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Guest lecture Jo van Steenbergen (April 13, RU)

Between the early thirteenth and early sixteenth centuries CE, the Sultanate of Cairo affected the balances of power elites across and beyond the regions of Egypt, Syria and the Eastern Mediterranean. Modern historiography has for a long time been determined by the idea of this sultanate as a highly cohesive, deeply integrated and largely coherent bureaucratic state, constructed around a particular ideology of rule by military slaves (mamluks). In this lecture, Professor Jo Van Steenbergen (Ghent University) will explain why and how the deconstruction of this traditional paradigm has been fundamental to his research for many years, presenting what alternative interpretations have to offer, and exploring how Orientalist reflexes have been obstructing such interpretations by favouring Biblical, Romantic and militarist notions of ‘slaves on horses’ and a ‘one-generation nobility’.

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