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7th LUCIS Annual Conference: Memory and Commemoration in Islamic Central Asia

Wednesday 23 November 2016 - Friday 25 November 2016
Pieterskerkhof 6
2311 SR Leiden

The seventh annual conference of LUCIS focuses on Islamic Central Asia, both from a historical and contemporary perspective. Central Asia today is often regarded as a periphery of the Islamic world, but this region with its fluid borders, stretching into present-day Afghanistan, Russia, China, Mongolia, Iran and the Caucasus, has been for a long period the cradle of empires that ruled over large parts of the globe.

Central Asia in the past has been at the heart of the trade network known as the Silk Road, a premodern highway of global interaction. The idea of a New Silk Road today demonstrates Central Asia’s increasing importance as a centre stage of geopolitical interests. Comprehending the complex history of Central Asia by taking into account its dynastic and regional historiographies and more recent nationalistic narratives is crucial for perceiving the current dynamics of this vast region.

Analysing commemorative practices across Central Asia may provide a prolific framework to outline the complexity of its group identities, in modern times often constructed as nationalistic narratives. In this conference we propose to focus on the notion of memory and commemoration in Central Asia from past and present perspectives, in a broad sense, in order to shed light on the complexities of this fascinating and understudied region.


Rather than focusing on a single period, medium or language of commemorative practices, the conference will take a comparative and connective perspective. Questions that may be addressed include: 

  • Narratives: How does literary and artistic production reflect imperial ideology and commemorative culture? How were dynastic members commemorated and rehabilitated? How were genealogies concocted and manipulated in order to commemorate the ancestral origins? How were important events commemorated?
  • Sites:  How were visions of kingship articulated in commemorative dynastic shrines and landscapes across Central Asia? How did religiously diverse commemorative practices contribute to the development of a distinct royal visual morphology? How were urban centres transformed through the diverse visual lexicon of local Islamic cult activities? How are historical shrines and cults commemorated in the present?
  • Religions:  How was commemorative culture influenced by orthodox Islam and Sufism? What was the impact of these complex theological interactions on the intellectual life and artistic production throughout Central Asia? How are religious commemorative practices used in contemporary nationalistic discourses?

The themes of the conference are broad on purpose, as we wish to welcome speakers from different disciplines and backgrounds. 

Please find the full programme of the LUCIS annual conference here

Confirmed speakers and chairs

Firuza Abdullaeva, Cambridge University
Babur Aminov, Ministry of Education of Uzbekistan
Zifa Auezova, Eurasian Perspective
Bakhtiyar M. Babadjanov, Al-Biruni Institute
Gabrielle van den Berg, Leiden University
Simone de Boer, Leiden University
Evrim Binbaş, University of Bonn
Alfrid Bustanov, European University of St. Petersburg
Jaimee L. Comstock-Skipp
David Durand-Guédy
Dilnoza Duturaeva, University of Bonn / Academy of Sciences of Uzbekistan
Vera Exnerova, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Oriental Institute
Mamad Forough, Leiden University
Svetlana Gorshenina, University of Lausanne
Evelin Grassi, independent scholar
Nienke van der Heide, Leiden University
Gai Jorayev, University College London
Michael Kemper, Unversity of Amsterdam
Henk Kern, Leiden University
Thomas Loy, Humboldt University Berlin
Charles Melville, Cambridge University
Alexander Morrison, Nazarbayev University
Céline Ollagnier, Association "Sciences et Patrimoine" PACT
Elena Paskaleva, Leiden University
Sophie Roche, Heidelberg University
Paolo Sartori, Institute of Iranian Studies Vienna
Annika Schmeding, Boston University
Florian Schwarz, Institute of Iranian Studies Vienna
Tunç Sen, Leiden University
Petra Sijpesteijn, Leiden University
Deborah Tor, University of Notre Dame
Willem Vogelsang, International Institute for Asian Studies IIAS
Paul Wordsworth, Oxford University

This conference is convened by Gabrielle van den Berg and Elena Paskaleva.


If you wish to attend the conference, please register by sending an email to LUCIS (lucis@hum.leidenuniv.nl).

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