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Graduate Seminar with Professor Kathryn Babayan: Archival Practices Beyond the State: Microhistories of Households in early modern Isfahan
February 2, 2023 @ 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
In recent scholarship, family archives in the form of a manuscript have been posited as sites for more broadly rethinking archives in the pre-modern Islamicate world.In the context of Isfahan, household anthologies provide a particularly rich ground for theorizing and reassessing pre-modern archival mechanisms and spaces. The anthology referred to in Persian as the majmuʿa (from the Arabic root j.m.ʿ), literally “gathered together,” was a codex which assembled professional and urban texts. Generated and then collected and assembled in the interior spaces Archival Practices Beyond the State Microhistories of Households in early modern Isfahan (2)of the house, such anthologies were also objects fashioned with the precise purpose of traversing the spaces between households—as letters, paintings, and gifts, bringing the city and its many forms of urbane dialogue into focus.
Multiple practices of collecting, copying, and authoring anthologies are preserved in the thousands of majmu’a produced in seventeenth century Isfahan. We will focus on two family archives, microhistories of two households, one religious (Khwansari) and the other bureaucratic (Urdubadi). Although Safavi “state” archives have not survived the trials of time, these archives provide us important clues as to what knowledge circulated in the city and what would have been included in notarial and imperial archives.