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Journal cover: International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management

International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management

ISSN: 0959-6119

Online from: 1989

Subject Area: Tourism and Hospitality

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Commerce, empire and faith in Safavid Iran: the caravanserai of Isfahan

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Title:Commerce, empire and faith in Safavid Iran: the caravanserai of Isfahan
Author(s):Derek Bryce, (Strathclyde Business School, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK), Kevin D. O'Gorman, (Strathclyde Business School, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK and School of Management and Languages, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, UK), Ian W.F. Baxter, (Institute of Continuing Education, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK)
Citation:Derek Bryce, Kevin D. O'Gorman, Ian W.F. Baxter, (2013) "Commerce, empire and faith in Safavid Iran: the caravanserai of Isfahan", International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. 25 Iss: 2, pp.204 - 226
Keywords:Bazaar, Caravanserai, Hospitality services, Iran, Islam, Material culture
Article type:Research paper
DOI:10.1108/09596111311301603 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is twofold: to explore how commercial hospitality has contributed to the development of urban areas in relation to commerce, hospitality, religious and imperial patronage in early modern, Safavid Iran (c. seventeenth century). Second, to combine material culture research methods in an analytical framework for future use.

Design/methodology/approach – Data were collected during 27 site visits over three years to 14 caravanserai six bazaar complexes. A material culture methodology is proposed, designed and implemented, supplemented by analysis of textual sources.

Findings – The form and function of caravanserai at Zein-i Edin broadly reflect the form and function of desert caravanserai common in much of the Islamic world. However, the complex within the Qaysariyya Bazaar in Isfahan reflects the convergence of specific dynastic, geopolitical and economic issues facing seventeenth century Safavid Iran shaping both urban form and commercial focus. These are consolidation of the Safavid dynasty, rivalry with the Ottoman Empire and the vital importance of trade with Mughal India.

Research limitations/implications – The research is limited by its specific contextual scope but invites further investigation in analogous contexts across this milieu as well as further implementation of the material culture methods it adopts to both historical and contemporary commercial contexts.

Originality/value – The paper explores, for the first time the development of commercial hospitality in early modern Iran and invites further consideration of the development of capitalism outside of Eurocentric teleologies. Furthermore, it presents a new and explicit methodological framework for using material culture as a means of enquiry.

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