Seminar on Iranian Studies

Dear Iranian Studies Seminar Members and Guests,
The fourth meeting of the 27th consecutive year of Columbia University Seminar on
Iranian Studies for the academic year 2014-2015 will take place on:

Wednesday, November 5, 2014
at 5:30 pm in the
Faculty House of Columbia University

Our speaker will be
Prof. James M. Gustafson of Indiana State University
who will lead the discussion on the topic of:
Local Roots of Iranian Nationalism?:
Identity and the Construction of Space in Nineteenth Century Persian Geographical Writing

We will gather in the lounge of Faculty House from 5:00-5:30. Seminar will start at 5:30.
Please notify our rapporteur, Zainab A. Azarbadegan at: zaa2117@columbia.edu if you will attend the lecture. (Please also specify if you will stay for dinner, $25.00 payable by check.)

We are looking forward to the pleasure of seeing you at the seminar.

Co-Chairs: Vahid Noshirvani and Ahmad Ashraf

To reach the Faculty House:
Enter the Wien Hall Gate on 116th Street between Amsterdam Avenue and
Morningside Drive. Walk past Wien Hall, then turn right to the Faculty House.


Scholarship on Iranian nationalism tends to treat this phenomenon either as an ahistorical, latent tendency among Iranians, or a Western import, filtered through imperial culture and ceremony in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In both cases, there is an overwhelming focus on developments in centers of power and among transnational communities as the leading edge of this movement, and as natural representatives of the Iranian nation. To de-center this discussion over the genesis of Iranian nationalism, local geographical writings from the 1870s and 1880s will be explored as another dimension to identity politics in Qajar Iran. Through these texts, the spatial imagination of Iranian elites, and the complex web of identities therein, will be discussed as alternative reference points in seeking the origins of Iranian nationalism as a historical process running in tandem with changing conceptions of space and place.


Prof. Gustafson is Assistant Professor of History at Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Indiana and President of the Midwest Association for Middle East and Islamic Studies. He holds a Ph.D. in History from the University of Washington (2010) and an M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Chicago (2005). Prof. Gustafson has published articles on the social and economic history of Qajar Iran and Central Asia in the International Journal of Middle East Studies, Iranian Studies, and Encyclopædia Iranica. His research on provincial historiography and local geographical writing in Qajar Iran has earned him research fellowships from the Iran Heritage Foundation and Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute, as well as a visiting professorship at the Austrian Academy of Sciences in 2013.

Currently, Prof. Gustafson’s book, Mediating Modernity in Qajar Iran: Imperialism, Estate Building, and the Global Networks of Kirmani Elites, is in review at Rutledge Press for publication. His publications include, “Household Networks and Rural Integration in Qajar Kirman” International Journal of Middle East Studies, 46, no.1 (Feb 2014). “Qajar Ambitions in the Great Game: Notes on the Embassy of ‘Abbas Qoli Khan to the Amir of Bokhara, 1844,” Iranian Studies 46, no. 4 (July 2013). “Kerman, History, Qajar Period” Encyclopaedia Iranica, XVI/3 (2014). “Kerman Carpet Industry” Encyclopaedia Iranica, XVI/3 (2014). “Kerman, History, Afsharid and Zand Periods” Encyclopaedia Iranica, XVI/3, in press.