Armenian liberator or Persianate traveler?

In passing, Tavakoli-Targhi lists Joseph Emin as another Iranian traveler to Europe who wrote an account of his journey:

Joseph Emin (1726-1809), a native of Hamadan, was another traveler who visited England in 1751 and wrote an account of his life and adventures in English, which was edited by Sir William Jones in 1788 and printed in London in 1792. (Tavakoli-Targhi, Refashioning Iran, p 40.)

Interestingly, Joseph Emin, the native of Hamadan, is considered to be an important figure in Armenian national liberation movement. He traveled to Europe to rally support for the liberation of Armenia from Persian and Ottoman rule. The full text of his “Life and Adventures of Joseph Emin, An Armenian, written in English by himself” is available on

It’s ironic that his identity and mission as an Armenian liberationist is glossed over in an account of the relationship of “Persianates” to their European Others, an instance of Iranian colonial history that follows us right into our contemporary critical discourse. I am now changing my mind about the utility of the term Persianate. At the same time as it points to the diversity of Persian speaking people, it also covers up the colonial dynamics of their relations.

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  1. […] in English (I haven’t yet been able to find a Farsi version), once again I am struck by the inadequacy of the term Persianate particularly as in usage it keeps conflating a field of studies with an identity. What didn’t […]