My research focuses on the diverse geographies and societies of the early modern and modern Persianate world in Iran, Central, and South Asia, with an emphasis on the eighteenth to early twentieth centuries. I seek to highlight the many inter-connections, and later divergences, between these regions through the prism of Persian literary production, circulation of texts, political culture, social life, and intellectual interchange. My research, therefore, brings into contact socio-political and literary trends of the early modern and modern Persianate world from the heyday of the Mughal and Safavid Empires and imperial decline to the rise of colonialism, emergence of nationalism, and the advent of print.
My first book Remapping Persian Literary History, 1700-1900 (Edinburgh University Press) integrates forgotten tales of literary communities across Iran, Afghanistan and South Asia – at a time when Islamic empires were fracturing and new state formations were emerging – to offer a more global understanding of Persian literary culture in the 18th and 19th centuries. It challenges the manner in which Iranian nationalism has infiltrated Persian literary history writing and recovers the multi-regional breadth and vibrancy of a global lingua franca connecting peoples and places across Islamic Eurasia. Focusing on 3 case studies (18th-century Isfahan, a small court in South India and the literary climate of the Anglo-Afghan war), the book reveals the literary and cultural ties that bound this Persianate world together as well as some of the trends that broke it apart.
My current research focuses on tadhkiras (biographical anthologies) of Persian poets produced in Iran, Central and South Asia from 1200-1900. Using quantitative analysis and digital mapping, I explore trends in tadhkira production and circulation to better assess the level of connectivity in the Persianate world across space and time.
Other ongoing projects include research into the all-Afghan Fatemiyoun Brigade fighting on behalf of Iran in the war in Syria and an exploration into techniques of visual propaganda in contemporary Iran.
Calligraphy of Mir Emad al-Hasani from 1611-1612, with borders by Muhammad Hadi from 1755-56. Iran. Freer Gallery of Art, F1931.20.