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The SFB goes glocal...

...or: Who does link Bonn, Tokyo and Cairo on equal terms?

SMS_Tokyo_PosterDuring the 13th to 16th centuries, Cairo was the capital of an intriguing social and political system: The Mamluk sultanate of Cairo was founded by freed military slaves who overthrew their former masters, the Ayyubid sultans of Cairo, to install themselves as sovereigns. For almost 300 years, Egypt and Syria were ruled by those mamluks (arab. "owned ones") who set up a social system, in which a predominantly Arabic population was ruled by an elite group of freed military slaves of more or less consistently Turkish descent.

The Mamluk time saw great political and military challenges, ranging from the presence of European crusaders to the approaching Mongolian assault. Embracing great social and spatial mobility, the region was a hub connecting the trading areas of the Mediterranean and Black Seas, the Indian Ocean and the Silk Road. In addition to these global integrations, however, it is precisely its specific social system that makes the Mamluk period interesting for the transcultural comparison of power and domination.

Defeated in 1516 by the Ottoman Sultan Selim I, the Mamluks found shelter centuries later in Bonn, where two research units have been focusing on the history and society of the Mamluk era since 2013. With Prof. Stephan Conermann, director of the the Annemarie Schimmel Kolleg "History and Society during the Mamuk Era", and Dr. Anna Kollatz, two members of the Collaborative Research Centre (CRC/SFB) 1167 now built a link for local, Bonn-based cooperation of the CRC with both the Kolleg and Prof. Bethany Walker, director of the Bonn research unit "Islamic Archaeology".

Recently, the Bonn Mamlukists presented a panel at the Sixth School of Mamluk Studies Conference, hosted from June 15–17 2019 at Waseda University in Tokyo, one of the University of Bonn’s partner universities.

Considering the Mamluk realm as a multiply interconnected space constantly formed and re-formed by human acts and interaction crossing and transcending spatial, social and cultural boundaries, the Bonn panel addressed the mobility of ideas, individuals and goods in this space of interaction. The panel chaired by Stephan Conermann combined Prof. Walker’s archaeological perspective on mobility and immobility of rural life, which was both the basis for the economic and political success of the Mamluk regime, with considerations on horizontal and vertical social mobility in the context of scholarly elites and historiography: Dr. Abdelkader Al Ghouz, currently coordinator of the Annemarie-Schimmel Kolleg, traced the mobility of knowledge and intellectual goods as well as the wide intellectual networks that linked scholars and texts from Tabriz to Cairo. Dr. Anna Kollatz finally discussed travelling narratives in the historiographical writings of Ibn Iyās as-Ḥanafī, one of the most important chroniclers of Mamluk Egypt. In a comparative reading of narratives on transitions of power, the talk both traced Ibn Iyās’ concepts of a 'properly done' transition of rule and showed how his narratives play with normative convictions in that context.

 

Poster: © School of Mamluk Studies

 

(19.08.2019)

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