For centuries, Persian speaking Jews lived in today’s Iran, Central Asia and Afghanistan. Dominated by competing Muslim empires, Jewish communities remained connected through traditional trade routes that facilitated the exchange and mobility of people, goods and ideas within and beyond what has been conceptualized as the Persianate sphere. In the age of colonialism and with the creation of nation states, these traditional networks became disrupted and dissolved while new, divisive and disconnected ideas of community and belonging emerged.
The proposed research uses the concept of the “Persianate” as a framework to grasp the entangled Jewish histories in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, beyond nationalized narratives. Tracing the interconnections and divisions in Persianate Jewish life in Iran, Central Asia and Afghanistan will elucidate the diversity within these communities, and provide a better understanding of Persianate societies through the prism of Jewish history.