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Interdisciplinary Sources & Methods for the Study of Pre-Archival Societies: The Case of Baghdad

07 jun 2022 09:00 - 08 jun 2022 20:00
Inalco - PLC - Amphi - 2ème étage
65 rue des Grands Moulins
75013 Paris
IEA de Paris
17 Quai d'Anjou
75004 Paris

International conference organized with Nassima Neggaz (Paris IAS) and Vanessa Van Renterghem (Inalco, CERMOM) with the support of the Paris IAS


The purpose of this conference is to bring together young scholars as well as more experienced researchers working on different areas related to the city of Baghdad before the Ottoman period. The study of the pre-Ottoman period presents particular challenges. On the one hand, we do not have archives, which only appear after the Ottomans. On the other hand, we do not have substantial archaeological evidence due to the repeated destruction of the city, especially during the Mongol period, but also due to the difficulty of conducting excavations in urban areas. In order to meet these challenges, scholars working on medieval Baghdad have used a wide variety of sources, methods, and approaches. We are particularly interested in innovative and original approaches developed in recent years, especially by young researchers who would benefit from collaborations with their "senior" colleagues whose methods of investigation are more traditional.
Many questions will be explored during this symposium: how can we use and interpret the material at hand? For example, in what ways can scholars working on Baghdad benefit from the information contained in the Kitāb al-Aghānī as a historical source? How can modern technologies as well as medieval material be combined in innovative ways that sharpen our understanding of societies without archives? How can Arab historiographic sources be used to extract non-narrative information, such as topographical information? Hugh Kennedy, for example, will outline how he was able to extract valuable topographical information about the city of Baghdad from the work of ʿArīb b. Saʿd al-Qurṭubī (d. 979), information that he was able to compare with archaeological evidence.


Tuesday, June 7th

8:30 - 9:00 am
Welcome to Participants

9:00 - 9:30 am
General Introduction
Nassima Neggaz (IEA, Paris, Fellow researcher/New college of Florida, USA, Assistant professor), Vanessa Van Renterghem (Inalco, CERMOM)

9:30 - 11:00 am
Historical Topography of a City with No Remnants
Moderator: Hugh Kennedy (SOAS, Londres, Professeur)
Northedge Alastair (Université Paris 1, Professeur émérite) What archaeological evidence can teach us about the urban plan of Early Abbasid Baghdad
Verkinderen Peter (Kitab Project, post-doctorant, Londres) Reconstructing Historical Watercourses in Iraq: Combining Data Types

11:00 am
Coffee Break

11:30-1:00 pm
Archives & Numismatics: Administrative Documents Within and Beyond Narrative Sources
Moderator: Letizia Osti (Università degli Studi di Milano Statale, Associate Professor)
Van Berkel Maaike (Radboud University, Nijmegen, Pays-Bas, Professeur) Reconstructing the archives of Baghdad
Heidemann Stefan (Universität Hamburg, Professeur) Cities as Agglomerations – Bagdad, al-Raqqa, and other places

2:30 – 4:00 pm
Neighborhoods and Urban Identities
Moderator: Maaike van Berkel (Radboud University, Nijmegen, Pays-Bas, Professeur)
Neggaz Nassima (IEA, Paris, Fellow researcher/New college of Florida, USA, Assistant professor) Documenting the Incubation of the Imāmī Movement in Karkh Baghdad: from Poetry to Shī‘ī Rijāl Works
Van Renterghem Vanessa (Inalco, Cermom, Maîtresse de conférences) The Districts of Baghdad: Distinct Entities?

4:00 pm          
Tea Break

4:30 – 6:00 pm

Digital Humanities and New Research Perspectives
Moderator: Michal Biran (Hebrew University, Jérusalem, Professeur)
Peter Verkinderen (Kitab Project, post-doctorant, Londres) Leveraging Digital Text Corpora: Search and Text Reuse Analysis
Jan Jelinowski (Université de Strasbourg et Académie polonaise des sciences, doctorant) Historical Writing and Social Structures in the Huleguid Period: Proposition for a New Reading of ‘Aṭā Malik Juvaynī’s Tārīkh-i Jahāngushā 

Wednesday, June 8th

8:15 - 9:00 am
Guided Tour of the Paris Institute for Advanced Study - Hotel de Lauzun. Only for the speakers.

9:00-10:30 am
Economic, Demographic, and Sanitary Questions: interrogating the Narrative Sources
Moderator: Stefan Heidemann (Universität Hamburg, Professeur)
Hugh Kennedy (SOAS, Londres, Professeur) The food supply of Baghdad in the early Abbasid period (762-c.950)
Michal Biran (Hebrew University, Jérusalem, Professeur) Did the Black Death hurt Baghdad in 1258? Multi-lingual sources for the study of Ilkhanid Baghdad (1258-1335)

10:30 am          

11:00 am -12:30 pm
From Poets to Thugs: The City and its Social Imaginary
Moderator: Mathieu Tillier (Sorbonne Université, Professeur)
Mathias Hoorelbeke (Inalco, Maître de conférences) Baghdad and the Circulation of Poets at the Start of the Abbasid Period according to the Book of Songs
Eugénie Rébillard (Université Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne, post-doctorante) Exceptional or exemplary? Narratives on thievery and thieves in Baghdad (IX-XI)

1:45-3:15 pm

Knowledge and Power: Baghdad, a Universal Center?
Moderator : Vanessa Van Renterghem (Inalco, Cermom, Maîtresse de conférences)
Françoise Micheau (Université Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne, Professeur émérite) Baghdad at the time of Sāmarrāʾ: some questions
Rémy Gareil (Université Lyon 2, ATER, Ciham) Baghdad, universal center of knowledge

3:15 pm

3:45 - 5:15 pm
Writing in Baghdad, Writing About Baghdad: Two Case Studies and Their Horizons
Moderator: Mathias Hoorelbeke (Inalco, Maître de conférences)
Mathieu Tillier (Sorbonne Université, Professeur) Muhammad b. Khalaf Wakî’, Historian of Baghdad
Laetizia Osti (Università degli Studi di Milano Statale, Associate Professor) Looking Things Up and Writing Things Down: Networks and Notebooks in 10th Century Baghdad

5:15-5:45 pm

Concluding Synthesis: Sylvie Denoix (UMR Orient & Méditerranée, Directrice de recherche)
General Conclusion: Nassima Neggaz (IEA, Paris, Fellow researcher/New college of Florida, USA, Assistant professor) et Vanessa Van Renterghem (Inalco, Cermom, Maîtresse de conférences)

5:45 pm
End of the Workshop

Sources of Life. Food and water sustainability in Abbasid Baghdad
With Hugh Kennedy (SOAS, Londres, Professeur) and Maaike van Berkel (Radboud University, Nijmegen, Pays-Bas, Professeur)

Managing access to clean water and large quantities of grain and other foodstuffs was essential for the development of an exceedingly large city such as Baghdad under the Abbasids. With half a million or more inhabitants this was not an easy task. Still we do not fully understand how this was achieved. Existing historical approaches still often frame the institutional arrangements of Middle Eastern cities in relation to the premodern European city and emphasize the institutional weakness of the former. Yet how, then, did these cities support their numerous populations under challenging circumstances? In this combined presentation Hugh Kennedy will discuss the availability of river transport while Maaike van Berkel investigates the multiple water systems that functioned in Abbasid Baghdad and the source(s) of their sustainability.

Date dépassée
Sunni & Shi‘i Memories: Remembering 1258 after 2003
01 September 2021 - 30 June 2022
08 Jun 2022 20:00
Nassima Neggaz
Conferences and workshops