Home Event ‘Expectations and Realities: How the First World War arrived in the Middle East and the Persianate World’ – An international scholarly conference

‘Expectations and Realities: How the First World War arrived in the Middle East and the Persianate World’ – An international scholarly conference

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Date(s) - 11/12/2015 - 12/12/2015
3:00 pm - 6:00 pm

The University of Manchester - Middle Eastern Studies, School of Arts, Languages and Cultures


‘Expectations and Realities: How the First World War arrived in the Middle East and the Persianate World’


Expectations and Realities

An international scholarly conference

University of Manchester, Friday 11 and Saturday 12 December 2015

organised by Dr Oliver Bast (School of Arts, Languages, and Cultures; History department)

with the support and on behalf of the

Centre for the Advanced Study of the Arab World (CASAW) and the

British Institute of Persian Studies (BIPS)

with additional support from the British Society for Middle Eastern Studies (BRISMES)


Opening Session and Keynote Lecture (To be live-streamed)

Date: Friday, 11 December 2015

Time: 3-6 pm

Venue: University Place, The University of Manchester, Oxford Road, M13 9PL [map link: https://goo.gl/maps/Rs4MiWRC5Bv ]

Room: University Place 4.204


Organisation, Programme, and Logistics

For all further details please visit the website of the Manchester Iranian History Academic Network at http://www.mihan.org.uk/next-event.html



About the Conference

The crucial importance of the First World War for the Middle East, particularly for the territories that formed the Ottoman Empire in 1914 is widely acknowledged, while there has been a growing recognition of the seminal character of the conflict also in the history of the Persianate World, especially as regards Iran but also Afghanistan, the Caucasus, and Transcaspia. Still far too rarely, however, have World War I scholars researching one or the other of these two distinct areas of the wider Middle East compared their notes, shared their findings, let alone formulated joint research agendas. This belies the obvious fact that many of the deeply transformative, and often tragic, developments in these areas before, during, and immediately after the Great War were deeply intertwined, if not fully interdependent.

This conference is an attempt at addressing this desideratum by bringing together historians of World War I in the Middle East and/or the Persianate World of many different nationalities and coming from a variety of countries including the UK, the United States, Middle Eastern countries as well as several continental European ones being based at renowned universities and research centres, including Cambridge, Georgetown, Princeton, and the University of Michigan.

The overarching focus of the conference is the run-up to and the first year of World War I up to early 1916, in other words the arrival of the First World War into the Persianate World and the rest of the Middle East under the rubric of ‘Expectations and Realities’ given that the arrival of the war in the region was not a forgone conclusion in any case (even after 2 August 1914!) and even after the die was cast in late October 1914, many things turned out to be completely different from what most decision-makers in the Middle East and at helm of the European belligerents but also the soon-to-be-greatly-suffering populations of the Middle East and the Persianate World had expected.

The conference aims at adding value to the currently very intensive scholarly retrospective on the history of the First World War in the Persianate World, the Middle East and, in actual fact, beyond by virtue of

  1. a) taking a transnational approach bringing together for discussion and debate historians covering not only the Arab Middle East and the core of the Ottoman Empire but also the (still often overlooked) Iran (including colleagues joining us from Tehran) and the adjacent Persianate regions of Afghanistan, the Caucasus, and Transcaspia exploring how developments in the Middle East and the Persianate World during World War I were interlinked and potentially interdependent
  2. b) uniting scholars with different perspectives on and approaches to the study of First World War in the Middle East and the Persianate World including political/diplomatic historians, literary critics, historians of every-day life and social/subaltern historians, students of thought and ideology, and military historians.
  3. c) engaging in the debate also ‘practioners’ from UK Government institutions whose work is impacted upon by historical research on the First World War in the Middle East and the Persianate World, such as the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), the British Army and The National Archives.
  4. d) being organised in a way that allows ample time for both, speakers’ presentations and subsequent deep discussion by keeping to an unhurried schedule.
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