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Lecture | LUCIS What's New?! Series

Who’s that Horse? Early Islamic Works that helped shape the Stereotype of the Mounted Arab (Bedouin)

Thursday 10 December 2020
This is an online event. Please register to receive the link to the lecture.
What's New?! Fall 2020 Lecture Series

Popular histories of the Arab horse breed often point towards a few pre-modern Arabic horse-themed works to verify the authenticity and antiquity of the breed. Using these texts as evidence, it is commonly argued that the Arab horse has its origins in pre-Islamic Bedouin culture and has been known since antiquity in Arabia. Modern writers frequently ascribe an unproblematised belief in the purity of horses and their breeding to the Arabs.

In this lecture Hylke Hettema departs from early modern and current debate of the antiquity of the stereotype of the mounted Arab Bedouin and his auxiliary horse, to discuss the influence of the rise of Islam on the formation of Arab identity, focusing on the use of the horse as a symbol as well as historical vehicle to embody Arabness. Building on current critical scholarship on Arab identity and Arabness, she questions the assumed Arab identity of the pre-Islamic horse in Arabia by looking into the connection between prophets and horses proposed by early Islamic writers, and explores the possibility that the idea of an Arab identity for the horse started as a Muslim-era construct. 

About Hylke Hettema 

Hylke Hettema is an external PhD candidate at the Leiden University’s Institute of Area Studies. Her research interests focus on the Arab identity, Early Islamic history, equine history and Orientalism in the premodern and modern period.

This is an online event

Please register in order to receive the link to the lecture.

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