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Social Movements in Near Eastern Cities from the 9th to the 13th Century

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image of Journal of Persianate Studies

This essay by the late Prof. V. Gabashvili (1911-1985) examines medieval social movements in the cities of a key area in the Persianate civilizational zone, stretching from Syria and Iraq in the west to Georgia and the Caucasus in the north and Iran, Khorasan and Transoxania to the east and northeast. The analytical framework is Marxian, and the underlying unity of the region called the Near and Middle East is explained in terms of the common class structure and its transformation. The author argues that the 'feudal context' is crucial for understanding these social movements, which he divides into unrest and uprisings of the urban poor, on the one hand, and the Esmā'ili movement, on the other. The dispossession of the Iranian feudal aristocracy by the Saljuq Turks in the eleventh century, it is argued, intensified feudal exploitation and class antagonism and acted as a powerful stimulus to the renewal of social movements in the cities of the region, making them more complex in terms of class relations.


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