The Workshop offers those who have been awarded BIPS Research or Travel grants the opportunity to present their research to their peer group and to the members of the BIPS Research Committee. This also provides a forum for young scholars and researchers to discuss their work and research methods.

The participants are invited by the Research Committee. Others are welcome to attend to hear the presentations and discussions.

SATURDAY 5 MARCH 2016 from 9.45 am to 5.00 pm at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge, Downing St, Cambridge, CB2 3ER. The Workshop is open to all and free to attend. If you would like to come, you MUST book with the UK Administrator (, by TUESDAY 1 MARCH 2015 at the latest.


Please note: all timings are approximate.

9.45 am                Registration and Welcome

10.15 am

Ms Wannaporn Kay REINJANG (University of Cambridge) :  Bimaran stone reliquary and the beginning of relic worship in Afghanistan.

The stone reliquary from Bimaran stupa deposit in eastern Afghanistan was found containing the famous gold casket that bears images of the Buddha. It was also found with coins of late first to early second century AD. The inscription on this stone reliquary, written in Aramaic-derived scripts, clearly states the association of the reliquary with Buddhist relic worship. The coins found with it are so far one of the earliest in date associated with relic worship in Afghanistan, providing the form of the beginning of relic worship in this Indo-Iranian borderland. New findings on certain physical characteristics of this stone reliquary confirms its first to second century AD as the latest date for the production and proposes eastern Afghanistan and Bajaur (borderland between northwestern Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan) as the production area of this stone reliquary.

 11.00 am              Coffee

 11.15 am

Ms Marzieh KAIVANARA (University of Bristol) : In Need of Recognition: Ethnographic Study of Aesthetic Practices in Tehran

This research focuses on the underlying factors leading to undergoing cosmetic surgery in Tehran. Drawing on Bourdieu’s analysis of class and habitus, and Butler’s conceptualisation of performativity, in this research, I examine the narratives that bridge cosmetic surgery with performative aspects of class, gender and health. This study is based on an ethnographic research in Tehran and interviews with 33 men and women, 5 cosmetic and reconstructive surgeons and also 5 Islamic jurists. Identifying regimes of (in)visibility and (mis)recognition as influential dynamics addressed throughout the interviews, I argue that cosmetic surgery offers an opportunity for negotiations of social identity constructed upon presentation of embodied aspects of class, gender and health.


Mr Tom LEWIS (School of Oriental and African Studies, London) : Approaching positive change in Iran’s environment, private, state and international perspectives

The boundary between the state and the private sector is often blurred in Iran, where government bodies are often tied up in the private sector either directly or through large state subsidies, on energy for example. With regard to the natural environment, the state and private interests sometimes oppose one another and sometimes coincide. With reference to a case study from water scarce pistachio growing region of Kerman, Iran, I discuss these tensions, place them in the international context of the post nuclear sanctions era, and try to make sense of how we can expect to see Iran’s environmental situation change in the future.

12.45 pm              LUNCH

2.00 pm

Dr Shivan MAHENDRARAJAH (University of Cambridge) : Herat under the Mongols

This paper is about a history of Herat, a work‐in‐progress. The history covers Herat’s ruin by the Mongols (617/1220‐21), its revival under the Karts (643‐783/1245‐1381), and its surrender to Tamerlane (783/1381). The book’s structure, periodization, and themes are discussed. Part I, ‘political history’: 649‐76/1251‐78: the consolidation of ‘Afghanistan’ and  Iran by the Karts and Mongols; 676‐707/1278‐1307: emerging growth in Herat region; 707‐83/1307‐81: economic revival, Turkic migrations, and independent Kartid rule. Part II, ‘social‐economic history’: the rebuilding of the irrigation systems of the Herat Valley and revival of the agricultural economy. Part III, ‘religious and social life’: the Sufis and ‘ulama of Herat, Jam, and Chisti‐i Sharif.

2.45 pm

Ms Shiva MIHAN (University of Cambridge) : New light on a Baysunghuri manuscript

3.30 pm

Dr David MOTADEL (Universities of Cambridge and Edinburgh) : Spectacles of Sovereignty: Qajar Shahs in Imperial Europe, 1873-1905

4.15 pm

Summary – Dr Lloyd Ridgeon (Chair, BIPS Research Committee)


Please note: we can only offer refreshments and lunch to our invited participants.