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Middle East Studies Center Lecture Series: Poetry, Pomegranates, & Patriarchs: Narratives of Identity & Space in Qajar Local Histories
Wednesday, June 4, 2014 - 7:00pm
Middle East Studies Center Lecture Series: Poetry, Pomegranates, & Patriarchs: Narratives of Identity & Space in Qajar Local Histories

Smith Memorial Student Union, room 238, 1825 SW Broadway, Portland State University
Free & open to the public


The last decades of the nineteenth century saw a resurgence of local historical and geographical writing throughout Iran.  These texts are, in part, artifacts of a failed attempt by the Qajar dynasty (1795-1925) to compile a comprehensive geographical dictionary of towns and villages in order to know and control its territorial possessions.  Much of the information compiled by local elites for this project instead made its way into hybrid narrative works, each combining the instrumentality of imperial knowledge with textual traditions found in local historical writing.  This fascinating genre of local historiography will be considered as a source for the intellectual and cultural history of Qajar Iran, integrating the varied experiences of Iranian provincial communities into contemporary debates over identity and the construction of space.  Moving beyond the center-periphery approach that dominates the field today, regionalism will be considered through the lively discussions of place that permeate these texts.


    James M. Gustafson, a native of Vancouver, WA, received his Ph.D. in History from University of Washington in 2010 and is now Assistant Professor of History at Indiana State University.  He has published articles on the social and economic history of nineteenth century Iran and Central Asia in the International Journal of Middle East Studies, Iranian Studies, and Encyclopaedia Iranica.  His current book project is Mediating Modernity in Qajar Iran: Imperialism, Estate Building, and the Global Networks of Kirmani Elites.  Prof. Gustafson also serves as President of the Midwest Association for Middle East and Islamic Studies.


    The Middle East Studies Center at Portland State University promotes understanding of the people, cultures, languages and religions of the Middle East. As a National Resource Center for Middle East Studies under the U.S. Department of Education’s Title VI program, the Center serves as a resource on issues pertaining to the Middle East through activities that reach students and scholars, as well as businesses, educators, and the media. The Middle East Studies Center supports academic conferences, workshops, cultural events, lectures, and a resource library. | | 503-725-4074