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Iranians Abroad: Intra-Asian Elite Migration and Early Modern State Formation

Sanjay Subrahmanyam
The Journal of Asian Studies
Vol. 51, No. 2 (May, 1992), pp. 340-363
DOI: 10.2307/2058032
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2058032
Page Count: 24
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Iranians Abroad: Intra-Asian Elite Migration and Early Modern State Formation
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Abstract

Sanjay Subrahmanyam takes up an idea advanced by Philip D. Curtin in Cross-cultural Trade in World History (1984) that foreign trading communities in the early modern period remained autonomous commercial settlements, self-contained populations largely isolated from the politics of their host societies. Basing his study on the Iranian (Persian) traders scattered through South Asia and the Indian Ocean region from the fifteenth to the seventeenth centuries, Subrahmanyam concludes the commercial, administrative, and military skills possessed by the Iranians meant that they were drawn into key roles in state formation in India. Subrahmanyam cites cases where Iranians left behind trading to become administrators and state builders in the Deccan region of India, as well as similar evidence from the Mughal court and Southeast Asia. So he concludes that the worlds of trade and politics may be more permeable than Curtin would have us believe.

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