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Le dimanche 28 novembre 2021 à 18h00 (heure du Caire), IFAO géolocalisation IFAO

The Politics of Arabic Historical Thought: Frames, Discourses and ‘Mamlukisation’ in 9th/15th -century Syro-Egyptian Historiography

Jo Van Steenbergen

Partenaire(s) de l’Ifao : GHENT UNIVERSITY

Langue : anglais.

On November 28  at 18h00 Cairo Time Professor Jo Van Steenbergen will give a public lecture at the IFAO (Palais Mounira) entitled:

“The Politics of Arabic Historical Thought: Frames, Discourses and ‘Mamlukisation’ in 9th/15th -century Syro-Egyptian Historiography”

You can register for attending this lecture at the Palais Mounira by completing this this form . 

You can also attend this lecture online : Zoom link:

Simultanious translation to arabic will be available in presensia and on Zoom.

Abstract: The late 6th/12th to early 10th/16th centuries are well known as a time in which an unprecedented number of texts about Islamic history were produced. It is also a very complex era of profound political and cultural transformation in Islamic history, which we mainly know about today from these texts. In the MMS-II project (UGent, 2017-21) we have asked what happens to current understandings of, especially, Syro-Egyptian history if we consider these texts not merely as sources and observers of that transformation, but also as historical actors who helped to make it come about. The MMS-II project has therefore been pursuing the first comprehensive survey and collective historical interpretation of the many dozens of Arabic texts of history that were produced in the early to mid-9th/15th century in Cairo and in related urban sites.

In this lecture, I will first present some of the main outcomes of this pursuit to survey and to offer further interpretations. Secondly, I will consider how diverse sets of both memories of the past and expectations of the future operated as framing devices across this corpus of texts. Finally, I will argue that this operation of different framing devices had common effects that were related to the representation of order, to a shared discourse of sovereignty, and to a ‘Mamlukisation’ of the 9th/15th-century sultanate’s leadership claims.

1371Jo Van Steenbergen (PhD KU Leuven, 2003) teaches history and culture of pre-modern Islamic West-Asia at Ghent University (Belgium). His research focuses on the Islamic middle period (ca. 1000-1500), on Egypt and Syria, on the practices, discourses, and infrastructures of power in the Cairo sultanate (ca. 1200-1517), and on the deconstruction of grand narratives in ‘Mamluk’/Islamic history.
Jo Van Steenbergen has been the recipient of various major research grants: from the European Research Council for the Starting Grant project MMS (‘Political Traditions and State Formation in fifteenth-century Egypt and Syria’, UGent, 2009-14) and for the Consolidator Grant project MMS II (‘Historiography, Political Order and State Formation in fifteenth-century Egypt and Syria’, UGent, 2017-21), and from the Hercules foundation/FWO-Flanders for the research infrastructure project MPP (IHODP) (‘From a Project-Specific Database to an Open Access Digital Humanities Database’, UGent, 2016-20/22).
His most recent publications include Trajectories of State Formation across Fifteenth-Century Islamic West-Asia. Eurasian Parallels, Connections and Divergences (ed.) (Brill, 2020, Open Access,; A History of the Islamic World, 600-1800. Empires, Dynastic Formations, and Heterogeneities in Islamic West-Asia (Routledge, 2021); New Readings in Arabic Historiography from Late Medieval Egypt and Syria (ed. with M. Termonia) (Brill, 2021, Open Access,; Political Culture in the Latin West, Byzantium and the Islamic World, c.700-c.1500 (ed. with C. Holmes, J. Shepard, B. Weiler) (Cambridge UP, 2021).
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