Society and Culture in the Early Modern Middle East: Studies on Iran in the Safavid Period

Society and Culture in the Early Modern Middle East: Studies on Iran in the Safavid Period

Society and Culture in the Early Modern Middle East: Studies on Iran in the Safavid Period

Society and Culture in the Early Modern Middle East: Studies on Iran in the Safavid Period

Synopsis

The volume comprises a collection of 20 of the 43 papers presented at the Third International Round Table on Safavid Persia, held at the University of Edinburgh in August, 1998 and edited by the Round Tables organiser. The Third Round Table, the largest of the series to date, continued the emphasis of its predecessors on understanding and appreciating the legacy of the Safavid period by means of exchanges between both established and newer scholars drawn from a variety of fields to facilitate an exchange of ideas, information, and methodologies across a broad range of academic disciplines between scholars from diverse disciplines and research backgrounds with a common interest in the history and culture of this period of Irans history.

Excerpt

Standing between the Indian subcontinent, Asia and the Middle East of the Eastern Mediterranean, Iran’s political, socio-economic and cultural dynamic has historically interacted with those of these other areas, in the process mediating and transforming traditions and institutions received from and transmitted to each. the Safavid period (907–1135/1501–1722) is of especial import as the Safavid dynamic provided the link between the medieval and modern periods of both the history of Iran and that of the region as a whole. It is often identified as the period when, for example, 1) Iran adopted Shiʿism as its formal, state religion, and the material and theological/doctrinal foundations of the modern religious infrastructure were laid; 2) Persian was increasingly identified as Iran’s pre-eminent language; 3) the borders of what is today the modern Iranian state were first established; and, 4) Iran’s political, social, economic and cultural spheres began to interact with those of the West on a previously unparalleled scale especially as the Spanish-Portuguese dominance of world trade gave way to the dominance of the British-Dutch trading systems.

In 1974 the US-based Society for Iranian Studies sponsored a colloquium on the city of Isfahan, established as the Safavid capital in the seventeenth century, at the Fogg Museum of Art, Harvard University, papers from which were later published as a special issue of the Society’s journal Iranian Studies. a general history of Iran in the Safavid period was produced by Roger Savory in 1980, and published by Cambridge.

Since that time, however, the number of scholars engaged in the study of various aspects of Safavid society has witnessed phenomenal growth. in the last decade alone there have been three international colloquia, all held in Europe, which addressed issues in Safavid society and culture. in March 1989 Jean Calmard of the cnrs organised the First International Round Table on Safavid Persia. Under the auspices of French Research Institute in Iran and the cnrs some eighteen scholars from Iran, Europe and the us gathered in Paris to discuss aspects of Safavid social, economic and cultural history. the resulting volume of papers, Etudes Safavides, sous la direction de Jean Calmard (Paris-Teheran: Institut Français de . . .

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