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ASPS Virtual Event VI: Port Cities and the Persianate
September 28, 2021 @ 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm EDT
This panel explores fruitful connections between Persianate studies, largely a land-based endeavor, with scholarship on relevant port cities. The question of to what extent Persianate studies relates to the domain and lens of Indian Ocean studies (and vice versa) is a question opened decades ago, yet which remains underdeveloped today. Pathbreaking work (by Ashin das Gupta and Sanjay Subrahmanyam, for instance) brought merchants, shipowners, and various types of people circulating through South Asian port cities from Iranian lands and also Persian speakers from the broader Persianate West, Central, and South Asia lands into view. More recent scholarship on Indian Ocean circulation through port cities has emphasized the plural nature of these spaces, against the longue durée understanding of transformations of the Indian Ocean from a Muslim Sea to a British Lake from medieval to early modern to modern times.
This panel’s focus is on early modern port cities, connected to West and South Asian empires, at both the height of Persianate culture’s spread and the Indian Ocean’s increasingly globalized connections. How do port cities such as Surat and Hormuz diverge or reflect the social and cultural constitutions of the Persianate empires of Timurid Hindustan or Safavid Iran? Is there such a thing as a littoral or maritime Persianate? What can we learn from viewing prevalent understandings of early modern Persianate cultures and societies from ports (rather than courts)?
Speakers and titles:
- Eric Lewis Beverley (Stonybrook University), “Rangārang ‘Ālam: Mobility and Difference in Early Modern Surat”
- Subah Dayal, (New York University), “Horsemen and Weavers at Sea: Contesting the Persianate on the southern Coromandel coast”
- Kishwar Rizvi (Yale University), “Jarun/Ormuz and an Oceanic Imaginary in Safavid Iran”