Universiteit Leiden

nl en

Conference | Spring School

Tirana Spring School 2018

  • Space, Place and Dwelling
Monday 19 March 2018 - Friday 23 March 2018
National Historical Museum of Albania
Sheshi Skënderbej 1
1000 Tirana

The Tirana Spring School will be organised by NISIS in collaboration with IISMM/EHESS, CNMS (Marburg University), CSIC, and IAKSA (Instituti i Antropologjisë Kulturore dhe Studimit të Artit, ASA) , and will take place at the National Historical Museum of Albania in Tirana. 

Historical Museum
National Historical Museum of Albania (photo by Petra de Bruijn)

Theme: 'Space, Place and Dwelling'

Space, Place and Dwelling is the theme of the Spring School to be held in Tirana, Albania, in March 2018. Spatiality is an underrated but very fundamental aspect of religious practice and religious reasoning. According to Tweed (2006), religious practice comes down to basically two forces: crossing and dwelling. Terrestrial crossing refers to physical movement, such as pilgrimage, certain spatial rituals, and spiritual travel indicating a movement across time and place. Corporeal crossing refers not only to the religious understanding of life cycles and modes of temporality, but also to the embodied limits and constraints in life and the concomitant registers of meaning provided by religion to confront them. Cosmic crossing refers to transcendental dynamics of boundaries, and to the religious language that provides meaning to crossing.  We could also think of movement that is not religiously inspired but may well impact on notions of religion. Migration, displacement, or refugees for religious reasons.

Dwelling, on the other hand, involves three overlapping processes: mapping, building and inhabiting. Mapping refers to orientation and the location of the individual in a cosmos. It also refers to registration and order building by authorities, including narratives that envision ideals about origin, presence and future. Building is the next step signifying the productive work of making a home and producing locality. The third step, inhabiting, refers to processes of how people inhabit created life-worlds and how they live by these imagined geographies.

Spatiality is about how religious traditions formulate notions of home and community, the inside and the outside, but also about movement, transgression and direction. In short, spatiality of whatever sort is social action that unfolds within Muslim traditions. Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca, hijra, the obligation to move to places under Islamic law, ziyara, the visiting of shrines, and rihla, the quest for knowledge, are Islamic obligations. But also the qiblah, the direction for ritual prayer, the mosque literally meaning ‘place of gathering’, and the concept of Dar al Islam as against the placeless ummah, the global community of believers, point at specific understandings of place and mobility. Also ‘static’ practices such as retreat, hermitage, reclusion or confinement as forms of self-discipline have a clear spatial dimension.

Bektashi Mosque Tirana, Albania (photo by Araceli González Vázquez)

Materializing space

As it refers to the materializing of space, concrete attention will be paid to the ways in which the spatial nature of many Muslim practices can be apprehended through the study of the plural becomings of built environment and materiality. Studies on Muslim heritage and the religious (re)appropriation of space are very significant in this respect, particularly when linked to the understandings of identity and memory.

Bektashi Mosque (photo by Araceli González Vázquez) 

Mapping space

Mapping space is closely linked to the enactment of certain cartographies of religious life and religious practice, building order, the invention of tradition and of course narratives on nation-building.

Inhabiting space

By inhabiting space, individuals and collectivities can communicate their sense of dwelling, but also notions of longing and belonging. 


We invite PhD candidates and Research Master students to reflect on notions of space, movement, place, crossing and dwelling in their own work and to present their ongoing work from the angle of spatiality. We also invite students to bring forward their ideas on various sub-themes, such as narratives of space and place, the contestation and (re)appropriation of space, imaginative spaces, mapping of religious cultures, bridges and boundaries, built spaces and built environments and their religious and socio-political understandings, the spatial framing of religious experiences, memory, storytelling and space, practices of place-making, shifting religious landscapes, rural and urban spatiality, (de)territorialisation, spatial politics, spatial traumas, religious (dis)placement, emotional landscapes, knowledge production linked to space, place and dwelling, etc.

Speakers and programme

The speakers of this year's Spring School are:

Nathalie Clayer (CNRS, EHESS)

Halveti Tekke (Photo by Petra de Bruijn)

Dick Douwes (Erasmus University Rotterdam)

Suraiya Faroqhi (Ibn Haldun University, Istanbul)

Araceli González Vázquez (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones cientificas, CSIC)

Dorian Koçi (National Historical Museum of Albania) 

Enis Sulstarova (University of Tirana)

Oskar Verkaaik (University of Amsterdam)

Armand Vokshi (Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism Polytechnic University of Tirana)

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

The following institutions participate in the  Tirana Spring School:

- Centre for Near and Middle Eastern Studies / Centrum für nah- und mittelost-Studien
(CNMS),University of  Marburg
Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism of the Polytechnic University of Tirana
- L’Institut d’études de l’Islam et des Sociétés du Monde Musulman / École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (IISMM/EHESS)
- Instituti i Antropologjisë Kulturore dhe Studimit të Artit /Academy of Albanian Studies, Tirana 
Instituto de Lenguas y Culturas del Mediterráneo y Oriente Próximo / The Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)
National Historical Museum of Albania in Tirana
- Netherlands Interuniversity School for Islamic Studies (NISIS)

This website uses cookies.  More information.