Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

ImBod | Embodied Imamate: Mapping the Development of the Early Shiʿi Community 700-900 CE

Imami Shiʿism was a key part of the turbulent thesis and antithesis which formed Islam, and it remains greatly influential today. The aim of the ImBod project is to write the first comprehensive social history of the Imamate.

2024 - 2029
Edmund Hayes
ERC Starting Grant

Although Shiʿi claims emerged early in Islamic history, Imami Shiʿism took a couple of centuries to crystallise. Scholarship on Shiʿism has tended to focus on doctrine, but hitherto there has been little research into institutions and social networks. This project aims to fill this gap, addressing the question as to how, when and why a distinctive Imami Shiʿi Imamate emerged and developed as a set of institutions. The ImBod project frames the Imamate as a set of social interactions between the Imams and the community who venerated them within the broader networks of the early Islamic empire. Members of the ImBod project team work on particular thematic spheres in order to identify and study the networks, actors, institutions, spaces, objects and processes through which the Imamate was mediated and performed within the Imami Shiʿi community and beyond. The project brings together a broad array of sources (material, documentary and textual) and approaches, both traditional close-reading and computational analysis in order to approach the vast, challenging textual corpus of Shiʿi and non-Shiʿi texts that bear on the development of the Imamate.

Further information can be found at the ImBod project website.

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