The Social Frontiers of Persian Learning

Conference 2 in the Center for 17th- & 18th-Century Studies Core Program

Friday, February 05, 2016
9:30 AM - 5:15 PM
314 Royce Hall

While as one Eurasia’s great lingua francas, Persian has been rightly celebrated for its inclusiveness, bringing together Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, and others into a single if disjointed ecumene. At the same time it has widely been conceived as the ‘Islamicate’ language par excellence. Against this apparently cosmopolitan backdrop, the second conference seeks to identify the social limits or breaking-points of Persian’s usage and usefulness. By asking whether in its connecting of different communities, Persian served more as a language of trade, governance, or literature, the conference can assess the limits of the ‘cosmopolitanism’ that has been celebrated in recent scholarship. This approach raises a series of questions. Was the wide expansion of Persian enabled but ultimately disabled by its close but constraining ties to ruling states? How did the ‘Islamicate’ profile of Persian shape the frontiers of its republic (or empire) of letters? Were there forms of social interaction or organization with which Persian could not cope? At the same time as pointing to the bridge-building achievements of Persian, by addressing such questions the conference aims to assess the social fault lines to help explain why so successful a lingua franca could dissolve so rapidly in the nineteenth century.

For more information about this program including a list of speakers, please see the website of the The Center for 17th- & 18th-Century Studies

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Click here for more information about the Program on Central Asia 2015–16 series "Frontiers of Persian Learning," co-sponsored by the Center for Near Eastern Studies. This series is offered in conjunction with the Center for 17th- & 18th-Century Studies Core Program of 2015–16, organized by Nile Green, Director of the Program on Central Asia.

Image credit: "Portrait of the scribe Mīr ʿAbd Allāh Kātib in the company of a youth burnishing paper," from Collection of Poems (divan), written by Amir Najm al-Din Hasan Dihlavi. Walters Art Museum Ms. W.650, folio 187a.


Sponsor(s): Program on Central Asia, Center for 17th and 18th Century Studies