Universiteit Leiden

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Correspondence, Cross-Pollination and Control

  • Chase Robinson
Thursday 17 May 2018 - Friday 18 May 2018
Pieterskerkhof 6
2311 SR Leiden

Correspondence, Cross-Pollination and Control: Transregional Connections and Movements in the Early Islamic Empire

The medieval Islamic Empire stretched from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the Indian subcontinent in the east. From a caliphal capital in, subsequently, Medina, Damascus and Baghdad, the empire was effectively governed as a political unit for some 300 years. But even after the political disintegration of the 9th century with provincial dynasties were ruling virtually independent from the caliph, an Islamic Empire continued to exist as a linguistic, economic, legal, religious and cultural unity. How had this integration and cohesion been realized during the 300 previous years? This conference examines how transregional networks of communication and movement across the vast Islamic Empire contributed to building a shared culture which contributed to a communality and cohesion that, arguably, continues until today.

Caravan of pilgrims

Presenters will address how temporary as well as permanent, politically motivated and centrally organized as well as socially stimulated movements of people and ideas contributed to an increasing linguistic, religious and cultural integration in the Empire which ensured its survival beyond the 9th-century political break-down. Cases will include one-directional flows for example through (forced) settlement of population groups for strategic, military or political reasons and the dispatch of letters and decrees from political leaders to direct or guide their supporters and appointees, as well as economic migration motivated by the rise and fall of local powers, but also multi-directional networks facilitating permanent exchange across regions such as the governmental postal system, commercial and scholarly networks.


  • Zayde Antrim
  • Evrim Binbas
  • Jelle Bruning
  • Corisande Fenwick
  • Edmund Hayes
  • Stefan Heidemann
  • Arianna D'Ottone Rambach
  • Daniel Reynolds
  • Chase Robinson (keynote)
  • Petra Sijpesteijn
  • Joanita Vroom
  • Philip Wood

Conference programme

Please find the programme of the conference here.

Global Interactions

This conference is funded by a Global Interactions Coordinator Grant.

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