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Conference | Spring School

Sarajevo Spring School

Monday 13 March 2017 - Friday 17 March 2017
Faculty of Islamic Studies, Sarajevo University
Ćemerlina 54
71000 Sarajevo

The Sarajevo Spring School will be organised by NISIS in collaboration with IISMM/EHESS, Faculty of Islamic Studies (Sarajevo University)CNMS (Marburg University) and CSIC, and will take place in Sarajevo. 

Theme: 'Islam, the body and the self'

Religion is not exclusively about textuality. We cannot study religion without taking into account the multiple dimensions of the body as an object of research in its own right. This is also the case with Islam. The Body and the Self is the theme of the NISIS/IISMM Springschool, to be held in Sarajevo, Bosnia in March 2017. The body is the oldest and probably most essential religious medium. Oral transmission is considered the most appropriate way of transmitting the word of God. Just as in any religious tradition at the heart of Islam is the body as the carrier of that tradition.

There are many normative references in theological and juridical sources to various aspects and features of the body. There is an intriguing paradox with respect to the position of the body in Islamic tradition. Although it is considered as the central carrier of tradition, the centrality of the body may also easily open up to idolatry. Iconography is an important emerging field in Islamic studies because it explores among other things the dynamics of the imagination of the human body in Islam in relation to its central religious tenets dealing with its representation. The growth of the modern media replete with images adds new dimensions to the study of iconography and the body.

Religious boundary making also works through the body. The body is the pivotal object of imagination and symbolism in interactions between the self and the other and between Muslims and non-Muslims. Processes of boundary making, othering, exclusion and physical extinction, but also reconciliation and dialogue, always take place through corporeal practices and interactions. Under conditions of war, bodily violence constitutes a compelling and extreme form of boundary making. It involves the use of the body to establish the parameters of otherness, taking the body apart to define the enemy within. But we can also think of more banal and everyday situations of boundary making in which the body plays a central role such as sport and the bodily culture that surrounds it.

And last but not least, the body is the single most important vessel for religious practice. Religion is performed through the body and reversely, stages in the lives of individuals such as birth, marriage and family formation, death and burial constitute important ritual moments in religious traditions. Religiosity is being shaped and re-shaped under changing circumstances through the process of embodiment. The body in Islam has a history in this respect. Ethical and moral improvement, the disciplining of the body for moral improvement, the formation and fashioning of the (Islamic) self is first and foremost accomplished, enabled, but also limited by our bodies. Rituals, acquiring and disseminating knowledge, and disciplinary practices, are accomplished through embodiment. And being in the world, self-understanding, the making of selfhood, and identity-making cannot be properly understood if we would ignore the crucial agency of the body.

We invite researchers explicitly working on the body, but also those not explicitly addressing the body to explore the relevance of the body and the self in their work.

Speakers and programme

The speakers of this year's Spring School are:
Dr. Araceli González Vázquez, Centro de Ciencias Humanas y Sociales - Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas
Dr. Nina ter Laan, Utrecht University
Prof. dr. Enes Karic, University of Sarajevo
Prof. dr. Christian Lange, Utrecht University
Dr. Michiel Leezenberg, University of Amsterdam
Dr. Maike Neufend, Philipps University Marburg

More information about the keynote lectures and other programme details can be found in the programme booklet. 


The organisation of the Sarajevo Spring School is a joint effort by:
- Centre for Near and Middle Eastern Studies / Centrum für nah- und mittelost-Studien (CNMS), University of  Marburg
- L’Institut d’études de l’Islam et des Sociétés du Monde Musulman / École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (IISMM/EHESS)
- Netherlands Interuniversity School for Islamic Studies (NISIS)
- Instituto de Lenguas y Culturas del Mediterráneo y Oriente Próximo / The Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)

At the scholarly initiative of:
- Prof. Mercedes Volait (Academic director CNRS, director InVisu, INHA, Paris, Institut d’études de l’Islam et des Sociétés du Monde musulman(IISMM))
- Dr. Petra de Bruijn (Interim director NISIS)
- Dr. Ahmet Alibasic ( Assistant Professor, Faculty of Islamic Studies, University of Sarajevo)


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