Qajar Iran, Tipu Sultan’s Anti-British Alliance
and Russian Expansion in the Caucasus (1797-1813)
British consolidation in South Asia at the turn of the 19th century witnessed the resistance of Tipu Sultan, the renowned ruler of Mysore. His call for an anti-British alliance, with, among others, Qajar Iran, came at a time when Iran was facing Russian expansionist pressure on its northern borders. British diplomatic efforts to offset Tipu Sultan, which included Captain Malcolm’s first mission to Iran in 1800 straight from the campaign that destroyed Tipu, triggered a race for access to the Qajar court, which in due course turned Britain into a cunning mediator in the Russo-Persian conflict. Tipu’s appeal, despite its fascinating Perso-Shi’i undertone shared with Qajar Iran, remained a mere potentiality overshadowed by European race for domination and the harsh realities of global rearrangement at the turn of the 19th century.
Professor Abbas Amanat (Yale)
Abbas Amanat received his B.A. from Tehran University in 1971 and his D.Phil. from Oxford University in 1981. His principal publications include Apocalyptic Islam and Iranian Shi’ism (2009), Pivot of the Universe: Nasir al-Din Shah and the Iranian Monarchy, 1831-1896 (1997) and Resurrection and Renewal: the Making of the Babi Movement in Iran, 1844-1850 (1989). He is the editor of Cities and Trade: Consul Abbott on the Economy and Society of Iran (1983), Crowning Anguish: Memoirs of a Persian Princess from the Harem to Modernity (1995) and co-editor of Iran Facing Others: Identity Boundaries in a Historical Perspective (2012), Is There a Middle East?: The Evolution of a Geopolitical Concept (2011), Imagining the End: Visions of Apocalypse from Ancient Middle East to Modern America (2002); Shari’a: Islamic Law in the Contemporary Context (2007); and U.S.-Middle East Historical Encounters: A Critical Survey (2007). He also edited The United States and the Middle East: Diplomatic and Economic Relations in Historical Perspective (2000) and co-edited The United States and the Middle East: Cultural Encounters (2002) and Apocalypse and Violence (2004).
Currently he is writing In Search of Modern Iran: Authority, Nationhood and Culture (1501-2001), a survey of Iranian history (forthcoming with Yale University Press); a study of toleration and nonconformity in the Persianate world, a biography of the Babi leader and poet Fatima Baraghani Qurrat al-‘Ayn (Tahirah) and a documentary history of Qajar Iran (in Persian).
Abbas Amanat was a Carnegie Scholar of Islamic Studies (2005-2007). He also was the recipient of the Mellon-Sawyer Seminar Grant for comparative study of Millennialism (1998-2001). He is a Consulting Editor and longtime contributor to Encyclopedia Iranica where his major entries include “Constitutional Revolution” (1994); “Great Britain in Qajar Persia” (2002); “Hajji Baba of Ispahan” (2003) “Historiography of Qajar Iran” (2004), “Historiography of Pahlavi Iran” (2004) and “Islam in Iran: Messianism” (2007). He is the General Editor of Persia Observed series (Mage Publishers) which includes extensive introductions to new editions of E.G. Browne’s Persian Revolution (1995) and C.J. Wills The Land of the Lion and the Sun (2004). He was the Editor-in-Chief of Iranian Studies, the journal of the International Society for Iranian Studies (1991-98) ) and served as the chair of the Council on Middle East Studies at Yale (1993-2004). He is currently Director of the Iranian Studies Initiative at Yale's MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies.