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Arshad M Hadjirin

Arshad M Hadjirin

PhD Student, Pembroke College, Cambridge


Before coming to Cambridge, I read for a degree in Arabic and History (MA Hons) at the University of Edinburgh, and it was there that I first developed a strong interest in works of taʾrikh (history) written in the tradition of tarājim (biographies). While most of my colleagues spent a term in an Arabic speaking country during their third year, I went to the University of Granada as an ERASMUS exchange student for an entire year. This gave me an ideal opportunity to conduct my preliminary research on the famous Andalusian vizier Ibn al-Khaṭīb (d. 1374) and his fascinating history of Granada entitled al-Iḥāṭa fī akhbār Gharnāṭa (Acquaintance with the history of Granada). I took with me a copy of this work, and while I was in Granada, I was also able to visit the author’s birth place Loja (Lausha) as well as the countryside, mountains and places around the city, all of which he had described in great detail in his history.

At Cambridge, I have continued to develop my research on Ibn al-Khatib’s Iḥāṭa. In closely engaging with this work, I am now looking at how particular notions of locality and identity were constructed through works of history written through biographies, and how they can inform us of the formation of societies during the 14th century. You can find information on aspects of my research in  posters that I exhibited at Pembroke Collge, Cambridge. These can be accessed by clicking on the links below.

I also hold a diploma in Arabic from SOAS, London.

Subject groups/Research projects

Arabic & Persian Studies:

Research Interests

My research at Camrbidge involves the study of local or place history in the Arabic tradition, and in particular it focuses on a history of Granada entitled al-Iḥāṭa fī akhbār Gharnaṭa (Acquaintance with the History of Granada) written by the celebrated Andalusian vizier Lisān al-Dīn b. al-Khaṭīb (713-776 AH/1313-1374 CE).

Presently, I have also started editing a collection of around one hundred previously unpublished biographies of personalities who either lived or passed through Gharnāṭa (Granada). This collection is based on entries found in several manuscripts that appear to be abridgements of the original Iḥāṭa, and as such this can further advance our knowledge of life and culture in al-Andalus (Iberia) up until the second half of the fourteenth century.


Other Professional Activities

Poster Presentations

1. Government and Institutions of Granada, Pembroke College Cambridge Annual Poster Exhibition, June, 2014 [PDF coming soon]

2. Ibn al-Khaṭīb, A Quintessential Local Historian of al-Andalus, Pembroke College Cambridge Annual Poster Exhibition, June, 2012. [PDF]

3. Tawarīkh al-Buldān: An Approach to the Study of Local History in the Arabic Tradition, Pembroke College Cambridge Annual Poster Exhibition, June, 2011. [PDF]

Key Publications

Conference Papers

Uses of a Place History: Towards a Reconstruction of the Government and Institutions of Gharnāṭa (Granada), Colloquium on Universalism versus regionalism in pre-modern Chinese and Islamic historiography, Oriental Institute, Oxford, (10 May 2014).

A Question of Historical Periods in View of Local History Writings in the Arabic Tradition, Arabic Pasts: Histories and Historiography Workshop, SOAS/Aga Khan University, London, (September, 2012).

Ibn al-Khaṭīb: A Local Historian of the Islamic West, Workshop on Political Legitimacy in the Islamic West, Magdalene College, Cambridge, (September, 2011).