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Zoroastrian Kingship in Safavid Iran and Mughal India


April 14, 2016
12:00 pm - 1:20 pm
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Colloquium with Daniel J. Sheffield (University of Washington). For Religious Studies faculty, graduate students, and Stanford-affiliated guests. RSVP to Emily Aktinson.

The event of the Islamic millennium at the end of the sixteenth century was accompanied by widespread speculation about the end of an Islamic dispensation and the beginning of a new era of Persian rule. As the rulers of Safavid Iran and Mughal India sought out ancient apocalyptic texts from the Zoroastrian subjects of their empires, new groups of freethinkers and occultists claiming to revive the ancient religious practice of the Persians arose across the eastern Islamic world. In this presentation, we investigate the revival of purportedly pre-Islamic Iranian notions of kingship during the Early Modern period.

Daniel Sheffield is Assistant Professor of the History of the Islamic World before 1850 at the University of Washington. His book manuscript, Cosmopolitan Zarathustras: Religion, Translation, and Prophethood in Iran and South Asia, uncovers the cosmopolitan life of the Persian language through a study of the participation of Zoroastrians in broader networks of learning between the thirteenth and the nineteenth centuries. Recent publications appear in the Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Zoroastrianism (ed. Stausberg and Vevaina), No Tapping around Philology: A Festschrift for Wheeler M. Thackston Jr.’s 70th Birthday (ed. Korangy and Sheffield), and On the Wonders of Land and Sea: Persianate Travel Writing (ed. Micallef and Sharma). He is currently pursuing research on a second book project, tentatively entitled On Translation and Toleration: The Free-Thinkers of Safavid Iran and Mughal India.