Colloque : « The ties that bind: Mechanisms and Structures of social dependency in the Early Islamic Empire », Leyde, 3-6/12/2019
The EmCo team is organising a conference which aims to bring together both senior and junior scholars to present research which illuminates the structures and mechanisms that allowed the early Islamic empire to function. The period to be focused on at the conference is roughly 600-1000 CE.
« The ties that bind: Mechanisms and Structures of social dependency in the Early Islamic Empire »
Structures and mechanisms
The papers should describe the way that local and regional elites were both embedded in larger structures of power and dependency, and employed specific mechanisms to achieve their goals. By structures, we refer to frameworks such as administration, tax-collection, political networks, religious communities, legal systems, social conventions and patronage networks. By mechanisms, we refer to specific instances which establish relationships between actors, including documentary cultures, mechanisms of social integration and embedding (such as oaths, contracts, pledges, marriage, inheritance and succession conventions), mechanisms of social exclusion (such as ostracism, imprisonment, excommunication) and so forth.
Papers may deal with mechanisms and structures that hold the empire together, or examine the fissiparous and centrifugal forces that tend in the opposite direction. Moments of crisis and breakdown are understood as particularly useful both illuminating the precise nature of structures and mechanisms and they are contested, renewed or replaced.
Local and regional elites
In focusing on local and regional elites, we aim to understand how the authority and power of the caliphate was actualized within the daily lives of the empire’s inhabitants. This focus cements a shift in recent years to thinking about the caliphate as a multipolar entity, rather than a pyramidical hierarchy of power (Neff and Tillier), and as a set of relationships and interfaces between actors whose influence derives from being embedded in a particular local context, and power-brokers at the centre of the empire (Paul, Heidemann). This conference aims to push the field further, by inviting participants to dissect with greater precision the specific structures, mechanisms, behaviours, strategies and conventions that enabled key stakeholders to achieve goals which shaped the lives of the inhabitants of the empire.