Part of the Fall 2018 Middle Eastern and North African Studies Colloquium Series
Mojtaba Ebrahimian, Ph.D. Candidate, School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies, University of Arizona
Scholars of Iranian history trace the genesis and development of European style historiography to the second half of the nineteenth century and especially within the context of the revolutionary movement that culminated in the Constitutional Revolution of 1905-1911. In view of Abbas Amanat, with the rise of proto-nationalist and popular movements around the turn of the twentieth century, writing of history in Iran transformed from the annalistic tradition focusing on the great men into one concentrating on the people and their concerns. As historiography was undergoing major shifts, advances and innovations in modes of transportation and travel worldwide made it possible for more Iranians to travel abroad and to learn firsthand and write about foreign lands and peoples. According to Iraj Afshar, there are approximately two hundred Persian travelogues by Iranians, who traveled to Russia, the Ottoman territories, and Europe in the nineteenth century. This presentation focuses on the connection and interaction between modern developments in historiography and travel writing in nineteenth-century Iran. It argues that the fascination with writing history through travelogues points to the development of a new historical consciousness in Iran, one that is worldly and cognizant of not only the country’s own history but also its position within a broader global history.
Mojtaba Ebrahimian is a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies at the University of Arizona. His research interests include Iranian modern and contemporary literature and culture, as well as comparative literary and cultural studies. His research explores the connection between nineteenth-century Persian travelogues and the rise of a new worldly socio-historical consciousness in Qajar Iran.