Arabic Pasts 2023 is happening from 5th - 6th of October.

This annual exploratory and informal workshop co-hosted with SOAS University and the University of Oxford offers the opportunity to reflect on history writing in Arabic.

Download a pdf of our programme here.

Click here to register to attend the conference in person, or online.

Day One (Face-to-face and Online)

Thursday, 5 October 2023

Welcome Address (10:00 – 10:30am)
Sarah Bowen Savant and James McDougall

Session 1: Administering Justice (10:30 – 12:00pm)

Chair: Arezou Azad, Oxford University

How to Be a Bad Ruler in Tenth Century Baghdad
Hugh Kennedy, SOAS University of London

Between a Rock and Hard Arabic: Epigraphy & the Public Letters of ʿAbd alHamid (d. 750)
Nicholas Kyle Longworth, Department of Near Eastern Languages & Civilisations, University of Chicago

‘And to Our Master, the Illustrious Caliph, Belongs the Lofty Resolution Regarding This, If God Wills’: Written Petitions and the Administration of Justice in Fatimid Egypt.
Yusuf Umrethwala, Columbia University and Aga Khan University-ISMC

Lunch Break 12:00 – 1:30pm

Session 2: Digital Tools and Technology (1:30 – 3:00pm)

Chair: Aslisho Qurboniev, AKU-ISMC

Can Digital Tools Help Teach Medieval Islamic History? From Assassin’s Creed Mirage to the Classroom
Sarah Slingluff & Deniz Vural, University of Edinburgh

Digitally Capturing the Remnants of the Qaraite dār al-ʿilm in 11th Century Jerusalem
Gregor Schwarb & Ronny Vollandt, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich

Technologies of Communicative Media: The Hermeneutics of Technology and its Application to the Study of Early Islamic Intellectual History
Kevin Robert Jaques, University of Indiana

Coffee Break
3:00 – 3:15pm

Session 3: Modelling the Past (3:15 - 4:15pm)

Chair: Sarah Bowen Savant, AKU-ISMC

Modelling the Development of Premodern Islamic Societies from Biographical and Historical Data
Maxim Romanov, University of Hamburg

Modes of Temporality in Islamicate Collective Biographies: A Comparative Study of Amal al-āmil fī ʿulāmāʾ Jabal ʿĀmil and Luʾluʾat al-Baḥrayn
Majid Montazer-Mahdi, The University of Oxford; Institute of Ismaili Studies

Coffee Break 4:15 – 4:30 pm

Session 4: Exploring Commemorations and Memorialisations (4:30–5:30 pm)

Chair: Masoumeh Seydi

‘Picture His Torment Before Your Eyes’: Narrative Imagination in Shīʿī Commemorative Ritual
George Warner, Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies University of Exeter

Fallibilism and Certainty in Memorializing the History of Islamic Law
Kamal R. Ahmed, Princeton University, Center for Culture, Society and Religion

Coffee Break 5:30 – 5:45 pm

Book Launch ‘Literary Spectacles of Sultanship’: Gowaart Van Den Bossche (5:45 - 6:30pm)

End of Day 1

Day Two (Face-to-face and Online)

Friday, 6 October 2022

Session 1: Versioning (10:30 – 12:00 pm )

Chair: Hugh Kennedy, SOAS University of London

Remembering Past against history: What a Tripolitanian Memory Teaches Us
Sébastien Garnier, Centre Jean Pépin, CNRS/LibMed

‘Apple of the Eye’: Arabic Histories of Ottoman Iraq in the Early Twentieth Century
Zeinab Azarbadegan, Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, Oxford University

Islamic Science in the Arabic History of the West Syrians: Bar Hebraeus’ Mukhtaṣar taʾrīkh al-duwal
Jennifer Fiona Griggs, FSCIRE – La Pira Library and Research Center on Islamic History and Doctrines

Lunch Break 12:00 – 1:30 pm

Session 2: Representations, Emulations, and Consolations (1:30 - 3:00 pm)

Chair: James McDougall, Oxford University

The Reader Between Loyalty and Faith: Mūsā al-Kāẓim in Imāmī Shī‘ī Historiography
Najam Iftikhar Haider, Department of Religion, Barnard College

Fatima as a Motif of Contention and Suffering in Islamic Sources
Vinay Khetia, Shia Research Institute, Toronto

Finding Zaynab in Al Rashad: Incarceration, Collective Memory, and Sectarian Identity in Ba’athist Iraq
Noor Zehra Zaidi, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Coffee Break 3:00 – 3:15 pm

Session 3: Writing History in the Present (3:15 – 4:15 pm)

Chair: Karen Bauer, Institute of Ismaili Studies

The Islamist Approach in Contemporary Arabic Historical Writing: Al-Sallabi’s Narrative on Ottoman History as an Example
Muna Asenwar, Near and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Basel

The Divine in Action: A Comparative Study of Miracles in Early Abbasid and Byzantine Hagiography
Zhicheng Ye, SOAS University of London

Coffee Break 4:15 – 4:30 pm

Session 4: Reconstructing the Past (4:30 – 5:30 pm)

Chair: Kevin Jaques, University of Indiana

Hagiography as Autobiography: al-Baydhaq’s Akhbār al-Mahdī
Daniel Walting, Claremont McKenna College

Historical Providence in View of a Godforsaken Foe: Pious Execration of the Portuguese Encroachment on the Indian Ocean Islamic Ecumene in Sixteenth-Century Arabic Chronicles
Gabriel Mathias Soares, University of São Paulo

Coffee Break 5:30 – 5:45 pm

Session 5: Continuities (5:45 – 6:45 pm)

Chair: Jonas Otterbeck, AKU-ISMC

Patronage and Households in the Qur’an
Karen Bauer, Senior Research Associate, Qur’anic Studies, Institute of Ismaili Studies and Feras Hamza, Head of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Wollongong in Dubai; Senior Research Fellow, Qur’anic Studies, Institute of Ismaili Studies

Convening a new Cultural History of the Middle East and North Africa: The challenges of bridging disciplines to collaboratively rewrite 1620 years of history
Hilary Kalmbach, University of Sussex

End of Day Two