James Robert Pickett F'14

James Robert Pickett
Assistant Professor
University of Pittsburgh

Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships 2014
Doctoral Candidate
Princeton University
The Persianate Sphere during the Age of Empires: Islamic Scholars and Networks of Exchange in Central Asia, 1747-1917

From 1747-1917, the territories of Central Asia were politically fragmented between various kingdoms and khanates, but the area was nevertheless unified through a zone of cultural, social, and religious exchange – namely the “Persianate sphere.” This study focuses on the Muslim scholars (ulama) who leveraged their learned status to secure positions of influence both north and south of the Oxus River. How did their Islamic education allow them the authority for such a diverse array of social roles throughout this vast space? This project enriches our understanding of Central Asian, Islamic, and colonial history and distinguishes itself by employing both Russian colonial sources and indigenous Persian-language sources located in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Russia.