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The Economy and Merchants of Safavid Iran: Views from the Khyber Pass
LUNCH 11:45 a.m. LECTURE 12:30 p.m.

Under the Safavid Dynasty (1501-1722) and the Mughal Empire (1526-1739/1858), Iran and South Asia were incorporated into the early modern world economy, which saw merchants and commodities crossing regional and imperial boundaries. Stephen Dale’s presentation at the Athenaeum will explore the economic and commercial history of Safavid Iran, in particular its exchanges with South Asia. Dale has traveled extensively in Iran and studies the contemporary Mughal Empire. He spent much time in Iran as a graduate student and new assistant professor - visiting four different times over one decade - usually on the way to or from India. He never failed to be struck with the extraordinary physical, economic and cultural characteristics of the two contiguous regions, which were also so intimately connected by trade and cultural exchange. From this “outsider’s perspective” – the perspective of someone who comes to Iranian studies from India – Dale brings together the histories of the Safavid and Mughal dynasties, offering views of the contrasts and linkages between early modern Iran and South Asia. Dale’s presentation will focus on Iran, outlining the fundamental structural facts that explain the nature and strength of the Iranian economy and its merchants, particularly as compared with the Mughal economy and its merchant classes.

Professor Dale specializes in and teaches courses on the history of the eastern Islamic world, specifically India, Afghanistan, Iran, and Central Asia at Ohio State University. He has conducted research on one of the oldest Muslim communities in the Indian subcontinent, the Mappilas of Malabar or Kerala in southwestern India, and on Indian merchants who conducted trade in Iran, Central Asia, and Russia in the early modern era. His publications include Indian Merchants and Eurasian Trade, 1600-1750 (Cambridge, 2002) and The Garden of Eight Paradises: Babur and the Culture of Empire in Central Asia, Afghanistan, and India (Brill, 2004). Dale’s talk, “The Economy and Merchants of Safavid Iran: Views from the Khyber Pass,” is the keynote address for a Mellon conference on “The Trade and Traffic of Persia” to be held at the Claremont Colleges on September 19-September 20, 2008.