Deutscher Orientalistentag

100. Jahrestag | 12. – 17. September 2022 | FU Berlin


Arab Periodical Studies: Neue Ansätze zu einer kulturwissenschaftlichen Zeitschriftenforschung

Zeitschriften haben als Quellen für die Erforschung der modernen Geschichte, Literatur und Kultur des Nahen Ostens und Nordafrikas immer eine zentrale Rolle gespielt. Angesichts ihrer großen Bedeutung in unseren Disziplinen ist es mehr als überraschend, dass der Zeitschrift als eigenständiger Form, die spezifischen Eigenlogiken folgt und distinkten Produktionsbedingungen unterliegt, bislang kaum Aufmerksamkeit zuteil geworden ist. Begreift man Zeitschriften jedoch nicht mehr als passive Träger historischer Debatten bzw. als Publikationsort kanonischer Literatur- und Textgattungen (Roman, Dichtung, Essay, Reisebericht etc.), sondern nimmt sie als eigenständige Form ernst, eröffnen sie neue Perspektiven auf die moderne Literatur-, Kunst-, Intellektuellen-, Ideen- und Sozialgeschichte des Nahen Ostens und Nordafrikas. Diesem Anspruch können wir heute gerechter werden als je zuvor: Der sich fortschreibende Trend einer national und international geförderten Digitalisierung arabischer Zeitschriften eröffnet neue Horizonte für eine systematische Zeitschriftenforschung und stellt die Wissenschaft gleichzeitig vor neue methodologische und theoretische Herausforderungen.

Angesichts dieser Entwicklung erachten wir es als überfällig, unseren regionalen Gegenstand für die Debatten einer kulturwissenschaftlichen Zeitschriftenforschung zu öffnen, die sich seit Mitte der 2000er unter der Bezeichnung Periodical Studies etabliert hat. Das Panel versteht sich damit als initiales Forum eines längerfristigen Projekts: Der Etablierung der Arab Periodical Studies als interdisziplinäres Forschungsfeld, welches aktuelle Forschung zur historischen arabischen Zeitschriftenkultur mit den transregionalen Periodical Studies in Dialog bringt. Im Zentrum des Panels steht daher die Zeitschrift als spezifische materielle Form und kulturelle Praxis. Das Panel lädt Beiträge zu sämtlichen Aspekten arabischer Periodika von ihren Anfängen im Jahrhundert bis in die Gegenwart, von Druck- bis zu digitalen Formaten, ein, die eine Auseinandersetzung mit der Zeitschrift als eigenständigem  Forschungsgegenstand suchen. Ziel ist es, diverse theoretische Zugänge und methodische Verfahren in der Erforschung der arabischen Zeitschrift zu diskutieren und/oder ihre Historizität und Historisierung als Medienform zu reflektieren. Die Vorträge können, müssen aber nicht, von spezifischen Fallstudien ausgehen. Vorträge zu angrenzenden Themen, wie Zeitschriftenkulturen in anderen Sprachen der Region (persisch, türkisch, osmanisch, hebräisch etc.) und anderen periodischen Gattungen (wie Zeitungen und Blogs) sind ebenfalls willkommen. Beiträge aus unterschiedlichen disziplinären Perspektiven (historische, literatur- und kunstwissenschaftliche, soziologische etc.) sind gleichermaßen erwünscht.

Das Panel ist offen.

Panel-Leitung/Panel Chair:

Yvonne Albers (Philipps-Universität Marburg / Forum Transregionale Studien Berlin)

Till Grallert (Humboldt-Universität Berlin)

Barbara Winckler (Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster)


Rewritings, Recensions, Relics. The Multiple Journeys of Kalīla wa-Dimna (Syriac, Arabic, Persian)

Kalīla wa-Dimna (KD) with its more than 140 manuscripts only in Arabic from eight centuries, multiple translations in dozens of languages over a period of almost 1500 years, and multiple references in various works as well as adaptations cannot be solely treated as a single text or a book with a stable meaning and functionality. Thanks to Ibn al-Muqaffaʿs famous translation, the “Indian book,” a mirror of princes in the shape of a frame narrative that contains fables, allegories, and parables expresses a universal utility and for that reason became – though sometimes a camouflaged – part of world literature long time before the rise of book printing. Dealing with the history of the Arabic Kalīla wa-Dimna and the diffusion of fables means dealing with textual fluidity and semantic expansion in manuscript cultures as well as the boundaries of what scholarship had usually considered as “classical Arabic literature.” Our panel sheds light on the different facets of the Kalīla wa-Dimna tradition and the problem of its historicization, namely the history of its transmission, from the copies of the early Syriac recension and Ibn al-Muqaffaʿs translation over multiple strands of redacting within Arabic to the Persian appropriation of the book. Also, we will investigate the social significance of such story material by looking at other animal fables. Members of the Berlin Kalīla wa-Dimna – AnonymClassic and colleagues will address the issue of textual mouvance, the analysis of textual and cultural translation and appropriation as well as other varieties of intertextuality, and hope to spur discussions on how to write a modernized global literary history beyond notions of national philology.


Panel-Leitung/Panel Chair:

Johannes Stephan (Freie Universität Berlin)

Christlicher Orient
New Perspectives on Graffiti in the Near East and North Africa in Ancient and Medieval Times

The increasing interest in graffiti in the past two decades has caused a significant shift of perspective, with new approaches unanimously stressing the importance of materiality and context as fundamental aspects of their interpretation. Academic events and publications have been attempting to solve the overarching issue of terminology, questioning the suitability of the term “graffiti”, originated in the Classical world and later applied ambiguously to expressions of vandalism or dissent of street writers as well as to works of celebrated urban artists, to define a wide variety of ancient and modern artefacts. But if graffiti seem to escape a universal definition, the research in the field is steadily expanding, including new areas and evidence and benefiting from interdisciplinary discourses.

The goal of this panel is therefore to bring together experts researching graffiti practices in a large array of cultures and places, to emphasise the richness and diversity of texts and images that we call “graffiti”. Being the first such event dedicated to the broad area of the Near East and North Africa, the panel will offer the opportunity for the participants to share the results and challenges of their ongoing projects, and to discuss how different scholarly traditions and modern categorisations affect the way we engage with the material. It will also have the purpose to summarise the current situation of these studies and encourage the creation of a network promoting productive exchanges on definition, theoretical approach, and methodology across disciplinary boundaries.

Panel-Leitung/Panel Chair:

Ilaria Bucci (Birkbeck College, University of London)

Marco Moriggi (Università degli Studi di Catania)

Shifting Identities. On the Self-Perception of Converts and their Perception by Others in Islamicate Societies (19th-Early 20th Centuries)

Throughout the centuries, Muslims and non-Muslims in Islamicate societies came for various reasons to the decision to change religion individually or collectively, by coercion or voluntarily. A change of religion had social implications and signified a shift in identity that required a justification or explanation by  the convert, the receiving community, as well as by the community that was left behind. Far from being a (mere) spiritual act, a conversion was situated in a particular social discourse and political context that influenced the process of conversion. While the study of conversion (and reversion) from or to Islam  has long focused on pre-modern textual sources, this panel addresses often neglected printed texts dating from the 19th and early 20th centuries. The papers offer in a transregional comparative perspective an insight into conversion mechanisms in Arabic- and Turkish-speaking lands of the Ottoman Empire, as  well as in Iran and India. They examine the self-perception and self-representation of some Muslim and Christian converts, how they perceived their environment, as well as how they were perceived by others. The panel focuses on a selected number of converts and their writings from different interdisciplinary perspectives (Islamic Studies, the Study of Eastern Christianity, Mission Studies). 

Panel-Leitung/Panel Chair:

Dennis Halft (Lehrstuhl für Abrahamitische Religionen mit Schwerpunkt Islam und interreligiöser Dialog, Theologische Fakultät Trier)

Eastern Christian Alms-Collectors in Europe and the Production of Knowledge about Distant Lands

Many Eastern Christian communities have a long history of dispatching members abroad to undertake charitable collections. During the early modern period, Christians living under Ottoman rule increasingly turned to their coreligionists in Europe for financial support to ransom captives, construct and maintain ecclesiastical buildings, or pay taxes. Greek Orthodox alms-collectors became a familiar sight from the sixteenth century onwards and other Eastern Christians soon followed, especially Maronite Christians from Mount Lebanon. Some of these collectors like Ilyās ibn Ḥannā al-Mawṣilī travelled as far as the Spanish colonies in America, and as the speed of travel and communications improved in the nineteenth century, collection missions became truly global. When alms-collectors returned to their homes, they brought with them not only whatever money they had gathered, but also their experience and knowledge of foreign countries acquired during their journeys. And while in Europe, their ability to inform their interlocutors about their homelands opened many closed doors.

This panel showcases innovative research on Eastern Christian alms-collectors in Europe. Drawing on European, Middle Eastern, and Ottoman sources, it illuminates the impact of these mobile actors on the production of knowledge about distant lands in both their societies of origin and those they visited. Such alms-collectors made important contributions to oriental scholarship in Europe, and at home they reinforced local ties to European Christianity. More generally, this panel helps recover a sense of the mechanisms and modes of exchange which helped draw Eastern Christian communities into an increasingly connected world.

Panel-Leitung/Panel Chair:

Feras Krimsti (Gotha Research Library/ University of Erfurt)

Tobias Graf (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)

Digital Humanities
Digital Workflows at Multiple Levels: Insights from the AnonymClassic Project

Digital tools and methods have been central to the AnonymClassic project from the start: this is an effort to build a database of manuscripts of Kalīla wa-Dimna, and to create editions of their contents that reflect their participation in a sprawling, complex textual tradition. In order to pursue this work, we have needed to invest in the development of our own software solutions, as well as adapting pre-existing tools to fit our use cases. We have, for example, a multifaceted digital platform that enables us to curate metadata for the manuscripts that we have collected, and to transcribe their text in a consistent format.

What has become clear over time, however, is that a research project of this kind will benefit from digital infrastructure and workflows at many levels. One member of our team has written Python scripts for batch-processing images of manuscript folios. Another has built a simple web application that facilitates the comparative reading of passages in different published versions of Kalīla wa-Dimna. When we think of digital humanities research, we often have in mind the construction of large datasets and the analysis thereof with computational methods. Indeed, the AnonymClassic project fits that model in some ways. But there is a broader conversation to be had about the tools that we can develop and integrate into our work, as we become more thoroughly “digital humanists.”

In this panel, members of the AnonymClassic team will speak about their contributions to digital aspects of the project, from architecting our core infrastructure to workaday scripting.

Panel convener: Theodore Beers (Freie Universität Berlin)

Chair/discussant: Jonas Müller-Laackman (Freie Universität Berlin)

Rewritings, Recensions, Relics. The Multiple Journeys of Kalīla wa-Dimna (Syriac, Arabic, Persian)

Kalīla wa-Dimna (KD) with its more than 140 manuscripts only in Arabic from eight centuries, multiple translations in dozens of languages over a period of almost 1500 years, and multiple references in various works as well as adaptations cannot be solely treated as a single text or a book with a stable meaning and functionality. Thanks to Ibn al-Muqaffaʿs famous translation, the “Indian book,” a mirror of princes in the shape of a frame narrative that contains fables, allegories, and parables expresses a universal utility and for that reason became – though sometimes a camouflaged – part of world literature long time before the rise of book printing. Dealing with the history of the Arabic Kalīla wa-Dimna and the diffusion of fables means dealing with textual fluidity and semantic expansion in manuscript cultures as well as the boundaries of what scholarship had usually considered as “classical Arabic literature.” Our panel sheds light on the different facets of the Kalīla wa-Dimna tradition and the problem of its historicization, namely the history of its transmission, from the copies of the early Syriac recension and Ibn al-Muqaffaʿs translation over multiple strands of redacting within Arabic to the Persian appropriation of the book. Also, we will investigate the social significance of such story material by looking at other animal fables. Members of the Berlin Kalīla wa-Dimna – AnonymClassic and colleagues will address the issue of textual mouvance, the analysis of textual and cultural translation and appropriation as well as other varieties of intertextuality, and hope to spur discussions on how to write a modernized global literary history beyond notions of national philology.

Panel-Leitung/Panel Chair:

Johannes Stephan (Freie Universität Berlin)

Computational contributions to the Social and Cultural History of the Islamicate World

The digital has become an integral part of contemporary human experience across the globe as well as

our research practices to the extent that it has lost its conceptual significance. At the same time, the digital humanities (DH) have seemingly arrived at the conceptual and institutional centre of the humanities and social sciences. In parallel with an explosion of methods, theories, and disciplinary subfields, a reflexive turn within DH critically assesses digital technologies and their impact on scholarly knowledge production as well as the fields rootedness in the (neo)colonial Anglophone hegemony of the Global North. At the same time, DH face fundamental criticism from outside the field and stand accused of being wrongfully cherished by funders and practitioners—over-promising, yet constantly under-delivering. This is particularly true for those working on the cultural heritage of the Islamicate societies of the Global South.

Our work is severely impacted by theories, methods, and tools ill-suited and often dysfunctional for our research questions and cultural artefacts resisting digitisation, which requires mitigation strategies for every step in digital workflows. The onus for doing so is put on the individual scholar. In a double-bind, this inevitably leads to an even greater focus on methods, data collection, and tooling. The field of Islamicate DH therefore appears to be mainly concerned with digitising cultural heritage. The proposed panel aims at answering this call by showcasing current research projects on the social and cultural histories  of the Islamicate societies with a focus on their results and the application of digital methods not only for representing historical arguments but for developing inherently new forms of historical knowledge. The panel is open to submissions in English, German, French, and Arabic and we particularly invite  contributions from researchers from Islamicate societies. We do not intend to limit the geographic or temporal focus nor do we value some methods over others but the following list shall indicate the breath of potential approaches:

  • Computer vision
  • Text reuse detection
  • Stylometric authorship attribution
  • Network analysis
  • Topic modelling
  • Named entity recognition and disambiguation
  • Geographic information systems

Panel organisers:

Till Grallert (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)

Maxim Romanov (Universität Hamburg)

The Place of Catalogs: Current State and Historical Perspectives

This two day panel at the DOT 2022 b rings together historical and contemporary perspectives on cataloging texts and/or objects, specifically but not exclusively of Oriental manuscript collections. Catalogs provide an essential tool for researchers and other interested parties alike. As a res earch subject, however, cataloging remains understudied. We are interested in the continuities, ruptures, and shifts in the production of catalogs on books and other objects up to the digital age. We seek to address the following questions: What objective s, circumstances and decisions play a role in the cataloging process?  How are these reflected in the availability and use of a catalog? How do catalogs accommodate the needs of their users? How do and will these needs change with a growing number of data a vailable in digital catalogues? What is the position of digital catalogs in virtual research environments? Do digital  environments require a different approach to cataloging than its precursors? How can we ensure broad and equal access to the catalogs and the cataloged objects? How can the sustainability and availability of catalog data be guaranteed? And finally, what is the place of cataloging activities in the history of  acquisition and collecting? We invite researchers, librarians and data specialists to present on historical and current cataloging projects, their organizing principles, limits and challenges. 

Panel organisers:

Colinda Lindermann (Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin)

Dr. Torsten Wollina (Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin)

Digitale Methoden in den regionalwissenschaftlichen Disziplinen – neue Zugänge und ihre epistemischen Konsequenzen

Gegenstand des Panels sind die neuen Erkenntnismöglichkeiten, die sich durch die Implementierung digitaler Methoden für die Regionalwissenschaften eröffnen. Dieses Panel soll also nicht auf die theoretische Entwicklung digitaler Infrastrukturen oder deren praktische Umsetzung eingehen, zumal letztere im Digitalen Workshop des DOT 2022 behandelt werden sollen. Vielmehr steht im Zentrum der Diskussion dieses Panels die digitale Analyse umfangreicher Textkorpora, die unterschiedlichen Forschungsfeldern und -projekten entstammen (Geschichte, Literaturwissenschaft, Politikwissenschaft, Soziologie). In jedem der Panelbeiträge geht das jeweilige Erkenntnisinteresse über korpusimmanente Aspekte hinaus, sodass insbesondere die textexternen, d. h. historischen, kulturellen und sozialen Zusammenhänge, in die die analysierten Textinhalte, Rede-, Schreib- und Lesekonventionen eingebettet sind, thematisiert werden. Dafür werden innovative digitale Methoden eingesetzt, die je nach Forschungsfeld dynamisch an die jeweilige epistemische Schwerpunktsetzung angepasst, weiterentwickelt und reflektiert werden. Die daraus resultierenden epistemischen Potenziale und Konsequenzen bilden den Mittelpunkt der beitragsübergreifend durch die folgenden Leitfragen angeregten Paneldiskussion: 

  • Welche neuartigen oder bisher nicht operationalisierbaren Erkenntnisinteressen ergeben sich für die Regionalwissenschaften aus den digitalen Methoden?
  • Wie verändern sich regionalwissenschaftliche Fragestellungen, Konzepte und Erwartungen durch eine digital erweiterte Methodik?
  • Werden digitale Analyseinstrumente modifiziert oder umgekehrt Erkenntnisinteressen an Grenzen des digital Operationalisierbaren angepasst?
  • Welche unterschiedlichen Erfahrungs- und Erwartungshorizonte müssen ggf. interdisziplinär überbrückt werden?

Eine beim Japanologentag angestoßene Diskussion fortsetzend bringen Beitragende aus verschiedenen japanologischen Institutionen (Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien Tokyo, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg, ggf. Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt) unterschiedliche disziplinäre Schwerpunktsetzungen in die Paneldiskussion ein. Die zu behandelnden Fragen (s.o.) werden somit zwar an Fallbeispielen aus der Japanologie diskutiert, sind aber für die Anwendung digitaler Methoden in allen Regionalwissenschaften von Relevanz.

Leitung und Kommentar: Prof. Dr. Christian Oberländer (MLU Halle-Wittenberg)

Indologie und Südasienkunde
Women’s Leadership in the Religious Domain: Perspectives from South Asia and Beyond

Women’s leadership in the religious domain in postcolonial South Asia and beyond, has emerged in the last century as a powerful site of gender emancipation and democracy. While nineteenth century social reform hinged on improving women’s condition and facilitating their education, these early reforms were primarily initiated, and led by men – a good number of them being missionaries. This scenario changed during, and after independence that saw the participation of women in the public sphere, as equals of men against a history colonial oppression within their regions. In the context of evolving, nascently democratic, and postcolonial nationalisms in South Asia and beyond, educated women increasingly sought representation as equals, despite enormous personal struggle – to assume leadership in the religious sphere. Embedded within the male-dominated, postcolonial context, women leaders refashioned themselves in solidarity with men, and with the precolonial religious groups of their society, while at the same time, making space for themselves as empowered citizens, scholars, and feminine agents, who sought to upturn the colonial gaze – a gaze that had hitherto denounced all religions, and religious communities from South Asia and beyond, as backward. Defining this character of women’s agency as ‘embedded agency’, research presentations in this panel discuss the journeys of women, and their stories of emancipation within the religious domain, from South Asia and beyond.

Panel-Leitung/Panel Chair: Deepra Dandekar (Ph.D) Researcher, Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin

Inscriptions as Social Artefacts: Revisiting South Asian Epigraphic Cultures

In South Asia, written artefacts, either in Sanskrit or the vernaculars are omnipresent. They record grants, donations, the establishment of temples, trusts or cult objects; legislative acts, expressions of power and devotion or traces of pilgrims. They are not only found in public places such as pillars or walls of temples, shrines, wells, and monumental public buildings  but also on metal plates in private archives, ritual objects, within the natural landscape on rock faces and caves, and sometimes completely hidden within built structures such as stūpas or esoteric shrines. Apart from viewing them as mines of information for historical details, this panel invites papers to address the role inscriptions or other publicly displayed media of written communication have played for the construction of spaces, identities, collective memory and value. From a transregional and transtemporal perspective inscriptions can be studied as images and texts; as sediments of past meanings and sites of contemporary struggles; as historical objects embedded in monument sites, but also as literate practices through which ritual and political activities acquire tangible presence in lived-in reality and become part of public memory and history. When interrogated as artefacts in specific contexts inscriptions are highly dialogical texts that not only reflect their context, but are actual means to shape religious, political and social worlds. From a transregional perspective, their shared political aesthetics and textual culture of diplomatics also point to them as being important vehicles of transculturalization in Southern Asia.

Leitung und Teilnehmer:

Dr. Simon Cubelic, Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften

Dr. Nina Mirnig, Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften

Dr. Astrid Zotter, Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften

Self-Representation and Presentation of Others in Epigraphical Writing

The majority of pre-modern inscriptions (on stone and copper plates) from South and Southeast Asia are inaugurative and donative records. Frequently, these epigraphs contain panegyric passages describing the kings and their dynasties, the donors and their families, as well as religious figures and their lineages. Such eulogies of the rulers and their ancestors are in most cases not factual “self-portrayals”, yet they project an image of authenticity and authority inasmuch as they are often said to be compositions of named court officials and royal copper-plate charters bear a seal and/or an imitated signature of the king. The panegyric descriptions do not only contain “self-representations”, but also “presentations of others”: the records of rulers can include eulogies of their subordinates, and vice versa, the inscriptions of subordinate rulers frequently include laudatory depictions of their overlords. Many eulogies contain descriptions of adversaries – intra-dynastic rivals as well as enemies from other dynasties. The presentations of opponents were used as a kind of backdrop for the “self-representations”.

The panel will investigate the specific forms and features of “Selbstdarstellung” vs. “Fremddarstellung” in a range of epigraphic texts from South and Southeast Asia, focussing on political ideology as well as on patronage policy. Participants should feel encouraged to pay particular attention to the description of intra-dynastic rivalries and rivalries between dynasties as well as to comparisons of “self-representation” of rulers/dynasties with the depiction of the same kings in the records of their adversaries.

Panel Organiser: Dr. Annette Schmiedchen (Seminar für Südasien-Studien, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)

The History of Śaivism through Textual and Material Evidence

This panel aims at presenting recent progress in research on the history of the Śaiva traditions through the study of primary sources. We will first discuss topics that are emerging from the field of Śivadharma research, focused on the research of the Śivadharma corpus that survive in many manuscripts and related texts. Contributions will include the ones on the issues noticed during the ongoing work to produce critical editions of Sanskrit and Tamil texts of the Śivadharma corpus, as well as their cultural and historical significance for the regional histories of the Śaiva communities. This will lead us to examine the implications of the transmission of the early Śivadharma works to the Kathmandu Valley (second half of the first millennium), and the impact that the manuscript production of these texts had on the religious trends of medieval Nepal, and vice versa. Following the lines of the transmission history of the Śivadharma, we will furthermore focus on its introduction to the Southernmost areas of the peninsula, such as Kerala and Tamil Nadu, and study the process of adaptation of some of these texts to the Tamil school of the Śaivasiddhānta / Caiva Cittānta, starting from the sixteenth century. In addition to discussions on transmission and regional adaptation of the Śivadharma corpus, panel contributions include discussions on issues related to the contents and composition of the Śivadharma texts and related literature, such as different visions of societies that the authors of the works of the Śivadharma collection might have had, and how and if they relate to each other; the interactions between the Śaivas and other religious communities; the techniques of Purāṇic composition through the reuse and adaptation of texts of different religious affiliations, of which the Śivadharma and its vast network of related texts offer relevant examples. While the Śivadharma and the progress recently made in this field of study are our starting point, we would also like to open this panel to more contributions that deal with the history of the Śaiva communities on a regional level through the study of textual and material evidence. Contributions in the field of epigraphy and belles-lettres are most welcome. 

Panel Chair: Florinda De Simini (University of Naples)

The Transformation of Traditional Genres in South-India, 17th-19th Centuries

The widespread advent of print by the middle of the 19th century transformed the landscape of South Indian literatures by giving rise to the creation of narrative prose and concomitant genres such as the novel. While these developments have received some scholarly attention, we are still comparatively ignorant of transformation that can be observed in the long transitional period from manuscript to print that preceded the mid-19th century. While verse was the norm throughout the premodern period, manuscript catalogues contain hundreds of items which have not made it into print where the title betrays that they are rather composed in prose. The motivation for producing such works may have been twofold. The first may be described as top-down movement of making the notoriously difficult high literary works more accessible to a general public. The second may rather be termed a transversal movement in that it represents the first attempts at putting into writing oral accounts of local history, on the way creating new versions by integrating stray information from various earlier sources and supplementing what was missing with a new yarn of narration. The proposed panel seeks to address this situation by calling for papers which can provide further details and more examples of what was produced and thought in the transitional period from the 17th to 19th centuries. Divergent models of explanation and interpretation are invited, as are papers engaging with all the literary languages of South India.

Panel organiser: Torsten Tschacher (SAI Heidelberg)

Indo-Iranian Ritual: comparative aspects of philology, text traditions, religious and cultural history

Indo-Iranian ritual tradition is transmitted to us in two branches, which exhibit a series of impressive parallels but also notable differences. A reconstruction of a Proto-Indo-Iranian ritual nucleus is only possible when we employ the data of both complexes of sources. Noteworthy, scholarly research of Iranian  ritual is less advanced than the long-year tradition of studying the richly ramified Vedic ritual schools. Only in the last years, a series of successes was scored in the field of the Avestan liturgy, which showed the extreme importance of this material from comparative and historical perspective, too. Thanks to the recent assessment of numerous Avestan manuscripts containing the so-called “intercalated liturgies” of the Avesta (Cantera 2009a, 2009b, 2013, 2014a, 2014b, 2016a, 2016b; Kellens 2006, 2007, 2010, 2011; Redard and Kellens 2013), we now know much more about the structure of Mazdean liturgies as well as about the employment of the extant Avestan texts in the real context of the corresponding ritual activities—and not only in the decontextualized form of the individual corpora extracted from the liturgical manuscripts. New Indo-Iranian perspectives have been furnished by the discovery of the significance of the comparison between the Avestan “Long Liturgy” and some apocryphal Vedic traditions (Sadovski 2018a, 2018b). It is this field of tension between common heritage and cultic innovation that we have to keep in mind when analysing, first intrinsically and then in comparison, litanies, ritual modules and entire liturgical complexes of the Vedic and Avestan ritual poetry on the quest of individual key concepts and their combinations in major structures. The basis of comparison between Indic and Iranian rituals is, in this sense, solid: both major ritual structures and individual ritual modules of the Yasna have Vedic correspondences—in the Khilas of the Rigveda and in old Yajurvedic rituals.

Ever since the beginning of Indo-European Studies, the comparative evidence of Ancient Indic and Iranian texts has been playing a decisive role in the reconstruction of Proto-European grammar, sacred texts, myths and rituals. On the one hand, there are strong linguistic correspondences between the Old Indian of the Vedas and the oldest Iranian languages – the two Old Eastern Iranian idioms (‘Old’ and ‘Young Avestan’) and the Western Iranian languages Old Persian and ‘Median’ – in the framework of all subsystems of language, from phonetics and phonology, incl. prosody, via morphology and morphophonology, up to lexicon, syntax, and phraseology. Such correspondences point out to common heritage and allow us to propose reconstructions of a Proto-Indo-Iranian Zwischengrundsprache, reconstructions whose linguistic validity is well verifiable on all language levels.

On the other hand, Indic and Iranian cultures, esp. ritual and religious traditions, represent a rare and lucky case in which, after the split of the earlier (Indo-Iranian) language community, its two main branches remain in close language contact also afterwards, in a complex system of areal relations that has been leading to serious mutual influences up to modern times.

The parallels between Old Indic and Old Iranian traditions are essential on other levels of intellectual, cultural and religious history, too. Ritual texts, cosmogonic myths and magic spells contain clear formulaic, poetic, and metatextual correspondences whose Proto-Indo-Iranian origin is evident: in some cases, one can directly translate a poetic formula from Avestan to Vedic Indian! What has largely lacked so far, was the systematic comparison, on inter-textual level, of cultic activities, liturgies and ritual complexes, in which the oldest Indian and Iranian texts were usually embedded as powerful ‘performative speech acts’, as prayers, hymns, multipartite litanies.

In the last decades, after the discovery of new text material (such as the Paippalāda version of the Atharvaveda) and especially after the beginning of the new edition of the Avestan corpus of liturgical texts by Jean Kellens and the research clusters on the Avestan liturgical manuscripts, we can see a constantly increasing number of examples of correspondences in ritual texts (formulae but also larger sequences such as lists) and ritual practices from the Avestan liturgical context with data of the Vedic ritual literature. Entire liturgical units of the Avestan and Vedic rituals can now be linked – and even compared module by module – with one another, thus demonstrating the sense of what Louis RENOU used to call ‘grammar of ritual’.

The study of the formal-and-semantic parallels of ritual elements and their compositional arrangement brings us to crucial discoveries: We find routine-by-routine and even word-by-word correspondences between liturgical formulae lists and catalogues of the two language traditions: After comparing sounds and word-formations, now is time to compare entire ritual litanies and liturgies contained in the Vedic Saṃhitās, Brāhmaṇas and Sūtras and the Avestan liturgical complexes of Yasna, Visprad and Vidēvdād. The correspondences in ritual, myth and religious notions and systems have deep relevance on theological, cosmological and anthropological level. There are, however, notable differences, too, which lead to the difficulty of the task to reconstruct an original form of common tradition. Therefore, we consider appropriate to bring together not only defenders but also contenders of the comparative approach to the study of Vedic and Zoroastrian rituals.

The proposed panel intends to display the achievements of comparative Indo-Iranian studies so far, to trace new directions of scholarly co-operation between Vedists, Avestologists, specialists in Achaemenid and Sassanian studies, as well as, more generally, between Indo-Europeanists, philologists and scholars of history of culture and religions with the aim to continue the reconstruction of Proto-Iranian heritage and later mutual influences on the various levels of pertinence.

The panel aims to bring together philologists and, historians of religion, ritual and spiritual ideas of Vedic Indian, Old Iranian (Avestan, Old Persian), Middle and Modern Iranian with different theoretical backgrounds, who work on the reconstruction of common features of Indic and Iranian ritual and religion.


Alberto CANTERA (Freie Universität, Berlin)

Velizar SADOVSKI (Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna)

Creation and Transmission of Persian Historical Narratives: A Comparative Study

Historical narratives are reflections of the cultural memory of a nation, and combine fictitious elements and factual data about major historical figures and events of their past. The study of such texts is crucial for understanding the formation of identity and values of each nation. Contrary to historians’ attempts to be consistent in their use of source texts, and their striving to be reliable regarding problems with dating, authors of historical narratives benefit from freedom of imagination to reconstruct characters and actions within their own stories; they shift boundaries of history, myth and legend and create indeterminacy between reality and fiction. In the history of Persian literature, authors vigorously wrote historical narratives about pre-Islamic historical figures such as Alexander the Great and the Buddha, as well as famous personalities of the Islamic World who represented faith, chivalry and power, including Amir Hamza, Abu Muslim Khorasani and Mahmud of Ghazni. These narratives do not necessarily reflect actual historical facts, but are more fictional in nature. However, by comparing the content of each historical narrative and their strategies of narration, also by highlighting similarities among them, we can clarify what elements were mostly sought after by the readers of premodern Persian literature, whether it was history or their origins in myths. This panel aims to study and compare Persian historical narratives, and examine how the approaches and demands towards such genre differed across the written cultures of the Persianate World at different time periods and regions.

Panel chair:

Satoshi Ogura (Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, Tokyo)

Modern and Contemporary Persian Literature since 1921

The publication date of Mohammad ʿAli Jamalzadeh’s collection of short stories Yeki bud, yeki nabud (Once upon a time) in 1921 has been marked by critics and scholars of Persian literature as the inception date of modern prose literature in Iran. This critical consensus provides us with an opportunity to celebrate the centennial anniversary and examine the norms and development of Persian literature since 1921.

In this panel, we are interested in the analysis and novel readings of samples of literary productions in Iran within the last one hundred years. We are keen to examine how some literary pieces have come to existence as the medium for communicating and responding to sociopolitical discourses of their time. We are also particularly interested in discussing literary creations, which have managed to stay aloof from their contemporary ideological state agendas, relying on their own private aesthetics. Likewise, we are eager to discuss literary turning points resulting in new trends, genres, and the expansion of the literary discourse in contemporary Iran. 

This panel is open to the participation of external scholars.

Panel Organizers:

Goulia Ghardashkhani

Leila Rahimi Bahmany

Islam in Europa
Muslimisches Leben in Deutschland: Wechselwirkungen von Diskursen und Praktiken zwischen Mehrheit und Minderheiten

Das Panel gibt neueren Forschungsansätzen zu den Wechselwirkungen von Diskursen und Praktiken zwischen Mehrheit und Minderheiten im Themenfeld „Muslim*innen in Deutschland“ einen Raum zur Präsentation und Diskussion.

Berücksichtigung finden neue Ansätze methodischer und/oder inhaltlicher Art zur Erforschung der Geschichte und Gegenwart der Muslim*innen in Deutschland. Die Schwerpunkte liegen – keineswegs abschließend – auf folgenden Feldern:

  1. Muslimische Präsenz in Deutschland – Wissensstand, Möglichkeiten und Erkenntnisse der Forschung.
  2. Glauben(-spraxis) im Wandel – Entstehung neuer Normativitäten durch faktische Rahmenbedingungen.
  3. Wechselwirkungen zwischen muslimischem (Alltags-)Leben und gesellschaftlichen sowie politischen Diskursen.

Die Herausforderungen vor welchen muslimische Gemeinden und Organisationen in Deutschland standen und stehen finden sich sowohl bezüglich ihrer Binnenorganisation, als auch in ihrer Darstellung nach außen. Sie umfassen zum Beispiel konkrete Fragen nach ihrer strukturellen Organisation, der Aus- und Weiterbildung von Imamen, der nationalen, transnationalen und internationalen Einbettung muslimischer Gemeinden und Organisationen oder auch nach der Etablierung von Orten der Glaubenspraxis. 

Die faktischen Rahmenbedingungen eines Alltagslebens in einer nichtmuslimischen Mehrheitsgesellschaft wirken sich auch auf die Glaubenspraxis und die religiös-normative Selbstverortung von Muslim*innen in Deutschland und Europa aus. Fragen nach Islam und Umwelt- und Klimaschutz, nachhaltiger Ernährung, muslimischer Seelsorge, Altenpflege oder palliativer Versorgung sowie Genderthemen werden aufgeworfen und diskutiert.

Gleichzeitig beeinflusst auch die wachsende und sichtbare Präsenz von Muslim*innen die nichtmuslimische Mehrheitsgesellschaft in Deutschland, was sich insbesondere in den politischen und gesellschaftlichen Diskursen über den Islam und Muslim*innen niederschlägt.


Dr. Yunus Hentschel (Erlanger Zentrum für Islam und Recht in Europa (EZIRE), Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg)

Dr. Nina Nowar (Erlanger Zentrum für Islam und Recht in Europa (EZIRE), Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg)

The Efficacy and Density of Rule in Pre-Industrial Islamicate Societies

This panel brings together case-studies on the intersection of ideology and the exercise of social and political power in specific contexts in the Islamic World before the advent of globalized industrial modernity. It seeks to explore the ways in which polities and local powerbrokers exercised rule, established and maintained control over populations, and how their respective ideological programmes translated into specific administrative and political measures. We invite contributors to reflect on the nexus between frequently competing claims for legitimacy and the deployment of political and fiscal rulership in their respectice configurations.

The papers may focus on (but are by no means limited to) the following intersections:

  • Scale of ideologically claimed preeminence vs. range of efficient administration: What is visible / invisible to the gaze of rulership?
  • Reform and the intensification of rule: What are the aims of ‘reform’, which strategies are deployed / counterdeployed towards it by ‘reformers’ and ‘reformed’, what is the eventual outcome?
  • Synergies of multiple instruments, institutions, discourses, and practices in the production of rule: Endowments, courts of law, the agency of individual power brokers acting from within multiple configurations (e.g., tax commissioners, garrisons, intersecting networks of loyalty and (spiritual) patronage). 

Panel organisers:

Dr. Georg Leube (Universities of Bayreuth and Hamburg)

Dr. Benjamin Weineck (University of Bayreuth)

Reisen in den Orient: Von Forschern, Diplomaten und Abenteurern

„Orientreisende“ beziehungsweise „Arabienreisende,“ denen zwar bereits Fück (1955) und Littmann einen „großen Anteil an der wissenschaftlichen Erschließung des Nahen Morgenlandes“ (Littmann 1942, 1) einräumen, wurden von der Wissenschaftsforschung im Kontext der Orientalistik bislang wenig  beachtet. Während die Geschichte der deutschen Orientalistik an der Universität und ihrer Gelehrten mittlerweile gut erforscht ist, fand die wichtige Mittlerrolle, die Reisende in der Produktion und Vermittlung von Wissen über muslimische Gesellschaften einnahmen, bisher wenig Beachtung. Hier will das  Panel einen neuen Blick eröffnen, indem es nicht nur den Wert der Reisebeschreibungen von Orientreisenden als historische Quelle aufarbeitet, sondern darüber hinaus, die deutsche Orientalistik vom Standpunkt des Forschungsreisenden beleuchtet.

Im Gegensatz zu philologisch-arbeitenden Universitätsgelehrten, die bis in die neuere Zeit hinaus selten einen Fuß in den ‚Orient‘ setzten, brachten Reisende vielbeachtete Expertise von außerhalb Europas in die zeitgenössischen Debatten ein. Reisende informierten die breite Öffentlichkeit aus der Region, und  etablierten sich so weithin zu Autoritären über Islam und Orient. Durch Reisebeschreibungen und Fachvorträgen, den Ankauf von Orientalia, Sammlungen botanischer und ethnographischer Bestände, archäologische Entdeckungen und Kartographierung stellten Orientreisende unverzichtbare Materialien und  Wissensbestände für die akademische Forschung bereit. Ihre Stellung innerhalb der Wissensgemeinschaft der Akademien und Universitäten blieb jedoch zumeist ambivalent.

Das Panel bringt Beiträge zusammen, die Orientreisende (vom 17. bis ins frühe 20.Jahrhundert) beleuchten, sowie deren Reiseschilderungen und Darstellung des Orients, u.a.  in den historischen Printmedien, Zeitschrift und Presse, Kommunikation und Netzwerke zwischen Forschungsreisenden und  Universitätsgelehrten, oder Orte der Begegnung, wie Fachgesellschaften und wissenschaftliche Journale. 


Nora Derbal (The Martin Buber Society of Fellows in the Humanities and Social Sciences,

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

Canonization, Codification, and Change in Islamic Law – Insights from a New Interdisciplinary Research Project in Islamic Legal Studies

Recent work in Islamic legal studies has emphasized that rather than being static and text-conservative, Islamic law has been changing ever since the beginning of Islam. Processes of legal change are often understood as connected to novel social needs, new structures of authority, and shifts in hegemonic discourses. However, it is still largely unclear how processes of legal change take place on the level of specific texts, and in what ways texts and clusters of texts are ascribed with, or lose, authority over time.

By examining examples from a broad range of different historical and geographical settings including the premodern and modern Middle East, precolonial and colonial East Africa, and contemporary Scandinavia, the panel demonstrates that the concepts of canonization and codification are uniquely suited to examine processes of legal change on the textual level. Canonization is thereby understood as a process in which authority is ascribed to a certain text or bodies of texts that are thereby understood as set apart from other texts outside of the canon. Codification, in contrast, represents a deliberate and concentrated attempt to achieve textual fixation, systematization, and coherence. The papers of the panel showcase that the combined use of these two concepts opens up new perspectives on a wide range of Islamic textual genres and types of normative texts and marks a significant step forward in our understanding of Islamic legal change.

Organizers: Eirik Hovden and Christian Mauder

Writing Sacred Space in the Early Modern Period

Over roughly two decades now, scholarship with an interest in spatial imaginaries has expanded on the interdependence of Islam’s emplacement, embodiment, and performance with textual expressions of religion. Pilgrimage and shrine visitations in particular have come to be understood as exemplary phenomena closely tied to notions of space and of central importance for the formation of communal identity and political dynasties. Whereas most previous studies have been concerned with earlier periods, especially the Sunni revival in the wake of the Crusades and the Fatimid Caliphate, this panel invites explorations of developments in the early modern period. And while the triad of place, practice, and discourse encourages multiple welcome angles, special interest applies to the role of writing in the production of sacred space – be it writing about holy sites, writing explicitly situated in sanctified loci, or experiences of consecrated space informed and configured by writing.

The panel addresses the following questions: In what ways did early modern literature adapt the established forms of a mature ‚discourse of place,‘ like hagiographies, topographical histories, or guide books, to construct sacred routes and realms? And – shrines being sites of devotion as well as locales of learning, which could contain libraries, inspire poetry, and be sought out as writers‘ retreat – how were these modes of engagement differentiated or interlaced in writing? Lastly, which written means were drawn on to cultivate the real or imagined experience of sanctuaries in the devotional veneration of the Prophet or a saintly figure?

Panel organiser: Björn Bentlage

Islamwissenschaft und Nahoststudien im Kalten Krieg

Blickt man auf Lehrpläne für islamwissenschaftliche Seminare und Zitationsindizes, so wird eine Leerstelle deutlich: Die Arbeiten von Kolleg*innen, welche in der ehemaligen DDR gewirkt haben, werden kaum mehr zur Kenntnis genommen und existieren damit quasi nicht. Dies ist historisch zu erklären. Nach  der deutschen Wiedervereinigung waren marxistisch-leninistische Erklärungsansätze zur gegenwartsbezogenen Nahostforschung und Islamwissenschaft verpönt, schienen sie doch durch ihre ideologischen Scheuklappen aus der Zeit gefallen. In der Tat war die Forschung an Universitäten und  außeruniversitären Einrichtungen in der DDR stark gelenkt. Es herrschte eine enge Verzahnung mit den „Organen der Praxis“ wie verschiedenen Ministerien, die Auftragsforschungen vergaben. Junge Wissenschaftler*innen absolvierten Praktika bei staatlichen Stellen, bestimmte Forschungsfragen und  unliebsame Ansätze waren Tabu. Zugleich fällt auf, dass umfangreiches Archiv- und Quellenmaterial zur Nahostforschung in der DDR und den verantwortlichen Personen bislang kaum systematisch untersucht wurde.

Anlässlich des 100-jährigen Jubiläums des Deutschen Orientalistentags widmet sich das Panel einem jüngeren Kapitel der Fachgeschichte, indem es anhand einiger konkreter Beispiele verdeutlicht, was der Ost-West-Konflikt für die Islamwissenschaft und Nahostforschung konkret bedeutete. Dabei  beschränken wir uns nicht auf die DDR. Ein eingehender Blick in die damalige bundesrepublikanische Forschungslandschaft soll sowohl als Kontext als auch zum Kontrast dienen. Auch hier war die wissenschaftliche Beschäftigung mit dem gegenwärtigen Nahen Osten kein einfacher Prozess, auch hier  existierten klare (hochschul)politische Interessen und Konflikte. Welche (überraschenden) Gemeinsamkeiten und Unterschiede lassen sich also im Bereich der Islamwissenschaft und Nahoststudien in DDR und BRD im Kontext des Kalten Krieges feststellen?

Panel organiser: Dennis Halft

Revisiting Arab formations of the secular and secularism

Islam and the secular figure centrally in current theoretical and socio-political debates. The association of secularism with the “Judeo-Christian heritage” and the claim that both are key features of ‘Western’ modern history implicitly identifies the Arab-Islamic tradition as the antithesis of the secular. It is often  ignored that in all Arab regions, in the context of modernisation and (post)colonialism, burning socio-political debates about secularism and the definition of the secular and the religious have long been taking place. Slogans such as “Islam is the solution” (Al-islām huwa al-ḥall), “Islam is state and religion” (Al-  islām dīn wa daula) or “Secularism is the solution” (Al-ʿalmāniyya huwa al-ḥall), illustrate this clearly. The Arabic conceptual history of secularism, which goes back to the 19th century and which developed from translations for secularism and laicité (al- ʿilmāniyya, al-ʿalmāniyya, al-lāʾikiyya) but also from coinages of existing Arabic words (al-madaniyya, ad-dahriyya), demonstrates that modern ideas of the secular form a central part of Arabic discourses on society, statehood, politics and Islam.

The contributions to this panel argue for revisiting Arab formations of the secular and secularism. The aim is neither to read this formation as a result of Western influences, nor to blur historical differences between Islam and Western modernity by defining secularity as universal, nor to assume a singular Arab- Islamic secular. Instead, the Arabic concepts of secularism/secularity/the secular are to be analysed in their complex interweavings of Western modernity, the (after)effects of the colonial and Arab-Islamic traditions.

Panel organisers:

Dr. Nils Riecken (Affiliated researcher at Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin, Member of the DFG-network „DFG-Netzwerk „Philosophie in der islamischen Welt der Moderne”)

Prof. Dr. Kata Moser (Georg‐August‐Universität Göttingen, Coordinator „DFGNetzwerk „Philosophie in der islamischen Welt der Moderne“)

Western Islamic Cities

The cities in the Islamic Western Mediterranean are like their sisters in East a stage in their a transcultural transformation from Late Antique Christian Cities. The RomanIslam in Hamburg looks at them with a new approach. Where are the differences in the physical, legal, and economic formation, between the Cities in the East and the West, and why?

Panel – Organisator: RomanIslam Center, Hamburg

Antonia Bosanquet – Stefan Heidemann

How To Do No Harm: Reflections on Ethics and Methods in Shii Studies

In this two-part roundtable, we examine some of the ethical and methodological issues pertaining to the scholarly study of Shiism and arising from the intellectual trajectories of Shii Studies as a specialized subfield. The roundtable brings together a group of early-career, more established, and senior scholars  with an interest in the study of Shii Islam, Shii political groups and piety movements, Shii religious scholarship and scholarly networks, armed resistance groups, and Shiism in the diaspora. We present insights based on our experiences as scholars and academicians working in, on, and from diverse  sociopolitical and geographical contexts, including Germany, Iraq, Iran, Italy, Lebanon, Syria, and the United Kingdom. While we focus on ethics and methods in Shii Studies, we draw on and engage with questions relevant to other disciplinary fields, including Islamic Studies, Middle Eastern and Area Studies,  sociology, anthropology, history, and political science.

We organize our interventions around a set of guiding questions categorized in four themes:

Part I – Shii Studies

  1. Why Shii Studies? What motivates the separation of Islamic and Shii Studies and the emergence of the specialization field of Shii Studies? What are the methodological andintellectual gains and challenges that result from the specialized study of Shiism? And, in what ways can processes of sectarianization and the specialization of Shii Studies impact one another, and to what effect?
  1. Shii Studies and the scrutinizing gaze: How can scholars navigate the politicization and securitization of Islamic and Shii studies in Western and Middle Eastern scholarly circles? How can scholars circumvent social stigmas and the political and legal designations of Shii religious groups, congregations and movements as, for example, ’terrorist’, ‘extremist’, ‚homophobic’, ‘anti-Semitic’? What challenges do these designations pose for researchers and research subjects? And, (how) should scholars of Shiism engage with governmental and nongovernmental policy research?

Part II – Ethics and methods

  1. Ethics and methods in social and ethnographic research: How can scholars of Shii Studies conduct longue durée ethnographic research methodically? And, how should they account for it? Should they disclose their identities/intentions as researchers and seek permissions when researching congregations to which they ‘belong’ or which they also frequent for non-research (social, devotional, personal) purposes?
  1. Ethics and methods in digital research: How can researchers ensure methodological rigor while also accounting for contextual nuances when conducting online, digital and distance ethnographic research? And, how can they distinguish between open-source and public material when conducting digital and social media research?

The roundtable discussion will be moderated by Prof. Alison Scott-Baumann, Professor of Society and Belief at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. Scott-Baumann has received grants from Leverhulme, ERSC and AHRC to pursue her world-class research on Islam and Islamic studies in British higher education and the role of universities in the democratic state. Her work has addressed the impact of the U.K. Government’s counterterror strategy, PREVENT, on Islamic Studies, representations of Islam on campus, and the role of freedom of expression and higher education in Britain. She has been consulted by the U.K. government and has co-authored the Siddiqui Report (2007) and the Review of Imam Training reports in 2008-2010.


An interest in the specialized study of Shiism gained momentum in the 1980s following the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979 and the emergence of Shii Islamist movements with a strong presence in the Middle East and activist agendas spanning the globe. This interest motivated academicians, foreign policy researchers and practitioners, and security study specialists, eventually giving rise to an interdisciplinary subfield now commonly referred to as Shii Studies. This nascent field gained new relevance in the twenty-first century as Shii Muslims became increasingly visible among Middle Eastern diasporas in Europe, North America and Australia. This corresponded to mass migrations and forced displacements resulting from violent conflict and economic inopportunity in countries of the Middle East with significant Shii populations since the 1980s as well as sectarianized violence targeting Shiis regionwide since the 2000s. Scholars and policy researchers have often (over) emphasized Shii Islamists’ enmity to Israel and opposition to U.S.-led global politics of hegemony as part of a political worldview that has been interwoven in activist interpretations of Shii hagiography, eschatology and ritual cultures since the mid-twentieth century. Moreover, as Shii Muslims born in the global North ‘come of age’ and diasporic Shiis embark on organizing the affairs of their communities and congregations independently of the more established, Sunni-dominated diasporic Muslim organizations, Shiis have found themselves subjected to the scrutinizing gaze of academic researchers and policy analysts as well as the disenfranchising policing practices of state and society in the global North. 

Organisers: Fouad Gehad Marei (University of Birmingham)

Minoo Mirshahvalad (Fondazione per le Scienze Religiose Giovanni XXIII)

Bilingual Korea? Modes of Interaction between Vernacular and Classical Chinese Texts

With the promulgation of the Korean script in 1443, one of its main purposes was the rendering of classical Chinese texts (hanmun) into more accessible and popular vernacular versions. Given the complex relation between Korean and Sino-Korean vocabulary, the social profiles of the readership, or the intertextual nature of these texts, the various vernacular versions of hanmun texts created in this process employed a broad field of overlapping textual strategies. These range from simple punctuation, transcriptions, or glosses to mix-script versions or full vernacular translations.

The panel explores dominant trends in vernacular texts coming from different levels and areas of Choson dynasty literary discourse. Through the analysis of materials from diverse areas including Buddhist scripture, Confucian classics, pedagogical texts, or military manuals, we will try to detect motifs behind the commissioning of such texts, the textual strategies employed, and, above all, the success or failure of their supposed goal to make hanmun texts more accessible to a less educated audience.

Verantw. Leiter:

Vladimir Glomb (Institut für Koreastudien, Freie Universität Berlin)

Arabic Pharmaceutical Manuscripts in the German Academic context

The famous Arabist Manfred Ullmann emphasized in 1970 in his reference work “Die Medizin im Islam”, that the manuscripts ought to be in the center of scholarly work on the history of Arabic medicine and natural sciences “today and in the foreseeable future”. Nearly more than fifty years later, many texts in these fields are still in manuscript form, while in other fields of Arabic and Islamic studies, the importance of manuscript evidence has been emphasized.

These manuscripts are the most important sources on the scientific culture among Arab-speaking communities in the Middle Ages and later. After the Arabic-speaking scientific community had gained access to the Greek medical tradition through the “translation movement” in the 8th and 9th centuries, Arabic-speaking physicians started to add new information to this ancient material by authoring books and treatises. Many historians consider Arabic-Islamic medicine as an essential factor in the development of medicine. Furthermore, some historians consider the Arabic language as the most important language of science in the Middle Ages. Therefore, studying Arabic medical manuscripts is crucial in order to gain full perspectives for understanding the scientific culture of the Arabic civilization, and the development of medicine in general.

In the same vein, by considering the fact that Arabs have brought a great deal of material into pharmaceutical science and many editions and translations of Arabic pharmaceutical works translated into Latin have been published, the contribution of Arabic science in the development of pharmacy seems all the more obvious. Furthermore, Arabic pharmaceutical manuscripts deal with the main aspects of materia medica culture either by identifying the simple drugs or by describing the formulations and the preparing methods of the compound drugs. Although many scholars over the world are conducting many projects for editing, studying, and even translating some Arabic medical manuscripts into other languages, unfortunately, the situation is very different when it comes to Arabic pharmaceutical manuscripts: many of them are still without any real study of their contents, despite that most would be accessible in the libraries over the world.

Panel organiser: Dr. Ayman Yasin Atat (Einstein Guest Researcher, Freie Universität Berlin, Seminar für Semitistik und Arabistik)

The Library of Aḥmad Pasha al-Jazzār: Projection of Power and Learning

Aḥmad Pasha al-Jazzār (d. 1219/1804) has gained considerable contemporary notoriety as a ruthless provincial ruler in Palestine and Syria, and he is probably best remembered as the leader who repelled Napoleon’s assault on Syria.

Yet the most visible and enduring aspect of al-Jazzār’s long rule is his architectural legacy in ʿAkkā, which developed from a small port to an impressive and well-fortified town. Here, a splendid mosque and madrasa complex was erected at the economic and administrative center of al-Jazzār’s power, and attached to it was a library that contained some of the most precious volumes of the Islamic manuscript tradition.

Situated at critical junctures in the political and intellectual history of the region, the library and its founder exemplify traditions and changes in the world of books during the 18th and 19th centuries. Access to new sources, especially a catalogue of the library’s original holdings as well as the identification of a growing number of its extant manuscripts, has recently opened up new vistas for research. Moreover, the fate of the library after its founder’s death, the trajectories of individual volumes as well as reports of its visitors, can serve to re-evaluate a recent revival of the decline paradigm in Middle Eastern book history.

The speakers of this panel, part of the newly formed al-Jazzār Library Project, will explore the meaning of libraries, of book ownership and endowment, during al-Jazzār’s lifetime in the region and beyond. They will thus shed light on the institutional legacy of access to the written heritage, especially when comparing a provincial town to the traditional centers of learning and book culture.

Panel organiser: Boris Liebrenz (Saxon Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Leipzig)  

The Kairouan Manuscript Project: Research and Conservation of the Manuscripts in the Raqqada, Kairouan Collection

The Kairouan Manuscript Project (KMP) is a network of academics and heritage management professionals devoted to facilitating the care, management, study, and promotion of the manuscript collection of the National Laboratory for the Preservation and Conservation of Parchment and Manuscripts (NLPCPM) in Raqqada, Kairouan, Tunisia. The KMP encourages research and publications on this collection in order to contribute to international scholarship in academic fields such as Islamic intellectual history, codicology and book history, and the comparative study of Mediterranean societies. The KMP is based at the Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures, Universität Hamburg. The panel will present a selection of the research and collection care and management projects carried out by members of the KMP. The three speakers will discuss (1) the history and importance of the Kairouan collection, scholarship on the collection to date, and the history and goals of the KMP; (2) marginal annotations in Qur’an manuscripts from the Kairouan collection; and (3) the planning and implementation of a preventive conservation programme at the NLPCPM during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Panel organiser: Mr R. B. Davidson MacLaren, MA (Research Associate for Cultural Heritage, Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures, Universität Hamburg)

Natural and computer sciences for the study of written artefacts – Panels I and II.

Claudia Colini and Stephan Seifert

Written artefacts can tell us much more than what meets the eye. This is particularly true when their study is pursued through a comparative, comprehensive and interdisciplinary approach, which is the strategy adopted at the Cluster of Excellence ‘Understanding Written Artefacts’ at the University of Hamburg.

These two panels will illustrate the efficacy of this approach to the study of written artifacts, particularly through the collaboration of humanities, natural and computer sciences. In natural science the physical, chemical, and biological identity of the materials that make up written artefacts are explored. This enables the investigation of the artefacts‘ origin and provenance and the identification of natural and anthropogenic changes they have undergone. These changes include natural decay and corrosion of materials or intentional alterations, conservation treatments, or even partial destruction. Computer science provides various tools for the evaluation, storage, reuse and linking of the data collected by both material science and the humanities contributing to the fruitful transfer of knowledge and methods between disciplines and projects. 

In these panels we present several cases of successful collaborations, both between members of the Cluster and with external researchers and institutes. The examples were selected among concluded and on-going projects, in order to emphasize the variety of written artefacts and materials investigated, disciplines involved, methods applied, research questions answered and emerging directions to be pursued in the course of the following years.

Panel organiser: Claudia Colini and Stephan Seifert 

Beyond the realm of natural language – Abstract sign systems in multigraphic written artefacts 

Multigraphic written artefacts might combine or co-present various sets of graphic and pictorial signs in one object, besides multiple scripts and various other sign systems can be used. The proposed panel will focus on written artefacts which combine writing systems of natural languages with abstract sign systems which do not intend to decode a natural language. Abstract sign systems relevant for this panel thus include, but are not restricted to numerical systems, musical notations or pseudo-scripts.

The emergence of this group of multigraphic written artefacts in many premodern cultures resulted from the diversification within the written domain. Hereto count the sacral or magical, musical as well as the scientific uses of writing which urged the development of abstract sign systems used for specific purposes only.

Some of the questions the present workshop will address are: What was the motivation for the use of abstract sign systems in multigraphic written artefacts? Were these abstract sign systems restricted to a certain domain or to a group of written artefacts and thus intelligible only for specialists? Where do the signs of the abstract sign systems originate from? How persistent were abstract sign systems in various cultures of writing? Is there a hierarchy perceivable between multiple sign systems used in a given multigraphic written artefact? What strategies are employed in the visual organization of multigraphic written artefacts to emphasize or to conceal the presence of multiple sign systems?

Panel organizer: Szilvia Sövegjártó

Materielle Kultur, Kunstgeschichte und Archäologie
Aktuelle Forschungen zu Erwerbungen der Islamische Kunstabteilung der Staatlichen Museen in Berlin (heute: Museum für Islamische Kunst)

Museen sind heute bestrebt, sich mit ihrer Forschungs- und Sammlungsgeschichte kritisch auseinander zu setzen. Stand bis Ende des 20. Jahrhunderts die Erforschung der Herstellungs- und primären Nutzungskontexte der Objekte im Vordergrund, liegt der Fokus nun auf ihren Erwerbungskontexten. Die  Verdienste der Persönlichkeiten, die die Sammlung des Museums für Islamische Kunst wesentlich geprägt haben, beschäftigen Mitarbeiter:innen des Museums schon lange. Besonders zu erwähnen sind dabei Julia Gonnella und Jens Kröger, die grundlegende Beiträge zu Friedrich Sarre, dem ersten Direktor des  Museums, beigesteuert haben. Jens Kröger legte zudem eine Chronik der Ausgrabungen in Samarra (Irak) vor, die unter der Leitung von Friedrich Sarre und Ernst Herzfeld 1911-13 stattfanden und deren Funde Großteils nach Berlin gelangten. Gisela Helmecke wiederum widmete sich auch weniger  prominenten, aber nicht minder aktiven Sammlern, u.a. Alexandre Merle de Massonneau. Es lohnt sich jedoch immer ein frischer Blick auf die Sammlungsbestände, der zu neuen Fragestellungen führt. In diesem Panel werden daher neue Perspektiven auf die Erwerbungskontexte vorgestellt. Der engere Fokus  auf die von Sarre erworbene Holzsammlung erlaubt dabei tiefergehende Einblicke in seine Erwerbungspraktiken im Ausland. Am Beispiel der von Massonneau erworbenen Objekte zeigt sich, dass die Sammler nicht zwingend nur islamische Kunst sammelten, was die Betrachtung von Sammleraktivitäten über  Museumsgrenzen hinweg lohnenswert macht. Anhand der durch verschiedenste Sammler in Raghes/Rayy (Iran) erworbenen Keramik lassen sich wiederum Aussagen über internationale Händlernetzwerke treffen. Eine erweiterte Aufarbeitung der Grabungsdokumentation zu Samarra bindet schließlich die  Museumsarchive in den aktuellen Kontext der Provenienzforschung ein und erlaubt gleichzeitig Rückschlüsse über die historischen Umstände der Ausgrabung. 

Panelorganisation: Miriam Kühn (Staatliche Museen zu Berlin)

Cultural Infrastructures in Lebanon’s Art World

Lebanon is regularly portrayed as a country with weak public institutions but a vibrant cultural sector. This panel explores some of the cultural infrastructures that have contributed to the making of Lebanon’s art world in the twentieth century, focusing in particular on the period between early independence and the end of the civil war. It looks at the forces that have shaped the emergence of a professional field of art in Lebanon by analysing a range of formal and informal spaces that have played a role in the evolution of art in Lebanon. These spaces often served as places of encounter and exchange, beyond their primary functions of exhibiting or teaching art. As such, they were active catalysts within the intellectual milieus of their time, contributing to the shaping of identity in a young nation. This panel also examines how cultural infrastructures developed and evolved during the civil war (1975-1990). Far from being a grey slab in Lebanon’s art history, the time span of the war saw some new art practices emerge. This panel proposes to rethink the impact of the political, social and economic environment on the art world and its protagonists, and how artists and cultural players in fact shaped their environments.

Panelorganisation: Nadia von Maltzahn (Orient-Institut Beirut)

Philosophie in der islamischen Welt der Moderne: Auslotung eines Forschungsfeldes

Philosophie in der islamischen Welt der Moderne ist ein im Entstehen begriffenes Forschungsfeld, das sich an der Schnittstelle von Fachphilosophie und Islamwissenschaft sowie damit verwandter Disziplinen herausbildet. Aktuelle philosophische Debatten in der islamischen Welt werden allerdings bisher  meist lediglich punktuell und mit Fokus auf einzelne Fragestellungen, Strömungen, Autoren oder Texte wahrgenommen und untersucht; islamwissenschaftliche Forschungsbeiträge dazu sind bis anhin vor allem ideengeschichtliche Rekonstruktionen bestimmter Denktraditionen und Wissenskontexte. Die  Erforschung von Werkzusammenhängen auch anhand intensiver textbasierter Studien ist eine neuere Entwicklung und findet sich systematisch erstmals im jüngst erschienen Ueberweg-Band Philosophie in der islamischen Welt, Band 4: 19.-20. Jahrhundert (von Kügelgen, Hg., 2021). Im Umfeld der Arbeit am  „Ueberweg“ sind mehrere Initiativen entstanden, die den Fokus auf moderne und zeitgenössische Philosophie hervorheben und proaktiv auch den Austausch mit Fachphilosoph:innen suchen. Neben der Publikationsreihe Philosophie in der nahöstlichen Moderne (De Gruyter) gehört dazu das von Roman Seidel  und Kata Moser initiierte DFG-Netzwerk „Philosophie in der islamischen Welt der Moderne“. Es unternimmt eine übergeordnete Reflexion des Forschungsfeldes, ein strategisches Abstecken seiner Grenzen sowie die vorläufige Kartographie seiner prägnanten Themen und Texte mit dem Ziel, das Feld in  Forschung und Lehre nachhaltig zu vernetzen und strukturell weiterzuentwickeln. In diesem Panel präsentieren und problematisieren Mitglieder dieses Netzwerks Aspekte des aktuellen Diskussionsstandes und zeigen künftige Fragehorizonte auf. Der Beitrag von Roman Seidel „Asymmetrien überwinden.  Philosophie in der islamischen Welt der Moderne im akademischen Feld“ stellt ausgewählte Initiativen und Forschungsperspektiven aus dem Kontext des Netzwerkes vor und diskutiert einige epistemische, methodologische und strukturelle Hindernisse, die es zu überwinden gilt. Kata Mosers Beitrag „Von  Philosophiebegriffen und deren Implikationen“ diskutiert die Verortung des Forschungsfeldes im Kontext philosophischer Metadiskurse über Konzepte von Philosophie, die über den „eigenen“ Horizont hinaus blicken, thematisiert die darin enthaltenen impliziten Annahmen und lotet mögliche  Lösungsvorschläge für das Forschungsfeld aus. Carool Kersten diskutiert in seinem Beitrag „McCutcheon’s Taxonomy and the Study of Philosophy in the Contemporary Muslim World“ die möglichen Konsequenzen von McCutcheons Unterscheidung von Religionswissenschaftler: innen als „theologians“,  „phenomenologists“ und „critics-not-caretakers“ hinsichtlich philosophischer Forschung als Teilbereich der Islamwissenschaft. Nils Riecken geht in seinem Vortrag „Philosophie, islamische Tradition und das moderne Politische: Politik der Historizität und Dekolonisierung” von der Hypothese aus, dass das  Politische als eine Zone grundlegenden Konflikts für arabisches philosophisches Denken in der Epoche des Kolonialismus und der Dekolonisierung elementar ist. Dabei diskutiert er, wie als säkular und religiös identifizierte Konzeptionen des Politischen unterschiedliche Formen von Historizität (der  kontingenten Verbindung von Vergangenheiten, Gegenwarten, Zukünften) repräsentieren. Diese und weitere Beiträge dieses Panels loten zudem die systematische Einbindung der Philosophie in der islamischen Welt der Moderne in aktuelle sowie zu schaffende Forschungs- und Lehrkontexte aus. 

Panelorganisation: Kata Moser und Roman Seidel

Gelehrte der Vormoderne zwischen Physik und Meta-Physik/Pre-modern Scholars between Physics and Meta-Physics

Viele Gelehrte in den vom Islam geprägten Gesellschaften der Vormoderne waren in einem breiten Spektrum wissenschaftlicher Disziplinen bewandert. Schaut man sich beispielsweise die Schriften von Yaʿqūb b. Isḥāq al‐Kindī, Abū Raiḥān al‐Bīrūnī oder Naṣīr ad‐Dīn aṭ‐Ṭūsī an, wird dies sehr schnell deutlich,  verweben sich darin doch Themen aus den Bereichen Physik und Meta‐Physik zu einer Einheit. In der neueren Forschung bleibt die Bearbeitung dieser Texte meist Spezialisten vorbehalten, so dass das Gesamtwerk einzelner Gelehrter aus dem Blick zu geraten droht. An diesem Punkt setzt dieses Panel an. Aus  dem Bedürfnis heraus, interdisziplinären Austausch über die Spezialisierungsgrenzen hinaus zu ermöglichen, will es der Frage nachgehen, wie sich diese Gelehrten jenseits der modernen Aufteilung der Wissenswelt ‐ etwa in „Naturwissenschaften“ und „Geisteswissenschaften“ ‐ bewegt haben. Dazu werden die  jeweiligen Gelehrten und ihr Gesamtwerk aus einer transdisziplinären Perspektive präsentiert und durch die anschließende Diskussion weitere Sichtweisen ergänzt. Zentrale Fragestellungen sind dabei: Wie wurden die Autoren von ihren Zeitgenossen in der biographischen bzw. bibliographischen Literatur  eingeordnet, wie bezeichneten sie sich selbst? Gibt es inhaltliche Überschneidungen zwischen Werken desselben Autors, die heute jedoch aus der Perspektive unterschiedlicher Disziplinen bearbeitet werden? Läßt sich ein über den reinen Inhalt hinausgehender roter Faden/gemeinsamer Nenner erkennen?  Verbindet die einzelnen Schriften beispielsweise ein grundlegendes Interesse? Oder antworten sie auf verwandte Fragen? Sind sogar analytische Mechanismen oder begriffliche Übereinstimmungen und Entwicklungen zu finden, die große Teile des jeweiligen Oeuvres verbinden? Insbesondere soll im Fokus  stehen, wie das Gesamtwerk dieser Gelehrten durch ihren historisch‐biographischen Hintergrund kontextualisiert werden kann, inwieweit die verschiedenen Wissensgebiete eines einzelnen Autors sich auch in terminologischer Hinsicht gegenseitig befruchtet haben und welche Rückschlüsse daraus für unseren  heutigen wissenschaftlichen Umgang mit ihnen gezogen werden können. 

Panel-Abstract (english)

Pre‐modern scholars in Islamicate societies were versed in a wide range of scientific disciplines, as the writings of Yaʿqūb b. Isḥāq al‐Kindī, Abū Raiḥān al‐Bīrūnī, or Naṣīr ad‐Dīn al‐ Ṭūsī demonstrate. They interweave topics belonging to the fields of physics and meta‐physics. In recent research, the investigation  of these texts is usually reserved for specialists. The individual scholars‘ oeuvre is under threat to be lost from view. This is the starting point for this panel. Out of the need to facilitate interdisciplinary exchange beyond the boundaries of specialization, it will explore the question of how these  scholars acted beyond the modern division of the world of knowledge ‐ into „natural sciences“ and „humanities,“ for example. To this end, the respective scholars and their oeuvre will be presented from a transdisciplinary perspective and complemented by further perspectives through the ensuing discussion.  Central questions will be: How were these authors classified by their contemporaries in the biographical or bibliographical literature? How did they describe themselves? Are there overlaps in content between works of the same author, which are, however, today treated from the perspective of different  disciplines? Can a common thread/denominator be discerned that goes beyond pure content? For example, do the individual writings share a common interest? Or do they respond to related questions? Are there even analytical mechanisms or conceptual similarities to be found that connect large parts of the  respective oeuvre? In particular, the focus will be on how the entire work of these scholars can be contextualized by their historical and biographical background. To what extent have the different fields of knowledge of a single author mutually stimulated each other, also in terminological terms? What  conclusions can be drawn from this for our contemporary scholarly approach to these scholars? 

Panelorganisation: Berenike Metzler und Petra G. Schmidl

Revisiting Arab formations of the secular and secularism

Islam and the secular figure centrally in current theoretical and socio-political debates. The association of secularism with the “Judeo-Christian heritage” and the claim that both are key features of ‘Western’ modern history implicitly identifies the Arab-Islamic tradition as the antithesis of the secular. It is often  ignored that in all Arab regions, in the context of modernisation and (post)colonialism, burning socio-political debates about secularism and the definition of the secular and the religious have long been taking place. Slogans such as “Islam is the solution” (Al-islām huwa al-ḥall), “Islam is state and religion” (Al-  islām dīn wa daula) or “Secularism is the solution” (Al-ʿalmāniyya huwa al-ḥall), illustrate this clearly. The Arabic conceptual history of secularism, which goes back to the 19th century and which developed from translations for secularism and laicité (al- ʿilmāniyya, al-ʿalmāniyya, al-lāʾikiyya) but also from  coinages of existing Arabic words (al-madaniyya, ad-dahriyya), demonstrates that modern ideas of the secular form a central part of Arabic discourses on society, statehood, politics and Islam. The contributions to this panel argue for revisiting Arab formations of the secular and secularism. The aim is neither to  read this formation as a result of Western influences, nor to blur historical differences between Islam and Western modernity by defining secularity as universal, nor to assume a singular Arab-Islamic secular. Instead, the Arabic concepts of secularism/secularity/the secular are to be analysed in their complex interweavings of Western modernity, the (after)effects of the colonial and Arab-Islamic traditions. 

Panelorganisation: Nils Riecken und Kata Moser 

On the Naturelessness of Nature, the Reality of Anti-Realism, and the Ironies of Realization: A Study of Sanlun 三論 Buddhist Philosophy

This panel seeks to advance the study of Chinese Buddhist philosophy, and particularly that of the Chinese Madhyamaka / Sanlun (三論) or Three Treatise school. Deliberately wide-ranging in scope both topically and temporally, the panel addresses several important developments of Buddhist philosophy in China, and thereby also works toward redressing the outstanding disciplinary imbalance between relatively unstudied Chinese and far more widely known Indo-Tibetan authors and texts in relevant scholarship.

The panel begins with two papers elucidating two among the Sanlun school’s three core treatises. While the first focusses on the Twelve Gates Treatise (十二門論), a text traditionally – though problematically – attributed to the Madhyamaka founder Nāgārjuna (龍樹 c. 150-250) and extant only in the Chinese translation by Kumārajīva (鳩摩羅什 344-413), the second explores how one of the most influential figures in contemporary East Asian Buddhism, Yin Shun (印順 1906-2005), understands Nāgārjuna’s Middle Treatise (中論). The panel then turns its attention to the single most prominent exponent of classical Sanlun philosophy: Jizang (吉藏 549-623). One paper is devoted to the catuṣkoṭi or tetralemma, a form of argumentation which, it is claimed, Jizang interpreted in dialectical terms as both constituting and deconstructing conceptualization. Finally, two papers study Jizang’s anti-metaphysical stance, be it in terms of a semantic non-dualist account of the doctrine of the two truths (conventional and ultimate), or through an anti-realist reading of Jizang’s deliberately ironic account of Buddha-nature.

Panelorganisation: Rafal K. Stepien (Assistant Professor in Comparative Religion, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore)

Politik, Geschichte, Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft im Nahen Osten
Modern Iraqi history re-considered

20 years after the US invasion and the fall of the Ba’thist regime, this panel examines ruptures and continuities in recent Iraqi history as well as in academic kowledge production on Iraq. It takes stock of developments in the country after 2003: what is different today as compared to earlier periods since the inception of the Iraqi nation state, what long running historical trends remained the same? At the same time, scholarship on Iraq has evolved greatly over the last two decades due to the increasing accessibility of the country and its connection to the world as well as due to the emergence of formerly inaccessible sources. New approaches to long running research themes and a new generation of scholars have broadened the field of research on Iraq. The panel therefore also examines trends in recent scholarship on Iraq and prespectives for future research concerning economic, social, cultural and political questions.

Chair: Eckart Woertz (GIGA/University of Hamburg)

AUTHORITARIAN POWER: Energy systems & scales of authoritarianism in the MENA region

“Authoritarian power” typically refers to a political relationship, defined by univocality and subordination of difference to a central authority or vision. Alongside the standard political significance, this panel explores another meaning of power: energy systems themselves. Uniting the two meanings, we investigate how authoritarianism cuts across space, time, and scale in the energy landscapes of the MENA region. Much of the recent academic scholarship and media accounts of “post-oil” energy transitions has celebrated the democratic potential of renewable energy systems, especially in the Euromerican West. But just like those liberal democratic contexts, many countries of the Middle East and Northern Africa have touted top-down, mega-projects as the best “solution” to quickly reimagine their energy systems – and meanwhile entrench authoritarian relationships at diverse scales and social sectors. Accordingly, this panel rejects the fallacies of energy determinism that inflect much of the literature on the energy-politics nexus to instead investigate the multiplicity of authoritarian practices that are taking shape in the MENA region, as its power grids and power economies are increasingly reconfigured in light of the world’s shifting climate geopolitics. Including case studies from many different scales, regions, places, and time periods, the panel unites scholars working on energy systems and authoritarianism to showcase how studying the MENA region’s energy landscape can open up new perspectives on authoritarian power that move beyond the “territorial trap” of statist thinking about authoritarianism.


Dr. Natalie Koch (Syracuse University)

Dr. Benjamin Schuetze, FRIAS & Arnold-Bergstraesser-Institute (ABI)

Narratives of violence and repression (I): Official stories and the legitimisation of repression

Political violence has been a concomitant feature of the processes of mobilization and social transformation in West Asia and North Africa (WANA). WANA states routinely employ repression to contain challenges to their authoritarian rule. Especially since the Arab uprisings the extent and scope of state violence have increased dramatically and targeted domestic and diaspora populations alike. Accordingly, authorities as the main producers of violence have also faced an unprecedented need to communicate their rationales for repression to their constituents. Their official communication varyingly justifies, denies, or diverts from state violence. These narratives on repression all intend to shape the way how citizens and observers think of and feel about state violence. For this purpose, official stories have drawn on a variety of legitimizing sources, including religion and nationalism. Wherever these narratives were successful, they have not only reduced repression costs and alleviated potential backlash effects, but they have also generated significant support for repressive actors and policies on the domestic or international level.

As one of two twin panels, this session adopts a top-down perspective on the narratives by which repression and violence are legitimized, justified and negotiated in WANA today. Rather than considering states as monolithic actors, it focuses on a variety of different knowledge construction processes about repression and violence at the meso- and micro-levels, including court trials and legislation, public discourses pertaining to identity questions, and transitional justice mechanisms.


Dr. Jannis Grimm (Freie Universität Berlin)

Dr. Maria Josua (GIGA Hamburg)

Dr. André Bank (GIGA Hamburg)

Narratives of violence and repression (II): Violent experiences and bottom-up politics

Political violence has been a concomitant feature of social transformation processes in West Asia and North Africa. Albeit not an integral part of contentious politics, armed conflict and repression often emerged from initially peaceful collective action. Accounts of the 2011 revolutions and more recent uprisings in the region echo conflict scholars who have highlighted the link between repression and oppositional violence and their relation to affective interactions on the micro-level. At the same time, both during and after the Arab uprisings, violent experiences from physical abuses at the hands of police forces to the suffering from structural violence and state neglect functioned as drivers of resistance themselves. Violence and repression have thus assumed a double role as both causes and consequences of contentious dynamics. Equally ambiguous is their socio-political and cultural impact. Embedded into resonant stories that traveled across borders and social strata, violent experiences have varyingly informed or constrained new contestation processes. Up to date, narratives about violence and repression continue to shape the conditions of possibility for mobilization processes and political demands across the region. This panel interrogates these different roles and functions of violence narratives for bottom-up politics in the WANA region today. By adopting a fine-grained perspective on violence and repression as multidimensional and culturally mediated phenomena, the panel transcends the binary view of violence as either a driver or an outcome and supports an orientation towards the narratives by which civic actors make sense of violent experiences – as motives for mobilization, markers of identity, or sources of civic empowerment.

Chairs: Dr. Jannis Grimm (Freie Universität Berlin)

Dr. Maria Josua (GIGA Hamburg)

„Oman: Soziale Dynamiken und gebaute Umwelt – Praktiken und Materialität seit 1970“

Nach tiefgreifenden Entwicklungs- und Modernisierungsprozessen während der sogenannten Nahda („Renaissance“)-Ära unter der Herrschaft von Sultan Qaboos (1970-2020) steht das Sultanat Oman in der dritten Dekade des 21. Jahrhunderts, nach dem Amtsantritt von Sultan Haitham bin Tarik – wie zu Beginn der Regierungszeit von Sultan Qaboos – erneut vor komplexen wirtschaftlichen, sozialen und demographischen Herausforderungen. Dazu gehören insbesondere niedrige Ölpreise, und mangelnde Diversifizierung der Wirtschaft, Jugendarbeitslosigkeit, hohe Staatsausgaben aufgrund aufgeblähter Administration, sowie die unkoordinierte Zersiedlung, unter anderem durch das gesetzlich verankerte Recht eines jeden omanischen Bürgers auf Zuteilung eines Baugrundstücks. Zur Bewältigung dieser und weiterer Herausforderungen wurde jüngst die Vision 2040 und die Oman National Spatial Strategy (ONSS) mit entsprechenden Szenarien und Lösungsstrategien erarbeitet, bei denen nicht nur Siedlungsstrukturen und Raumplanung, sondern auch Fragen nach Staatsbürgerschaft, Identität und nationalem Kulturerbe von hervorragender Bedeutung sind.

Vor dem Hintergrund dieser Transformationsprozesse und Gestaltungsvisionen fragt das von uns vorgeschlagene multidisziplinäre Panel nach sich wandelnden sozialen Strukturen und Praktiken im Hinblick auf die gebaute Umwelt von den im Verlauf der Nahda allmählich aufgegebenen Siedlungsquartieren in Lehmziegelbauweise, den wehrhaften, tribal geprägten und dicht bebauten harat, hin zur modernen Bebauung außerhalb der alten Stadtkerne. Das Panel vereint Perspektiven u.a. aus Archäologie, Bauforschung, Ethnologie und Geschichtswissenschaft, um ein möglichst vielseitiges und historisch tiefenscharfes Bild des Wandels der alten Siedlungszentren des Sultanats zu zeichnen. Die übergreifende Fragestellung aller Beiträge gilt der methodischen Frage, inwieweit Daten zu sozialen Dynamiken und zur gebauten Umwelt wechselseitig zum Verständnis der Transformationsprozesse beitragen können.

Panel organiser: Prof. Dr. Johann Büssow (Seminar für Orientalistik und Islamwissenschaft, Ruhr-Universität Bochum)

Refugees, labour and self-reliance strategies in the Middle East- continuities and change

Protracted Syrian displacement to Syria’s neighbouring states, and other states in the MENA region, since the beginning of the Syrian conflict has led to large-scale rethinking of strategies of governing refugees in the region. Recent years have witnessed major restructuring regarding types of assistance provided to refugees and host communities, as well as an increasing expectation for refugees to stop relying on recurrent assistance as soon as possible and become ‘self-reliant’. These forms of resilience humanitarianism (Hilhorst 2018) have not only had profound effects on Syrians in other states in the region, but also on other refugees, labour migrants and host populations in hosting countries. Yet despite superficial government commitments to promoting refugee self-reliance, actual policy changes have often been limited or ambivalent, and refugee labour has continued to be precarious, albeit under different conditions. In other countries in the region, economic crisis, changes of government or other political events have been more consequential to (Syrian) refugees’ changing status and livelihood strategies than interventions in the name of the humanitarian-development nexus. Presentations in this panel review changes and continuities in refugee governance as well as in lived experiences among particular groups of refugees, focusing on Syrian refugees and other populations they live and work with. It does to by focusing on specific sectors or programs, and by giving special consideration to gender and age, as well as the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.  

Chair: Katharina Lenner (University of Bath)

Making Sense of Climate Change – Models, Cosmologies and Practices from North Africa and the Middle East

Organiser: Katharina Lange

Cholera in the 19th-Century Middle East: Contagion, Public Health, and Subject Formation

Cholera emerged as an epidemic threat in the nineteenth century, spreading worldwide along new transportation networks and causing six pandemics. This panel explores how the disease shaped the the Middle East and its people during this era using archival materials, including maps, periodicals, correspondence, court records, and reports. Some of the questions addressed include: What were the effects of cholera control and prevention on state-society and inter-imperial relations in the Middle East? How did medico-scientific knowledge incorporate Orientalist and colonial discourses and, in turn, inform regulations and policies? What was the region’s role in the emergence of a global public health regime in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries? How did new public health and hygiene regimes shape the social order of the modern Middle East? Scholars including Khaled Fahmy, Sherry Sayed Gadelrab, Michael Christopher Low, Nükhet Varlik,Francesca Biancani, La Verne Kuhnke, David Arnold, and Birsen Bulmuş have demonstrated the significant power of histories of medicine, disease, and public health to locate and narrate the experiences of non-elites. With this literature in mind, this panel addresses its questions „from below.“ The panelists‘ contributions center the experiences of Shi’i mourners in Ottoman Iraq, laborers along the Anatolian railroad, students at al-Azhar, and Cairo’s laboring poor amid various nineteenth-century cholera outbreaks. The panelists also seek to explore the links between these case studies, comparing the experiences and effects of cholera and its control and prevention across the region to reveal similarities and differences and raise new questions for further research.

Panel Organizer: Marianne Dhenin 

The After-Life of War

Conventionally, the end of large-scale armed violence has legally and politically denoted the end of war. However, recent scholarship on the complex and contested nature of war-to-peace transitions has shown that regardless of levels of violence, pre-war and wartime dynamics continue to manifest in the aftermath of armed conflict. This panel looks at these contested dynamics from three angles: citizenship rights, transitional justice and questions of legality and belonging. All three presentations show that the after-life of war is neither simple nor straight-forward and that many of the drivers of conflict live on, not as ghosts but as concrete manifestations of dispossession and disenfranchisement.

Panel discussant: Bart Klem (Gothenburg University)

Crossed Memories and Ambiguous Regimes of Historicity: Debating the Public Use of History

Historians, writers, and intellectuals belonging to former colonial countries and those of now independent countries are often led, either directly or unwillingly, to study the reconstruction of identity, the cross-fertilisation or the wounds of memories resulting from the colonial era and its echoes in different strata of successive presents. The political, intellectual, and ideological stakes often weigh on a common but divergent heritage and carry contradictory representations and horizons of expectations. This panel proposes to examine these questions from three complementary angles, corresponding to scientific fields that are currently being explored by researchers: the crossed history of memories, studies on the public uses of history and the connections between history and the present through the concept of regimes of historicity. Among the themes that panel participants might wish to address are the following:

  • The narratives and memories of colonisation between suffering, appeasement, instrumentalization and persistent ambiguities.
  • The manifestations in successive presents of the notion of colonial heritage: between history and representations.
  • The impact between public, ideological, political, and societal expectations of rereading and interpreting the past and historians‘ research practices.
  • The difficult distinction between reflections on memory and the practice of historical research.

Panel chairs:

Prof. Dr. Ulrike Freitag (FU-Berlin / Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient)

Prof. Dr. Habib Kazdaghli (Université de la Manouba, Laboratoire de recherches sur le Patrimoine, Tunis)

Dr. PD habil. Nora Lafi (Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient)

Elusive Peace. Current Israeli-Palestinian Dynamics and Trends

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been downgraded on the list of priorities of international and regional actors. Some Arab countries have started to normalize their relations with Israel even though the conditions formulated in the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative have not been met. Peace seems to be ever more elusive: The Israeli government of change that replaced a series of Netanyahu-led governments (2009-2021) has adopted an approach aimed at improving living conditions in the Palestinian territories through limited measures of cooperation. At the same time, it has accelerated settlement construction and increased its facto control in the occupied territories. The Palestinian leadership has remained divided ever since 2007, giving birth to separate areas of governance in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and competing approaches to cooperation with and resistance to the occupation authorities. The Palestinian Authority (PA) has lost legitimacy and governed in an ever more authoritarian fashion. The two leaderships have been either unwilling or unable to engage in peace talks. The PA has increasingly pursued alternatives to negotiations. At the same time, Israel has advanced de facto annexation, making a two state settlement or any negotiated solution ever more unlikely.

This panel investigates current dynamics and discourses within Israel and Palestine as well as their implications for peace making, conflict transformation and Palestinian state-building and governance.

Panel Chairs:

Dr. Muriel Asseburg

Dr. Peter Lintl

Religion, heritage and the ‘post-secular age’: Insights from Asia and the Middle East

Scholars in the fields of religious studies and heritage studies have extensively shown that heritage and religion respectively are crucial identity makers and markers. As distinct systems of adherence they appear to be always potentially in conflict. However, as Birgit Meyer and Marleen de Witte have formulated, heritage and religion are as well similar constituents of identity. Heritage-making resembles a kind of sacralization, because it selects ‘fragments of culture’ and places them beyond the ordinary (Bendix). Like religious objects or sites, then, heritage ‘things’ are made to stand as icons of nations or minority communities: they signal in the present and bequeath to the future specific crafted historical narratives. Numerous examples pertaining to the sphere of heritage formation in national(ist) contexts testify to this similarity (museums as “secular temples”; Atatürk’s Mausoleum, etc.). This panel, however, takes the discussion a step further by raising critical questions about the similarities and frictions between heritage and religion in/and the so-called ‘post-secular age’. What do the interactions of the two tell us about the ‘post-secular’ (as analytical category and/or the apparent reemergence of religion in our times)? The panel gathers material from Asia and the Middle East in an attempt to widen the discussion beyond Europe and primarily will discuss:

  • ways in which religious actors in these regions negotiate the significance of religious heritage within and beyond diverse (post) secular frameworks; and
  • the extent to which, from these regions, the religious transforms and/or inform (post) secular heritage discourses and vice versa.

Panel organisers:

Dr. Rebecca Sauer

Dr. Vera Lazzaretti

“Branding Products, Persons and Places in, from and through the Middle East and North Africa”

The panel investigates branding in the Middle East and North Africa, including the wider Islamicate world. While branding in the Western world and many emerging economies has been meticulously analysed, comprehensive investigations are still missing for the MENA countries (except for some Gulf countries). The panel goes beyond simply presenting logos and slogans, instead critically analysing processes of strategic communication and image building under general conditions of globalisation, neoliberalism and postmodernity and, in a regional perspective, of increased endeavours for “worlding” and widespread authoritarian rule. In particular, it looks at actors involved in branding activities and their motives and strategies, and investigates tools and forms of branding, including the messages conveyed to the addressees. Historical case studies will supplement the focus on contemporary branding efforts.

The panel covers three major objects of branding – consumer brands, place brands and personal brands. The main focus is on place branding. Often following the example of Dubai, project sites, cities and nations are also trying to enhance their public reputation by means ranging from creating novel architecture and organising attention-drawing cultural and sport events to announcing strategic urban and national visions. “Green” and “sustainable” branding have been added to this in recent years. Ruptures and reconfigurations that repeatedly happened on the local, regional and global levels shook up established images of persons and places, but also allowed to reposition existing and to establish new brands. The papers for the panel are based on contributions to an edited volume currently in progress.

Panel Chair: Dr. habil. Steffen Wippel

New Perspectives on Graffiti in the Near East and North Africa in Ancient and Medieval Times

The increasing interest in graffiti in the past two decades has caused a significant shift of perspective, with new approaches unanimously stressing the importance of materiality and context as fundamental aspects of their interpretation. Academic events and publications have been attempting to solve the overarching issue of terminology, questioning the suitability of the term “graffiti”, originated in the Classical world and later applied ambiguously to expressions of vandalism or dissent of street writers as well as to works of celebrated urban artists, to define a wide variety of ancient and modern artefacts. But if graffiti seem to escape a universal definition, the research in the field is steadily expanding, including new areas and evidence and benefiting from interdisciplinary discourses.

The goal of this panel is therefore to bring together experts researching graffiti practices in a large array of cultures and places, to emphasise the richness and diversity of texts and images that we call “graffiti”. Being the first such event dedicated to the broad area of the Near East and North Africa, the panel will offer the opportunity for the participants to share the results and challenges of their ongoing projects, and to discuss how different scholarly traditions and modern categorisations affect the way we engage with the material. It will also have the purpose to summarise the current situation of these studies and encourage the creation of a network promoting productive exchanges on definition, theoretical approach, and methodology across disciplinary boundaries.

Panel-Leitung/Panel Chair:

Ilaria Bucci (Birkbeck College, University of London)

Marco Moriggi (Università degli Studi di Catania)

Wörteresel, Hurenarsch, Hundesohn: Maledicta und Vulgarismen in den semitischen Sprachen und Literaturen

Beschimpfungen, Herabwürdigungen und Zoten sind Teil des menschlichen Miteinanders und finden sich in allen Sprachfamilien. Das Panel behandelt Maledicta und Vulgarismen in einigen semitischen Sprachen und geht folgenden Fragen nach: Welche Schimpfwörter und Zoten gibt es in den semitischen Sprachen? Kann man sie typologisieren? Wann werden sie gebraucht, und in welchen Kontexten treten sie auf? Das Panel berücksichtigt dabei insbesondere Babylonisch-Assyrisch (Akkadisch), Neuaramäisch, Neuhebräisch und Jiddisch, Klassisch-Arabisch, Dialektarabisch und Amharisch.

Panelorganisation: Prof. Dr. Michael Waltisberg (Seminar für Sprachen und Kulturen des Vorderen Orients – Semitistik Universität Heidelberg)

Die Rezitation Heiliger Texte zwischen Notation und Performance

Die Tradition, den Text heiliger Schriften nicht zu lesen, sondern rezitiert bzw. kantilliert vorzutragen, ist sehr alt; bereits im Babylonischen Talmud (Megillah 32a) wird darauf hingewiesen, dass die Schrift nicht ohne melodische Ausführung gelesen werden darf. Dem richtigen Rezitieren kam eine so große Bedeutung zu, weil die Furcht bestand, dass durch den Akt des öffentlichen Lesens ein Text falsch verstanden oder auf unterschiedliche Art ausgelegt werden kann.

Ähnlich der Toralesung wurde auch die „Rezitation Heiliger Texte“ in der syrisch-aramäischen, samaritanischen und äthiopischen Tradition durch ein Akzentsystem geregelt. Im Koptischen zeigen nur wenige Manuskripte eine Art paläobyzantinische Notierung. In der byzantinischen Kirche entstanden – ausgehend von den prosodischen Zeichen der Spätantike – die ekphonetischen Lektionstöne und später auch die früh-, mittel- und spätbyzantinische Notation. Während die Akzentangaben sich auf den Text beziehen – die melodischen Formeln dienen nur der Verdeutlichung der Akzente – entwickelte Byzanz neue melodische Stilrichtungen, welche durch die sich weiter entwickelnde Notierung erst ermöglicht wurden. Im Orient blieb die Tradition der Rezitationsweisen konstant, da es nur eine orale Tradierung gab. Das Konzept von Grammatik und Rhetorik im Hebräischen und Syrischen und deren Verdeutlichung durch melodische Formeln wird in der Koranrezitation anhand der taǧwīd-Regeln realisiert. In dieser Sektion sollen die Notierungen und Rezitationsweisen vorgestellt werden, um Gemeinsamkeiten sowie die Rezeption und die Modifikation zwischen den Traditionen aufzuzeigen.

Panelorganisation: Ulrike-Rebekka Nieten und Stephanie Schewe

Democracy and Religious Education in Indonesia and Turkey

Panel Conveners: Dissa Julia Paputungan, Dr. Saskia Schäfer, Mutmainna Syam

Cosmopolitan Indonesia

In scholarship on Indonesian society, culture, and religion, references to cosmopolitanism feature frequently. Many human expresssions and phenomena are framed as inherently cosmopolitan and many individuals are presented as cosmopolitans. This panel questions the very liberal use of the cosmopolitan terminology in the Indonesian context and refrains from applying cosmopolitanism as a catch-all phrase and buzzword. Instead, the contributions are based in the conceptually complex literature of cosmopolitan studies. By comparatively analyzing different Indonesian case studies which showcase cosmopolitan elements, the panel’s goal is to arrive at a joint conceptual clarification of “Indonesian cosmopolitanism or “cosmopolitan Indonesia. The panel aims at defining cosmopolitanism and how it is shaped and articulated under Indonesian conditions to advance scholarly discussion in this field. The individual contributions are guided by a critical perspective and focus on the tensions between cosmopolitanism, the local, the global, nationalism, and patriotism.

convener: Amanda tho Seeth

discussant: Carool Kersten, King’s College London

Turkologie und Osmanistik
Transcultural Crossroads: Potentials, Reflections, Innovations

The focus of this panel is on culture translation and reciprocal acculturation in historical and recent dimensions. Based on predominantly Turkic-speaking or Islamic Eurasian transcultural contacts, encounter corridors and crossroads, the participants would like to shed light on theorem and concrete biography level which translations, conversions and interferences are influencing the discourses on foreignness and closeness (alterity / othering), demarcation and integration to this day. Which of the presented personalities, research fields and academic projects between Turkish Studies, Islamic Studies and History are able to work in an interdisciplinary and innovative way in the school and extracurricular educational landscape, to readjust discourses, to objectify hysterical debates?

The lectures will focus on the history of the “networking” in East Central Europe between mostly Muslim Tatars and Turkic peoples with people from East Central Europe, from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea region, from the Levant to the Caucasus. In a multi-perspective and interdisciplinary analysis of the interwoven history of Central and Eastern Europe with regard to predominantly pragmatic, non-religious motivations for dealing with and also against Islamic cultural areas, the lectures take into account the dynamic processes of mutual acculturation. These approaches are specifically illustrated by new products and best-practice examples that arose from innovatively motivated projects: multilingual GeoCaching tours, books, plays and exhibitions.

Panel organiser: Dr. Mieste Hotopp-Riecke (Institut für Caucasica-, Tatarica- und Turkestan-Studien im Zentrum für Kultur- und Kreativwirtschaft Magdeburg (ZKK))

Transfer und Mobilität von Wissen und Konzepten in Übersetzungen und Wörterbüchern der Frühen Neuzeit (15.–18. Jh.): Eine transosmanische Perspektive

Das geplante Panel behandelt in vier Fallstudien zu unterschiedlichen Genres, die alle Teil transregionaler Übersetzungs- und Übertragungsprozesse der Frühen Neuzeit (15.–18. Jh.) im Osmanischen Reich und darüber hinaus sind, den Transfer und die Mobilität von Wissen und Konzepten aus einer transosmanischen Perspektive heraus. Der thematische Schwerpunkt liegt hierbei auf der Adaption von Wissen, was von Einzelbeiträgen zu „travelling concepts“ in persisch-türkischen lexikographischen Werken (Ani Sargsyan, Hamburg) bis hin zu Übersetzungen historiographischer Werke im europäischen Kontext am Beispiel von Sebastian Tengnagels Übertragung des osmanisch-türkischen Geschichtswerkes von Cenābī (Hülya Çelik, Bochum) reicht. Weitere Beiträge analysieren mit Fokus auf innerislamische Übersetzungsprozesse die türkische Fassung der arabischen Weltchronik des al-ʿAinī (Philip Bockholt, Leipzig) sowie die Übersetzung und Rezeption eines persischen Werkes der Mystik des al-Ġazālī (Tobias Sick, Leipzig). Alle vier Beiträge beleuchten genre-spezifische Formen der Transferprozesse und ihre historischen Kontexte sowie die Rolle der als Übersetzer bzw. Autoren tätigen Akteure. Eine weitere Gemeinsamkeit stellen Handschrift(en) als Quellenbefund dar, die neben dem eigentlichen Haupttext – der Übersetzung bzw. Lemmata –, auch oft paratextuelle und materiell-kodikologische Elemente enthalten, welche eine breitere Kontextualisierung von Arbeits- oder Rezeptionsprozessen und der Leserschaft erlauben. Für die Analyse spielt daneben auch die intertextuelle Dimension des jeweiligen Fallbeispiels sowohl in Relation zu anderen Werken desselben Genres als auch zu anderen Übersetzungen eine Rolle.

Panel organiser: Philip Bockholt (Leipzig)

Schriftsteller, Historiker, Nationalist. Eine kritische Analyse von Rıza Nurs (1879-1942) Leben und Schaffen im Licht seiner unveröffentlichten Werke

Das vorgeschlagene Panel bietet eine kritische Auseinandersetzung mit dem Leben und dem literarischen sowie populärwissenschaftlichen Schaffen von Rıza Nur, einer prominenten wie kontroversen Figur der spätosmanischen und frührepublikanischen Ära. Rıza Nur war ursprünglich Militärarzt, der nach der Wahl zum jüngsten Abgeordneten des osmanischen Parlaments (1908) seine Karriere als Chirurg und Professor für Medizin aufgab. Ob als führender Jungtürke oder passionierter Nationalist, der die kemalistische Gegenregierung (1919-1922) maßgeblich mitprägte, fand er sich nach einiger Zeit immer wieder in oppositionellen Reihen, was ihn zwischen 1910 und 1923 neben einem Gefängnisaufenthalt immer wieder ins Exil (Ägypten, Schweiz, Frankreich) zwang. Er kehrte erst nach dem Tod Mustafa Kemal Atatürks 1938 endgültig in die Türkei zurück.

Seine kontroversen, z.T. extrem ethno-nationalistischen Ansichten, seine politische Tätigkeit, sein buntes und abenteuerliches Leben machen Rıza Nur zu einer unübersehbaren und höchst umstrittenen Figur der Umbruchzeit. Seine erstmals 1967 publizierten und wegen der darin formulierten harschen Angriffe gegen Atatürk und Ismet Inönü recht bald verbotenen und stark zensierten Memoiren prägten die Auseinandersetzung mit ihm über Jahrzehnte und ließen seine unzähligen anderen Schriften, von denen viele bis heute unveröffentlicht geblieben sind, aus dem Blick geraten. Das Panel führt historische und literaturwissenschaftliche Ansätze zusammen, mit dem Ziel, die vielen biographischen, z.T. stark tendenziellen (Tütengil, Dündar, Avşar, Özakman) Abrisse seines Lebens und Schaffens um neue Facetten zu ergänzen. Der Schwerpunkt des Panels liegt auf der Auswertung der bisher von Wissenschaftlern außer Acht gelassenen Manuskripte Rıza Nurs, die in der Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin liegen. Diese beinhalten neben einem umfangreichen Roman, einer Sammlung von Rıza Nurs Briefen und Gedichten auch eine Geschichte der Armenier.

Panel organiser: Univ.-Prof. Dr. Petr Kucera (Institut für Slavistik, Turkologie und zirkumbaltische Studien)

The dynamics and limits of nature and its knowledge in the Ottoman Empire

Although there is by now a critical mass of studies in the history of Ottoman science, there is still some way to go if we want to explore the world of Ottoman knowledge: by this one may mean the horizons and limits of what is considered to be knowable and the means to grasp and explain it. To map this world, we have to include beliefs and techniques pertaining to supernatural forces, as well as phenomena that are considered inexplicable for the human mind. Moreover, as there is no single „Ottoman“ worldview, these limits, beliefs and techniques were developing through time and constituted a field of competition for different social or cultural groups. This panel will try to analyze some aspects of these dynamics and explore the shifting concepts related to nature and the supernatural.

Marinos Sariyannis‘ paper aims to investigate the social context of Ottoman esotericism, trying to configure different threads of thought and to identify them with conflicting views of the world in terms of social history. Feray Coşkun will explore marvels and wonders in Ottoman cosmographies, analyzing the emotions connected with them as well as their theological or moralist content. Işık Demirakın’s paper focuses in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, a time of transition where terms connected with nature and the supernatural were redefined and reconfigured in a process with strong political overtones. Finally, Zeynep Aydoğan will examine the genre of saints‘ biographies and the descriptions of their miracles, in order to seek the meaning of sainthood and its dynamics in a fluid cultural environment.

Panel organizer: Marinos Sariyannis

Languages in Turkey: Sociolinguistic Perspectives

In Art. 3 of the 1982 Constitution of the Republic of Turkey (Türkiye Cumhuriyeti Anayasası), the Turkish language is defined as the sole language of the state. In practice, Turkish is the dominant language in formal public domains, as for instance in administration, education system and public affairs. However, the Republic of Turkey (as well as its predecessor, the Ottoman Empire) has always been a state in which several different languages have been present in (more or less peaceful) co-existence, at least in more informal social domains. Despite this, sociolinguistic research, whether on Turkish or one of the other languages spoken in Turkey today, is still rather scarce, with two special issues of the International Journal of the Sociology of Language as an exception, cf. IJSL 165 (2004) and IJSL 217 (2012), as well as some of the chapters in an edited volume published in 2018 (Christiane Bulut: Linguistic Minorities in Turkey and Turkic-Speaking Minorities of the Periphery. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz 2018) and an up-coming edited volume (Ruth Bartholomä & Jens Peter Laut: The Turkish Language Reform and Beyond: A Never-Ending Story?, Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz 2021). The sociolinguistic perspective allows a closer look at the role of language in the Turkish nation building process, as well as in the formation of social and ethnic groups, and it allows to tear apart language ideology from linguistic practice.

This panel aims at bringing together scholars with on-going sociolinguistic research projects on the language situation in Turkey, and this includes research on Turkish as well as on other languages. Contributions employ different theoretical and methodological approaches like considerations on the status of the non-Turkish languages from different perspectives as well as research on language policy and planning, linguistic ideologies and linguistic landscapes in Istanbul.

Panel organisers:

Dr. Ruth Bartholomä (Orient-Institut Istanbul)

Prof. Dr. Christoph Schroeder (Universität Potsdam)

Different Forms of Dependency and Enslavement in Ottoman Empire

This panel explores different forms of enslavement in the Ottoman Empire and contributes to the contextualization of Ottoman slavery studies. Slavery in Ottoman Empire was a long-standing, established, and profound institution. Different forms of slavery had been institutionalized during the 600 years of the empire. The most common one being the military slavery and the most known one being the Harem system where domestic slaves and concubines were employed; slavery itself has played vital importance in the Ottoman Society. While the studies that deal with slavery in Ottoman society have proliferated in recent years, studies that contextualize Ottoman slavery in a broader sense are still missing. Neither commonalities nor dissimilarities within the empire are thoroughly studied. This panel offers a contextual commonality perspective in Ottoman slavery studies, through which further analyzes can be made. The panelists take strong asymmetrical dependency as a common ground. By contextualizing slavery as a form of strong asymmetrical dependency, the authors focus on the agency and mobility of the slaves of the Ottoman Empire from different centuries and regions. The panel will gather three different cases of enslavement in Ottoman lands. Allahverdiyeva looks at the agency of the slaves in eighteenth-century Crimean Khanate. Bayraktaroglu focuses on the history of enslaved children in nineteenth-century elite households, while Gokce explores representations of Ottoman slavery in nineteenth-century western sources.

Panel organiser: Zeynep Gökçe

The Outreach of Divan Poetry: The Socio-Political Dimension of Divan Poetry

Was Divan poetry mere L’art pour l’art, as has often been argued? Extensive work has been realised by focusing on the addressees of lyrical texts. However, as our panel will demonstrate, this approach must be combined with an exploration of the Divan’s larger socio-political context as well as a consideration of  the influence of Divan poetry over time. The following presentations explore two modern poem collections and a premodern divan from the sixteenth and nineteenth century. Taking our cue from the addressees of various poems, our analyses go further by including social and political perspectives and by  revealing the recipients. While printing was perceived as a means to reach a global public over time, it is generally assumed that hand-written manuscripts had a limited outreach. However, the exploration of the recipients of Sultan Süleyman’s divan presented by Christiane Czygan shows that ruler manuscripts  were acquired as prestigious items, handed down from generation to generation, and recited over time by large parts of the Ottoman society. Nevertheless, as Christoph K. Neumann, will show, the first print production extended the reach of the texts and, in effect, transformed them into public pieces. This  transformation should not be understood simplisticly, however. As Micahel R. Heß demonstrates, printing may have afforded the opportunity for public display, but it also facilitated the possibility of concealment. 

Panel organiser: Christiane Czygan (University of Bonn)

Menschen und Mobilität in den transosmanischen Räumen / Human Mobility in Transottoman Spaces

Mit der Bezeichnung “transosmanische Räume” definieren wir grenzübergreifende Räume, gebildet aus frühneuzeitlichen Großregionen von Imperien und Herrschaftsverbänden, die nominell über klarumrissene Grenzen verfügten. Von dieser Definition ausgehend bietet eine Analyse von Mobilitätsdynamiken wertvolle Zugänge zur Rekonstruktion von Herrschafts- und Gesellschaftsstrukturen. In dem Mittelpunkt stellen wir dabei die Mobilität von Menschen.

Menschliche Mobilität in transosmanischen Räumen war nicht eingeschränkt; in den Quellen begegnet uns vielmehr eine Vielzahl von verschiedenen sozial-, ökonomisch-, militärisch- oder politischen Gruppen wie Reisende, Diplomaten, Kriegsgefangene, Migranten, Militärpersonal und Kaufleute. Welche Dynamiken standen hinter diesen Mobilitäten?  Welche politische bzw. militärische Verflechtungen sind zu beobachten? Kamen während oder am Ende dieser Mobilitäten schriftliche Selbstzeugnisse zustande? Welche Mobilitätsdynamiken bestanden in solchen Strukturen, wie wurden sie mit den Autoritäten ausgehandelt?    In diesem Panel stehen soziale und räumliche Mobilität (Handlungs- sowie Kommunikationsräume) dieser Akteure im Vordergrund, wobei ihre Netzwerke (alte und neue) sowie verschiedene Mobilitätsformen (individuell, in Gruppen, massenhaft) diskutiert werden. Die Fallstudien zur grenzübergreifenden Mobilität in diesem Panel sind z. T. Forschungsprojekte, die im DFG-Schwerpunktprogramm“Transottomanica-Osteuropäisch-osmanisch-persische Mobilitätsdynamiken” angesiedelt sind. 

Panel organisers:

Dr. Gül Şen (Islamwissenschaft und Nahostsprachen, Universität Bonn)

Prof. Dr. Stefan Rohdewald (Ost- und Südosteuropäische Geschichte, Universität Leipzig)

Tocharian Language and Buddhist Literature of the Tarim Basin

The panel proposed here is aimed at presenting new research into the philology of the ancient languages of the Tarim Basin at the time of the old Silk Road with a special focus on Tocharian and Buddhist literature. The Tarim Basin, located at the precise intersection of the broad spheres of influence of the Indian, Iranian, and Chinese traditions was—and still is—a linguistic melting pot in which dozens of languages have come into contact, and this dialogue was particularly intense during the first millennium CE when the continental trade network of the Silk Road was in full force and Buddhism spread along a north-south and west-east axis. Yet, since the monuments of many of these languages were discovered through archeological research barely a century ago, philological work is still an ineluctable step towards broader historical inquiry. The panel we propose here deals with the philological and linguistic investigation of languages spoken in the area at that time with their literary lore couched in Buddhist traditions, especially, but not exclusively, the two Tocharian languages. The panel would provide a rare opportunity for specialists in this area to meet and share ideas.

Panel organisers:

Prof. Olav Hackstein (University of Munich)

Prof. Hannes A. Fellner (University of Vienna)

Prof. Michaël Peyrot (Leiden University)

Printing Knowledge, Circulating Ideas: Making Modernities in Early 20th-Century Newspapers from Central Asia

In the second half of the nineteenth century, the Russian conquest of Central Asia and the creation of the general-governate of Russian Turkestan accelerated the technological, political and economic transformation processes. Printed newspapers in a local language of Central Asia and Arabic script first appeared in 1870 with a monthly supplement to the Russian language Turkestanskie Vedomosti (Turkestan News) published by the general-governorship of Russian Turkestan. Private vernacular newspapers established by Central Asian intellectuals surfaced around 1906. Small in print run and short-lived, they nevertheless heavily influenced intellectual thought and debates of the “reading classes” of their time, each issue attracting many more readers than buyers. They were virtual discussion rooms for probing into possible futures and critical topics of Central Asia like identity and (multiple) modernities under colonial rule, language and cultural heritage. At the same time, they acted as reverberation chambers for thoughts and debates originating elsewhere, be it in the Ottoman, Russian or British Empires, Europe or beyond. Among the writers of these print media were pivotal figures of the Central Asian reform movement. By opening up new spaces for public debate that went beyond face-to-face circles, especially by introducing letters to the editors as a venue for expression of opinion, the newspapers had a decisive role in shaping intellectual thought about societal and political reforms, (national) identity, culture, modernity, the state of religion, and many other contentious topics of their time. On the basis of a close reading of these newspapers, this panel asks whether there was a shared sense of what modernity, progress, identity and cultural heritage were? How were the newspapers, their editors and authors connected within and beyond Central Asia? Who reads and cites whom? How do their attitudes towards the colonial power compare?

Panel organiser: Jeanine Dagyeli (Universität Wien/Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften)

Aus- und Abgrenzung in mongolischen Gesellschaften: Terminologien, Diskurse und Tabus

Seit 1990 sind in der Mongolei vermehrt Fragen von Identitätsbildung und Repräsentation in den Fokus zivilgesellschaftlicher, aber auch staatlicher Debatten gerückt. Nach dem Ende des Sozialismus galt es, eine neue gemeinsame Geschichte zu erzählen, die versprach, Antworten auf die Frage zu geben, was es heisst, Mongole oder Mongolin zu sein. Solche Repräsentations- und Identitätsbildungsprozesse sind nicht neu, auch in früheren Jahrhunderten hatten sie immer wieder Aktualität in den mongolischen Gesellschaften. Das Panel fragt danach, wie Vorstellungen von Identität in den mongolischen Gesellschaften entstehen, indem es die hierfür notwendigen Grenzziehungen in den Blick nimmt, die auf der diskursiven und sozialen Ebene zu impliziten Tabus und expliziten Ab- und Ausgrenzungen führen und «Binnenfremdheiten» (Justin Stagl) produzieren. In dem Panel sollen historische und aktuelle Perspektiven zusammengeführt werden und verschiedene methodische Zugriffe (u.a. linguistische, soziologische, philologische, diskursanalytische) erprobt werden.

Panel organisers:

Prof. Dr. Karénina Kollmar-Paulenz (Bern)

Prof. Dr. Ines Stolpe (Bonn)


Languages and Cultures along the Silk Road: Reading the Silk Road from Turkic and Middle Iranian written materials

The proposed panel’s aim is to present new research on the philological, historical, and cultural examination of written texts and archaeological finds along the Silk Roads, in particular from the Turfan Oasis. It pays special attention to Middle Iranian and Old Turkic philological materials, emphasizing their role in the understanding of linguistic, cultural, and religious aspects; this includes daily life and economic activities across Central Eurasia.

The Turfan Oasis, which is located in the north-east of the Tarim basin in Central Eurasia, was a hub for a multitude of languages, cultures, and religions along the Silk Roads to come into contact with one another. The Middle Iranian and Old Turkic finds from this oasis represent abundant textual materials with Buddhist, Christian, and Manichaean content, including astrological, medical, and other manuscripts which allow us to have a glimpse into the daily lives of various peoples. The panel plans to present one of the final fruits of the Turfan manuscripts – novel editions of the religious texts, and several secular texts that are currently in their final stages of edition.

The proposed panel will provide a platform for scholars in the field of Iranian and Old Turkic philology to present new philological materials and findings through the evaluation of philological materials and to discuss important linguistic, philological, historical, and philosophical aspects of the Silk Road on the basis of written sources.

Panel organisers:

Ayşe Kılıç Cengiz (Turfanforschung, BBAW, Germany)

Alisher Begmatov (Turfanforschung, BBAW, Germany)