For the Study of the History, Languages, and Cultures of Azerbaijan, the Caucasus and Central Asia
ONGC Visiting Fellow
Ladan Niayesh is Professor of Early Modern Studies at the Université de Paris. Her research focuses on 16th- and early 17th-century English travels to Muscovy and Persia. During her time as a visiting fellow at the Oxford Nizami Ganjavi Centre in 2021-22, she will be working on two book-length projects.
The first is a monograph contracted to Cambridge University Press, entitled Models of Race and Empire in Early English Accounts of Russians and Tatars. It is a study of the first-hand accounts of journeys by agents of the English Muscovy Company in the formative years of the Russian empire under Ivan the Terrible, in the wake of the falls of the Tatar khanates of Kazan and Astrakhan. The journeys took the agents down the Volga and across the Caspian Sea to Central Asia and Bukhara. Subsequently, both their observations and hands-on experiences provided English promoters and ideologues of empire with models and counter-models of racialised thinking and slavery in the context of England’s own nascent imperial ambitions. Bringing together the very local and the very global, this project centre-stages the impact and importance of Russian and Tatar contacts in England’s proto-imperial history.
The second project is an edition of original travel accounts and diplomatic documents related to Anthony and Robert Sherley, two English adventurers engaged in embassies to and from Shah Abbas I of Persia at the turn of the seventeenth century. The volume, contracted to the Hakluyt Society, is co-edited with Dr. Kurosh Meshkat (Qatar Project, British Library) and Professor Alasdair MacDonald (Emeritus, University of Groningen). It will appear under the title An Elizabethan Soldier in Safavid Persia: Sir Anthony Sherley’s Mission to the Court of Shah ‘Abbas the Great, and the Persian Embassy to Muscovy, the Holy Roman Empire, the Papal States and Habsburg Spain. As indicated by the title, this volume too has a marked transcultural scope, with the Sherleys’ diplomatic efforts placed at the intersection of Safavid and European geopolitical and economic interests, especially in relation to the Ottoman empire.