeld analyzes how Iranian Jews contributed to Iranian nation-building projects, first under the Pahlavi monarchs and then in the post-revolutionary Islamic Republic. He considers the shifting reactions to Zionism over time, in particular to religious Zionism in the early 1900s and political Zionism after the creation of the state of Israel. And he investigates the various groups that constituted the Iranian Jewish community, notably the Jewish communists who became prominent activists in the left-wing circles in the 1950s and the revolutionary Jewish organization that participated in the 1979 Revolution. The result is a rich account of the vital role of Jews in the social and political fabric of twentieth-century Iran.

Lior B. Sternfeld is Assistant Professor of History and Jewish Studies at Penn State.

Armenian Christians in Iran

Barry, James. 2019. Armenian Christians in Iran: Ethnicity, religion, and identity in the Islamic Republic. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Since the 1979 revolution, Iran has promoted a Shi’a Islamic identity aimed at transcending ethnic and national boundaries. During the same period, Iran’s Armenian community, once a prominent Christian minority in Tehran, has declined by more than eighty percent. Although the Armenian community is recognised by the constitution and granted specific privileges under Iranian law, they do not share equal rights with their Shi’i Muslim compatriots. Drawing upon interviews conducted with members of the Armenian community and using sources in both Persian and Armenian languages, this book questions whether the Islamic Republic has failed or succeeded in fostering a cohesive identity which enables non-Muslims to feel a sense of belonging in this Islamic Republic. As state identities are also often key in exacerbating ethnic conflict, this book probes into the potential cleavage points for future social conflict in Iran.
  • Table of Contents

Introduction
1. Iranism, Islam and Armenian-ness in Iran
2. Education and the construction of Armenian Iran
3. Discrimination, status and response
4. Stereotyping and identity
5. Performing Armenian-ness in Tehran
6. Identity and emigration
Conclusion.

  • Autor

James Barry is an Associate Research Fellow in Anthropology at Deakin University, Victoria specialising in religious and ethnic minorities. He holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Monash University, Melbourne. His research focuses on the role of Islam in Iranian foreign policy and supports the work of the Chair of Islamic Studies. In addition to Iran, Barry has carried out fieldwork in Australia, Indonesia and the United States.

Iran: A Modern History

Amanat, Abbas. 2018. Iran: A modern history. Yale University Press.

his history of modern Iran is not a survey in the conventional sense but an ambitious exploration of the story of a nation. It offers a revealing look at how events, people, and institutions are shaped by currents that sometimes reach back hundreds of years. The book covers the complex history of the diverse societies and economies of Iran against the background of dynastic changes, revolutions, civil wars, foreign occupation, and the rise of the Islamic Republic.

Abbas Amanat combines chronological and thematic approaches, exploring events with lasting implications for modern Iran and the world. Drawing on diverse historical scholarship and emphasizing the twentieth century, he addresses debates about Iran’s culture and politics. Political history is the driving narrative force, given impetus by Amanat’s decades of research and study. He layers the book with discussions of literature, music, and the arts; ideology and religion; economy and society; and cultural identity and heritage.

Abbas Amanat is professor of history and international studies at Yale University and director of the Yale Program in Iranian Studies at the MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies. He lives in North Haven, CT.

Source: Iran by Abbas Amanat – Yale University Press

A manual for Iranian Studies (Handbuch der Iranistik, Vol. 2)

Paul, Ludwig (ed.). 2017. Handbuch der Iranistik. Vol. 2. Wiesbaden: Reichert Verlag.
The second volume of the Handbook of Iranian Studies  follows the concept of the first volume and develops it further. It follows the division of the first volume (for the first Volume see here) into eight discipline-defined sections and completes the research overview of the first volume in a comprehensive way with about 50 articles. Thus, in the second part, the few gaps of the first volume are closed in eight sections, and the “Iranian Philosophy and Sciences” are added in a ninth section. The view is also directed increasingly at the geographical periphery of the Iranian world. Several articles deal with the history, culture and present of Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kurdistan and other regions. The second volume of the handbook of Iranian Studies, in addition to the first volume, also provides research reports. In the second volume, specialized research reports on certain areas are added in the second volume, such as “Persian Literature”: Contributions to Iranian exile and travel literature, current innovative topics such as gender, bio-ethics, the Internet and new media.
You can see the table of the contents of this volume here.
About the Editor:
Ludwig Paul is professor of Iranian Studies at the Asien-Afrika-Institut, Universität Hamburg. He is a scholar of Iranian Linguistic, dialektology as well as Iranian modern history.

Ctesias’ Persica and its Near Eastern Context

Waters, Matt. 2017. Ctesias’ Persica and its Near Eastern context (Wisconsin Studies in Classics). University of Wisconsin Press.

The Persica is an extensive history of Assyria and Persia written by the Greek historian Ctesias, who served as a doctor to the Persian king Artaxerxes II around 400 BCE. Written for a Greek readership, the Persica influenced the development of both historiographic and literary traditions in Greece. It also, contends Matt Waters, is an essential but often misunderstood source for the history of the Achaemenid Persian Empire.

Matt Waters is a professor of classics and ancient history at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire. He is the author of Ancient Persia: A Concise History of the Achaemenid Empire, 550–330 BCE and A Survey of Neo-Elamite History.

Source: UW Press: Ctesias’ Persica and Its Near Eastern Context

Women in Mongol Iran

De Nicola, Bruno. 2017. Women in Mongol Iran: The Khātūns, 1206–1335. Edinburgh University Press.

Bruno De Nicola investigates the development of women’s status in the Mongol Empire from its original homeland in Mongolia up to the end of the Ilkhanate of Iran in 1335. Taking a thematic approach, the chapters show a coherent progression of this development and contextualise the evolution of the role of women in medieval Mongol society. The arrangement serves as a starting point from where to draw comparison with the status of Mongol women in the later period. Exploring patterns of continuity and transformation in the status of these women in different periods of the Mongol Empire as it expanded westwards into the Islamic world, the book offers a view on the transformation of a nomadic-shamanist society from its original homeland in Mongolia to its settlement in the mostly sedentary-Muslim Iran in the mid-13th century.

Emergence of Iranian nationalism

Zia-Ebrahimi, Reza. 2016. The emergence of Iranian nationalism: Race and the politics of dislocation. New York: Columbia University Press.

Reza Zia-Ebrahimi revisits the work of Fath?ali Akhundzadeh and Mirza Aqa Khan Kermani, two Qajar-era intellectuals who founded modern Iranian nationalism. In their efforts to make sense of a difficult historical situation, these thinkers advanced an appealing ideology Zia-Ebrahimi calls “dislocative nationalism,” in which pre-Islamic Iran is cast as a golden age, Islam is reinterpreted as an alien religion, and Arabs become implacable others. Dislodging Iran from its empirical reality and tying it to Europe and the Aryan race, this ideology remains the most politically potent form of identity in Iran.

Akhundzadeh and Kermani’s nationalist reading of Iranian history has been drilled into the minds of Iranians since its adoption by the Pahlavi state in the early twentieth century. Spread through mass schooling, historical narratives, and official statements of support, their ideological perspective has come to define Iranian culture and domestic and foreign policy. Zia-Ebrahimi follows the development of dislocative nationalism through a range of cultural and historical materials, and he captures its incorporation of European ideas about Iranian history, the Aryan race, and a primordial nation. His work emphasizes the agency of Iranian intellectuals in translating European ideas for Iranian audiences, impressing Western conceptions of race onto Iranian identity.

The table of contents:

Acknowledgments
Note on Transliteration and Spelling
Introduction
1. The Paleontology of Iranian Nationalism
2. Akhundzadeh and Kermani: The Emergence of Dislocative Nationalism
3. Pre-Islamic Iran and Archaistic Frenzy
4. Of Lizard Eaters and Invasions: The Import of European Racial Thought
5. Europe, That Feared Yet Admired Idol
6. Aryanism and Dislocation
7. The Road to Officialdom
8. Triumph
Conclusion: The Failure of Dislocative Nationalism
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Reza Zia-Ebrahimi is lecturer (assistant professor) in history at King’s College London.

Selected Works of Ehsan Yarshater

Civilizational Wisdom- Selected Works of Ehsan Yarshater CoverYarshater, Ehsan. 2015. Civilizational Wisdom: Selected Works of Ehsan Yarshater. (Ed.) Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi. (IranNameh Books 2). Toronto: Foundation for Iranian Studies.

The volume edited by Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi brings together twenty nine articles by the leading scholar of Iranian studies, Prof. Ehsan Yarshater on the various subjects of Iranian history, culture, religions, literature, dialects and philology. It presents a valuable collection of important articles, which many of them were not easily accessible. The collection represents the author’s most important contributions, written in Persian language in the period between 1327š/1947-48 to 1380š/2001-02. Even the papers are concerned with a range of different subjects, they are pretty much interconnected, as it is possible to trace lines of ideas originating in one article which the author develops in latter writings. All these are carefully and illuminating described by the editor in his preface to this volume. The papers are categorized into four thematic chapters: 1. Autobiography and Obituary (with three articles), 2. World Art and Literature (with four articles), 3. Language and Civilization (with nine articles), 3. Civilization and the Secret of Survival (with thirteen article).

 

To learn more read the Preface of the Editor and see the Table of Contents. To order the book see here.

About the Editor:

Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi is Professor of History and Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations at the University of Toronto and the Founding chair of the Department of Historical Studies at the University of Toronto-Mississauga.

Newly launched peer-reviewed journal for Iranian Studies

Image: Detail from "Youth reading", Persian miniature by Reza Abbasi (1565-1635), ca. 1625-26, Isfahan. © The Trustees of the British Museum, ME 1920.0917.02
Image: Detail from “Youth reading”, Persian miniature by Reza Abbasi (1565-1635), ca. 1625-26, Isfahan. © The Trustees of the British Museum, ME 1920.0917.02

DABIR: Digital Archive of Brief notes & Iran Review, 2015, Vol 1, No. 1.

The first issue of the Digital Archive of Brief notes & Iran Review (DABIR) has been published and is available from the official website of DABIR.

The Digital Archive of Brief notes & Iran Review (DABIR) is an open access, peer-reviewed online open access journal published by the Dr. Samuel M. Jordan Center for Persian Studies and Culture at the University of California, Irvine. DABIR aims to quickly and efficiently publish brief notes and reviews relating to the pre-modern world in contact with Iran and Persianate cultures. The journal accepts submissions on art history, archaeology, history, linguistics, literature, manuscript studies, numismatics, philology and religion, from Jaxartes to the Mediterranean and from the Sumerian period through to the Safavid era (3500 BCE-1500 CE). Work dealing with later periods can be considered on request.

Table of Contents:
Articles

  1. Saber Amiri Pariyan: “A re-examination of two terms in the Elamite version of the Behistun inscription”
  2. Touraj Daryaee: “Alexander and the Arsacids in the manuscript MU29”
  3. Shervin Farridnejad: “Take care of the xrafstars! A note on Nēr. 7.5″
  4. Leonardo Gregoratti: “The kings of Parthia and Persia: Some considerations on the ‘Iranic’ identity in the Parthian Empire”
  5. Götz König: “Brief comments on the so-called Xorde Avesta (1)”
  6. Ali Mousavi: “Some thoughts on the rock-reliefs of ancient Iran”
  7. Khodadad Rezakhani: “A note on the Alkhan coin type 39 and its legend”
  8. Shai Secunda: “Relieving monthly sexual needs: On Pahlavi daštān-māh wizārdan
  9. Arash Zeini: “Preliminary observations on word order correspondence in the Zand”

Reviews

  1. Sajad Amiri Bavandpoor: “Review of Smith, Kyle. 2014. The Martyrdom and History of Blessed Simeon bar Sabba’e”
  2. Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones: “Review of Mayor, Adrienne. 2014. The Amazons. Lives and Legends of Warrior Women Across the Ancient World”
  3. Yazdan Safaee: “Llewellyn-Jones, Lloyd & James Robson. 2010. CTESIAS’ History of Persia: Tales of the Orient”

Special Issue

  1. Bruce Lincoln “Of dirt, diet, and religious others”

 

DABIR

Editor-in-Chief: Touraj Daryaee (University of California, Irvine)
Editors: Parsa Daneshmand (Oxford University) and Arash Zeini (University of St Andrews)
Book Review Editor: Shervin Farridnejad (Freie Universität Berlin)