The Geographies of 'Ajam: The Circulation of Persian Poetry from South Asia to the Caucasus
Medieval History Journal 18.1 (2015): 87-119
33 Pages Posted: 16 Aug 2015 Last revised: 5 Dec 2015
Date Written: August 15, 2015
As Persian literary culture spread across the eastern Islamic world, Persian poets gained confidence in the power of their craft to shape their world. Alongside other genres, the medieval Persian prison poem (habsīyyāt) strikingly illustrates how shifts in the geography of Persian extended the aesthetic, political, and geographic scope of Persian literature. This article uses the dissemination of the prison poem to shed light on the extensive contacts between South Asia and the Caucasus that Persian poetry facilitated. As I examine medieval Persian literary culture from two peripheries of the Islamic world, I concentrate on how this literature's capacious geographical imagination enables us to rethink received assumptions concerning the circulation of power, cultural exchange, and the role played by literary form in stimulating political change.
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