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Whither the Nation?


BTS 133

Political thought

Newsletter 3, September 2013

OIB at DOT 2013

Orient-Institut Beirut (OIB) at the 32nd Deutscher Orientalistentag (DOT 2013) in Münster, Germany

Concepts of the "Political". Foundations and Developments (8th-16th century)

24 September 2013, 4-5.30pm
Katholische Theologie II, Johannisstraße 8-10, mezzanine floor
This panel is organised by the OIB research project "Conceptualization of Ruling and Governing. The Sultanate as Paradigm" (see Research Spotlight below). The panel explores the foundations and developments of the history of political thought aiming at a retrieval of political discourse in the literature concerned (advice literature/mirrors for princes, ethics, constitutional law, handbooks), introducing the research project which focuses on the period of the Sultanate (12th-17th century).

Aesthetics and Morality
 September 2013, 9-1pm
Katholische Theologie IV, Johannisstraße 8-10
This interdisciplinary panel deals with the oral recitation of texts, focusing on the performance of different genres of texts. It is organised by Sabine Dorpmueller (OIB) and Ines Weinrich (formerly OIB) together with Jan Scholz and Max Stille from the Asia and Europe Cluster of Excellence at Heidelberg University.

New Methods in the History and Geography of the Near East
26 September 2013, 9-12.30pm
Fürstenberghaus, Domplatz 20-22, basement floor, F 42
This international panel is organised by the OIB project "Mamâlik - Spatial Dynamics of Islamic Polities (12th-16th centuries). In the study of Near Eastern political, economic and intellectual history, awareness is rising that while spatial settings co-determine historical developments, human mind-sets have always conceptualised spaces, and human agency has interfered with landscapes. The panel is committed to making the development of the 'spatial turn' visible and promote interdisciplinary exchange on relevant themes and methods, bringing together Islamic Studies, Oriens Christianus, Ottoman Studies and Archaeology.

Old Age: Literary theme versus social reality
Contribution in Panel "The interaction between poetry and its environment in pre-modern Arabic culture"

26 September 2013, 9-12noon
JO 1, Johannisstraße 1-4
This contribution by Syrinx von Hees (formerly OIB) analyses the theme of "White Hair". Given the long literary tradition of this theme, which cultivates the awareness of the multifaceted aspects of old age, the question arises of how we can trace an individual's feeling evoked by a poem written in the 8/14th century. Analysing Mamluk poems in their literary as well as historical/biographical context, the paper will explore the possibilities and limits of such an inquiry.

Events and News

Whither the Nation?
National Identities in the Modern Middle East and South Asia

International Conference jointly organised with the Center for Arab and Middle Eastern Studies (CAMES) at the American University in Beirut (AUB)
Beirut, 27-29 September 2013 at AUB
Whither the Nation aims to discuss recent research on the different political and social ideologies regarding questions of national identity that emerged in the Middle East and South Asia in specific periods over the last 150 years. It seeks to bring together research on identity formation within specific historical moments, both synchronically and diachronically.  Importance is thus placed on the transformations of identitarian politics across time and within specific temporal intervals. Most importantly, the conference seeks to explore the enduring links between nationalism and modernity. For the full programme, read here.

Vacancy at OIB
Position: Head Librarian
Deadline for applications:
31 October 2013
Starting date:
1 January 2014
For further particulars, read here.


BTS 133
Mafalda Ade, Picknick mit den Paschas. Aleppo und die Levantinische Handelsfirma Fratelli Poche (1853-80), (Beirut, 2013)

Aleppo was a well-known centre for trade during the Ottoman Empire. During the first half of the 19th century, the number of European merchants living in Aleppo increased. Amongst these was the Poche family, originally from Bohemia. In the same period, a number of social, political and legal reforms (Tanzimat) were introduced. While merchants like the Poches profited from these reforms, their success also depended on personal networks and appointments as honorary consuls. Picnic with the Pashas shows the history of a levantine trade company at the crossroads between traditional provincial aristocracy and modern state elite, between the Eastern Mediterranean and Ottoman hinterland, and between oral and written legal tradition, drawing on Ottoman administrative documents, French archival sources and the private archive of the Poche family.
More about our series Beiruter Texte und Studien (BTS)

Research Spotlight

Conceptualisation of Ruling and Governing. The Sultanate as Paradigm
This research project, funded by the Fritz Thyssen Stiftung and conducted by Stefan Leder, Jennifer Viehl and Evelin Dierauff, contributes to a retrieval of political thought in Islamic tradition by connecting it with the further development of generally valid categories of political thought. The project concentrates on the 'theories' concerning Sultanic rule, a historical form of political regime that emerged from the decline of the institution of the caliphate, absorbing the seminal Iranian tradition of Kingship. From Spain to India, literature offering advice and guidance depicted and discussed local ruling institutions, treating the foundations of rule, its forms of representation, legal frameworks and purposes, as well as governance along with the competence delegated to it. In this context, the project team is preparing a Source Companion of Medieval Islamic Political Literature addressing students of political thought as well as experts of Middle Eastern history. The Source Companion treats Arabic and Persian writings on political philosophy, political advice and administration addressing local sovereign rulers or referring to local sovereign rule (12th-16th century).

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