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Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

Middle Eastern Studies
Lecturer in the Eastern Islamic Lands and Persian-Speaking World
Email address: 
+44 (0)1223 335131
Fellow of: 
Pembroke College
Director of Studies at: 
Pembroke College

Assef Ashraf is a historian of Iran and the Persianate world. He received his PhD from the Department of History at Yale University in 2017 and began teaching at Cambridge in 2018.

Much of Dr Ashraf's current research centres on the formation of Qajar Iran and, more generally, on questions of imperial formation and governance. His book focuses on Qajar governance practices and how those practices, over time, constructed, consolidated, and ultimately exposed the limits of Qajar political authority. Rather than narrating a potted political history or explaining state formation through the lens of institutions and capacity building, the book explores the connections, networks, and practices that kept a political order in place.

Aspects of his research have been published in Comparative Studies in Society and History, the International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, and the Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient. He has also co-edited a volume of essays entitled The Persianate World: Rethinking a Shared Sphere (Brill, 2019) and serves on the Editorial Board of a new series dedicated to publishing critical editions of primary source texts related to Persianate world history.

At Cambridge, Dr Ashraf lectures in a variety of papers on the history and culture of Iran, the Middle East, and the Persianate world. He welcomes inquiries from potential postgraduate students who are interested in Iranian history and the history of the Persianate world.

Current PhD students

Mr Yusuf Chaudhary: Islamic Intellectual History in the Mongol Ilkhanate (1258-1358); Theological Works of Rashid al-Din al-Hamadhani; Ilkhanid Intellectual Networks
Mr Iqan Shahidi: The concept of decline and decadence in the writings of the contemporary intellectuals of Iran.