Colloque: « Holy Places in medieval Islam : functions, typologies and narratives », 2-4 sept. 2014, Edinburgh

Holy Places in medieval Islam : functions, typologies and narratives

International conference, University of Edinburgh

2-4 September 2014

From the emergence of Islam, Muslim societies were confronted with the notion of the holiness of specific sites. They developed different positions on this issue, which ranged from adopting specific sites to dismissing or destroying them. In addition, several new Islamic holy sites emerged.

The International Network for the Study of Holy Places in Islam (INSHPI) aims to investigate the modalities that led to the formation and development of different positions with regard to holy places in various Muslim societies. In order to analyse these processes the project seeks to integrate both material culture and literary texts.

The second conference of the network, Holy Places in Medieval Islam: Functions, Typologies and Narratives, will bring together international scholars from various disciplines who will focus on topics such as: the narratives created in order to sanctify a specific territory or city; the role of holy men in the transformation of the sacred landscape; the functioning and visualization of networks of holy sites; the emergence of architectural typologies as well as rituals in order to honour holy places; relics; and the instrumental use of early Islamic history in order to promote a specific political figure or geographical area.


Tuesday 02/09/2014 

Time Speaker Institution Topic
9.00-9.30 Registration
9.30 Andreas Görke and Mattia Guidetti Introductory remarks
Part 1: Holy cities in literary traditions
9.45 Ruggero Vimercati Sanseverino (University of Tübingen) The making of the “City of Saints”: Fez as holy place in hagiographic discourse
10.30–11.00 Coffee break
11.00 Myriam Wissa (SOAS) Holy journey, holy landscapes and the tale of the three holy places in early Islamic Egypt and beyond. Contrasting the forgotten “Osirion Baraka”, Saint Moses healings at Abydos and the ceaseless dispossessions of Saint George at Mis Damsis
11.45 Ahmad Khan (University of Oxford) The City of the Devil: Framing Cities and Heresies in Medieval Islamdom
12.30–2.00 Lunch break
2.00 Zacharie Mochtari de Pierrepont (University Paris 1) Zabid and the making of sacred spaces. Narratives, powers and identities in Rasulid Yemen
Part 2: Sacredness in architecture and visual culture
2.45 Yuka Kadoi (Alwaleed Center, University of Edinburgh) Buddhist-Muslim dialogues in the Medieval East Islamic World
3.30–4.00 Coffee break
4.00 Corisande Fenwick (University of Leicester) Conquest to Conversion: archaeology and religious change in medieval North Africa

Wednesday   03/09/2014 

9.45 Claus-Peter Haase (Freie University Berlin) From Qutham, Compagnon of the Prophet Muhammad, to the Shah-i Zinda – theological and political development of a mausoleum site in Samarqand
10.30–11.00 Coffee break
Part 3: Holy figures, relics and pilgrimages
11.00 Zayde Gordon Antrim (Trinity College) Virtual Pilgrimage and Mapping the Umma
11.45 Karen Pinto (Boise State University) What is Islamic about Islamic Maps?
12.30–2.00 Lunch break
2.00 Eric Ross (Al Akhawayn University) The development of sharifi shrines in Morocco during the Merinid era
2.45 George Quinn (Australian National University) Faith comes from the sea: Maritime symbolism in the origin stories of four Muslim pilgrimage sites in Java
3.30–4.00 Coffee break
4.00 Daphna Ephrat (Open University  Israel) Venerated Sheikhs and  Sacred Sites: The proliferation of saintly tombs and the emergence of regional and local patterns  in Ayyubid and early Mamluk Syria

Thursday   04/09/2014 

9.30 Daniella Talmon-Heller (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev) Vicissitudes of a Holy Relic: Construction, Destruction and Visitation of Shrines in Honor of Ra’s Husayn
10.15 Sara Ethel Wolper (University of New Hampshire) Urban Landscapes and Holy Figures in the Post Seljuk city
11-11.30 Coffee break
11.30 Final Discussion


Agrégée d'Espagnol et docteur en Histoire médiévale (Université de Nantes), elle travaille sur les mudéjars/morisques et la littérature aljamiada (Espagne, XV-XVIe s.).

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