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Faculty Roundtable

Nomads and Sedentaries

Friday 11 November 2016
LUCIS scholar Jürgen Paul
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden
Lipsius 227

On Friday 11 November LUCIS will organize a Faculty Roundtable on the assumed dichotomy between the nomadic and sedentary worlds.

“For this (reason), greater fortitude is found among the savage Arab Bedouins than among people who are subject to laws. Furthermore, those who rely on laws and are dominated by them (…) are thereby deprived of much of their own fortitude.” For Ibn Khaldun (d. 1406), the differences between the nomadic and sedentary worlds were the driving forces behind most historic events, dictating the rise and fall of empires and even the characters of most men. Today, although no longer framed within a dualistic civilizational theory, the interactions between these worlds are still subjected to scientific research. But to what extent do these interactions differ from interactions between other groups? This roundtable, chaired by professor Petra Sijpesteijn, brings together academics from various disciplines to discuss the theoretical challenges when studying the relationship between nomadic and sedentary groups.


Jürgen Paul, born 1949 in northern Germany, studied French and Russian in Hamburg and taught these languages at school. Later he started studying Arabic and Islamic History. He took his PhD with Albrecht Noth at Hamburg in 1989, worked for a while at the Orient-Institut at Istanbul, and completed his habilitation in 1993. From 1995 to 2013, he served as a professor for Islamic Studies at Halle. After retirement, he came back to Hamburg. Research interests: History of medieval Iran and Central Asia; local rule and local rulers; nomad-sedentary relations.

Remke Kruk is Emeritus Professor of Arabic Language and Culture at Leiden University. She has published on a variety of topics. Among her specific research fields are Arabic popular epic and the reception of Greek natural philosophy, in particular biology, in the Arabic tradition. Magic and in general the role of the occult are another of her interests. For more information, see www.remkekruk.com

Mirjam de Bruijn is an anthropologist whose work has a clearly interdisciplinary character with a preference for contemporary history and cultural studies. She focuses on the interrelationship between agency, marginality, mobility, communication and technology. Mirjam is an Africanist with a focus on West and Central Africa. She did and does extensive (qualitative) fieldwork in Cameroon, Chad and Mali. Her specific fields of interest are: nomadism, youth and children, social (in)security, poverty, marginality/social and economic exclusion, violence and human rights, Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs).

Peter Akkermans studied Prehistory and Archaeology of Western Asia at the University of Amsterdam, where he also completed (cum laude) his Ph.D on Late Neolithic settlement and subsistence in Syria. From 1990 until 2009 he was Curator of the Dept. of the Ancient Near East in the Netherlands National Museum of Antiquities, in combination with an Extraordinary Professorship of Near Eastern Prehistory at Leiden University. He is director of one of the largest archaeological research projects in Syria, the Tell Sabi Abyad project, which focusses on the evolution of settlement in both the Late Neolithic (ca. 7000-5300 BC) and Late Bronze Age (ca. 1300-1000 BC) of Syria. Together with Glenn M. Schwartz (The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, USA), he recently published The Archaeology of Syria (Cambridge University Press, 2003), the first book to present a comprehensive review of the archaeology of Syria from the end of the Palaeolithic period to ca. 300 BC.

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