For much of human history over the past few thousand years, empire has been the norm. Three different empires of the Early Modern era (c. 1500-1800)--the Ottoman Empire in the core of the Middle East, the Safavid Empire in Persia and beyond, and the Mughal Empire in South Asia--encompassed much of the Muslim world. We will stress both common and divergent patterns and structures of imperial rule, as well as examine shared imperial legacies and cultural resources, along with cross-imperial connectivities and mobility.
We will do so by studying the religious, political, racial, and economic bases for these imperial systems around an analysis of Islam, including how it established legitimacy and impacted these great empires. At the core of this seminar is the framework that the "problem of empire" in the early modern world is a central part of the early modern Muslim world and indeed the modern Middle East, indeed including the present.