By; Mohamad Tavakoli-Targhi
Modernity and Heterotopia
A shift towards “historical epistemology” has altered the
nature of scholarship on modernity and nationality.
Departing from objectivist
and Eurocentric historiographies, postmodern and postcolonial scholars
have began to reactivate the sedimented practices that
naturalized “the nation” and instituted Europe as the original home of
As the foundation of modern historical narratives, “the nation”
is being revisited by scholars who view it not as a concrete and
observable reality but as a modernist style of collective imagination,
societal organization, and self-disciplining of citizens.
By the contingent deployment of territory, history, language, ethnicity,
and culture, the architects of modern cosmopolitical order
naturalized the nation as a serially continuous and homogeneous entity
endowed with a distinct identity and characteristics.
By structuring thought-ways, patterns of identity, nations and
nation-states regulated the modern time’s expanding gap between the
“space of experience” and the “horizon of expectation.”
In the new age of “fateful simultaneity of spring and
when everything seemed “pregnant with its contrary”
the apocalyptic expectation of the radical rupture of the time to come was
transformed into an anticipated and planned “progress” towards the
future. Displacing divine decree with human agency, the modernist notion
of progress combined experience and expectation and thus “served
the purpose of theoretically anticipating future historical movement and
practically influencing it.”
Revolution, development, progress, and liberation--these and other temporalized
concepts--were employed to awaken a nation to “self-consciousness” and
to normalize the experience of everyday-life in rapidly changing modern
times. The binary opposites of these concepts--reaction, tradition,
stagnation, and despotism--were often deployed against a nation’s
internal ‘foes’ who were
marginalized and excluded from the national-political scene.
The reexamination of the Eurocentric definition of modernity has
been at the center of recent historical reactivations of “modern
The conventional Enlightenment story treats modernity as a peculiarly
European development, as a byproduct of “Occidental rationalism.”
Viewed from within this hegemonic paradigm, non-European societies were
“modernized” as a result of Western impact and influence.
Thus Westernization, modernization, and acculturation were
conceived as interchangeable concepts accounting for the transition of
“traditional” and “non-Western” societies.
These assertions have been reevaluated by scholars examining the cultural
genealogies and etiologies of modernity.
Locating “the West” in a larger global context beginning with
the “Age of Exploration,” Stuart Hall suggests that, “The so-called
uniqueness of the West was, in part, produced by Europe’s contact and
self-comparison with other, non-western, societies (the Rest), very
different in their histories, ecologies, patterns of development, and
cultures from the European model.”
Demonstrating the critical importance of “the Rest” in the formation
of “Western” modernity, Hall submits that “[w]ithout the Rest, (or
its own internal ‘others’), the West would not have been able to
recognize and represent itself as the summit of human history.”
Hall’s revised conception of modernity allows for an expanded
framework of analysis encompassing what I call the formative role of heterotopic
experiences for the Age of Exploration in the formation of the ethos
In contrast to utopias, the imaginary places in which human
societies are depicted in perfect forms, Michel Foucault explored heterotopias
as alternative real spaces.
As existing loci beyond the everyday space of experience, heterotopias
“are something like counter-sites, a kind of effectively enacted utopia
in which the real sites, all other real sites that can be found within the
culture, are simultaneously represented, contested, and inverted.”
These loci of alterity served the function of creating “a space of
illusion that exposes every real space . . . a space that is other,
another real space, as perfect, as meticulous, as well arranged as ours
is messy, ill-constructed, and jumbled.”
Calling the latter type a “compensatory” heterotopia, Foucault
speculated that “on the level of the general organization of terrestrial
space” colonies might have “functioned somewhat in this manner.”
He offered as historical examples the regulated colonies
established by Jesuits and Puritans.
Similarly sixteenth-century reports of European exploration of
exotic heterotopias, deepened the Renaissance “humanists’
understanding of human motives and action” and enlarged their framework
“As late as the 18th century,” according to Stephen Toulmin,
“Montesquieu and Samuel Johnson still found it helpful to present
unusual ideas by attributing them to people in a far-off land like
Abyssinia or Persia.”
The attribution of “unusual ideas to people in a far-off land”
was not merely a “literary device.”
For instance, the physical presence of the Persian Ambassador
Muhammad Riza Bayk (d. 1717) in France in 1715-16 provided the pertinent
context for the imaginary scenarios informing the “unusual ideas” and
the central question of Persian Letters: “How can one be
As spectacles and as native informants of exotic heterotopias,
travelers like Muhammad Riza Bayk inspired native European spectators who
in turn provided them with a space of self-recognition and
self-refashioning. Considering the material significance of the “Rest” in
the formation of “Western modernity,” such attributions can be
considered as residues of a genesis amnesia in European historiography.
Such a historiographical amnesia has made possible the fabrication
of a coherent and continious medieval and modern “Western
Civilization.” As Maria R.
Menocal has demonstrated the “European Awakening” was “an Oriental
period of Western history, a period in which Western culture grew in the
shadow of Arabic and Arabic-manipulated learning . . .”
By recovering the significance of heterotopic experiences in the
formation of the ethos of modernity, the lands beyond Europe, instead of
being the reverse image of enlightenment and modernity, served as
“laboratories of modernity,” as sites of earliest sightings of “the
hallmarks of European cultural production . . .”
This has been explored in the historiographical works of Sidney Mintz,
Timothy Mitchell, Uday Mehta, Benedict Anderson, Gwendolyn Wright, Paul
Rabinow, and Nicholas Dirks, among others.
Summarizing the contribution of these scholars, Ann Stoler observed
that, “These reconfigured histories have pushed us to rethink European
cultural genealogies across the board and to question whether the key
symbols of modern western societies--liberalism, nationalism, state
welfare, citizenship, culture, and ‘Europeanness’ itself--were not
clarified among Europe’s colonial exiles and by those colonized classes
caught in their pedagogic net in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, and only
then brought ‘home’.”
For instance, in Imagined Communities Anderson demonstrated
that Creole communities developed “early conceptions of their
nation-ness--well before most of Europe.”
Locating Foucault’s History of Sexuality in a larger
trans-European context, Stoler contends, “One could argue that
the history of Western sexuality must be located in the production of
historical Others, in the broader force field of empire where technologies
of sex, self, and power were defined as ‘European’ and ‘western,’
as they refracted and remade.”
In the following chapter, I explain how the “founding” of
historical linguistics by Sir William Jones was informed by the works of Persianate
scholars and scholarship in India.
In light of these recent studies it can be argued that modernity
was not a homemade product of “Occidental rationality,”
as asserted by Max Weber and universalized by “modernization”
Alternatively, modernity can be viewed a product of a global
network of power and knowledge that emerged initially around the sixteenth
century. The heterotopic
experiences of crisscrossing peoples and cultures provided multiple
scenarios of modernity and self-refashioning.
Whereas Europeans reconstituted the modern self in relation to
their non-western Others, Asians and Africans began to redefine the self
in the mirror of Europe, their new significant Other.
What Toulman calls the “counter-Renaissance” search for
constituted European modes of self-refashioning as archetypically
universal, rational, and modern. This dehistoricizing universalist claim enabled European
rationalists to obliterate the heterotopic context of their self-making
and thus constitute themselves as the originators of modernity and
rationality. This amnesiac
or forgetful assertion gained hegemonic currency and thus
constituted “non-Western” modernity as “Westernization.”
The universalist claims of European enlightenment has blackmailed
non-European modernity and debilitated its historiography by engendering a
tradition of historical writing that used a dehistorized and
decontextualized “European rationality” as its scale and referent.
Iranian historians and ideologues, like their Indian and Ottoman
counterparts, developed a fractured conception of historical time that
viewed their contemporary European societies ahead of their own time. This
conception of historical time parallels the time-distancing devices of
European anthropologists who denied coevalness to their
contemporary non-western societies.
Such a schizochronic conception of history informs the
nationalist historiography of Iranian modernity, a historiography that
assumes the non-contemporaneity of the contemporaneous Iranian and
II. Discursive Affinities of Nationalism and
Recognized as the heterotopia of modernity and scientific
rationality, Europe has been constituted as the horizon of expectation for
the Iranian passage to modernity. Thus
European history, as the future past of the desired present, has
functioned as a normative scenario for the prognosis or forecasting of the
future Iran. This anticipatory modernity introduced a form of historical
thinking that narrated Iranian history in terms of the European past.
By universalizing that past, historical deviations from the
European norm have been misrecognized as abnormalities.
Thence, the development of feudalism, capitalism, the bourgeoisie,
the proletariat, democracy, freedom, scientific rationality, and industry
in the “well-ordered” Europe have informed the diagnoses of their
lack, absence, retardation, and underdevelopment in Iran.
In other words, alternative non-European historical processes have
been characterized as the absence of change and as unhistorical history. For instance, John Malcolm, the author of an influential
Orientalist History of Persia
(1815) which was translated into Persian in 1876, observed:
no country has undergone, during the last twenty centuries, more
revolutions than the kingdom of Persia, there is, perhaps, none that is
less altered in its condition. The power of the sovereigns, and of the
satraps of ancient times; the gorgeous magnificence of the court; the
habits of the people; their division into citizens, martial tribes, and
savage mountaineers; the internal administration; and the mode of warfare;
have continued essentially the same: and the Persians, as far as we have
the means of judging, are at the present period, not a very different
people from what they were in the time of Darius, and the Nousheerwan.
Malcolm viewed Islam and “the example of the prophet of Arabia
and the character of some of the fundamental tenets of his faith” as the
most prominent factors “in retarding the progress of civilization among
those who have adopted his faith.”
These “retarding” factors explained why “every country
inhabited by Mahomedans” never “attained a state of improvement which
can be compared with that enjoyed by almost all those nations who form the
present commonwealth of Europe.”
He concluded his recounting of the Iranian past with a reflection
on its future. “The History of Persia, from the Arabian conquest to the
present day,” he claimed, “may be adduced as a proof of the truth of
these observations: and while the causes, by which the effects have been
produced, continue to operate, no material change in the condition of that
empire can be expected.”
Malcolm wondered whether “the future destiny of this kingdom”
could be altered with “the
recent approximation of a great European power . . .”
The experience of the Ottomans who “wrapt up in the habits of
their ancestors and . . .
have for ages resisted the progress of that civilization with which they
were surrounded” did not seem promising to him.
Thus the proximity with European powers and the “consequent
collision of opposite habits and faith, was more likely to increase than
to diminish those obstacles which hitherto prevented any very intimate or
social intercourse between Mahomedan and Christian nations.”
This prognosis, a forerunner of “Clashes of Civilizations,” was
grounded in the epistemological differentiation of the progressive
Christian “commonwealth of Europe” and the stagnant
“Mahomedan nations” of Asia.
With the global hegemony of “the West,” this binary opposition
becomes an ever more significant component of an Iranian national
historiography venerating progress, development, and growth.
With these concerns, a celebratory history of Europe provided
the normative manual for deciphering the abnormalities of Iran’s past
and for promoting its modernization, i.e., Westernization. For instance,
Ervand Abrahamian, the author of one of the most sophisticated accounts of
modern Iran, offers a paradigmatic view of the nineteenth century, a view
that is embedded in Persian historical writings.
“Traditional Iran,” in his estimation, “in sharp contrast to
feudal Europe, thus had no baronial rebellions, no magna carta, no legal
estates, and consequently no representative institutions.”
These and other lacks constitute the foundation for explaining a
series of reformist failures of the nineteenth-century Qajars: “The
attempt to construct a statewide bureaucracy failed. . . . The Qajars were
equally unsuccessful . . . in building a viable standing army . . . [and]
even failed to recapture the full grandeur of the ancient
By narrating a failed version of European history, this progressive
historian of Iran assumes a typically Orientalist vantage: “For the
nineteenth-century Europeans, the Qajar dynasty was an epitome of ancient
oriental despotism; in fact, it was a failed imitation of such
Such a characterization is a common feature of Orientalist,
nationalist, and also Marxist historiography of nineteenth-century Iran.
The opening paragraph of Guity Nashat’s The Origin of Modern Reforms
in Iran, is likewise a testimony to the centrality of Europe in the
horizon of expectation for “traditional” Iran:
1870 a young Iranian of modest background, Mirza Huseyn Khan, was
presented with an opportunity to regenerate Iran.
During the next ten years he introduced regulations that were
designed to transform the country’s traditional political, military, and
judicial institutions to resemble Western models. He also attempted to introduce Western cultural innovations
and Westernized modes of thought.
Viewed as a “Western model” used to
transform ‘traditional’ societies, “the modern,” as in the above
case, is commonly understood “as a known history, something which has
already happened elsewhere, and which is to be reproduced, mechanically or
otherwise, with a local content.”
As a mimetic plan, Iranian modernity, like its non-Western
counterparts, can at best be hailed as a “project of positive
An eternally recurring Iranian premodernity is thus superseded by
an already enacted “Western” modernity.
Viewing modernity as belated reduplication of “Western models,”
historians of Iran often invent periodizations that are analogous to
standard European historical accounts.
Recognizing Descartes’ Discours sur la Méthode and
Newton’s Principia as as two founding texts of modern thought in
Europe, Iranian historians have the same expectations for the Persian
rendering of these texts. In
a modularized periodization of the Iranian “discovery of the West” and
the “dissemination of European ‘new learning’” Mangul Bayat, a
historian of Qajar Iran, writes that a Persian translation of René
Descartes’ Discourse was commisioned by Arthur Gobineau and
published in 1862.
Referring to I‘tizad al-Saltanah’s Falak al-Sa‘adah
she adds that only one year earlier Isaac Newton and the idea of
heleocentricity had been “introduced to the Iranian public.”
This periodization concerning the introduction of modern European
philosophical texts is similarly advanced by Faraydun Adamiyat, E.
Keddouri, Nikki Keddie, Jamshid Bihnam, and Arlireza Mansfzadeh.
Adamiyat, a pioneering historian of Iranian modernity, contended
that Falak al-Sa‘adah and the Persian translation of Discourse
provided the “context for rational transformation” (zaminah-’i
tahavvul-i ‘aqlani) of nineteenth-century Iran.
To dramatize the historical significance of Descartes’
translation, he speculated that all copies of an earlier 1853 edition of
the text might have been burned.
In these accounts, the Comte de Gobineau, a French diplomat in
Tehran as well as an infamous anti-Semite,
is credited as the initiator of the rationalizing tasks of translating
Descartes’ generative text of European modernity into Persian.
While Gobineau commissioned this translation, he doubted whether
Iranians and other Asians were capable of absorbing modern civilization.
Like Gobineau, Iranian nationalist historians of scientific
modernity often assume that “the defense of geocentricism was of
greatest importance for Muslim traditional scholars, just as it was for
the medieval church.”
In such accounts the endeavor for modernity is often depicted as a
contention between the rational European astronomy and the irrational
For example, Bayat writes that I‘tizad al-Saltanah “rose in defence of
Newton and other European scientists’ theories, and he declared obsolete
the ‘knowledge of the ancients.’”
Likewise, Arjomand argues that I‘tizad al-Saltanah’s work “is
the first book of its kind, aimed at combating the belief in traditional
astronomy and astrology and bringing what might be termed scientific
enlightenment to 19th-century Iran.”
Recounting the contentions for scientific rationality, historians
of modern Iran often select scholars who endorsed astrology and opposed
heleocentrism as Muslim representatives, ignoring those who did not fit
into this schema. By claiming that the Persian publication of Descartes in
the 1860s is the beginning of a new age of rationality and modernity,
these historians provide a narrative account that accommodates and
reinforces the foundational myth of modern Orientalism, a myth that
constitutes ‘the West’ as ontologically and epistemologically
different from ‘the Orient’.
This Orientalist problematic has been validated by a nationalist
historiography that constitutes the period prior its own arrival as a time
of decay, backwardness, and despotism.
By deploying the basic dogmas of Orientalism for the enhancement of
its own political project, in this sense, Iranian nationalist
historiography has participated “in its own Orientalizing.”
As self-designated vanguards of modernity and national
homogenization, both official and counter-official Iranian nationalists
have naturalized and authenticated the working assumptions of Orientalism.
In the mid-seventeenth century a purely self-congratulatory view of
European civilization as the paragon of universal reason and the
concurring “blackmail of
had not yet been formed. Similarly, Europe’s Oriental-Other had not yet been
dehistoricized as only “traditional,” “static,” and
“unchanging,” and Muslims were not viewed as “anti-scientific.”
More significantly, historical thinking had not yet been confined
to the boundaries of modern nation-states.
It is during this period that an alternative account of a
Persianate modernity can be retrieved.
Pre-dating the consolidation of modern nation-states and the
co-optation of modernity as a state-legitimating ideology, following
Foucaults, modernity may be envisaged as an ethos rather that a
well-demarcated historical period:
wonder whether we may not envisage modernity as an attitude rather than a
period of history. And by ‘attitude,’ I mean a mode of relating to
contemporary reality; a voluntary choice made by certain people; in the
end, a way of thinking and feeling; a way, too, of acting and behaving
that at one and the same time marks a relation of belonging and presents
itself as a task. No doubt, a
bit like what the Greeks called an ëthos.
And consequently, rather than seeking to distinguish the ‘modern
era’ from the ‘premodern’ or ‘postmodern,’ I think it would be
useful to try to find out how the attitude of modernity, ever since its
formation, has found itself struggling with attitudes of ‘countermodernity’.
envisaging modernity as an ethos rather than as a decisive epoch of
the nation, historians of Iran and India may imagine a joint fact finding
mission that would allow for reactivating what the poet Mahdi Ikhvan Salis
has aptly recognized as “stories vanished from memory” (qissah-ha-yi
raftah az yad).
These vanished stories may be retrieved from a large corpus of
texts made homeless with the emergence of history with borders, a
convention that confined historical writing to the borders of modern
The convention of history with borders has created many homeless
texts that have fallen victim to the fissure of Indian and Iranian
abolished as the official language of India in 1837, the intellectual use
of Persian continued and Persian publications in nineteenth-century India
outnumbered those produced in other languages.
Publishers in Calcutta, Bombay, Lucknow, Kanpur, Delhi, Lahore,
Haydarabad, and other cities in the Indian subcontinent also published
more Persian books than their counterparts in Iran.
Many of the literary and historical texts edited and published in
India achieved canonical status in the neighboring Iran.
Rammahan Roy, the acclaimed “father of modern India,” was in
fact the editor of one of the first Persian newspapers, Mir‘at al-Akhbar
(1822). This Indo-Iranian
intellectual symmetry continued until the end of nineteenth century when a
Persian newspaper, Miftah al-Zaffar (1897), campaigned for the
formation of Anjuman-i Ma‘arif, an academy devoted to the strengthening
of Persian as a scientific language.
Whereas the notion of Western Civilization provided a safety
net supplementing European national histories, no common historiographical
practice captures the residues of the colonial and national conventions of
historical writing that separates the joint Persianate literary
culture of Iran and India--a literary culture that is irreducible to Islam
and the Islamic Civilization. A postcolonial historiography of Indian and
Iranian modernity must began to reactivate the concurring history that has
been erased from memory by colonial conventions and territorial divisions.
The conventional account of Persianate acquaintance with the
Cartesian notion of ‘I think, therefore I am’, differs radically from
an account retrievable from the Travels of Francois Bernier (b.
1620), a French scholar who resided in India for a few years.
Approximately two hundred years prior to Arthur de Gobineau,
Danishmand Khan Shafi‘a Yazdi (1578-1657), a Mughal courtier and Iranian
émigré who was aware of current intellectual developments in Europe,
dared to be wise (in Kant’s sense of sapere aude) and
commissioned Bernier to translate into Persian the works of René
Descartes (1560-1650), William Harvey (1578-1657), and Jean Pecquet
Bernier, a student of the philosopher Gassendi and a recipient of a
Doctor of Medicine in 1652 who is also considered as a founding figure of
was an employee of Mirza Shafi‘a, who was granted the title
“Danishmand” (scholar/scientist) for his intellectual endeavors.
He reported of "explaining to my Agah [master] the
recent discoveries of Harveus and Pecquet in anatomy . . . [and]
discoursing on the philosophy of Gassendi and Descartes, which I
translated to him in Persian (for this was my principal employment for
five or six years) . . .."
Illustrating the intellectual courage and curiosity of Danishmand Khan,
Navaab, or Agah, Danech-mend-khan, expects my arrival with much
impatience. He can no more
dispense with his philosophical studies in the afternoon than avoid
devoting the morning to his weighty duties as Secretary of State for
Foreign Affairs and Grand Master of the Horse.
Astronomy, geography, and anatomy are his favourite pursuits, and
he reads with avidity the works of Gassendi and Descartes."
The scholarly efforts of Raja Jai Singh (1688-1743) provide another
precolonial example of Persianate scholars’ engagement with the modern
sciences. Jai Singh built the
observatories of Delhi, Banaris, and Jaipur, and based on new observations
prepared the famous Persian astronomical table Zij-i Muhammad Shahi
After the initial draft of his astronomical calculations, he sent a
mission to Portugal in 1730 to acquire new observational equipment and to
inquire about recent astronomical findings. The mission included Father
Emmanuel de Figueredo (1690?-1753?) and Muhammad Sharif and returned with
an edition of Phillipe de La Hire’s Tabulae Astronomicae from
Mubashir Khan provides a brief account of Jai Singh’s scientific
mission in his Manahij al-Istikhraj, an eighteenth-century guide
for astronomical observation and calculations.
Mubashir Khan reported that Mirza Muhammad ‘Abid and Mirza Khayr
Allah were two “Muslim engineers” who assisted Raja Jai Singh in the
building of observatories. He
had met Mirza Khayr Allah, who explained to him how Jai Sing with the
assistance of “Padre Manuel” acquired European observational equipment
and a copy of de La Hire’s Tabulae.
La Hire’s calculations were used by Jai Sing in a revised edition
of his Zij-i Muhammad Shahi.
This astronomical table, which was well known to eighteenth-century
Iranian scholars, has remained virtually unknown to Historians of Iran.
It is significant to note that almost a century earlier Shah
‘Abbas II (1642-1666) also had sent a mission to Rome to learn European
painting techniques. The delegation included Muhammad Zaman
“Paulo” who joined the ranks of the artists of the royal court and
left a long lasting imprint on representational art in both India and
Works of Tafazzul Husayn Khan (d. 1800), well known to his Iranian
friends and associeates, are among other homeless texts that are elided
from both Indian and Iranian annals of modernity. Hailed as an ‘Allamah
(arch-scholar), he was an exemplary figure of the late eighteenth century
who interacted closely with the first generation of British Orientalists
in India and actively promoted local inquiry into modern science.
In the 1780s he translated Sir Isaac Newton’s Principia,
Emerson’s Mechanics, and Thomas Simpson’s Algebra.
In his obituary in 1803 The Asiatic Annual Register
remembered Tafazzul Husayn Khan as “both in qualities and disposition of
his mind, a very remarkable exception to the general character of Asiatic
Taking an exception to William Jones’s assessment that
“judgment and taste [were] the prerogative of Europeans,”
the obituary stated, “But with one, at least, of these proud
prerogatives, the character of Tafazzul Husayn
unquestionably interferes; for, a judgment at once sound, clear, quick,
and correct, was its indistinguishable feature.”
To document the accomplishments of this ‘Asiatic’ who had
“cultivated ancient as well as modern European literatures with ardour
and success . . . very uncommon in any foreigner,”
The Asiatic Annual Register published letters received from
Ruben Burrows (1747-1792),
and Lord Teignmouth. Lord
Teignmouth remarked that for Tafazzul Husayn Khan, “mathematics was his
favourite pursuit, and perceiving that the science had been cultivated to
an extent in Europe far beyond what had been done in Asia, he determined
to acquire a knowledge of European discoveries and improvements; and with
this view, began the study of the English language.”
He further noted that in two years, Tafazzul Husayn Khan
not only able to understand any English mathematical work, but to peruse
with pleasure the volumes of our best historians and moralists.
From the same motives he afterwards studied and acquired the Latin
language, though in a less perfect degree; and before his death had made
some progress in the acquisition of the Greek dialect.
Husayn Khan’s knowledge of classical Indo-Islamic sciences were
utilized by the British Orientalists William Jones, Richard Johnson, and
Ruben Burrows, with whom he was aquatinted.
Mir ‘Abd al-Latif Shushtari (1172-1220/1758-1806), a close
associate of Tafazzul Husayn Khan who traveled to India in 1788, provided
a synopsis of European modernity, modern astronomy and new scientific
innovations in his Tuhfat al-‘alam (1216 H/1801).
Shushtari constituted the year 900 of Hijrah (1494/1495 CE) as the
beginning of a new era associated with the decline of the caliphate (khilafat)
of the Pope (Papa),
the weakening of the Christian clergy, the ascent of philosophy, and the
strengthening of philosophers and scientists.
Referring to the English Civil War, he explained the decline of
religion. While both philosophers and rulers affirmed the unity of God,
they viewed “as myths” (hamah ra afsanah) prophecy,
resurrection, and prayers.
He also explained the views of Copernicus and Newton on
heliocentricity and universal gravitation.
Shurshtari rejected the astrological explanations of “earlier
philosophers” (hukama-yi ma taqaddam) and found affinities
between the contemporary British scientific views and the “unbounded
rejection of astrologers in the splendid Shari‘ah” (kah
hamah ja dar Shari‘at-i gharra’ takzib-i munajimin varid shudah
Critical of the classical explanation of tides, as recounted by ‘Abd
Allah Jazayiri (d. 1173/1760) in Tilism-i Sultani, he offered a
Newtonian account relating the tides to gravitational actions of the sun
and moon on oceanic waters.
Accordingly, he explained why the magnitude of the high tides in Calcutta
differed from that of the coastal cities of the Persian Gulf.
Shushtari viewed Newton as a “great sage and distinguished
philosopher” (hakim-i a‘zam va filsuf-i mu‘azzam) and
ventured that in view of Newton’s accomplishments all the “the golden
books of the ancients” (gawharin namah’ha-yi bastaniyan) are
now “similar to images on water” (nimunah-’i naqsh bar ab ast).
Shushtari’s critical reflections on European history and modern
sciences was appreciated by Fath ‘Ali Shah who assigned the historian
Mirza Muhammad Sadiq Marvazi Vaqayi‘ Nigar (d. 1250/1834) the task of
editing an abridged edition of Tuhfat al-‘Alam, which is known as
Qava‘id al-Muluk (Axioms of Rulers).
Given Shushtari’s competence in both classical and modern
astronomy, a periodization of Iranian “scientific modernity” that
lionizes I‘tizad al-Saltanah’s Falak al-Sa‘adah (1861) as the
harbinger of scientific modernity needs serious reconsideration.
This is particularly important since I‘tizad al-Saltanah was
familiar with Qava‘id al-Muluk.
Aqa Ahmad Bihbahani Kirmanshahi(1777-1819), an Iranian Shi‘i
scholar and a friend of Shushtari who visited India between 1805 and 1810,
devoted a chapter of his travelogue, Mir‘at al-Ahval-i Jahan Nama (1810),
to “the classification of the universe according to the school of the
In the introduction he explained that “eminent philosophers are
so numerous in Europe that their common masses [avvam al-nas] are
inclined philosophically and seek mathematical and natural sciences.”
Like many other Muslim scholars, Bihbahani linked the “new views” (ara’-i
jadidah) of Copernicus to those of ancient Greek philosophers but
emphasized that “most of his beliefs are original”
(mu‘taqidat-i u aksari tazigi darand).
He explained favorably the heliostatic system, the sidereal periods for
the rotation of planets around the sun, the daily axial and annual orbital
revolutions of the earth, and the trinary rotations of the moon. This
Muslim theologian found no necessary conflict between Islam and modern
The corpus of homeless texts of modernity includes Maulavi Abu al-Khayr’s
concise account of the Copernican solar system, Majmu‘ah-’i Shamsi (1807),
which appears to have been known in Iran.
Like the works of Tafazul Husayn Khan, Majmu‘ah is a product of
dialogic interaction between Persianate scholars and the British colonial
officers. Among topics discussed in the Majmu‘ah are the
movements of the earth, the law of inertia, the planetary motions, and
universal gravitation. In the introduction Mawlavi Abu al-Khayr noted that
his book was based on English language sources and was translated “with
the assistance” (bi-i‘anat) of Dr. William Hunter (1718-83).
It is significant to note that Hunter had introduced Raja Jai
Sing’s Zij-i Muhammad Shahi to the English reading public
in an article appearing in Asiatic Researches (1799).
It is rather likely that Mawlavi Abu al-Khayr had assisted Hunter
in understanding and translating this highly technical Persian text.
During the first three decades of the nineteenth century numerous
other texts on modern sciences were written in Persian that do not appear
in accounts of Iranian and Indian modernity.
Muhammad Rafi‘ al-Din Khan’s treatise on modern geometry and
optics, Rafi‘ al-Basar (1250 H/1834),
was one such text. The
author was informed by English sources brought to his attention by Rev.
Henry Martyn (1781-1812),
a renowned Christian missionary and a translator of the Bible into
With an increased mastery of modern science, Persianate scholars can be
seen as becoming active themselves in the production of scientific
knowledge. In A‘zam al-Hisab,
a treatise on mathematics completed in 1814, Hafiz Ahmad Khan A‘zam al-Mulk
Bahadur (d. 1827) took issue with the Scottish astronomer James Ferguson
on reckoning the difference between the Christian and the Muslim calendar.
Aware of the self-congratulatory views of Europeans, “particularly among
the people of England,” A‘zam al-Mulk Bahadur wrote a treatise on
astronomy, Mir‘at al-‘Alam (1819) in order to “disprove”
the assertion that Muslims were “uninformed of
mathematics and astronomy.”
Based on Copernican astronomy and informed by the most recent
observations and discoveries at the Madras Observatory, this treatise
likewise remains homeless and among those not yet included in the Indian
and Iranian nationalist accounts of modernity.
This familiarity of the Persianate world with the modern sciences
was commonly reported by European travelers.
The British Orientalist James Fraser reported of meeting in
December 1821 Fath Ali Khan Saba (d. 1822), the Qajar poet laureate, whom
he viewed as “singularly well informed in, and has a great taste for,
mechanics; having constructed several complicated pieces of machinery of
his own invention, in a very ingenious manner, and even succeeded in
making a printing press, from the plates of the Encyclopaedia
In February 1822 in
Mashhad, Fraser met Amirzadah Nasir al-Din Mirza, whose “observations
upon astronomy were pertinent and good; and the solutions he had devised
for various difficulties that met him in his way, were ingenious and often
Mirza Abd al-Javad, son of Mirza Mahdi the Mujtahid of Mashhad, was also
acquaintanted with modern sciences. Reporting on his conversation with
Mirza Abd al-Javad, Fraser wrote:
asked me many very pertinent questions relating to geography and
astronomy; and he pushed me so hard on subjects connected with the theory
of optics, and the nature of the telescope, that I found I had neither
language nor science sufficient to satisfy him.
He was particularly well skilled in mechanics, and produced several
very ingenious articles of his own construction, with others of European
fabric, as dials, dividers, and other mathematical instruments, such as I
never expected to find in
Khorasan; and the uses of which he so well understood, that he had
contrived to repair some of them which had accidentally been broken.
Abd al-Javad’s interest in modern astronomy is evident from a Persian
manuscript, Tufah-’i Muhammadiyah (1610)
which was copied for him. The manuscript included an appendix on Europe, modern
scientific instruments, the solar system, and notes on Newton, Calvin, and
who translated the Qur‘an into English in 1734. Mulla Aqa Abu-Muhammad,
another acquaintance of Fraser in Mashhad, was so keenly interested in
astronomy and Fraser’s telescope that he invited the non-Muslim Fraser
to dine with him. Fraser
believed that “I owed this invitation entirely to his wish to see my
large telescope, and to view the stars through it, rather than to any
desire for its master’s company.”
Many Persianate travelers to Europe who were familiar with
scientific astronomy added visits to observatories to their itinerary. Mirza Abu Talib who traveled in Europe from 1799-1802 visited
an observatory managed by Mr. Walker in London and attended the weekly
scientific gatherings organized by Sir Joseph Bank and Captain James Cook,
where he met the leading scholars of his time.
In 1819 Mirza Salih visited Sir William Herschel, the German-born
British astronomer and renowned maker of telescopes, and his observatory.
The preceding synopsis of Persianate familiarity with the modern
sciences and its dialogic relations with Europe calls for the
decolonization of historical imagination and the rethinking of what is
commonly meant by South Asian and Middle Eastern modernity.
By anticipating a period of decline that paved the way for the
British colonization, historians of Mughal India have searched
predominantly for facts that illustrate the disintegration of this empire.
Mughal historiography in this respect has a plot structure similar to the
late Ottoman history. In both
cases, the dominant themes of
“decline” and “disintegration” are based on a projection
about the rise and progress of Europe.
In a similar manner, historians of modern Iran inherited
historiographical traditions that militate against the construction of
historical narratives about the pre-Constitutional and/or pre-Pahlavi
times as anything but an age of ignorance (bikhabari), stagnation,
and despotism. Anticipating
the coming of the Constitutional Revolution
of 1905-1909, historians of the revolution crafted narratives of
intolerable conditions that instigated the coming of the revolution.
Written by a participant of the revolution between 1910-12, the
title of Nazim al-Islam Kirmani’s (1864-1919) paradigmatic account of
the revolution, Tarikh-i Bidari-i Iranian (The History of
the Awakening of Iranians), reveals this prevalent assumption of pre-revoluytionary
To legitimate the Pahlavi dynasty (1926-1979) as the architect of
Iranian modernity and progress, Pahlavi historians likewise depicted the
Qajar period as the dark age of Iranian history. These two Iranian
historiographical traditions have been informed by and in turn informed
Orientalist accounts of Qajar Shahs as the absolute Oriental despots and
Islam as only a fetter to rationalization and secularization.
Inscribing the history of Europe on that of India and Iran, both
Indian and Iranian historians have deployed a regressive conception of
time that constitutes their respective histories in terms of lacks and
These bordered histories have rendered homeless texts that yield a
different account of Persianate modernity.
Historians of modern India often view Persian as a language only of
the “medieval” Muslim Mughal court and thus find it unnecessary to
explore the Persian texts of modernity.
Viewed as solely Iranian language, historians of Iran also consider
unworthy Persian texts produced outside of the country.
The conventional Persian literary histories, moreover, regard
poetry as a characteristically Iranian mode of self-expression. With the privileged position of poetry in the invented
national mentalité, the prose texts of the humanities are devalued
and the scholarly efforts are infrequently spent on editing and publishing
non-poetic texts. Thus a
large body of historicaly significant prose texts have remained
unpublished. This willful
marginalization of prose is often masked as a sign of the prominance of
poetry as an intrinsically national mode of expression. These factors
account for the elision of texts produced in India, which are
stereotypically considered as either linguistically faulty or as belonging
to the corpus of the degenerate “Indian style” (sabk-i Hindi)
texts. Consequently, Persian language texts documenting precolonial
engagement with the modern sciences and responding to European colonial
domination have remained nationally homeless and virtually unknown
to historians working within the confines of modern Indian and Iranian
nationalist paradigms. This has led to several historiographical problems.
Exclusion of these homeless texts from national historical
canons, on the one hand, has contributed to the hegemony of Eurocentric
and Orientalist conceptions of modernity as something uniquely European.
On the other hand, by ignoring the homeless texts, both Indian and Iranian
historians tend to consider modernity only under the rubric of a belated
“westernization.” Such a conception of modernity reinforces the
exceptionality of “Occidental rationality” and corroborates the
programmatic view of Islamic and “Oriental” societies and cultures as
static, traditional, and unhistorical.
This historiocal imagination is simultaniously grounded on two
problematic conception of historical time.
On the one hand it is grounded in the presupposition of the non-contemporaniety
of the contemporaneous Western and “Oriental” societies and on the
other hand it is based on the dehistoricizing supposition of the
contemporaneity of the non-contemporaneous early nineteenth-century and
ancient modes of life. With the onset of westernization, consequently, the
premodern repetition of ancient modes of life is replaced with the
repetition of Western modernity.
 Lorraine Daston defines historical epistemology as “the history of categories that structure our thought, pattern our arguments and proofs, and certify our standards for explanation. . . . Historical epistemology not only transcends the history of ideas, by asking the Kantian question about the preconditions that make thinking this or that idea possible; it also drastically curtails the chronological scope of the history of ideas as traditionally conceived, for it radically challenges the assumption of resemblance between ideas advanced by thinkers working within different conceptual categories.” See her “Historical epistemology,” in Questions of Evidence: Proof, Practice, and Persuasion across the Disciplines, eds. James Chandler, Arnold Davidson, and Harry Hartootunian (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991), 282-289, quotes on 282-283.
 “Husserl calls the routinization and forgetting of origins ‘sedimentation’, and the recovery of the constitutive activity of thought reactivation.” See Ernesto Laclau, New Reflections on the Revolution of Our Time (London: Verso, 1990), 34.
 For instance see: Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origins and Spread of Nationalism (Revised Edition; New York: Verso, 1983); Partha Chatterjee, Nationalist Thought and the Colonial World: A Derivative Discourse (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986); idem, The Nation and Its Fragments: Colonial and Postcolonial Histories (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993).
 According to Reinhart Koselleck “during the Neuzeit [modern time] the difference between experience and expectation has increasingly expanded; more precisely, that Neuzeit [modernity] is first understood as neue Zeit [new age] from the time that expectations have distanced themselves ever more from all previous experience.” See his Futures Past: On the Semantics of Historical Time, trans. Keith Tribe (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1985), 276.
 Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, trans. Marianne Cowan (1955; Gateway, 1967), 210-211, 146-50.
 Analysing the contradictory trends of modern times, Karl Marx wrote, “On the one hand, there have started into life industrial and scientific forces which no epoch of human history had ever suspected. On the other hand, there exist symptoms of decay, far surpassing the horrors of the latter times of the Roman Empire. In our days everything seems pregnent with its contrary. . . All our inventions and progress seem to result in endowing material forces with intellectual life, and stultifying human life into a material force.” See Karl Marx,
 Koselleck, Futures Past, 287. According to Koselleck, “Progress is the first genuinely historical concept which reduced the temporal difference between experience and expectation into a single concept” (Koselleck, Futures Past, 282).
 For instance see, Enrique Dussel, “Eurocentrism and Modernity,” Boundary 2 20/3 (1993): 65-76; idem, The Underside of Modernity: Apel, Ricoeur, Rorty, Taylor, and the Philosophy of Liberation, trans. Eduardo Mendieta (New Jersey: Humanities Press, 1996).
 Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (New York: Scribner, 1958), 25; Jürgen Habermas, The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity: Twelve Lectures, trans. Frederick G. Lawrence (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 1987), 1.
 For instance see Bernard Lewis, “The Impact of the West,” in The Emergence of Modern Turkey (2nd edition; London: Oxford University Press, 1961), 40-73. Also see Leonard Binder, “The Natural History of Development Theory, with a Discordant Note on the Middle East,” in Islamic Liberalism: A Critique of Development Ideology (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988), 24-84. According to Habermas, “The concept of modernization refers to a bundle of processes that are cumulative and mutually reinforcing; to the formation of capital and the mobilization of recourses; to the development of the forces of production and the increase in the productivity of labor; to the establishment of centralized political power and the formation of national identities; to the proliferation of rights of political participation, of urban forms of life, and of formal schooling; to the secularization of values and norms; and so on.” See Jürgen Habermas, The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity: Twelve Lectures, trans. Frederick Lawrence (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1987), 2.
 According to G. E. Von Grunebaum, “Acculturation, or more precisely Westernization, in the Near and Middle East has gone through distinct typical phases. After the shock caused by the discovery of inadequacy, there followed an almost complete surrender to foreign values and (not infrequently misunderstood) aspirations; then with Westernization partially realized, a recoiling set in from the alien, which however, continues to be absorbed greedily, and a falling back on the native tradition; this tradition is restyled and, in some instances, newly created with borrowed techniques of scholarship to give respectability to the results. Finally, with Westernization very largely completed in terms of governmental reforms, acceptance of the values of science, and adoption of Western literary and artistic forms, regained self-confidence expresses itself in hostility to the West and in insistence upon the native and original character of the borrowed product.” See G. E. von Grunebaum, Modern Islam: The Search for Cultural Idenity (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1962), 248-288; quote on 248.
 Stuart Hall, “The West and the Rest: Discourse and Power,” in Modernity: An Introduction to Modern Societies, eds. Stuart Hall, David Held, Don Hubert, and Kenneth Thompson (Cambridge, MA: Blackwell Publishers, 1996), 184-227; J. M. Roberts, The Triumph of the West (London: British Broadcasting Corporation, 1985), particularly 194-202.
 Hall, “The West and the Rest,” 187. The dichotomy, the West and the Rest, was originally formulated by Marshall Sahlins in his Culture and Practical Reason (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1976),
 Hall, “The West and the Rest,” 221.
 According to Foucault, “There are also, probably in every culture, in every civilization, real places--places that do exist and that are formed in the very founding of society--which are something like counter-sites, a kind of effectively enacted utopia in which the real sites, all other real sites that can be found within the culture, are simultaneously represented, contested, and inverted. . . . Because these places are absolutely different from all the sites that they reflect and speak about, I shall call them, by way of contrast to utopia, heterotopias. I believe that between utopias and these quite other sites, these heterotopias, there might be a sort of mixed, joint experience, which would be the mirror. The mirror is, after all, a utopia, since it is a placeless place. In the mirror, I see myself there where I am not, in an unreal, virtual space that opens up behind the surface; I am over there, there where I am not, a sort of shadow that gives my own visibility to myself, that enables me to see myself there where I am absent: such is the utopia of the mirror. But it is also a hetrotopia in so far as the mirror does exist in reality, where it exerts a sort of counteraction on the position that I occupy. From the standpoint of the mirror I discover my absence from the place where I am since I see myself over there. Starting from this gaze that is, as it were, directed toward me, from the ground of this virtual space that is on the other side of the glass, I come back toward myself; I begin again to direct my eyes toward myself and to reconstitute myself there where I am. The mirror functions as a heterotopia in this respect: it makes this place that I occupy at the moment when I look at myself in the glass at once absolutely real, connected with all the space that surrounds it, and absolutely unreal, since in order to be perceived it has to pass through this virtual point which is over there.” (“Of Other Spaces, 24)
 Foucault, “Of Other Spaces,” 24.
 Foucault, “Of Other Spaces,” 27.
 Foucault, “Of Other Spaces,” 27.
 Stephen Toulmin, Cosmopolis: The Hidden Agenda of Modernity (2nd edition; Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992), 28
 Toulmin, Cosmopolis, 28.
 For instance see Judith Shklar, Montesquieu (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987), 30.
The first edition of The Persian Letters was published in 1721. In Letter 91, documenting this evocative pertinent context writing about the Muhammad Riza Bayk, Montesquieu noted: "There has appeared a personage got up as a Persian ambassador, who has insolently played a trick on the two greatest kings in the world." See his Persian Letters (1721; New York: Penguin, 1973), 172-173. For an interesting interpretation of Persian Letters see: Josué V. Harari, Scenarios of the Imaginary: Theorizing the French Enlightenment (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1987), pp. 67-101. Also see: Adam Vartanian, "Eroticism and Politics in the Letters persanes," Romantic Review LX:1(February 1969): 23-33; Morris Herbert, Muhammad Riza Bayk: Safir-i Iran dar Darbar-i Lu’i-i Chahardahum, trans. ‘Abd al-Husayn Vujdani (Tehran: Guzarish-i Farhang va Tarikh-i Iran, 1362/1983).
 Maria Rosa Menocal, The Arabic Role in Medieval Literary History: A Forgotten Heritage (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1987), 2. Explaining the scholarly resistance to this view of European awakening, Menocal writes, “The tenor of some of the responses to the suggestion that this Arab-centered vision might be a viable historiographical reconstruction for the West has occasionally been reminiscent of the reaction once provoked by Darwin’s suggestion (for son was the theory of evolution constructed) that we were ‘descended from monkey.’” Ibid., 3.
 Ann Stoler, Race and the Education of Desire: Foucault’s History of Sexuality and the Colonial Order of Things (Durham: Duke University Press, 1995), 15.
 For example see: Mitchell, Timothy, Colonising Egypt (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988); Uday Mehta, Liberalism and empire : a study in nineteenth-century British liberal thought (Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 1999); Benedic Anderson, Imagined communities : reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism (London : Verso, 1983); Paul Rabinow, Reflections on fieldwork in Morocco, with a foreword by Robert N. Bellah (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977).
 Stoler, Race and the Education of Desire, 16.
 Anderson, Imagined Communities, 47-65; quote on 50. Emphasis in original.
 Stoler, Race and the Education of Desire, 195.
 The use of “Persianate” instead of “Persophone” was suggested to me by Carl Ernst. In a personal correspondence on March 20, 1996, he wrote: “I would suggest Hodgson’s term Persianate rather than Persophone, since for many who used the language for literary or scientific proposes, it was what Jack Goody called a ‘father tongue’ learned in schools rather than a mother tongue, whether we have in mind residents of Kerman, Gilan, Multan, or the Decan; this also has the advantage of obviating national identification with the term ‘Persian’.”
 Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism,
 According to Jürgen Habermas, “The theory of modernization performs two abstractions on Weber’s concept of ‘modernity.’ It dissociates ‘modernity’ from its modern European origins and stylizes it into a spatio-temporally neutral model for processes of social development in general. Furthermore it breaks the internal connections between modernity and the historical context of Western rationalism, so that processes of modernization can no longer be conceived of as rationalization, as the historical objectification of rational structures.” See Jürgen Habermas, The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity: Twelve Lectures, trans. Frederick Lawrence (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1987), 2.
 According to Toulmin, “In four fundamental ways . . . 17th-century philosophers set aside the long-standing preoccupation of Renaissance humanism. In particular, they disclaimed any serious interest in four different kinds of practical knowledge: the oral, the particular, the local, and the timely” (Cosmopolis, 30).
 Johannes Fabian defines the denial of coevalness as “a persistent and systematic tendency to place the referent(s) of anthropology in a Time other than the present of the producer of anthropological discourse [emphasis in original].” See his Time and the Other: How Anthropology Makes Its Object (New York: Columbia University Press, 1983), 31.
 For instance see, Ahmad Ashraf, “Historical Obstacles to the Development of a Bourgeoisie in Iran,” in Studies in the Economic History of the Middle East: from the Rise of Islam to the Present Day, ed. M. A. Cook (London; New York: Oxford University Press, 1970), 308-332.
 John Malcolm, The History of Persia from the Most Early Period to the Present Time, 2: 621; For the Persian translation see, Tarikh-i Iran, trans. Mirza Isma‘il Hayrat (Bombay: Matba‘-i Datparsat, 1886).
 George W. F. Hegel, The Philosophy of History, trans. J. Sibree (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1991), 188
 Malcolm, The History of Persia, 2:622.
 Malcolm, The History of Persia, 2:623.
 Malcolm, The History of Persia, 2:623.
 Malcolm, The History of Persia, 2:624.
 Malcolm, The History of Persia, 2:6234.
 Malcolm, The History of Persia, 2:624.
 For instance see Ahmad Ashraf’s renowned work, Mavani‘-i Tarikhi-i Rushd-i Sarmayahdari dar Iran: Dawrah-’i Qajariyah (Tehran: Zaminah, 1359).
 Ervand Abrahamian, Iran Between Two Revolutions (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982), 35.
 Abrahamian, Iran Between Two Revolution, respectivly 38, 39, 40.
 Abrahamian, Iran Between Two Revolution, 47.
 Homa Katouzian, The Political Economy of Modern Iran: Despotism and Pseudo-Modernism, 1926-1979 (New York: New York University Press, 1981), pp. 7-26, 298-300; idem, “Arbitrary Rule: A Comparative Theory of State, Politics and Society in Iran” British Society for Middle Eastern Studies 24: 1 (1977), 49-73; Ervand Abrahamian, "Oriental Despotism: the Case of Qajar Iran," International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies 5 (1984): 3-31; idem, Ervand Abrahamian, "European Feudalism and Middle Eastern Despotisms," Science and Society 39 (1975): 135; George Curzon, Persia and the Persian Question (London: Logmans, 1892), 1: 433. For a review of various views of "Oriental Despotism" see: Perry Anderson, Lineage of the Absolutist State, p.462-549; Karl A. Wittfogel, Oriental Despotism: A Comparative Study of Total Power (New York: Vantage Books, 1981); Mariam Sawer, Marxism and the Question of the Asiatic Mode of Production (The Hague: Nijhoff, 1977); Stephen P. Dunn, The Fall and Rise of the Asiatic Mode of Production (London: Rotledge and Kegan Paul, 1982); Lawrence Krader, The Asiatic Mode of Production: Source, Development, and Critique in the Writing of Karl Marx (Assem: Van Gorcum, 1974).
 Guity Nashat, The Origins of Modern Reform in Iran, 1870-80 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1982).
 Chakrabarty, “Postcoloniality and the Artifice of History,” 17. See also, Meagan Morris, “Metamorphoses at Sydney Tower,” New Formations 11 (Summer 1990), 10.
 Morris, “Metamorphoses at Sydney Tower,” 10; cited in Chakrabarty, “Postcoloniality and the Artifice of History,” 17.
 Mangol Bayat, Iran’s First Revolution: Shi‘ism and the Constitutional Revolution of 1905-1909 (Oxford: Oxfored University Press, 1991), 36
‘Ali Quli Mirza I‘tizad al-Saltanah, Falak al-Sa‘adah (Tehran: Dar al-Taba‘ah-’i Aqa Mir Muhammad Tihrani, 1278/1861).
 Bayat, Iran’s First Revolution, 37.
 Elie Kdourie, Afghani and Abduh: An Essay on Religious Unbelief and Political Activism in Modern Islam (London: Cass, 1966), 44-45; Nikki Keddie, Sayyid Jamal al-Din “al-Afghani”: A Political Biography (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1972), 197-99; Jamshid Bihnam, Iraniyan va Andishah-’i Tajaddud (Tehran: Farzan Ruz, 1375/1996), 32-34; Alireza Manafzadeh, “Nukhustin Matn-i Falsafah-’i Jadid-i Gharbi bah Zaban-i Farsi,” Iran Nameh 9:1 (Winter 1991), 98-108.
 Faraydun Adamiyat, Andishah-’i Tarraqi va Hukumat-i Qanun: ‘Asr-i Sipahsalar (Tehran: Khwarazmi, 1351/1972), 17.
 Adamiyat, Andishah-’i Tarraqi va Hukumat-i Qanun, 18.
 On Gobineau’s anti-semitism see Peter Pulzer, The rise of political anti-Semitism in Germany and Austria (New York, Wiley ).
 Comte de Gobineau, Religions et philosophies dans l‘Asie centrale (1979), 98, 110-114; idem, Toris ans en Asie, Voyage en Persian (1980), 322-323, 330-336.
 Kamran Arjomand, “The Emergence of Scientific Modernity in Iran: Controversies Surrounding Astrology and Modern Astronomy in Mid-Nineteenth Century,” Iranian Studies 30:1-2 (Winter/Spring 1997), 15.
 Arjomand, “The Emergence of Scientific Modernity in Iran, 5-24;
 Bayat, Iran’s First Revolution, 37
 Arjomand, “Emergence of Scientific Modernity,” 17.
 According to Edward Said “Orientalism is a style of thought based upon an ontological and epistemological distinction made between ‘the Orient’ and (most of the time) ‘the Occident.’ Thus a very large mass of writers . . . have accepted the basic distinction between East and West as the starting point for elaborate theories, epics, novels, social descriptions, and political accounts concerning the Orient, its people, ‘mind’, destiny, and so on.” See his Orientalism, 2-3.
 Reevaluating the depiction of the Qajar period a an epoch of decadence, A. Bausani argued that “[t]he Qajar period suffered especially from sharp criticism levelled against it by two trends, very important in the West, Baha’i cirticism and Pahlavi criticism.” See his “The Qajar Period: An Epoch of Decadence?” in Qajar Iran: Political, Social, and Cultural Changes, 1800-1925, ed. Edmond Bosworth and Carloe Hillenbrand (Costa Mesa, CA: Mazda Publishers, 1992), 255-260, quote on 256.
 Writing about the Post World War II developments in the Middle East, Said observed, “despite its failures, its lamentable jargon, its scarcely concealed racism, its paper-thin intellectual apparatus, Orientalism flourishes today in the forms I have tried to describe. Indeed, there is some reason for alarm in the fact that its influence has spread to ‘the Orient’ itself: the pages of books and journals in Arabic (and doubtless in Japanese, various Indian dialects, and other Oriental languages) are filled with second-order analyses by Arabs of ‘the Arab mind’, ‘Islam’, and other myths.” See Edward Said, Orientalism, 322.
 Elaborating the function of intellectuals in self-Orientalizing, Said wrote, “Its role has been prescribed and set for it as a ‘modernizing’ one, which means that it gives legitimacy and authority to ideas about modernization, progress, and culture that it receives from the United States for the most part. Impressive evidence for this is found in the social sciences and surprisingly enough, among radical intellectuals whose Marxism is taken wholesale from Marx’s own homogenizing view of the Third world . . . So if all told there is an intellectual acquiescence in the image and doctrines of Orientalism, there is also a very powerful reinforcement of this in economic, political, and social exchanges: the modern Orient, in short, participates in its own Orientalizing.” Said, Orientalism, 325.
 Michel Foucault, “What is Enlightenment,” in Ethics: Subjectivity and Truth, ed. Paul Rabinow (New York: New Press, 1994), 303-319; quote on 312.
 Michel Foucault, “What is Enlightenment,” in Ethics, Subjectivity, and Truth, trans. Robert Hurley and others (New Yiork: The New Press, 1994), 303-319; quotes on 309-10.
 Mahdi Ikhwan Salis, “Akhir-i Shahnamah” in Akhir-i Shahnamah (8th edition; Tehran: Intisharat-i Murvarid, 1363 ), 79-86, quote on 85.
 “Anjuman-i Ma‘arif,” Miftah al-Zaffar 2:12 (22 March 1899), 182-183.
 Francois Bernier, Travels in the Mogul Empire AD 1656-1668, trans. Archibald Constable, revised by Vincent Smith (Reprint; New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers & Distributers, 1989), 324-325. Danishmand Khan, also known as Muhammad Shafi‘ was born in Iran and went to Surat, India, in 1646. Shah Jahan appointed him as a Bakhshi (military paymaster) and granted him the title of Danishmand Khan. Alamgir appointed him as Governor of Shah Jahan Abad or New Delhi, where he died in 1670. William Harvey was a lecturer at the Royal College of Physicians and discovered the circulation of blood. Jean Pecquet was born in Dieppe, France, and discovered the conversion of chyle into blood.
 Raymond Schwab, The Oriental Renaissance: Europe’s Rediscovery of India and the East, 1680-1880, trans. Gene Patterson-Black and Victor Reinking (New York: Columbia University Press, 1984), 142-146.
 Bernier, Travels in the Mogul Empire AD 1656-1668, 324-325.
 Bernier, Travels in the Mogul Empire AD 1656-1668, 352-353.
 Shahnavaz Khan, Ma’asir al-Umara, 2: 32.
 Shahnavaz Khan, Ma’asir al-Umara, 2: 30-32; quote on 32.
 Francois Bernier to M. Caron (10 March 1663) in Francois Martin, Francois Martin Mémoires: Travels to Africa, Persian & India, trans. Aniruddha Ray (Calcutta: Subarnarekha, 1990), 546-566; quote on 548.
 This Persian translation of the Upanishads was rendered into French and Latin by Anquetil-Duperron in 1801-2.
 Martin, Francois Martin Mémoires, 441-442.
 Pietro della Valle, Viaggi di Pietro della Valle (Brighton, 1843), 326-28; cited in Arjomand, “Emergence of Scientific Modernity,” p. 7.
On the Zij-i Muhammad Shahi see: William Hunter, "Some Account of the astronomical labours of Jaha Sinha, Raja of Ambhere, or Jayanagar," Asiatic Society 5 (1799), 177-210. This article includes the preface of the Zij and its English translation. Also see: G. R. Kaye, The Astronomical Observatories of Jai Singh (Calcutta: Archaeological Survey of India, 1918); Eric Forbes, "The European Astronomical Tradition: Its Transmission into India, and its Reception by Sawai Jai Singh II," Indian Journal of History of Science 17:2 (1982), 234-243; Virendra Nath Sharma, "Jai Singh, His European Astronomers and its Copernican Revolution," Indian Journal of History of Science 18:1 (1982), 333-344; Raymond Mercier, “The Astronimical Tables of Rajah Jai Singh Sawa‘i,” Indian Journal of History of Science 19 (1984), 143-171; S. A. Khan Ghori, "Development of Zîj Literature in India," in History of Astronomy in India, ed. by S. N. Sen and K. S. Shukla (Dew Delhi: Indian National Science Academy, 1985), 20-47.
 Phillipe de La Hire (1460-1718), Tabulae astronomicae Ludovici Magni jussu et munificentia exaratae et in lucem editae. Adjecta sunt descriptio, constructio & usus instrumentorum astronomiae novae practicae inservientium, variaque problemata astronomis geographisque perutilia. Ad meridianum observatorii regii Parisiensis in quohabitae sunt observationes ab ipso autore Philippo de La Hire (Parisiis, Apud Joannem Boudot, 1702). This was oringinally published in 1687.
 Muhammad ‘Ali Mubashshir Khan, Manahij al-Istikhraj (Unpublished manuscript: Kitabkhanah-’i Astan-i Quds-i Razavi, #12302). On the influence of De La Hire see, Virendra Nath Sharma, "Zïj Muhammad Shahi and the Tables of De La Hire," Indian Journal of History of Science 25:1-4 (1990), 36-41.
 Many copies of Zij-i Muhammad Shahi are available in Iranian libraries. On of the earliest editions is reported “to be extant” in the library of Madrasah-’i ‘Ali-i Sipahsalar, which was renamed after the 1979 Revolution as Madrasah-’i ‘Ali-i Shahid Mutahhari. See S. M. Razaullah Ansari, “Introduction of Modern Western Astronomy in India During 18-19 Centuries,” in History of Astronomy in India, eds. S. N. Sen and K. S. Shukla (New Delhi: Indian National Science Academy, 1985), 363-402; quote on 364. Astan-i Quds-Razavi’s copies are dated 1240/1824 in Yazd and 1242/1826.
 ‘Abbas Mazda, “Nufuz-i Sabk-i Urupa’i dar Naqashi-i Iran” Payam-i Nau 2:10 (1325 ), 59-72, particularly 61; Ardakani, Tarikh-i Mu‘assasat, 1: 234. The claim of Muhammad Zamman’s travel to Europe is refuted by the Russian Orientalists Igor Akimushkin. See Abolala Soudavar, “European and Indian Influences,” in Art of the Perian Courts: Selections from the Art and History Trust Collection (New York: Rizzoli International Publications, 1992), pp 365-379, particularly f.n. #16, p. 379. For a critical evaluation of the controversy over Muhammad Zaman’s career see, A. A. Ivanov, Nadirah-’i Dawran Muhammad Zaman,” in Davazdah Rukh: Yadnigari az Dawazdah Naqash-i Nadirahkar-i Iran, trans. Ya‘qub Azhand (Tehran: Intisharat-i Mawla, 1377/19998), 313-328.
Mir ‘Abd al-Latif Shushtari, Tuhfat al-‘Alam va Zayl al-Tuhfah, ed. Samad Muvahhid (Reprint; Tehran: Tahuri, 1363), pp. 363-367. See also: "An Account of the Life and Character of Tofuzel Hussein Khan, the Vakeel, or Ambassador, of the Nabob Vizier Assof-Ud-Dowlah, at Calcutta, During the Government of Marquis Cornwallis," The Asiatic Annual Register, or, A View of the History of Hindustan, and of the Politics, Commerce and Literature of Asia for the Year 1803 (London: Cadell and Davies, 1804), Characters, p. 1-8, quote in p. 1.
"An Account of the Life and Character of Tofuzel Hussein Khan," Section on Characters, p. 1.
Quoted in "An Account of the Life and Character of Tofuzel Hussein Khan, Section on Characters," Section on Characters, 1.
 Spelled as Tofuzzel Hussein in the original.
"An Account of the Life and Character of Tofuzel Hussein Khan," Section on Characters, 1.
Ruben Burrows was supposed to write "notes and explanations" to Tafazzul Husayn Khan’s translation of Newton's Principia. According to the Asiatic Annual Register, "The translation was finished, but it has not been printed; and we believe Mr. Burros never added the annotations he mentions." See "An Account of the Life and Character of Tofuzel Hussein Khan," Section of Characters, 7. Mir ‘Abd al-Latif Shushtari noted that Tafazzul Husayn Khan aquired his knowledge of European philosophy (hikamiyat-i farang) from Mr. Burrows. (Tuhfat al-‘§lam, 371) On Ruben Burrows see Asiatic Researches 2 (1790), 489.
Tafazzul Husayn Khan, who "wrote the Persian language with uncommon elegance," had been appointed by Hastings to accompany David Anderson to Mahajee Scindiah. According to David Anderson, Husayn Khan learned English from "my brother, Mr. Blaine . . . " and European mathematics and astronomy "from his communication with the learned Mr. Broome." In 1792, upon a friend's request, Anderson had asked Tafazzul Husayn Khan to inquire about "the ancient astronomy of the Hindus." All quotes are from a letter by David Anderson published in "An Account of the Life and Character of Tofuzel Hussein Khan," Section of Characters, 2-3.
"An Account of the Life and Character of Tofuzel Hussein Khan," Section on Characters, 8.
"An Account of the Life and Character of Tofuzel Hussein Khan," Section of Characters, 8.
For Husayn Khan's acquaintance with William Jones and Richard Johnson see: "An Account of the Life and Character of Tofuzel Hussein Khan," Section on Characters, 4.
 According to Juan Cole, Shushtari “emigrated to Hyderabad around 1790 and during that decade took notes on which he based his Tuhfat al-‘Alam (Gift to the World), written in 1800-1801.” See his “Invisible Occidentalism: Eighteenth-Century Indo-Persian Construction of the West,” Iranian Studies 25:3-4 (1992), 3-16; quote on 6. But Shushtari himself notes that he he boarded a British ship on 14 Shavval 1202/July 1788 from Basrah. His stay in Decan lasted no more than five days. Shushtari reports that he reached Calcutta on 9 Muharram 1203/October 10, 1788. He visited Hyderabad on 24 Zihajjah 1214/April 1799 and remaind there for only one and half years. See Shushtari, Tuhfat al-‘Alam, respectively 234, 237, and 453.
 Shushtari, Tuhfat al-‘Alam, 252.
 Shushtari, Tuhfat al-‘Alam, 255.
 Shushtari, Tuhfat al-‘Alam, pp. 36-40, 299-315.
 Shushtari, Tuhfat al-‘Alam, 36.
 Shushtari, Tuhfat al-‘Alam, pp. 36-40, particularly 38.
 Shushtari, Tuhfat al-‘Alam, respectively 303 and 307. For an alternative interpretation of this passage see Cole, “Invisible Occidentalism,” 11-12. As it relates to the state of astronomical knowledge, Shushtari mentioned meeting the ninety-year-old Mir Masih Allah Shahjahanabadi who resided in Murshidabad and had spent most of his life mastering astronomy. He reports studying Zij Muhammad Shahi, the observations of Chayt Singh, and other astronomical texts which were in the possession of Mir Masih. It would be important to locate the works these two scholars. See Shushtari, Tuhfat al-‘Alam, 374.
 Vaqyi‘ Nigar, Qava‘id al-Muluk (Kitabkhanah-’i Milli-i Iran, manuscript #F/1757). Among other writings of Vaqayi‘ Nigar are: Tarikh-i Jahan Ara (1225/1810), Zinat al-Madayih, Tuhfah-’i ‘Abbasi, and Zinat al-Ma‘asir. See I‘tizad al-Saltanah, Iksir al-Tavarikh, ed. Jamshid Kiyanfarr (Tehran: Visman, 1981), 274-277; Yahya Aryanpur, Az Saba ta Nima: Tarikh-i 150 Sal Adab-i Farsi (Tehran Kitabha-yi Jibi, 1351/1972), 1:75-77.
 See I‘tizad al-Saltanah’s biographical note on Vagayi‘nigar in his Iksir al-Tavarikh, 274-277. I‘tizad al-Saltanah’s description is the basis for Aryanpur’s entry on Vaqayi’nigar. See Aryanpur, Az Saba ta Nima, 1:75-77.
Aqa Ahmad Bihbahani Kirmanshahi, Mir‘at al-Ahval-i Jahan Nama, ed. ‘Ali Davani (Tehran: Intisharat-i Markaz-i Asnad-i Inqilab-i Islami, 1375 ), 392.
 Bihbahani Kirmanshahi, Mir‘at al-Ahval-i Jahan Nama, 392. For a different rendering see Cole, “Invisible Occidentalism,” 11.
Bihbahani Kirmanshahi, Mir‘at al-Ahval-i Jahan Nama, 392.
 For instance Kamaran Arjomand claims that “in the second half of the nineteenth century there were serious efforts to defend traditional Islamic cosmology against modern European astronomy.” See his “The Emergence of Modern Scientific Modernity in Iran: Controversies Surrounding Astrology and Modern Astronomy in the Mid-Nineteenth Century,” Iranian Studies 30:1-2 (Winter/Spring 1997), 5-24, quote on 10. Muslim scholars like Aqa Ahmad Bihbahani Kirmanshahi were much more receptive to modern scientific theories than it is suggested by the mythical binary opposition between “Islamic cosmology and modern European astronomy.”
Mawlavi Abu al-Khayr b. Maulavi Ghiyas al-Din, Majmu‘ah-i Shamsi: mushtamil-i bar masa’il-i ‘ilm-i hay’at mutabiq-i tahqiqat-i ‘ulama-yi muta’akhirin-i Farang (Calcutta: Hindoostani Press, 1222/1807). In the introduction Mawlavi Abu al-Khayr notes that Majmu‘ah-’i Shamsi is based on English language sources, which he translated with the encouragement and assistance of Dr. William Hunter (1718-83). Majmu‘ah Shamsi bears the following note in English: “A Concise View of the Copernican System of Astronomy. By Mouluwee Ubool Khuer. Under the superintendence of W. Hunter, M. D. Calcutta. Printed by T. Hubbard at the Hindoostanee Press, 1807.”
 Writing about the status of modern science, particularly astronomy, in Iran, John Malcolm observed, “Efforts have recently been made to convey better information to them upon this important branch of human sciences. An abstract of the Copernican system, and the proofs which the labours of Newton have afforded of its truth, have been translated into Persian; and several individuals of that nation have laboured to acquire this noble but abstruse subject . . .” Macolm then added, “but it is not probable that these rays of light will soon dissipate the cloud of darkness in which a prejudiced and superstitious nation have been for centuries involved.” See Sir John Malcolm, The History of Persia, 2: 5536-537.
 Mawlavi Abu al-Khayr, Majmu‘ah-i Shamsi, 2.
 William Hunter, “Account of the Astronomical Labours of Jaya Sinha, Rajah of Ambhere, or Jayanagar,” Asiatic Researches Or Transactions of the Society Instituted in Bengal 5 (1799), 177-211.
 Other texts on modern sciences, particularly astronomy, include Muhammad Isma‘il Landani’s Tashil al-adrak fi sharh al-aflak, available at Dar al-‘Ulum Nadwat al-‘Ulama, radif 3, no. 4; Muhammad Ayyub’s Risalah dar ‘Ilm-i Nujum (1801/1216), avaiable at the Khuda Bakhsh Oreintal Public Library, (Acc. 334); Sayyid Ahmad ‘Ali’s Muqaddamat-i ‘Ilm-i Hay’at (Calcutta: n.p., n.d.), and Rathan Singh Zakhmi Lakhnavi’s Hadayiq al-Nujum (1838).
Muhammad Rafi‘ al-Din Khan ‘Umdat al-Mulk, Rafi‘ al-Basar (Calcutta: C. V. William Press, 1841).
 On Henry Martyn see, G. Smith, Henry Martyn (1829); C. E. Padwick, Henry Martyn Confessor of the Faith (1925); John Sargent, Memoir of the Rev. Henry Martyn (London, 1819). Also see, Hanry Martyn, Journals and Letters. For a learned discussion of Martyn in Persian see: ‘Abd al-Hadi Ha’iri, Nukhustin Ruyaruyiha-yi Andishahgaran-i Iran ba Du Ruyah-’i Tamaddun-i Burzhuvazi-i Gharb (Tehran: Amir Kabir, 1367), 507-545.
 For Martyn’s Persian translation of The New Testament see: Kitab al-Muqaddas va Huwa Kutub-i al-‘Ahd-i al-Jadid-i Khudavand va Rahanandah-’i Ma ‘Isa-’i Masih =The New Testament of Our Lord Saviour Jesus Christ (London: The British and Foreign Bible Society, 1876).
 Afzal-ul-Ulama Muhammad Yousuf Kokan, Arabic and Persian in Carnatic, 1710-1960 (Madras: Hafiza House, 1974), 340-344.
 Kokan, Arabic and Persian in Carnatic, 1710-1960, 345-348.
 James B. Fraser, Narrative of a Journey into Khorasan in the years 1821 and 1822 including Some Account of the Countries to the North-East of Persia; with Remarks Upon the National Character, Government, and Resources of that Kingdom (London: Longman, 1825), 152-153.
 Fraser, Narrative of a Journey into Khorasan, 482. Concerning his conversation with the Amirzadah, Fraser wrote, “The subject of astronomy was very soon brought forward, and the ameerzadeh’s questions were numerous and curious: he inquired into, and appeared readily to comprehend the uses of my instruments; and he explained to me his own opinions of the motions of the heavenly bodies. He believed that the earth performs two motions, one round the sun, the other round its own axis; but he could not account for the change of seasons without the intervention of another movement, which he could not explain in a very intelligible manner, nor could I learn from whence he had adopted his theory; he said he had been led to it from the result of his observations with the telescope; but it is difficult to conceive how any observations, in his power to make, could lead to a conclusion so decided.” See Fraser, Narrative of a Journey into Khorasan, 481.
 Fraser, Narrative of a Journey into Khorasan, 484.
 Muhammad Qazi b. Kashif al-Din Muhammad Ardakani, Tuhfah-’i Muhammadiyah, Kitabkhanah-’i Astan-i Quds-i Razavi, #583. The manuscript was copied in 1220/1805.
 On George Sale’s translation see, William Montgomery Watt, Muslim-Christian Encounters: Perceptions and Misunderstandings (London: Routledge, 1991), 113-114.
 Fraser, Narrative of a Journey into Khorasan, 484.
 Mirza Abu Talib, Masir Talibi, 146.
Mirza Salih Shirazi, Guzarish-i Safar, p. 356. Mirza Salih was also familiar with views of William Harvey (1578-1657) on the circulation of blood. (Guzarish, p. 247).
 For instance see, Buzurg ‘Alavi, “Crtical Writings on the Renewal of Iran,” in Qajar Iran: Political, Social, and Cultural Changes, 1800-1925, ed. Edmond Bosworth and Carloe Hillenbrand (Costa Mesa, CA: Mazda Publishers, 1992), 243-254, quote on 253.
 For an evaluation of similarities between Bayat’s Iran’s First Revolution and Kirmani’s Tarikh-i Bidari-i Iranian see my review in International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies (February 1997).
 Writing on eighteenth-century Bengal, Richard Eaton has also observed, “Two stereotypes--one by students of Indian history, the other held by students of Islam--have conspired greatly to obscure our understanding of Islam in Bengal, and especially of the growth of a Muslim peasant community there. The first of these is the notion of eighteenth-century Mughal India as a period hopelessly mired in decline, disorder, chaos, and collapse.” See his “The Growth of Muslim Identity in Eighteenth-Century Bengal,” in Eighteenth-Century Renewal and Reform in Islam, eds. Nehemiah Levtzion and John Voll (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1987), 161-185; quote on 161.