CFP: Identities & Islam: Material Culture, Self and Society in the Pre-Modern Muslim World

The First UK Early Career Symposium on Islamic Archaeology

20th April 2013

Archaeological scholarship has revealed considerable temporal and geographic
variation in material expressions of identity within the Islamic world,
through architecture, art, crafts, burial and subsistence, as well as in the
organisation of trade and exchange. How integral was the uniting force of
Islam in the construction of personal, group, and state identity in the
past? To what extent can we see identity as being formed locally and
diachronically – either in opposition to different external and internal
cultural groups, influenced by pre-existing indigenous cultures and
contemporary neighbouring states, or resulting from particular political

The University of Southampton Department of Archaeology will host a free
conference on Islamic Archaeology on 20th April 2013, addressing these
issues. This conference aims to bring together post-graduate, post-doctoral
and established scholars in the disciplines of Islamic Archaeology as well
as architectural and art history, from institutions in the UK and beyond.
This will be a unique opportunity to share knowledge and expertise – uniting
what has been, until now, a disparate community.

The aims of the conference are:

*	To facilitate dialogue between scholars of material culture in the
medieval and early modern Islamic world, from the UK and abroad

*	To assess the use of material culture as an indicator and creator of
different kinds of identities including ethnicity, gender, religion, and

*	To explore geographic and temporal variation in identities in the
Islamic world

*	To identify multiple, layered or contrasting expressions of personal
identity within groups and by individuals

*	To disseminate the results of new excavations and surveys of
medieval and early modern Islamic sites and landscapes, where new evidence
has a bearing on our understanding of identity

*	To consider the relationship between the material culture of the
pre-modern Islamic world and the creation of identities in contemporary

The conference will consist of four sessions:

Transitions and Continuity

The Islamic world was simultaneously both diverse and profoundly connected.
The analysis of material culture has demonstrated that while aspects of
identity may emerge abruptly or evolve slowly over time, they are frequently
created with reference to the past. This session therefore aims to explore
not only the constancy of Islamic identity but also the role of multiple
factors – regional, historic, religious and ethnic – during the medieval and
early modern era.

Papers in this session may include, but are not limited to, the following

1.	Identity before and after the advent of Islam

2.	The effect of transitions between ruling dynasties and changing
judicial-religious doctrine

3.	The effect of crises, episodes of prosperity, and long-term social

4.	Evidence from multi-period sites and landscapes

Trade and Cultural Exchange

The system of trade and exchange in the medieval and early modern world
united different, often rival, Islamic states, in addition to bringing the
Muslim world into contact with non-Islamic communities in East Asia, the
Indian subcontinent, Africa and Europe. This session will explore the
movement of goods, wealth, ideas and people resulting from mercantile trade,
and its effect on personal and group identities.

Papers in this session may include, but are not limited to, the following

1.	The exchange of ideas and social practices between communities, as
facilitated through trade networks

2.	The expression of merchant identity, and of a mercantile class, in
material culture

3.	The impact of extraneous cultural traditions of foreign mercantile
enclaves and communities on surrounding groups

Conflict and Cultural Contrasts

Within the medieval and early modern Islamic world there existed a multitude
of ethnic, political, religious and cultural divisions. For Muslims, how far
were such divisions overshadowed by the uniting concept of the umma, or
rather did internal conflicts and distinctions form a greater part in
identity formation? For those who did not convert, how distinct did their
way of life and expression of identity remain, and what effect did this have
on the formation of Muslim identities? Compounding these internal contrasts
are processes of interaction with external peoples and polities  – whether
through warfare, immigration or diplomacy.

Papers in this session may include, but are not limited to, the following

1.	The expression and formation of identity by religious, ethnic,
political and cultural minorities within the Islamic world

2.	Distinctions and similarities between Muslim and dhimmi identity

3.	Identity in frontier societies and the effect of interaction across

4.	The effect of immigration and invasion on identity formation

Islamic Archaeology and Contemporary Identities

The material culture of the medieval Islamic world continues to inform the
identity of individuals and groups through its interpretation by modern
scholars, and its curation and display in museum collections. This session
will explore Islamic Archaeology’s place in discourses of Muslim, national
and ethnic identity in the contemporary world.

Papers in this session may include, but are not limited to, the following

1.	The development of scholarship, curation and display of medieval
Islamic material culture, and its role in nationalist discourses

2.	The status of Islamic versus pre-Islamic Archaeology in the cultural
heritage industries of modern nations

3.	The archaeology of Islam and its relationship to modern religious

4.	The role of Islamic Archaeology in conflicts within and between
contemporary nations


We invite submissions for papers and posters in the form of no more than 200
word abstracts, which should be emailed to no
later than 12th December 2012. In addition to the abstract your submission
should include:

*	Name(s) of Author(s)

*	Paper title

*	Intended session

*	Your institutional affiliation

*	Description of the geographical and temporal scope of the paper

Papers will be 20 minutes in length, and the language of the conference will
be English. Further details can be found at
<>  and any
further enquiries should be made by email

Camille Rhoné

Agrégée d'histoire, titulaire d'une thèse de doctorat en histoire de l'Islam médiéval ("Défendre le territoire en Iran nord-oriental - Khorassan et Transoxiane -, IXe-XIe siècle"), Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne.

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