Universiteit Leiden

nl en


Ties that Bind: Mechanisms and Structures of Social Dependency in the Early Islamic Empire

Tuesday 3 December 2019 - Friday 6 December 2019
University Library
Witte Singel 26-27
2311 BG Leiden

This conference aims to bring together both senior and junior scholars to present research which illuminates the structures and mechanisms that allowed the early Islamic empire to function. The period to be focused on at the conference is roughly 600-1000 CE.

Structures and mechanisms

The papers describe the way that local and regional elites were both embedded in larger structures of power and dependency, and employed specific mechanisms to achieve their goals. By structures, we refer to frameworks such as administration, tax-collection, political networks, religious communities, legal systems, social conventions and patronage networks. By mechanisms, we refer to specific instances which establish relationships between actors, including documentary cultures, mechanisms of social integration and embedding (such as oaths, contracts, pledges, marriage, inheritance and succession conventions), mechanisms of social exclusion (such as ostracism, imprisonment, excommunication) and so forth.

Papers deal with mechanisms and structures that hold the empire together, or examine the fissiparous and centrifugal forces that tend in the opposite direction. Moments of crisis and breakdown are particularly useful objects of study, allowing scholars to illuminate the precise nature of structures and mechanisms in the process of being contested, renewed and replaced.

Local and regional elites

In focusing on local and regional elites, we aim to understand how the authority and power of the caliphate was actualized within the daily lives of the empire’s inhabitants. This focus cements a shift in recent years to thinking about the caliphate as a multipolar entity, rather than a pyramidical hierarchy of power (Neff and Tillier), and as a set of relationships and interfaces between actors whose influence derives from being embedded in a particular local context, and power-brokers at the centre of the empire (Paul, Heidemann). This conference aims to push the field further, by inviting participants to dissect with greater precision the specific structures, mechanisms, behaviours, strategies and conventions that enabled key stakeholders to achieve goals which shaped the lives of the inhabitants of the empire.

Confirmed speakers

Karen Bauer The Institute of Ismaili Studies
Lajos Berkes Humboldt Universität Berlin
Alon Dar Leiden University
Matthew Gordon Miami University
Edmund Hayes Leiden University
Robert Hoyland Oxford University
Nimrod Hurvitz Ben Gurion University
Said Reza Huseini Leiden University
Hugh Kennedy SOAS
Frederic Krueger Freie Universität Berlin
Marie Legendre University of Edinburgh
Georg Leube University of Bayreuth
Yaacov Lev Bar-Ilan University
Noëmie Lucas Université Paris 1 - Panthéon-Sorbonne
Cecilia Palombo Princeton University
Simon Pierre Université Paris-Sorbonne
Khodadad Rezakhani Princeton University
Eline Scheerlinck Leiden University
Stefanie Schmidt Universität Zürich
Petra Sijpesteijn Leiden University
Naïm Vanthieghem CNRS
Joanita Vroom Leiden University
Paul Walker University of Chicago
Hayrettin Yücesoy Washington University in St. Louis
Oded Zinger Hebrew University of Jerusalem


Registration for the conference is open. Use the button below to access the registration form.


This website uses cookies. More information