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Transactions and Documentation in the Persianate World

A workshop

First workshop within the ERC-funded project ‘Forms of Law'

Event details


This workshop invites scholars to investigate traditions of legal documentation related to trade and other transactions related to property in a vast but under-studied commercial sphere – the Persianate world. This was an enormous, multi-ethnic and durable cosmopolis that stretched from Bengal to Bosnia, and variably included within itself major Islamic empires as well as more regionalised states. It also provided the cultural framework within which merchant networks had to function, whether these be family and community-based, such as those of the Armenians, Gujaratis and Multanis, or chartered corporations such as the European trading companies. This workshop offers an opportunity for a close reading and comparison of legal instruments employed by these and other entities within the Persianate world. It invites study of legal instruments used to record a full range of transactions including the commercial but stretching beyond it to the pious and familial, so as to capture the various social contexts in which material transactions required documentation.

In particular, we invite scholars to reflect upon:

  • The nature of the economies within the Persianate sphere, with reflections on the ‘bazaar’ as well as globalisation
  • The boundaries and relations between law and economy, with special attention to institutions such as notaries and tribunals
  • The substantiation of law in specific cultural and linguistic terms, through specific documentary devices
  • The linguistic, formulaic and semantic variation of legal and technical terms across sub-regions within the Persianate sphere, and the implications of such variations.

This workshop is located within the ERC-funded project titled ‘Forms of Law in the early modern Persianate world, 17th-19th centuries’, and as such, the organisers are particularly keen to learn about legal documents written in Persian, alone or in conjunction with other languages. We also welcome papers about legal instruments written in other languages demonstrably present within the Persianate sphere.

We invite scholars to present 30-minute papers derived from their research, and focussed on a specific Persianate legal instrument or collection of documents.

Participants of the workshop will be invited by the organisers to contribute an article-sized publication to an edited book with a reputed press, or the special issue of a peer-reviewed journal. It is envisaged that every submission will include a facsimile image of an representative sample of the material discussed, and an appendix with full transcription and translation of it. Assistance may be provided in some cases for clearing permissions and with transcription.

Participation is by invitation only. For those presenting papers, travel costs to and from Exeter will be reimbursed by the project; accommodation and meals will be organised in local Exeter hotels and restaurants. 

There is space for up to 10 additional non-presenting participants; there are no fees but booking in advance is essential. Write to before 1 July 2018 to book your place. Unfortunately, there are no subsidies available to help with travel or other costs.


02_PROGRAMME_draft_1.pdfProgramme (draft) (80K)