SOAS University of London

Department of History, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

Derek Mancini-Lander

BA (Ohio), MA (Toronto), PhD (Michigan)
  • Overview
  • Teaching
  • Research
  • Publications


Department of History, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

Lecturer in the History of Iran

London Middle East Institute (LMEI)


Centre for Iranian Studies

Advisory Committee Member

Dr Derek Mancini-Lander
Email address:
020 7898 4609
SOAS University of London
Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG
Russell Square: College Buildings
Office No:
Academic Support Hours:
Mondays, 3.15-4.45pm


Dr. Mancini-Lander received his Ph.D. in the history of the Islamicate world from the Department Near Eastern Studies at the University of Michigan in August 2012, His doctoral dissertation, “Memory on the Boundaries of Empire: Narrating Place in the Early Modern Local Historiography of Yazd” was awarded the Malcolm H. Kerr Prize in the Humanities by the Middle East Studies Association in 2013. Dr. Mancini-Lander also holds an M.A. in Medieval Studies from the University of Toronto (1997) and a B.A. in English from Kenyon College, in Ohio (1994). Before joining the faculty at SOAS, he served as Visiting Assistant Professor of Middle East History at Dickinson College, in Pennsylvania, a highly selective American liberal arts college.

Dr. Mancini-Lander’s research and teaching revolve around the cultural history of the late medieval and early modern Persianate world. He is especially interested in urban and local history, and in particular the intersection between space, memory, and narrative in Persian historiography.  His work focuses on shrine-centered religiosity and its place in imperial programs of sacred kingship.  The bulk of his work centers especially on the history of the Safavid Empire.


Modules Taught
PhD Students supervised
  • Christopher D. Bahl, The Transmission of Islamicate texts across the Western Indian Ocean, 1400-1700
  • Daisy Livingston, Archival practices in the medieval Arabic lands. Documents and archives at the centre and periphery in Egypt and Syria: institutional, communal, and private practices in a diverse literate society.
  • Senem Gökel, Leprosy, Empire and Exclusion: The Case of Ottoman and British Cyprus, late 19th to early 20th centuries
  • William Rees Hofmann, The Life of Persianate Music in South Asia: Tracing The History of Hindustani Music ca. 1250 - 1600


Mancini-Lander’s research concerns the cultural history of the late medieval and early modern Persianate world.  He has a particular interest in shrine-centered religiosity and its connection to the propagation of millenarian ideology, especially in the imperial courts of the Islamic East after the Mongol dispensation. In this regard, his work studies the dynamic between saintly sites and imperial policy by focusing on literary forms of commemoration, such as hagiography, shrine guides, and local histories on the one hand, and dynastic histories on the other hand. Taken together, these types of literature demonstrate a constant competition for religious and political authority between sovereigns at court and local elites of other key centers of the realm. These were competitions that also played out in monumental architectural programs and urban planning, and consequently, in patterns of patronage as well. As such, his work highlights the ways in which the very meaning and locus of authority was often in flux as agents at court and in the periphery regularly strove to negotiate their status and power in both historical writing and in building projects.

Along these lines, Mancini-Lander’s current book project focuses on memory, narrative and space in regional and Persian urban histories and traces the shifting strategies of interaction and completion between agents of imperial courts and of regional power-centers between the fourteenth and seventeenth centuries C.E. Nevertheless, key to this study is the finding that boundaries between these two groups of actors, the imperial and the local, were never discrete; agents moved between center and periphery and between service to court and service to local city without contradiction. Ultimately, the project maps changing discourses on local history onto shifts in imperial religious policy and patterns of patronage.

Dr. Mancini-Lander has published on the form and function of dream narratives and the transmission of knowledge in premodern Persian societies.  Related to this, he also studies the intersection between place-making, community building, and networking among early modern Iranian diaspora communities in South Asia.



Mancini-Lander, Derek J. (2018) 'Subversive Skylines: Local History and the Rise of the Sayyids in Mongol Yazd'. Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies. [Forthcoming]

Mancini-Lander, Derek J. (2017) 'Tales Bent Backward: Early Modern Local History in Persianate Transregional Contexts'. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, (28) 1, pp 23-54.

Book Chapters

Mancini-Lander, Derek (2012) 'Dreaming the Elixir of Knowledge: How a seventeenth-century poet from Herat got his name and fame'. In: Felek, Özgen and Knysh, Alexander D., (eds.), Dreams and Visions in Islamic Societies. Albany: State University of New York Press, pp 77-97.

Book Reviews

Mancini-Lander, Derek (2016) 'Review of: Peacock, A.C.S., Mediaeval Islamic Historiography and Political Legitimacy: Balʿamī’s Tārīkhnāma (London: Routledge, 2007).'. Der Islam, (93) 2, pp 613-618.

Mancini-Lander, Derek (2015) 'Review of: Setrag Manoukian. City of Knowledge in Twentieth-Century Iran: Shiraz, History and Poetry. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2012'. H-Levant, H-Net Reviews.

Mancini-Lander, Derek (2009) 'Review of Michael Axworthy, A History of Iran: Empire of the Mind (New York: Basic Books, 2008).'. American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences, (26) 4, pp 121-124.


Mancini-Lander, Derek (2012) Memory on the Boundaries of Empire: Narrating Place in the Early Modern Local Historiography of Yazd. PhD thesis. University of Michigan. [Unpublished]


This list was last generated on Wednesday, 24th April 2019, 19:11 Europe/London.