Part 2 of our series on Islam and Imperialism in the 19th century: the Persian Empire’s struggles with the imperialists. In this period Persia was dominated by the Qajjars. We talk about their rise, the multiple wars with Russia, the attempts to modernize, the unequal treaties. We tell the story of Griboyedev’s demise from both sides, and talk about one of the biggest Victorian famines you never heard about – the Persian famine of 1869-1872.
For however long the construct of “Modern Western Civilization” has existed, its Eastern foil has been the Ottoman Empire. And for as long as we’ve been taught the glories of the West, we’ve been taught about Ottoman “decline”. We talk about the Ottoman Empire, show that the history is a little bit more complicated than a story of “decline”, and focus on the elite’s struggles to reform and modernize in the face of the growing ambitions of Western imperialists.
I’m joined by the Anti-Empire Project’s special correspondent for Pakistan, Saadia Toor, professor at CSI CUNY and author of the State of Islam: Culture and Cold War Politics in Pakistan. Saadia gives us a quick sweep of Pakistan’s history including the key role of the left in the many twists and turns. We get caught up all the way to Imran Khan’s hybrid civil-military regime and the inspiring youth-led Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM).