Richard Tapper's book, which is based on three decades of ethnographic fieldwork and extensive documentary research, traces the political and social history of the Shahsevan, one of the major nomadic peoples of Iran. The story is a dramatic one, recounting the mythical origins of the tribes, their unification as a confederacy, and their decline under the Pahlavi Shahs. The book is intended as a contribution to three different debates. The first concerns the riddle of Shahsevan origins, while another considers how far changes in tribal social and political formations are a function of relations with states. The third discusses how different constructions of the identity of a particular people determine their view of the past. In this way, the book promises not only to make a major contribution to the history and anthropology of the Middle East and Central Asia, but also to current theoretical debates in both disciplines.
'This book is a study of considerable erudition and practical good sense, the result of extensive documentary research and intensive fieldwork ... much enriched by historical detail and pertinent comment ... it is remarkable how much this demanding but informative study conveys to the reader with great integrity, clarity and judgement.' Asian Affairs 'Frontier Nomads is an impressive work of scholarship, demonstrating the breadth of Tapper's knowledge and his historical as well as ethnographic skills, and his ability to combine them to good effect ... definitely required reading for anyone interested in the history and society of Iran and the relationship between tribe and state in general.' Bulletin of the School of Oriental & African Studies