Contours of Community: Migrants from Iran in the Indian Ocean, 1730-1930


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


History and Middle Eastern Studies


This project explores the historical construction and negotiation of cultural difference in the Indian Ocean in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries by examining the circulation of Persianate migrants and travelers from Iran and India. An ethics of social comportment integral to Persianate culture served as the basis of a tradition of interaction that helped negotiate differences of religion, place of origin, and gender. The rise of colonial domination and anti-colonial nationalism during the nineteenth century brought about changes within this tradition, without destroying it. This project critiques anachronistic projections of proto-nationalism onto the cultural sensibilities of pre-nationalist communities by providing an alternate reading of literary, anthropological, and historical sources that renders those sensibilities visible.