Dr James White: Community Formation and the Edges of Empire: Panegyric Poetry in Sanʿaʾ and Isfahan, 1670-1690.
April 11 @ 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm BST
Dr James White is Departmental Lecturer of Persian Studies at Oxford University. His research focuses on multilingualism and the social uses of poetry in the Middle East and South Asia during the late medieval and early modern periods.
During the latter half of the seventeenth century, the question of who wielded – and ought to wield – political authority was hotly debated in polities across the western Indian Ocean. Smaller states, and even exiled scions of large empires, had their own visions of kingship which called the territorial ambitions of the Ottomans, Safavids and Mughals into question. In this talk, I explore political thought in early modern Yemen and Iran, examining how the polythematic ode (qaṣīda) was used to mould the convictions of audiences. I will compare the writing of al-Ṣārim al-Hindī (d. 1689-90), a poet at the court of the Qāsimī Imamate in northern Yemen, with the verse of Najīb Kāshānī (d. 1711-12), who wrote panegyrics to the Mughal prince Akbar during the latter’s exile in Isfahan. I aim to show how the circulation of poetry and transregional networks affected political discourse in communities that stood on the edges of empire.