Workshop on Holistic Approaches to the Study of Early Islam and the Late Antique World
Indiana University, April 15-17, 2016
The Indiana University Working Group on the Late Antique and Early Muslim World invite paper submissions for a conference examining late antique Christianity, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Mandaeanism, Buddhism and other religious communities and their interactions with developing Muslim thought, practice, and history to around 1000 CE.
Most scholarship on the history of early Islam treats its rise as either a complete break from the late antique period or as entirely derivative of earlier Christian and Jewish thought and practice. Recent scholarship (Resto, 2003; Fowden, 2013; Crone, 2008; and Donner 2010) has begun to nuance these opposing views, suggesting that Islam was a product of changes in late antique religion and culture, influenced especially by Roman, Byzantine, and Jewish communities in Arabia and along the Mediterranean coast. While some scholars have embraced the idea that Muslim thought and practice arose in conversation with various religious communities that resulted in a “cross pollination” influencing all of the religious traditions in the region (see, for instance, Newby, 2009), none of this scholarship looks at the whole of the late antique West, Central, and South Asia to see how Muslims interacted with and inspired cultural and religious exchange between various Christian and Jewish communities in the Middle East and Persia, let alone Zoroastrian, Buddhist, Hindu, Mandaean, and other religious groups living throughout North Africa and the Byzantine and Sassanian Empires, as well as areas farther east into Central Asia.
The workshop invites scholars of late antique Christianity, Judaism, Zoroastrianism,
Mandaeanism, Buddhism and other religious communities to IU to work with scholars of early Islam. Two type of paper contributions are encouraged:
- Research papers and works in progress that examine some aspect of late antique and early Islam. Papers need not be comparative but should generate comparative conversation. Research presentations will be grouped into comparative panels with each presentation lasting 15-20 minutes.
- Round-table discussion of a selected text from the late antique period (300-1000CE) that are to be read in collaboration with other texts produced by other communities in the period. The goal is to combine the strengths of scholars working in different languages and traditions and to work together to map the landscapes of the late antique and early Muslim periods; to ascertain the extent of religious, intellectual, and cultural exchange between each of the communities under focus; to locate analogous threads of understanding that demonstrate the dynamic inter-religious and intercultural activity in the period. Each round-table discussion will take place in 90 minute sessions.
500 word abstracts should be sent to Kevin Jaques at firstname.lastname@example.org by no later than February 15. Notification of acceptance will be sent by March 1st. Some funding may be available to subvent travel costs, especially for graduate students and will be assigned on a first-come first-serve basis.
The Workshop is supported by the Indiana University College Arts and Humanities Institute, the Department of Religious Studies, the Department of Jewish Studies, the Islamic Studies Program, the Center for the Study of the Middle East, Department of Central Eurasian Studies, the Sinor Center, and the Indiana University Inner-Asian and Uralic National Resource Center.