NISIS Spring School 2022: “Mobility and mobilisation in Islamic societies”
Call – ENIS/NISIS-MIDA Spring School Indonesia 2022 “Mobility and Mobilisation in Muslim Societies“
21-27 March 2022
Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic University, Yogyakarta
Deadline: November 1st, 2021
The international Spring School “Mobility and mobilisation in Islamic societies” is co-organised by the European Network for Islamic Studies (ENIS), formed by the European Research Program “Mediating Islam in the Digital Age” (MIDA) and the Netherlands Interuniversity School of Islamic Studies (NISIS), Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic University, Yokyakarta, and International Islamic University of Indonesia. The Spring School addresses the topic of mobility and mobilisation in Muslim societies, past and present. Mobility and mobilisation are two interrelated dimensions in the fabric of Muslim societies that have played an important role in shaping these societies’ religious, intellectual and political developments throughout the centuries. Taking movement as a mediating practice, the objective of the Spring School is to study how mobility of people – both in the past and in the present, be they Muslims or non-Muslims, inside and outside the Islamic world, in the ‘real world’ and in cyberspace – has affected the relationship of Muslim societies with their own past, their understanding of their present environment, the formation or deconstruction of entrenched or new stereotypes, and their local dynamics of political and/or intellectual mobilisation.
For the fourteenth-century scholar Ibn Khaldun, “traveling in quest of knowledge is absolutely necessary for the acquisition of useful knowledge and perfection.” The pilgrimage to Mecca and the study journey (al-riḥla fī ṭalab al-ʿilm) stand out among the cultural practices closely associated with Islam that involve mobility, and their relevance is reflected in the number of studies devoted to these two manifestations of Muslim mobility. Ibn Khaldun’s family was from al-Andalus, where the riḥla fī ṭalab al-ʿilm seems to have reached its maximum expression in the early centuries of Islam. Studies on this cultural practice have shown that Andalusis and Maghrebis travelled in great numbers to the central lands of Islam, ahead of those from other regions also located in the edges of the Islamic lands. Travel and pilgrimage was not limited to the scholars and the believers who could afford to pay for it. The ruler of Mali, Mansa Musa (ca. 1280-ca. 1337), went to Mecca, one of the few rulers who did so in the premodern period. The riḥla as a literary genre is considered to have been an Andalusi innovation.
At the same time, there were always scholars who seem to have considered that they could learn what they needed without venturing out of their homeland, although few general studies have been carried out to explain what motivated them against those who did perform the riḥla. The twelfth century saw the rise of a movement, that of the Almohads, headed by a Mahdi who told his favourite student, the future caliph ʿAbd al-Muʾmin, that he did not need to travel to the East because all the knowledge he needed he could find it now in the West. This proclamation of cultural and intellectual superiority and independence did not last for long, and travels of study continued in later times. After the Almohad attempt at establishing a local sanctuary at the grave of the Mahdi Ibn Tumart in Tinmal (Atlas Mountains) there occurred a ritual re-centering in the Hijaz. This gave rise to a peculiar Maghrebi practice, that of sending letters to the Prophet’s grave in Medina by those who could not visit a town that was also closely linked to the eponym of the Maliki legal school that prevailed in the Islamic West.
When moving from the Western to the Eastern edges of Islam, other developments can be highlighted and contrasted with those just briefly described. In the late-medieval and early modern period, mobility between Muslim India, Southeast Asia, and the central and western parts of the Islamic world, increased significantly. In the Mataram Sultanate of Java, to highlight just one example, local, strongly centralistic traditions merged with Islamic cosmopolitanism. Via the Indian Ocean, scholarly and economic networks proliferated, a dynamic that was further enhanced by the advent of the steamship in the 19th century and the airplane in the early 20th century. The Maghrebi and Indonesian cases serve to illustrate that the geographical and intellectual conception of a “centre” (the Hijaz, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Anatolia in Ottoman times) and “peripheral” regions (al-Andalus, or Southeast Asia) should be problematized as for certain periods (perhaps always?) polycentrism seems to be what best reflects the reality on the ground.
The organizers of the Spring School are pleased to invite researchers to send proposals dealing with these dynamics. Topics could include the local production of knowledge and how it may – or may not – travel to other regions, which conditions favour the circulation of capital, what is gained and what is lost when such circulation does not flow in certain directions – for example, because of language (Arabic, for all its relevance, was only one of the languages through which Muslims expressed themselves), how a manuscript culture changed with the introduction of new media (paper, printing), how it has adapted to the internet era, and how increased facility of movement affected the mobility of texts and ideas across borders. Researchers are invited to reflect on these issues from the perspective of their own research. In order to enhance historical comparison and analytical depth, we call not only on researchers dealing with Islam in the past but also those working on contemporary issues.
Confirmed keynote speakers for the school: Azyumardi Azra (Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University, Jakarta), Ismail Fajri Alatas (New York University), Claudia Derichs (Humboldt University Berlin), Edith Franke (Marburg University), Syamsul Rijal (UIN Jakarta), and Martin van Bruinessen (Utrecht University).
Details of the school for prospective student applicants
- NISIS warmly invites PhD or RMA students in Islamic Studies or related fields with an affinity with the subject of the Spring School to apply;
- Should the number of applicants exceed the number of available places, a selection will be made. Selection will primarily be based on the excellence of the paper proposal and its fit with the theme of the school. Students will be notified of their acceptance mid-November at the latest;
- Funding for travel will be made available for selected students (RMA/PhD, priority given to NISIS members). Here, too, a selection might be applied if the number of applicants exceeds the available funding;
- Selected students will need to make arrangements to travel to Indonesia themselves. Students are also required to arrange for comprehensive cancellation insurance. NISIS cannot be held accountable for the necessity of changing or cancelling flights due to the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic or other unforeseen events. Students will arrange their own visa. When necessary, NISIS can arrange for a letter of invitation;
- NISIS will assist in the arrangement of accommodation, which will be organized together with our Indonesian partners and will be offered to participants to keep the costs of participation at a minimum;
- Compliance with local and up-to-date COVID regulations are responsibility of the selected candidates themselves.
For NISIS members, your applications must include:
- a title and abstract of 300 words (max.) of your presentation (15 minutes) to be given at the spring school
- a short biography of 50 words (max. in the third person)
If you are not a NISIS junior member, your application must include the following:
- a CV
- a motivation letter
- a one-page description of your PhD or MA project
- a title and an abstract of 300 words (max.) of your presentation (15 minutes) to be given at the spring school
- a short biography of 50 words (max. in the third person)
Please register for the Spring School via this form until 1 November 2021. If you have any question regarding the Spring School about eligibility, practical concerns, etc., please contact the NISIS office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Spring School is convened by Christian Lange (NISIS), Marcel Fierro, Albrecht Fuess, Pascal Buresi (all MIDA), and Noorhaidi Hasan (Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic Univesity; International University of Indonesia).