Project (2021-2024)

Agricultural Knowledge in Persian, 1200–1600

How, in what fields, and by whose authority, do premodern New Persian agricultural texts claim to transmit knowledge? Do the extant texts present evidence of belonging to a coherent knowledge tradition, and are there changes in this tradition’s values and functions between 1200–1600? My dissertation project looks at these questions, beginning with one focus text that seems to defy the idea of a tradition: the ās̱ār va aḥyā, a partially surviving text attributed to Rashīd al-Dīn Fażlullāh Hamadānī (1247–1318), Ilkhanid statesman and owner of vast agricultural holdings. The dissertation project will involve reading instructional manuals in particular—but also sections on agriculture from other genres—within a temporally and linguistically wider corpus in order to better understand how authors differentiated or integrated their approach within the multiple traditions they may have had access to. I am particularly interested in how knowledge from classical and contemporaneous sources is represented in these texts, as well as the social conditions of the reproduction of literate agricultural knowledge.