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Tales Bent Backward: Early Modern Local History in Persianate Transregional Contexts


This article contributes to a growing body of scholarship on immigrants from Safavid Iran who travelled back and forth between their home cities and Hind during the early modern period. Intending to better comprehend some of the key mentalities and social practices of these cosmopolitan Persianate communities, I explore the literary strategies by which migrants worked to negotiate their place in rapidly transforming and highly competitive political environments in both Hind and Iran. Focusing on migration narratives that were commonly embedded in Persian historical works, I examine a cluster of local and dynastic histories that were composed in dialogue with one another and that emerged around a particular corridor of migration linking the Iranian city of Yazd with various cities in the Deccan. Previous scholarship has argued that immigrants could acquire social capital in their new environments by commemorating ties to Iranian cities through narratives of migration. I demonstrate that migrants also brought migration stories they had found in the Deccan back to their hometowns in Iran, where they redeployed them for similar political ends in new works of history.

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