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Mancini-Lander, Derek (2012) Memory on the Boundaries of Empire: Narrating Place in the Early Modern Local Historiography of Yazd. PhD thesis. University of Michigan.

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This dissertation traces the evolution of premodern historical writing about Yazd, Iran, in order to explore the changing function and utility of local history writing as a key means of engagement in imperial affairs. Yazd had been an important intellectual, religious, and economic center in Persianate empires since Mongol times, and its notable families commanded authority and influence at court. However, by the end of the Safavid era, in the seventeenth century, Yazd had lost this standing. This study understands this decline in terms of parallel transformations that reconfigured the city’s local social networks and elements of its urban morphology. It does so by comparing the different ways in which successive Yazdi authors channeled the history of the imperial realm through stories about Yazd’s own people and places. This study of Yazd’s local histories complicates the court-centered narrative of empire that has dominated scholarship on early modern Islamic empire and outlines a complementary history of the Islamo-Persianate world from its edge. It examines the strategies by which historians writing from the margins commemorated their city’s history as a means of constructing a local sensibility and, at the same time, a sense of orientation in the world outside local places. This project structures this exploration of Yazdi historiography around a series of sites across the city that the authors presented as being constitutive of local networks of actors and, also, of the mythologies that legitimated the authority of sacred kings and their universal empires. Each chapter is fundamentally concerned with the relationship between narrative, space, and memory, and each compares the webs of narratives that Yazdi authors embed in their commemorations of these sites. Toward this end, the project charts the evolution of local strategies for “centering” the city in the larger world by examining changes in the implicit discourse on universal empire, which Yazdi historians situated in their representations of local spaces. In this way, the dissertation maps these transformations in narrative strategy onto changes in the social and topographical features of Yazd and, furthermore, correlates these with shifts in patterns of interaction between the court and the city.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > School of History, Religions & Philosophies > Department of History
Legacy Departments > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Department of History
Supervisors Name: Kathryn Babayan
Copyright Statement: Copyright in the Dissertation held by the Author
Date Deposited: 12 Jan 2016 22:57

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