New Books in the Arts & Sciences:
Celebrating Recent Work by Mana Kia
Persianate Selves: Memories of Place and Origin Before Nationalism
By: Mana Kia
For centuries, Persian was the language of power and learning across Central, South, and West Asia, and Persians received a particular basic education through which they understood and engaged with the world. Not everyone who lived in the land of Iran was Persian, and Persians lived in many other lands as well. Thus to be Persian was to be embedded in a set of connections with people we today consider members of different groups. Persianate selfhood encompassed a broader range of possibilities than contemporary nationalist claims to place and origin allow. We cannot grasp these older connections without historicizing our conceptions of difference and affiliation.
Mana Kia sketches the contours of a larger Persianate world, historicizing place, origin, and selfhood through its tradition of proper form: adab. In this shared culture, proximities and similarities constituted a logic that distinguished between people while simultaneously accommodating plurality. Adab was the basis of cohesion for self and community over the turbulent eighteenth century, as populations dispersed and centers of power shifted, disrupting the circulations that linked Persianate regions. Challenging the bases of protonationalist community, Persianate Selves seeks to make sense of an earlier transregional Persianate culture outside the anachronistic shadow of nationalisms.
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About the Author:
Mana Kia Associate Professor of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies at Columbia University. Her interests include the early modern and modern connective social, cultural, intellectual histories of West, Central and South Asia from the 17th – 19th centuries, with a particular focus on Indo-Persian literary culture and social history. She is at work on a second book, Sensibilities of Belonging: The Transregional Persianate between Iran and India, which outlines how a shared sense of aesthetic and ethical form (as culture) was socially enacted in the transregional circulation of people, texts, and ideas between Iran and India.
About the Speakers:
Kathryn Babayan is Professor in the Department of History and in the Department of Middle East Studies at University of Michigan. Her publications include Mystics, Monarchs, and Messiahs: Cultural Landscapes of Early Modern Iran; and Islamicate Sexualities: Translations Across Temporal Geographies of Desire, co-edited with Afsaneh Najmabadi. She is currently working on a book manuscript entitled "The City as Anthology."
Manan Ahmed is Associate Professor in the Department of History at Columbia University. He is the author of A Book of Conquest: The Chachnama and Muslim Origins in South Asia, among other publications. His forthcoming book is The Loss of Hindustan: The Invention of India.
David Lurie is Wm. Theodore and Fanny Brett de Bary and Class of 1941 Collegiate Professor of Asian Humanities and Associate Professor of Japanese History and Literature at Columbia University. Among his published works, he has authored Realms of Literacy: Early Japan and the History of Writing, and has recently co-edited the Cambridge History of Japanese Literature with Haruo Shirane and Tomi Suzuki. He is currently at work on a book provisionally entitled "The Emperor’s Dreams: Reading Japanese Mythology."
Gil Hochberg is Ransford Professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature, and Middle East Studies at Columbia University. She is the author of In Spite of Partition: Jews, Arabs, and the Limits of Separatist Imagination; and, most recently, Visual Occupations: Vision and Visibility in a Conflict Zone, among other published works.