Members of diaspora communities involved in transregional trade played an important role as cultural brokers in early modern Iran and Central Asia. While research so far has mostly focused on non-Muslim trade diasporas, e.g. Armenians, the present project looks into the contributions of Muslim trade diaspora communities as ‘(trans-)imperial elites’ to the transformations of the Persianate world in a period of increasing British and Russian domination in the second half of the 19th century until the emergence of territorial nation states after World War I. It also studies the effects these transformations had on the diaspora communities and networks themselves.
The focal point of the project is a comparative inquiry into the lives and careers of the Tatar-Bukharan-Russian diplomat and entrepreneur Mir Hajdar Mirbadalev (1856-1938) and his contemporary and colleague Mirza Reza Khan (Arfaʿoddouleh) (1854?-1937/8), member of the network of Iravani trades between northwestern Iran, Russian Transcaucasia and Istanbul.