Abstract

This article engages with cosmopolitan conceptions of culture that flourished in the nineteenth century Caucasus with a view to clarifying the relevance of these legacies today. I focus in particular on the polymath writer ʿAbbās Qulī Āghā Bākīkhānūf (1794–1847). Bākīkhānūf’s historical work conceptualizes community outside the framework of the nation, while conjoining distinctive strands of epistemic and cultural cosmopolitanism. As I explore Bākīkhānūf’s historical writing, I consider how the Persianate literary tradition of which he partakes advance a cosmopolitan conception of community that contrasts with and occasionally contests the nationalist histories promulgated by modern European nations. As a scientific and literary project, Bākīkhānūf’s cosmological cosmopolitanism shows how epistemic openness advances cultural inclusivity, in part by recognizing the relationship between the literary imagination and scientific inquiry.

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