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Aga Khan Centre (Atrium Conference Room, 1st floor)
Stephane Pradines and Abbes Zouache, Introduction to the Book : War and Peace in Medieval Middle East
Abbes Zouache, War, Astrology and Divination in Medieval Middle East
Delia Cortese, Sitt al-Mulk and the Military at the Fatimid Court
David Nicolle, Mamluk Military Equipment in the Citadel of Damascus
Stephane Pradines, Bab al-Azab, an Ottoman Neo-Fatimid Fortification
War and peace are deemed as inseparable and in pertinent interactivity in this multidisciplinary work, which brings together European, American and Arab historians and archaeologists. The papers published in this book show that this interactivity was particularly salient in the Arab and Muslim Middle East of the 10th-16th centuries, where a class of non-Arab warriors created new political regimes characterised by a strong militarisation of power. These warriors used war and peace as means to manage territories and men in order to consolidate and entrench their power.
However, the activity of these warriors was not restricted to the military field. The papers collected in this book refute the idea, often still put forward by the specialists of the Arab and Muslim Middle East, that they formed a caste wholly detached from other social groups. Admittedly, they make up a singular body that takes charge of the fight against the Crusaders, who threatened Dār al-Islam. Nevertheless, these warriors were not secluded from other social groups, with whom they share cultural values and practices. Their activity was multifaceted and not only limited to the political and military field. They were also involved in religious, economic and cultural activity. They gradually shaped the societies that they ruled with the support of the civil and religious elites on whom they relied to govern. This book shows that medieval Middle Eastern societies were neither socially segmented nor compartmentalised.
Dr Stephane Pradines is an archaeologist and Professor of Islamic Art and Architecture at the Aga Khan University Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations (AKU-ISMC) in London. He was the Director of the excavations of the Walls of Saladin in Cairo and many other excavations in the Indian Ocean and East Africa. He is a specialist of the Indian Ocean medieval trade and material culture of war in Muslim Africa.
Dr Abbes Zouache is the Director of The French Center for Archaeology and Social Sciences and researcher at the CNRS, UMR 5648 University Lyon 2. Historian, Arabist, Abbes Zouache is a specialist of war in the medieval East, which he sees as a social and cultural phenomenon. The CEFAS is a regional research centre whose main objective is to promote studies on the Arabian Peninsula as a whole. The CEFAS is part of the French foreign research institutes' network (Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs & French National Center for Scientific Research – CNRS), with 27 institutions located in more than 30 countries. It has two branches: one in Sana’a (Yemen) and the other one in Kuwait City.
Dr David Nicolle, Honorary Research Fellow, Nottingham University. Dr David Nicolle was born in London in 1944 and worked for BBC News from 1963 to 1967. He moved to BBC Arabic where he worked as a topical talks writer from 1967 to 1971, before returning to the university and receiving a PhD from Edinburgh University. From 1983 to 1987, Dr Nicolle lectured in art history at Yarmouk University, Jordan. Since returning to England, he has continued to write and carry on research as an independent scholar and Honorary Research Fellow at Nottingham University. His primary focus has been upon medieval Islamic military history and military technology. Dr Nicolle has over one hundred books under his name and has also worked in television in the UK, the USA, Germany, Syria and elsewhere as an advisor and contributor.
Dr Delia Cortese (PhD School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London) is Senior Lecturer in Religious Studies, Middlesex University, London. Her main areas of research are medieval Islam, particularly Ismaili, Fatimid and Nizari studies as well as Ismaili codicology. Her work focuses on a range of domains in the field of medieval Islamic social history, encompassing topics spanning from interrogation of gender issues in Ismaili history to questions relating transmission and dissemination of knowledge. She has recently published articles on Sunnism as well as aspects of environmental history in Egypt during the Fāṭimid period. Her books include Women and the Fatimids in the World of Islam (with S. Calderini), EUP, 2006; Arabic Ismaili Manuscripts: The Zāhid ‘Alī Collection, I.B. Tauris, 2003 and Ismaili and Other Arabic Manuscripts, I.B. Tauris, 2000.
*The talk will be followed by a reception.
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