• Vita

    Kaveh Yazdani was born in Tehran and raised in Paris and Berlin. He received his Ph.D. degree at the University of Osnabrück in 2014 (summa cum laude). In 2015, he was granted the Prince Dr Sabbar Farman-Farmaian Fellowship at the International Institute of Social History (IISH) in Amsterdam and a Mellon Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at the Centre for Indian Studies in Africa (CISA), University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa between 2015 and 2017 where he currently holds a research association. Furthermore, Yazdani was Visiting Residential Fellow at the Warwick Institute of Advanced Study in 2017. Shortly after, he obtained the Newton International Fellowship by The British Academy (2018-2020) which he declined after accepting a faculty position at the University of Bielefeld. There, he taught courses in economic and social history between 2017 and 2020 before joining the University of Connecticut in 2021. In 2020, Yazdani was also Visiting Professor in Global Economic and Social History at the University of Vienna.

  • Research Project

    The Role of Law in the Great Divergence and Emergence of the Modern World

    In the existing literature on the breakthrough to modernity and the “great divergence,” a considerable number of scholars, also known as “institutionalists,” have attributed the “rise of the West” to legal and institutional factors, particularly secure property rights. Although these scholars have received important impulses from Enlightenment thinkers such as Montesquieu, Quesnay and Locke as well as 19th and 20th century luminaries such as Hegel, Marx and Weber, institutionalism specially took off with the work of Douglass North. In recent years, it has been most prominently embraced and further developed by academics such as Avner Greif, Timur Kuran, Geoffrey Hodgson, Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson.

    In the past decades, a number of important works have been published on 16th to 19th century legal practices in India and the Indian Ocean world by scholars such Irfan Habib, Farhat Hasan, Nandini Chatterjee, Mahmood Kooria, Fahad Bishara and many others. However, while “early modern” Ottoman and China’s legal framework have received some attention in the “great divergence” debate, we still lack systematic examinations of pre-colonial India to this regard, above all when it comes to comparisons with European “core areas” such as England, France and the Netherlands.

    During the fellowship, I plan to work on two related but distinct problems: 1. The role of law in the breakthrough to modernity and the “great divergence”, i.e. the reasons behind the “rise of the West” in general and the English Industrial Revolution in particular from an “Indian perspective” – namely 17th and 18th century Mughal and post-Mughal India (notably Gujarat in northwestern India and late 18th century Mysore in the southwest of the subcontinent); 2. I intend to examine the role of these regions’ rules and regulations in order to detect their legal framework’s “level of modernity”. As to Mughal and post-Mughal India, specifically Gujarat and Mysore’s legal framework, as well as their judicial “level of modernity”, I would like to further inspect the following aspects: a) property rights; b) the role of the state and the different administrations’ rules and regulations regarding “secular” and religious (i.e. theocratic) decrees; c) civil and criminal penalties; d) the rights of women and e) caste discrimination.

  • Selected Publications

    Yazdani, Kaveh, Menon, Dilip (Ed.), Capitalisms: Towards a Global History, Delhi 2020.

    Yazdani, Kaveh, India, Modernity and the Great Divergence: Mysore and Gujarat (17th to 19th Century), Leiden/Boston.

     Yazdani, Kaveh, Mysore at War. The military structure during the reigns of Haidar Ali and Tipu Sultan, in: Ravi Ahuja, Martin Christof-Füchsle (Ed.), A Great War in South India. German Accounts of the Mysore Wars, 1766-1799, Berlin/Boston 2020, 17-53.

     Yazdani, Kaveh, Unearthing a Crime against Humanity in Bits and Pieces, in Nasser Mohajer (Ed.), Voices of a Massacre. Untold Stories of Life and Death in Iran, 1988, OneWord: London 2020.

    Yazdani, Kaveh, Mohajer, Nasser, “Reading Marx in the Divergence Debate”, in: Benjamin Zachariah, Lutz Raphael, Brigitta Bernet (Ed.),  What’s Left of Marxism: Historiography and the Possibilities of Thinking with Marxian Themes and Concepts, Berlin/Boston 2020, 173-240.

    Yazdani, Kaveh, South Asia in the Great Divergence Debate, in: David Ludden et al. (Ed.), Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Asian History, 2019.