James Pickett

James Pickett

Guest Speaker

Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Pittsburgh

Areas of Expertise


James Pickett focuses on empire and Islam as entangled sources of authority, with particular attention to historical memory and state formation.

His first monograph, Polymaths of Islam: Power and Networks of Knowledge in Central Asia (Cornell University Press, 2020), examines transregional networks of exchange among religious scholars in the Central Asian city-state of Bukhara. Through mastery of arcane disciplines, these multi-talented intellectuals enshrined their city as a peerless center of Islam, thereby elevating themselves into the halls of power.

A second book project, Seeing Like a Princely State: Protectorates in Central and South Asia at the Nexus of Early Modern Court and Modern Nation-State, will compare Bukhara's transformation into a Russian protectorate with the Indian princely state of Hyderabad's parallel trajectory into semi-colonial status. It is especially concerned with cultures of documentation in relation to the state.