Subject Analysis in Iran's Local Historiography 1722-1925

Article excerpt

Abstract

Subjects can be assumed as phenomena possessing independent axes on which intellectual and material achievements are deployed into a network of interconnections that, centered on certain axes in specific place and time, may give rise to a series of subjects or may transform into turning points that inevitably lead to dimming or elimination of a range of issues and bring about significant changes and developments in another broad range of them. Phenomena such as local governments/states formation or collapse, industrial revolution, and other phenomena such as new civil laws, the press, public education, etc., in any given period can be new issues affecting the situation before and after them, transforming into turning points and/or serving as axes for other subjects. By identifying a network of such subjects, we will be able to understand their process of formation, evolution and variation within the scope of local histories.

Keywords: dimensions of local historiography, Iran's local historiography, Iran, subject analysis, network subjects

1. Introduction

Social life is cumulated with various subjects that, on a daily basis, some of them decline while some others emerge and strengthen other subjects which are in the middle of their life cycle; or set the ground for their decline. These varying subjects have always been the sources for historiographers with the difference that sometimes the coming and going of dynasties and kings formed the core of histories; and sometimes the histories of the cities and their populations became the main subjects as titled as 'classes' ,'genealogies', recorded as a part of local histories in which, the historians indicate specific subjects such as great men's biographies, people's daily life, schools, trades, bazaar, streets, mosques, and so on, which despite of being readily accessible by the historian and look very simple to describe, represent the roots of social developments in the heart of history and during each period. The present paper examines Iran' local histories, with a focus on the period between Safavids' collapse and late Qajari, posing some questions on the nature of (the) subjects , as well as dimensions (subject, time, and place) of Iranian local historiography. To achieve this, and in order to recognize the subjects across Iranian local histories and their process of development, authors have used the actions, reactions and their relationships in certain places (e.g., cities and states) and times (e.g., the study period).

In general histories, the main focuses of historians consist of subjects such as power, kings' enthronement and fall, dynasties' developments, wars and inter-state relationships. But some others have focused on subjects that have had a greater contribution in societies despite of being neglected and having received less attention. Local historians, due to their feelings for their hometowns, have focused more on societal and local issues, trying to show their co-citizens' material and intellectual achievements and their role in civilization, from distant past until their times. These historians have recorded some sets of varied issues on specific cities or regions from their formation to their own times, based on ancient texts or their own observations. Some subjects have been described in detail due to their significance (e.g., reasons why a certain city was born), while other issues are less discussed or not expressed at all, remaining ambiguous (e.g., proprietorship, social relations, various classes, trades, etc.). In order to achieve a brighter view of the past, one could examine the accumulation or dispersion of local issues on which the historians have emphasized most. In this approach, subjects are considered as data which shed light on the 'countenances' of local histories from distant past based on the concepts they convey and the significance assigned to them or attention received from the historians. Assuming any message, account or statement from the past as a datum, the data analysis approach in the Grounded Theory can be readily used. …