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Checking the Archive: the Khan and the Historian

  • Paolo Sartori
Thursday 10 March 2016
WHAT's NEW?! Spring Lecture Series
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden
Lipsius 228

While long ago have students of imperial and colonial history begun to investigate the culture of documentation that informed the production, disposition and concealment of text in archives, little has been done to understand how chancery practices and record keeping activities in the modern Perso-Islamicate world relate to forms of governance. Material coming from Central Asia and, especially the Khivan archives, lends itself to provide for a corrective to this situation. By reflecting on local archival practices, I want in this lecture to address the following questions: Why did Central Asian khanates create and run archives? What were the goals that the local dynasties wanted to achieve by developing and sustaining a project of documentation? I think these are pressing questions for anyone who sets out to make sense of trends of textualization in 19 th-century Central Asia and beyond without succumbing to the somewhat facile narrative of modernization. 

About Paolo Sartori

Paolo Sartori, a Senior Research Fellow of the Institute of Iranian Studies at the Austrian Academy of Sciences, specializes in the history of Islamic Central Asia (17 th-20 th centuries), law, imperial history and colonialism. He is the author of Visions of Justice: Sharia and Cultural Changes in Russian Central Asia (Brill: forthcoming in 2016).His current project is titled “Seeing like an Archive: Documents and Forms of Governance in Islamic Central Asia”, for which he was awarded the START prize by the Austrian Science Fund in 2013 He is the Editor-in-Chief of JESHO (Brill). 

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