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Perspectives from the Peripheries

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Strategies for “Centering” Persian Histories from the “Peripheries”

image of Journal of Persianate Studies

Authors of local histories composed in Persia during the 10th-15th centuries deftly wove their lands and their communities into Islamic narratives rooted in the Islamic heartlands of Iraq, Syria, and Arabia. They positioned their communities to better fit into the scope of Islamic history and claimed privileged connections to Mohammad and divine or prophetic authority in various ways. City and regional histories from Persia challenge and reconfigure notions of what constitutes “central” or “peripheral” in the medieval Islamic world and articulate identities that are simultaneously deeply local yet enmeshed within the broader Muslim omma. Authors and compilers used several literary strategies that, amongst other things, “centered” their cities and regions by including narratives about the sayyedsand sharifsassociated with the region; incorporating narratives of legitimating dreams and visions; associating sahābawith the land; highlighting sites of pious visitation ( ziārat) and other sources of blessing or sacred power ( baraka); and incorporating sacralizing etymologies.

Affiliations: 1: University of Richmond


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