Strange Times in the City of Herat: Peculiarity as Historiographical Methodology in a Medieval Islamic Manuscript
Online ZOOM lecture by Tanvir Ahmed| Institute of Iranian Studies
Abstract What does it mean to organize history with respect to the odd and the strange? How are the latter terms conceptualized within a historiographical framework, and what might reading the past with an eye for peculiarity mean for us today? I explore such questions and more in this talk, which focuses on an anonymous and fragmentary Persian manuscript presumably called the Tārīkh-i Hirāt, likely authored ca. 495/1102 and copied in the 8th/14th century. The fifth chapter of this chronicle, entitled “On Rare Happenings in Herat,” offers a historical progression of events taking place in and around Herat between 150/767 and 495/1102. In lieu of centering dynastic fortunes and concerns about governance, the chapter gives us a progression of themes including the activities of rebel prophets, fires breaking out in the marketplace, the birth of quintuplet girls, the one time a judge was beaten up, famine, drought, and much more. This form of chronicling does more than show us how past peoples theorized the “peculiar;” it suggests alternative imaginations for history which are not beholden to the lives of elite royal and military cliques. Such historiographical commitments throw light on our own practices as narrators of history—which often privilege the imaginaries of governance—and offer us a chance to reconsider them.
Please register with https://oeaw-ac-at.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_XAS1BHvUREGiLUL5ytOdhg
This is the 7th lecture in this year's Webinar series organised by the NoMansLand research project (FWF Y 1232) dedicated to the study of Islamic manuscripts in pre-modern Iran and Central Asia.
Convenor: Project team "Nomads' Manuscripts Landscape"
For a list of upcoming lectures in the webinar series, please see Webinar series "Pre-modern Islamic manuscripts"