James Pickett


My research focuses on Eurasia’s “even longer” 19th century, but I am interested in enduring continuities connecting this period both to pre-Islamic antiquity and to the Soviet aftermath. I consider my work equally part of Islamic, Russian, Persianate, Central Asian, and - increasingly - South Asian studies. You can find a complete list of publications on my curriculum vitae or my public Zotero library.

Polymaths of Islam

My first monograph (published by Cornell University Press in 2020) is a social and cultural history of Islamic scholars in Bukhara (now located in Uzbekistan). You can find a suberb discussion of its arguments at Islamicate Book Reviews and in an in-depth interview with me as a New Books Network podcast, as well as scholarly reviews in academic journals. I have published related work in the International Journal of Middle East Studies (2016) and the Journal of Persianate Studies (2016).

Seeing like a Princely State

I am now beginning a second book-length investigation of sovereignty and Perso-Islamic cultures of documentation in semi-colonial contexts, which will compare Bukhara as a Russian protectorate with Hyderabad as a British princely state. An article with the American Historical Review (2018) lays the ground work for this project by exploring sovereignty in Eurasia during the precolonial period; and an introduction (co-authored with Paolo Sartori) to a theme issue of the Journal of the Social and Economic History of the Orient (2019) argues for a new approach to the study of Islamic documents.

Side Projects

These interests have led me toward a number of more self-contained projects. I have written about the Soviet legacy of the Persianate cultural sphere. I have also investigated the implications of Central Asian history for teaching Persian and Turkic langauges of Central Asia both for a scholarly and popular audience. Most recently, I have contributed a synthetic Cambridge History chapter on Persianate migration, building on my contribution to Asia Inside Out.

Last updated on January 21, 2021
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