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The History of Material Cultures and Visual Arts in the Islamic Lands

The Ernst Herzfeld Society for Studies in Islamic Art and Archaeology and the University of Strasbourg invites to the 14th colloquium of the Society that will be held at the University, July 5–7, 2018.

The colloquium will be under the title The History of Material Cultures and Visual Arts in Islamic Lands: Current State of Research and New Perspectives.

The history of material cultures and visual arts in Islamic lands is a relatively young research area, but it has proved to be capable of reflecting critically on itself. Thus, archaeologists, material culture historians and art historians rose to the challenge of Orientalism, questioning their positions and perceptions. The field is still debating its very definition and scope: How useful is it to frame it as “Islamic” or “Islamicate”? Where are its geographic and temporal boundaries? What about “centers and peripheries,” and other historiographical models? The area of investigation is so wide, not only in terms of territory and time span, but also of the types of material and artistic output involved that it requires constant updating of its methods and approaches, notably within the context of museums and exhibitions, and at a time when Islam has become a perennial topic of public debate.

The 14th colloquium of the Ernst Herzfeld Society will be a general meeting on the current state of research and on new perspectives. Its main objective is to offer an opportunity to present on-going research projects, to exchange ideas and views, and to discuss practices and experiences on various aspects of the archaeology, material culture and art history of Islamic or Islamicate lands. That is why we particularly encourage pre-arranged panels on specific sub-themes addressed from different angles, in the hope of gene rating unanticipated questions and consistent discussions.

Strasbourg is a particularly appropriate location for such discussions. It is an academic center with a solid tradition in Orient al studies (Orientalistik), starting with Egyptology and Semitic and Oriental languages, including Arabic and Persian which are an integral part of the courses offered at the university since its foundation in 1872 (Theodor Nöldeke). More and more disciplines were added over time, from ancient Middle Eastern archeology to Islamic art history. Strasbourg heritage collections in both libraries and museums include several hundreds of Islamic objects whose history is closely related to that of the university and its libraries, but also to the rise of decorative arts museums and Islamic art collections in late nineteenth-century Europe. As most of these collections have remained in storage places since the end of World War I, the colloquium will also be the opportunity to take a fresh look at them.

The colloquium begins with a key-note lecture on the evening of Thursday, July 5, 2018. It continues with panel sessions on Friday and Saturday, July 6–7.

A meeting of graduate students is scheduled for Thursday, July 5, for which a separate call will be circulated.

The annual members’ assembly of the Ernst Herzfeld Society will be held on Friday or Saturday afternoon.

Registration and participation are free for members of the Society. Other speakers and participants are asked to pay a conference fee of 50 € (reduced 25 €). We kindly request that speakers and participants organize their own travel and accommodation. A list of hotels located in the vicinity of the colloquium venue will be sent in due course.

Pre-arranged panels will preferably include three presentations. It is of course also possible to submit individual papers, which will be presented in open panels. Each presentation should be limited to 20 minutes, followed by 10 minutes of discussion (or 30 minutes of discussion per panel). The colloquium languages will be English, German, and French.

Pre-arranged panels: Please submit a title and an abstract of no-more than 500 words presenting the topic and the aim of the panel, as well as a provisional list of speakers.

Individual papers: Please submit a title and an abstract of no more than 300 words.

Please submit your panel or paper proposal by March 1, 2018 to Nourane Ben Azzouna : benazzouna@unistra.fr

If you want to submit a paper proposal for the graduates meeting, please send your title and abstract to Sarah Johnson: sarah.cresap.johnson@gmail.com

All proposals will undergo a peer review selection process. Acceptance will be notified by April 1.

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