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Spring 2018 Events

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Drawing on over five years of research in Iran, Dr. Siamdoust introduces a full cast of characters, from musicians and audience members to state officials, and takes readers into concert halls and underground performances, as well as the state licensing and censorship offices. Taken together, these examinations of the field of music shed light on issues at the heart of debates in Iran—about its future and identity, changing notions of religious belief, and the quest for political freedom.

Nahid Siamdoust is a Postdoctoral Fellow and Lecturer in Iranian Studies at Yale University’s MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies, and Lecturer in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. Her book "Soundtrack of the Revolution: The Politics of Music in Iran" was published in 2017 by Stanford University Press.

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Thursday, May 3 is your chance to create Ebru, a form of art that originated with Turks centuries ago. Ebru paintings, or paper marbling, are produced using dyes, a water-based solution, and a set of unique tools. All materials will be provided along with delicious Turkish snacks. The free workshop will be taught by Fulbright fellows Ozge Kurnaz and Deniz Yilmaz who are concluding their studies at UCSB and will return to Turkey. This is a special opportunity to learn something that is not offered on campus. The event is supported by UCSB's Religious Studies Department. No reservation is necessary, just stop by to participate.

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ARABIC LANGUAGE REUNION

SUNDAY, APRIL 29, 2018, 10:00 AM-12:00 PM, MCCUNE CONFERENCE ROOM, HSSB 6020

Join the Arabic language program in celebrating thirty one years of instructions at the University of California, Santa Barbara with Professors Magda Campo, Dwight F. Reynolds, Racha el-Omari, and Juan E. Campo. Three previous students will also give short talks about how Arabic played a role in their career!

Students of Arabic language are going to be present to further network with alumni and learn from their experiences. 

Light refreshments will be provided.

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The French Revolution and the Rights of Muslims

Ian Coller, University of California, Irvine

On 24 December 1789, a deputy named Francois de Hell proposed to the National Assembly an explicit decree that would allow Muslims to enjoy "all the rights, honors and advantages enjoyed by French citizens."

Some historians have read this proposition as no more than a feint to appear universalist while seeking to exclude other religious minorities - and Jews in particular - from the enjoyment of equal rights. On the assumption that there were no Muslims in France in this period, they concluded that such a proposal could have no independent content.

This paper will suggest that the question of Muslim rights was both substantive and significant in terms of the direction of the Revolution. It responded to a longer tradition of reciprocal rights guaranteed by treaties between France and the Ottoman Empire. Already during the 1770s and 1780s Muslims in France were beginning to assert these rights. Yet the rights they claimed were not equal rights as citizens, but differentiated rights as subjects.

In this sense, then, rather than an empty gesture of universalism, Hell's proposal was in fact a concrete attempt to institute unequal rights. By offering Muslims equivalent rights, but as Muslims, rather than as citizens, Hell was drawing on the existing precedents to establish differentiated categories - which could offer Jews "rights" as second-class citizens.

Instead, the Assembly voted to abolish the impediments to non-Catholic participation, while retaining the temporary suspension of a decision regarding Jews. In September 1791, when the disqualification of Jews was fully lifted, the precedent of Muslims was cited in support. In the years that followed, this conception of Muslims as citizens would become a key contention of those claiming the Revolution was an affront against Christianity and the Church. It would also set the scene for further struggles over just what role Muslims might play in the Revolution.

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R. Stephen Humphreys Distinguished Visiting Scholar

Gülru Necipoğlu
Aga Khan Professor and Director of the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture
Harvard University

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Tuesday, April 17, 2018, 4:00pm
HSSB 6020 (IHC McCune Conference Room)

Transregional Connections:
Architectural Monuments and the Construction of Early Modern Islamic Empires

Focusing on the 16th and 17th centuries, this lecture presents comparative reflections on the architectural cultures of the Mediterranean-based Ottomans, the Safavids in Iran, and the Mughals in the Indian subcontinent, with an aim to highlight transregional interactions and intercrossings. From such a perspective, the tri-continental landmass dominated by these three early modern empires can be conceptualized as an interconnected contact zone. The premise of the lecture is that in the realm of architectural culture, the physical, mental, and social spaces interrelate and overlap with one another. The intimate connection between empire building and architectural construction is exemplified by the differing socio-religious and palatial building types favored in each of the three centralizing empires as expressions of distinctive theories of dynastic legitimacy. By emphasizing the deliberateness of these choices, the lecture challenges prevailing assumptions about an unmediated and self-propelled evolution of regional architectural and ornamental forms in the early modern era.

Gülru Necipoğlu has been the Aga Khan Professor and Director of the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at Harvard University's Department of History of Art and Architecture since 1993, where she earned her Ph.D. in 1986. She is an elected member of the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Centro Internazionale di Studi di Archittettura Andrea Palladio in Vicenza. 

She specializes in the architectural and urban history of the medieval and early modern periods, with a particular focus on the Ottoman Empire, the Mediterranean basin, and the Eastern Islamic lands. Her publications address artistic exchanges between Byzantium, Renaissance Italy, and the Islamic lands, questions of pre-modern architectural practice, plans and drawings, the aesthetics of abstract ornament and geometric design. Her critical interests encompass methodological and historiographical issues in modern constructions of the field of Islamic art.

She is the editor of Muqarnas: An Annual on the Visual Cultures of the Islamic World and its Supplements. Her books include Architecture, Ceremonial Power: The Topkapi Palace (1991); The Topkapi Scroll, Geometry and Ornament in Islamic Architecture (1995); and The Age of Sinan: Architectural Culture in the Ottoman Empire (2005). Her Topkapi Scroll won the Albert Hourani and the Spiro Kostoff book awards. The Age of Sinan has been awarded the Fuat Köprülü Book Prize.

More recently she edited The Arts of Ornamental Geometry: A Persian Compendium on of Similar and Complementary Interlocking Figures (in Supplements to Muqarnas, 2017). With Barry Flood she co-edited the two-volume reader, A Companion to Islamic Art and Architecture, published in 2017 in the Wiley Blackwell Companions to Art History series. In 2016 she co-edited with Alina Payne, Histories of Ornament: From Global to Local (Princeton University Press).

Sponsored by the Center for Middle East Studies, R. Stephen Humphreys Distinguished Lecture Series

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Winter 2018 Events

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Rare Manuscripts of the Moroccan Royal Library:
An Introduction and Overview

Lecture by Dr. Khalid Zahri-Royal Library, Rabat, Morocco

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Thursday, February 8th, 6:00pm, HSSB 4080

The Royal Library in Rabat, known also as al-Khizāna al-Hassania is among the oldest libraries in the word. It houses precious documents and rare manuscript volumes acquired by ruling elite of Morocco. This lecture will describe some of the rare holdings of al-Khizāna al-Hassania, discuss issues related to Maghribi paleography, codicology, and art, imagery, and the symbolism and significance of color used in selected manuscripts. The lecture will also offer advice for potential researchers and suggest fruitful avenues for research in manuscripts at the Hassania Library.

Dr. Khalid Zahri is Assistant Director, Curator, and researcher for the manuscript collection of the Hassania Royal Library in Morocco. He travels widely to share his expertise in manuscript preservation and publication of glosses and commentaries. He has presented lectures and facilitated workshops across the Arab world, Southeast Asia, and Western Europe. He is an established expert in Muslim theology (kalām), Sufism, and the methodology of Islamic law (usūl al-fiqh). He has published close to 100 academic works in Arabic and French on a range of topics including "Kalām", "Usūl al-Fiqh", 'Tasawwuf", "Bibliography", "Cataloguing" (Fahrasah) and "Codicological and Philological studies", among them more than 20 books, including Maghribī Ashʿarī Sources (2017); From ʿIlm al-Kalām to Fiqh al-Kalām (2017), The Arabic Manuscript: New Horizons in Codicology, Philology, and Cataloging within the Islamic Manuscript Tradition (2017). He received his Diplome des Études Supérieurs (DES) (1992) and his PhD (2001) from Muhammad V University in Rabat at the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. He has worked at the Hassania Royal Library from 2002-present, and at the National Library in years prior (1999-2002).

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Documenting Multiculturalism in Norman Sicily

Jeremy Johns (University of Oxford)

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Tuesday, February 6th
5:00pm, HSSB 4020

If Norman Sicily (circa 1060–1250) is famous for anything it is for the multicultural art and architecture of its rulers, from King Roger (r. 1130–1154) to his grandson Frederick II (r. 1198-1250). Monuments such as the Cappella Palatina– the chapel and audience hall in the chief royal palace in Palermo – deliberately juxtaposed elements imported from Byzantine, Islamic and Latin sources in order to create a unique multicultural art, which eloquently conveyed the political message that the Norman king, in the words of the royal minister and panegyrist Eugenius of Palermo, “harmonised the inharmonious, and mixed together the unmixable … with wise foresight blending and uniting into a single race disparate and incongruent peoples”.

Recent scholarship has largely revised the traditional assumption that royal multiculturalism grew organically out of the island’s past under Byzantine and Muslim rule, and was the spontaneous product of the proximity of Arab, Greek and Latin communities living side-by-side under the beneficent Norman kings. On the contrary, most of the elements used to manufacture royal multiculturalism – Byzantine mosaics and textiles, Arab painting and architecture, Romanesque sculpture – were imported to the island from contemporary sources, and not inherited from Sicily’s Byzantine or Islamic past.

So dazzling is the multicultural art and architecture of the Norman kings that it tends to obscure what may be called “popular multiculturalism” – the product of day-to-day interaction between the heterogeneous subject communities that lived under Norman rule. What is more, the administrative and legal documents that are virtually the only written sources for the administration of the subject communities of Sicily, and for relations between them, are still largely inaccessible and little known even to specialists in the field.

This talk describes a new project — Documenting Multiculturalism — which will publish online all of the documents from Norman Sicily – Arabic, Greek, Judaeo-Arabic and Latin – and use them to generate a series of fundamental research tools that will, for the first time, make it possible to observe the extent and the nature of interaction between the subject communities of Norman Sicily, in order to observe not just royal multiculturalism imposed from above, but also popular multiculturalism that, over two brief centuries, grew up from the soil of Sicily, flourished, and then faded. The talk will be illustrated with copious examples drawn from the documents themselves, and will present new digital images of many documents, including some that remain inedited.

Dr. Jeremy Johns worked as an archaeologist in Libya and Italy before reading History at Balliol College, Oxford. In 1985, he was appointed Lecturer in Early Islamic Archaeology at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. In 1990, he returned to Oxford as University Lecturer in Islamic Archaeology. In 2004, he was appointed first director of the Khalili Research Centre for the Art and Material Culture of the Middle East, and in 2006 was made Professor of the Art and Archaeology of the Islamic Mediterranean. He is principally interested in the relationship between Islam and Christianity in the Mediterranean as manifested in material and visual culture. His research focuses upon the transition from late antiquity to early Islam in the Levant and, especially, upon Sicily under Islamic and Norman rule. He has published a monograph on the Arabic Administration in Norman Sicily (Cambridge, 2002), and more than seventy articles on the art, archaeology and history of the Islamic Mediterranean, especially Norman Sicily. Johns is currently writing up a project investigating the early Islamic rock crystal industry and working on his next project – Documenting Multiculturalism: coexistence, law and multiculturalism in the administrative and legal documents of Norman and Hohenstaufen Sicily, c.1060-c.1266.

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