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Frontier Nomads of Iran: a Political and Social History of the Shahsevan

 Author: Richard Tapper  Publisher: Cambridge University Press  Published: November 2, 2006  ISBN: 0521029066  Pages: 456  Language: English  Dimension: 6.14 x 1.03 x 9.21 inches

Richard Tapper’s fascinating book traces the political and social history of the Shahsevan, one of Iran’s major nomadic peoples, living on the sensitive frontiers of Azarbaijan. The story, which is based on ethnographic fieldwork and extensive documentary research over more than three decades, is both tragic and dramatic. It recounts the mythical origins of the tribes in the seventeenth century, their unification as a tribal confederacy in the eighteenth century and their eventual decline under the Pahlavi Shahs when they were systematically stripped of both their economic and political influence. Although the confederacy has now ceased to exist, several thousand families of Shahsevan nomads still migrate near the frontier and thousands of other Iranians still acknowledge their identity as Shahsevan. The book is intended as a contribution to three rather different debates. One concerns the riddle of Shahsevan origins, how and when the confederation was formed, while another considers how far changes in tribal social and political formations are a function of relations with states. The third discusses the relation between identity and history, and asks how different constructions of the identity of a particular people reflect or determine their view of the past. The author’s synthetic approach to the history and anthropology of the region promises to make a major contribution to theoretical debates in both disciplines.

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