Tag Archives: Islamic Art and Architecture


Tuesdays, 2 PM, KRC Lecture Room 3 St John St, Oxford OX1 2LG




25 April:ʿAlā fuwīr Tuṭīla. Bilingual contracts and written culture during the Christian conquest of al-Andalus

Mr Rodrigo García-Velasco Bernal • University of Cambridge

• 2 May:The origins of royal funerary architecture in al-Maghrib al-Aqṣā

Mr Péter Tamás Nagy • Khalili Research Centre

• 9 May:The written culture in Medieval and Early Modern Islamic Spain

Dr Nuria Martínez de Castilla • Paris, EPHE

• 16 May:Light and Lighting in al-Andalus

Dr Tom Nickson • London, Courtauld Institute

• 23 May:Writing a New History of Western Islamic Architecture

Professor Jonathan Bloom • Boston College

• 30 May:Life beyond the medina of Cordoba: districts (rabad) and cemeteries (maqābir)

Dr María Teresa Casal García • Madrid, CSIC

3:30 PM:Glassmaking in Umayyad and post-Umayyad al-Andalus

Dr Chloe Duckworth • Newcastle University

• 6 June:New (graphic) documents for the study of Almoravid

and Almohad architecture

Professor Antonio Almagro Gorbea • Granada, CSIC

• 13 June:Berbers and Borderlands: state formation and urbanisation in early medieval Morocco

Dr Corisande Fenwick • University College London

3:30 PM:‘How were the traces of their edifices erased?’ Archaeological / ethno-historical survey of Jerba, Tunisia

Professor Renata Holod • University of Pennsylvania


Seminars TT

Conference: Fatimids and Umayyads: Competing Caliphates, The Institute of Ismaili Studies, London, 23-25 September 2016

Relations between the Fatimid caliphate and its neighbour and opponent, the Umayyad caliphate of al-Andalus constitute a field of study that merits careful and extensive consideration. Scholarship has tended to study both dynasties separately and the existing entanglements between the two caliphates have been noted, albeit briefly, in a number of academic publications.

The project Fatimids and Umayyads: Competing Caliphates endeavours to place both dynasties in context by creating an academic forum in which to reflect upon and illustrate the processes and mechanisms of interaction, and also to explore and problematise the existence of crosspollination. Various scenarios (historical, social, intellectual, economic, legal, theological, religious, cultural, technical, visual, and artistic) are considered in order to assess affinities, as well as discrepancies, connections and contrasts with regard to how these shaped the Fatimid impact on Umayyad dominions and vice versa.

Contact Info:

For more information, you may email Ms Naushin Shariff (assistant of Dr Omar Ali-de-Unzaga, Deputy Head, Dept. of Academic Research and Publications, IIS

Contact Email:

CFP: Light and Darkness in Medieval Art, 1200–1450, ICMS, Kalamazoo, May 2017

Call for Papers: Light and Darkness in Medieval Art, 1200–1450 (I–II)

International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo, 11-14 May 2017

Sponsored by the International Center of Medieval Art

(Convenors: Stefania Gerevini and Tom Nickson)

Separation of Light and Dark, Sarajevo HaggadahLight has occupied an increasingly prominent role in medieval studies in recent years. Its perceptual and epistemic significance in the period 1200-1450 has been scrutinized in several specialised research projects, and the changing ways in which light and light-effects are rendered and produced in the arts of the Middle Ages, particularly in Byzantium and Islam, are routinely evoked in literature. However, scholarship on these topics remains fragmented, especially for the Gothic period, and comparative approaches are seldom attempted. New technologies of virtual reconstruction and changing fashions of museum display make it an opportune moment to consider these issues in a more systematic manner.

These two sessions will investigate how perceptions of light and darkness informed the ways in which art across Europe and the Mediterranean was produced, viewed and understood in the period 1200–1450. In the late 12th century a key set of optical writings was translated from Arabic into Latin, providing new theoretical paradigms for addressing questions of physical sight and illumination across Europe. At this time theologies of light also gained renewed popularity in the eastern Mediterranean – particularly as a result of the Hesychast controversy in Byzantium, and in connection with Sufi notions of divine illumination in Islam. What correlations can be traced between theories of optics, theologies of light, practices of illumination, and modes of viewing in the Middle Ages? Are there similarities in the ways different religious or cultural communities conceptualised light and used it in everyday life or ritual settings?

These sessions invite specialists of Christian, Islamic and Jewish art and culture to explore the status of light in broader discourses around visuality, visibility and materiality; the interconnections between conceptualizations of light and coeval attitudes towards objectivity and naturalism; and the ways in which light can articulate political, social or divine authority and hierarchies. The session will also welcome papers that address such broad methodological questions as: can the investigation of light in art prompt reconsideration of well established periodizations and interpretative paradigms of art history? How was the dramatic interplay between light and obscurity exploited in the secular and religious architecture of Europe and the medieval Mediterranean in order to organise space, direct viewers and convey meaning? How carefully were light effects taken into account in the display of images and portable objects, and how does consideration of luminosity, shadow and darkness hone our understanding of the agency of medieval objects? Finally, to what extent is light’s ephemeral and fleeting nature disguised by changing fashions of display and technologies of reproduction, and – crucially – how do these affect our ability to apprehend and explain medieval approaches to light?

Proposals for 20 min papers should include an abstract (max.250 words) and brief CV. Proposals should be submitted by 16 September 2016 to the session organizers: Stefania Gerevini (stefania.gerevini@unibocconi.it) and Tom Nickson (tom.nickson@courtauld.ac.uk). Thanks to a generous grant from the Kress Foundation, funds may be available to defray travel costs of speakers in ICMA-sponsored sessions up to a maximum of $600 ($1200 for transatlantic travel). If available, the Kress funds are allocated for travel and hotel only. Speakers in ICMA sponsored sessions will be refunded only after the conference, against travel receipts.

Call for Papers: “Muslim Subjects and Clients in the Pre-Modern Christian Mediterranean,”

The Mediterranean Seminar is seeking proposal for two proposed panels, on “Muslim Subjects and Clients in the Pre-Modern Christian Mediterranean,” organized by Abigail Balbale [Bard Graduate Center/University of Massachusetts Boston] and Brian Catlos [Religious Studies, CU Boulder/Humanities, UC Santa Cruz] to be submitted for consideration for the annual meeting of the Middle East Studies Association to be held November 22-25 in Washington DC. Prof. Stephen Humphreys (Emeritus, History, UC Santa Barbara) will provide comment.

Islam was conceived as a universal religion and social organization, and a ideology of liberation rooted in the correct expression of divine sovereignty. The first era of Islam was characterized by a wave of conquest that only reinforced the faith’s universal aspirations — in space of less than a century, Arab Muslims and their clients brought the former Persian Empire, much of Byzantium, the Maghrib and the Iberian Peninsula under their rule. Both Revelation and the practica associated with this conquest led Muslims to develop a formal position in which members of monotheistic religions (in principle, Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians) were incorporated into dar al-Islam as subject peoples or dhimmis. This phase of ebullience coincided with the formulation of Islamic law and the crystallization of Islamic institutions.

Beginning in the mid-eleventh century, however, the political tide in the Mediterranean turned, as Latin Christian powers began to expand at the expense of Muslim princes, and began to conquer and colonize substantial areas in the Islamic Mediterranean. For the first time Islam was confronted with the situation of substantial populations of Muslims living under non-Muslim rule  (“mudéjares”/“mudajjan”) — a state of affairs that flew in the face of fundamental principles. Moreover, Muslim princes who had previously held the upper hand in relationships of clientage with Christian rulers, now found themselves in a subordinate role in the Latin-dominated Mediterranean.

In the last four decades, subject Muslims in Iberia, Italy, Ifriqiya, and the Eastern Mediterranean have been the subject of intense historical study, most of it locally or regionally-based and finely focused in terms of chronology or approach.  In March 2014, Cambridge University Press will publish “Muslims of Medieval Latin Christendom, ca. 1050–1614” the first monographic study of the experience of subject Muslims across the Christian West — an attempt to synthesize the work of scholars of subject Muslims to date.  To mark this occasion, and to showcase the newest and most original research in this field, we are seeking papers for two panels: “Theory,” and “Practice.”

“Theory” will examine how Islam grappled with the problem of Muslim submission to infidels from the point of view of ideology, whether religious or political, and may include studies from disciplines including, for example, history, literature, legal history and philosophy.

“Practice” will look at the dynamics of Muslim clientage and submission “on the ground” and may include economic, political, and social history, the study of art, architecture and material culture, and literature, to name but a few.

We are particularly interested in papers that cross or interrogate categories of analysis (such as “Muslim” and “Christian”), that examine issue of Muslim heterodoxy and diversity, that examine Muslims’ relations with other minority communities (e.g.: Jews), or that engage with relatively neglected areas of mudéjar studies, such as gender, conversion, and slavery.

Please submit a proposals for 20-minute papers to be presented in person to Abigail Balbale (balbale@bgc.bard.edu) and Brian Catlos (bcatlos@ucsc.edu) on or before Tuesday, February 11 for consideration. Include a 150-200 word abstract and a 2-page CV and indicate whether you will need to request AV equipment.

Job: Five-College Postdoctoral Fellowship in Islamic Art, 2014-2016

Islamic-Art-wallpaperSmith College and Hampshire College invite applications for a two-year postdoctoral fellowship in Islamic Art and Architecture starting July 1, 2014. This Mellon-funded position supports exceptionally promising young scholars for two years of half-time teaching (one course each semester) and half-time research. Over two years, the Fellow will teach four courses, two at Smith College (the home campus for the position) and two at Hampshire College. We seek candidates with any sub-specialization who are also able to teach a broad survey of Islamic art and architecture, as well as courses that incorporate interdisciplinary approaches. This postdoctoral fellowship is a full-time, salaried appointment providing excellent benefits and research support. A candidate must have completed all requirements for the Ph.D. by September 2014.

The Fellow will fully participate in one of the nation’s most vibrant academic collaborations, as Smith and Hampshire participate with Amherst and Mount Holyoke Colleges and the University of Massachusetts in the Five-College Consortium (www.fivecolleges.edu/). Smith College is a women’s liberal arts college with 2,500 undergraduate students and 285 faculty, while Hampshire College is an undergraduate liberal arts college for men and women with 1,500 students and 95 full-time faculty.

The Fellow will be provided with research and teaching mentors at Smith and Hampshire Colleges and will have access to support from colleagues and library and research facilities at all five campuses, each located within 20 minutes of the others. The program is designed to provide Fellows with valuable teaching experience and time to complete and publish their research prior to seeking tenure-track positions. Fellows are encouraged to pursue their independent research programs vigorously and in association with a wide-ranging group of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African studies scholars who collaborate to organize faculty seminars and international symposia across the five campuses.

For more information and to apply please go to the website.