[MUSIC PLAYING] Good afternoon, everybody. Welcome back from lunch. I just want to thank [INAUDIBLE]
for asking me to participate in today’s conference. I’m happy to be here and
to be learning from all of these wonderful papers. For this session,
our respondent will be Ann Murphy from University
of British Columbia. And her time starts now. [SIDE CONVERSATION] The clock begins once
you’re at the podium. OK, fair enough. She’s promised to play
hardball, so I have to hurry. But I want to– now that we’ve got the
picture out of the way, I want to thank [INAUDIBLE]
for inviting me. It’s really an honor to be here. Again, as someone who’s
not in this field, directly in this field, it’s
really an honor to be here, to listen to these papers,
and to have an opportunity to respond to them, and
also to Barbara for her help in getting me here. Thank you. And it’s also a
particular pleasure because I did my undergraduate
degree at Brown a long, long time ago. I had a concentration– I forgot that they were
called concentrations– in religious studies. And so it’s really,
really something to come back as a
professor, which, when I was an undergraduate, I
never imagined I could become. So you never know,
for the undergraduates in the room, what might happen. And I’m proof of that. So it was really a pleasure
to read these two papers. And I’m going to
give a brief summary as I was asked to, and then pose
some questions that hopefully will bring us into
the Q&A period. And then really looking forward
to hearing from everyone else. And I’m not sure how to
pronounce people’s names. [INAUDIBLE] Oh, OK. So Dr. [INAUDIBLE] paper
I found fascinating. Thank you very much. So it asks us what
constitutes an event. How do we define eventness? The paper invites us to consider
this question in some depth alongside other
questions regarding the nature of historical
representation in different genres,
languages, and contexts. The subject of the
paper is a series of what the author calls
operatic events or festivals. Different terms are utilized
at different points. Public circumcision celebrations
enacted in the Ottoman context from the 15th to
the 16th centuries, with a focus on
the memorialization of late 16th century
example of that. And the use of the
different terms, operatic event, festival, et
cetera, is exactly the point, as the author argues
that the point is to trace from 1457,
which was the time of the first
independent circumcision celebration in Adrianople– is that right? OK– to 1582, a
transition from what he calls an official court
ceremonial to an event that looks like a festival. This is the period that’s
associated with a new Ottoman ceremonial culture, he tells
us, and its later enactments and embellishment and
celebrations in 1582, after two very visible
celebrations in 1530 and 1536, provide an opportunity to
see how the rule of Murad III was drawing on these
previous ceremonies but then expanding on
them in significant ways. And there were lots
of commonalities between this 1530 and 1532 event
and the later event of 1582– gift giving rituals, different
kinds of games, parades, banquets, et cetera. So in that way, we’re
kind of replicating the form of the event from in
1582 based on the 1530 event. But at the same time, there
was innovation reflecting political developments
such as a war with Safavid Iran and internal
economic and political tensions. So overall, the author
tells us that in sum, the earlier such spectacles
are performances focused on gift-giving, feasting, and
the demonstration of skills, while the Guild Parade– and I want to know a bit more
of what that looked like– and public articulation of
political and sexual innuendo were more pronounced in 1582. The real heart of the
paper is its exploration of a range of sources available
for the reconstruction of the 1582 event,
primarily archival records and literary works that
include both histories and what it calls
books of celebration or Surname that narrates the
preparations for celebrations, the event itself,
and the participants. It’s through these
sources that the author seeks to draw out what it means
to talk about an event, how eventness is constructed in
the minds of late 16th century Ottoman bureaucrats
and literati. So in broad terms,
then, the paper is really a
meditation on source, on knowledge formation
that is produced out of a range of
sources, and on genre. And the event is kind of the
locus of that investigation. I think one really striking
feature of the work is its focus on
this new genre that comes into the fore at this
moment in time, the Surname or books of celebration. And the author provides us
three important examples of the genre. The first of these,
by Mustafa Ali, presents what the author
calls a realistic narrative. That’s documentary and focus. But it also organizes
knowledge about the events in thematic terms, so
not just pure reportage, but using a thematic narrative. The other two are
one by Intizami, whose prose text, unlike the
earlier text, which was verse, is concerned with issues
around replication, around the fact of whether
or not these events replicate effectively the 1530
and 1532 events, or so it seems to me in
my reading of the paper. And then also, the third work
is a recently discovered text by Farahi that is presented as
more accessible and less elite and giving a more generic
narrative that gives way to a documentary account. The author then contrasts these
with historical narratives, which take this event and
place it in a broad context. So we’re no longer just thinking
about the event in itself and all its constitutive
parts, but instead a broader sweep of history where he
says that writing history in the 16th century have become
a panacea against the malaise of the time. And that’s where we see
the 1582 events placed in a larger context. So the author ends
the paper, actually, with a series of
important questions that would be fruitful for
all of us to return to, such as what does it mean to
even call these texts Islamic? What is the role
of Islam in them? Or also early modern
or Ottoman, how do these terms inform
our reading these texts. He also asks about authorial
purpose and reception and the nature of
historical writing itself. So I’m going to add a few
questions to those questions that he gave us. So the author notes
that before when the members of the
Ottoman dynasty married members of
neighboring dynasties, circumcisions were part of
the wedding celebration. So you had these large
celebrations for weddings and then circumcisions
were a part of them. And it’s only after the
transition from marriage to concubinage as the source
of biological reproduction of the Ottoman dynasty that male
circumcisions came to the fore in these kinds of
public celebrations. And this really fascinated
me and it really invites, I think, an opportunity to
bring a history of women into this dynasty
spectacle that we have before us through these texts. You can add to this, I think,
add to the complexity of what that story could be when
we consider a point that he makes on page four about
the age of the prince to be circumcised. So the prince was born
in 1566, so by 1582, he was already a young man. So he argues that
this may be why it was urgent for
them to perform the circumcision at that time
when he was 16 years old. But that’s striking, I think. And it really calls attention
to the very bodily fact of circumcision, which is
itself a deeply engendering bodily practice. And you can add to that another
layer that he provides us that right before the
circumcision of the prince, there is a ritual circumcision
of a large number of orphaned boys in the cities. So we have this
kind of replication, this serialized enactment
of masculinized bodies that I think can
actually help us to unread Ottoman authority
in a very interesting way, and also to put it in tension
with the ways in which women’s bodies are mobilized
for reproduction and then effectively
erased through non-marriage as not wives. So this engendering
of a sex of men is directly linked
to the erasure of the productive capacity
of women and their bodies. So I just say I’m just intrigued
with the opportunity this represents to have
a history of erasure alongside a history of
presence in terms of gender. My second question or thing
I’m interested in knowing more about relates to materiality. So the author has
mentioned the need to address the complex
relationship between text and image in his
project, between the text and illustrations
in the manuscripts. But I wondered if it might
be taken just a step further. Gift-giving rituals
are mentioned early on in the paper. And it’s clear that the
text that he’s working with have engaged with
this materiality in quite extensive detail. There are lists
of gifts mentioned and some of the archival
records are really actually a history of gift
giving more than anything else. Here we’re kind of returning
to Sean’s bundles of meaning and practice and how they
relate to historiography. So there’s an object
story here that I think comes to us through these
texts that’s quite important. But that doesn’t mean it’s
separate from the text because we get to be
objects through the text. So they’re implicated. The materialities
of the preparations for the celebrations are
explicated quite well from page 8 on. I hope I’ll be OK time-wise. And that brings a lot of
texture and concreteness. But I just would
invite the author to perhaps consider
these objects and the kind of way
telling this story from the perspective
of these objects might be particularly
interesting. What does material culture
history and object exchange history have to tell
us about these events and the relationships
that they established, the forms of power
that they instantiated, and the social
practices that they inaugurated or were continuing? Because as we
know, in 1582, they were replicating
earlier practices. So since I’m running lower
on time than I thought– You can have an extra
couple of minutes. OK. Don’t cut anything off. OK. So thank you. I’m grateful. I think also the history of
objects as represented in text is a valuable opportunity to
think about genre more broadly. So we’re thinking about
historical narration but also think
about these material forms that are brought
to us through texts, and not to do that– make the mistake that
was discussed earlier of separating object or material
history from the textual because they’re
deeply implicated. OK, I’ll move onto the
second essay, which is also a pleasure to read– and thank you for it– by [INAUDIBLE]. So the essay opens
with an overview of the emergence of landscape in
the 15th century and cityscape painting the late 17th
century in the Netherlands and the 18th century
in Italy in Europe. So that’s a kind of opening
salvo she makes as an entry into the consideration
of the emergence of what the author calls a complete and
articulated image of Damascus, which predates these European
developments considerably. And happening in the 12th
century, when the city surged back to life after several
centuries of decline. This image so created,
however, is a literary one, not a pictorial image,
although she makes clear there were pictorial
images that predated the text. So it’s not–
again, we shouldn’t see a distinction, an
absolute distinction, between image and text here. The author argues that
this account of Damascus that emerges at the
end of the 12th century was both canonical
in that it launched a new genre of texts and
canonizing such that as she– I’m going to quote her– “Damascus was, for
the first time, released into secular
time and space.” And then she actually
explicates this further on page 16 where the cityscape
narrative tradition, quote, “wrested Damascus from
the grips of divinity.” And I have some questions
about that because I found that fascinating. The cityscape and the
rendering of the paper allows for a deep
historical reading of place through layers of
texts, as well as layers of history as
embedded in texts. The author provides a rendering
of the city of Damascus in the post-Caliphate setting as
being marked by what she calls a new monumental architecture– and I’m quoting her here–
which betokened nothing less than a new social
contract on which both the professional
scholar and the Sultan were signatories. This was because this was a time
when hereditary authority was unavailable to the Sultan
and other elites who are not descended from the
family of the prophet. And so these were other means
of establishing and popularizing that authority. So she argues this is
tied to the narrative project of rendering
the city in words, embedding these elites in
the topography of the city and ensuring their hegemony as
presenters and representatives of these cities. So the past and present
co-exist in these cityscapes. The account that she gives
us of [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH] of the Umayyad mosque thus
is partially description and partially history and takes
into account controversial aspects of the mosque’s history,
and in that way, she argues, does a kind of white washing. It washes it clean and makes
it available to the author to represent within the
present and in the future. The author emphasizes that
the movement, this sense of movement that we
heard earlier discussed, that’s embedded within
the cityscape narrative. And this is definitive
of the genre, defining it as a unique aspect
of the vision of the city and the region that’s produced
through the narrative. The discussion of the
state-centric view of the landscape from the
perspective of the state, which is administrative in
its interest and extractive, I think, would be an
appropriate term, kind of making the terrain
legible, she says, to the revenue-seeking
state, really does remind us of larger
literatures on the colonialism. So from my experience
in South Asia and as an South
Asianist thinking about empire and its
impact in South Asia, and the ways in which
territorial imaginaries were both transformed by the imperial
and also co-opted by them. One wonders, though,
when thinking about that, when thinking about these
different kinds of colonial or imperial territorial
imaginaries, if what is at work is perhaps
just an ever more intrusive state system– so we get back
to the question of the state– rather than anything intrinsic
to any one such system. So this kind of
covetous gaze that you speak of of Cairo, which really
defines the colonial, I think, in a fundamental way. So it just seems to be this
extractive voice that’s being enacted with ever
more efficient means. She argues that these
cityscapes offered the residents of
Damascus and the authors that she’s speaking of
the possibility of what she calls returning the gaze. And so it seems we have a
kind of subaltern voice here that is speaking
against occupying power. So that’s how she positions
Ibn Tulun’s survey of [NON-ENGLISH],, the greenbelt
that surrounds Damascus, a survey of a hinterland
told from the point of view of someone walking through it. So we see this move
overall towards, if I understand the
argument correctly– and I apologize if I’m
wrong and you can correct me if I’m wrong– this move towards
this bureaucratizing gaze or extractive
gaze and in an answer to that gaze within these texts
through a sense of movement through space. This is paralleled and
extended in visual terms– and again, to a very
different kind of visual form with cartography. And she describes
different kinds of cartographic
imaginations of this space against a kind of
imperial cartography and then an alternative to it. So here’s my questions. Since the author invokes the
pictorial landscape cityscape at the beginning, I guess
I want to draw attention to what I do think is a
radical difference between text and image, and that is
the intrusion of time. And I think that’s so
central to your argument overall, temporality, that I
wanted to just call attention to it. So that is while the
ravages and gifts of time are visible in the image, there
is something inherently static about an image. It is marked by the
past and the present and suggests a future, perhaps. But it is fundamentally
made static. So I would just push you
to perhaps differentiate because I think narrative in
itself is temporally marked. And particularly the very
works that you’re talking about are so marked by a kind of
a temporality that really challenges the kind of
static nature of an image, and movement, also. Movement is so important
to these narratives. It’s fundamental
to what you seem to be arguing is a kind of
alterity within the text. But that, too, is
temporally marked. So you can see that movement
as being a temporal act as well as an act of movement
through space. So I think that might give
another aspect of what may be unique about
these narratives that you’re exploring. I also wanted to know
a little bit more about what you
mean when you say– I understood the
canonical aspect of the cityscape narrative. But how is it canonizing? How does it create cannons? Is the landscape made canonical? And I ask that because
I think in some ways you’re arguing for a
de-canonizing function for these texts the
ways in which they call against a bureaucratic
and economic consumption of the land. And so that, to me, is a
slightly different perspective. So I just wanted to
kind of ask you to think a little bit about canonizing. Even so, some of the heroes
of the story, I think– like Ibn Tulun, he does
remark on the produce that towns are known for and
he comments on the revenue in a given region. So I wonder if perhaps he’s
not so anti-imperial as– so I wonder what’s the slippage
between the bureaucratizing gaze and extractive gaze and
this gaze from within that’s arguing for an alternative. The other question
had to do with– which I mentioned earlier
that I was curious about– is this relationship
to divinity. So you say that Ibn
Tulun has a divine frame and that that in some way
diverts pragmatic or economic interests. But firstly, it sometimes,
at one level, I think, it’s more of a normalized
act to ascribe kind of all to divinity, especially
at the opening of a text. So does that actually function
to subvert economic interests? And then I– OK, I’m almost done. And then the other
part of that is you talked earlier that I quoted
you about wresting Damascus from the grips of divinity and
bringing it into the secular. So I just wonder, what are
the complex rules of divinity for you in these texts,
in articulating space, in articulating authority, and
what does it mean to narrate? How are these stories about
divinity and how are they not? So just two short things and I
promise I’m getting off here. The one point was also, you
mentioned Hadith studies and that several
of the people who are involved in these narratives
were engaged in Hadith studies. And I wondered, what’s
happening there? That’s a really
fascinating conjuncture. And just to ask you to
maybe comment on that. I loved your use of
the term time eaters and how they’re
producing Damascene time. So just to– and does that
follow from Hadith studies in some way? And then lastly, you noted
that Damascus cityscapes and chronical production
creates a world onto its own. But you also noted, as well,
that other places have been described and narrativized. So is the only tension– I mean, you draw attention,
I think, in particular to the imperial
versus to use the term the occupied, the peripheralized
if I can make– is that a word? And so that comes to the fore. But are there other
distinctions that hold between the
vision of Damascus as it’s experienced
and walked and lived and recorded and narrated
and other cityscapes? Because I think
that might lead us to even more texture of this
kind of theory of history that is a theory of
place, not just a place but place making or traversing. So I’m done. Thank you. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] Sorry, I changed– No, no. I actually don’t own
the time, so it’s OK. So at this point,
I’d actually like to ask both of the
paper’s authors to come up rather than
take time and transition. So we have 10 minutes each? You have 10 minutes each. Is there a preference for
who would like to go first? Or should we just go in
the order of the comment? So our first respondent
will be Kaya Sahin of Indiana University
followed by Dennis [INAUDIBLE] of Boston College. OK. Thank you so much for
this detailed presentation and discussion. I’ll come back to your
questions about circumcision as bodily and gendered practice,
I’ll also talk a little bit about materiality. These are important notions. But since I was asked
to focus on the sources, that’s what I gave
primacy to in my paper. And I would like to talk
about these a little bit. So during our discussions
with [? Shazad, ?] we somehow decided that I would say
something about events, about something
becoming an event, about something being
described as a specific event. And I chose this particular
circumcision ceremony because of the existence of
multiple kinds of sources about it. We have archival sources– so in other words, these
sources circumscribe the event, but in different ways by
producing different kinds of narratives and by producing
different types of information about the event itself. We have the correspondence of
the imperial council concerning the organization of
the event, and then you realize that organizing
an event that goes on for almost a month
and a half in Istanbul requires a lot of organization,
feeding the crowds, organizing artists and
artisans, preparing the space, ensuring an orderly unfolding
of the event itself. So on the one hand, we have the
event as bureaucratic practice, as we see in the correspondence
of the imperial council, even before the event happens. So it starts becoming visible
in this official correspondence. And then there’s another
kind of archival practice that happens during the event
in the form of the listing of, number one, the gifts
that are brought to the sultan by different communities
and different individuals, and then number two, through
the registration of the names and numbers of different
communities, artists, performers who take place
in the event itself. So we have an archival
recording of the event while the event
is still going on. You can imagine
some Ottoman scribes with pen and paper making
note of these things as the event keeps happening. And the archival
anchoring of the event goes even after the event
ends because of, again, the members of the
imperial bureaucracy trying to wrap up the loose ends. There are debts to be collected. There is money to be dispersed. There are some
security-related issues. The imperial council makes
sure that European envoys who come to the event can go
back to their home places safely and securely. So there are these
archival practices that give us a vision of the event. Then there are these
narrative sources that are devoted to
the event itself. Now, before 1582 in
Ottoman practice, I mean, there are these
large scale ceremonies, which as you said, emerge
around the mid-15th century. But those ceremonies
are usually recorded as part of larger
historical works, while in 1582 we see
the emergence of what I would like to call a subgenre. I mean, it’s not
as genre in itself, but it’s a kind of
a subgenre, which is dedicated to this
particular event itself. And we have other
examples of this sub-genre later on for later
festivities in the 17th, 18th, 19th centuries. So then we see the emergence
of this kind of narrative that is devoted just
to the event itself. Now, when we look at
Ottoman historiography, you know, there are
universal histories. There are regional histories. There are dynastic
histories that are devoted to the history
of the Ottoman Empire. Also, from the late
15th century onwards, we see the emergence
of narratives that are devoted to single events. But these are usually campaigns. But in the case of this
particular imperial festival, we see the emergence of these
single event-focused narratives that are not about campaigns
but about an event that’s very much like a festival. But not only that, we
see different kinds of books or
festivities that emerge in the case of this
particular event. As you mentioned,
we have an author who a historian, who’s
known as a historian and as a literature at
large who basically produces a thematic account of the
event, of types of festivities, types of activities. This is his organization. We have two other narratives
that basically tell us about the event from a
chronological perspective. And then again, there are all
these different linguistic registers that you encounter in
all of these three narratives. Then we have the
account of the event in larger sources of history
that are produced shortly after the event. There are other later accounts. But I wanted to make
sure that I would only focus on narratives and records
that were produced by people who saw the event in person
because I wanted to emphasize the experience of the authors
and the recorders instead of the interpretation of the
event in later centuries. That’s the subject of
a different discussion. So if you also see– thanks– so if you also
see the description of the event in two larger
books of history, one is regnol, and the other one is
a universal history. And so in these more historical
sources, what is important is that I seem to see
a kind of separation between the panegyric
style of the sources that only described
event and history per se, or history as such. And what is
interesting is that one of the authors who produced
one of these narratives about the event is
also the writer of one of these later histories. So we have two different
narratives of the event by the pen of the
same individual. And interestingly enough,
in his historical book, when he talks about the event,
he gives a very short summary. And he says– actually, he
uses this very classical Arabic grammatical notion. He closes [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]. He says I could keep
talking about this, but in the context of a work of
history, this is just too much. This would be just a waste
of time, waste of space. So I basically wanted
to corner the event and talk about it
as it was recorded through different
kinds of sources, and also because these
different sources are utilized by different kinds of
historians in order to write different kinds of history. I also wanted to bring together
the narrative, the archival, and the properly
historical and to look at how this event
emerges out of all this. Now, to come to your
questions, obviously– and I recently
published an article about another public ceremony. It’s in the latest issue of
the American Historical Review. So I would like to refer
to those of you who are more curious about this
subject to my article, in which I talk more about
circumcision and about gifts and materiality. It is, as you said,
a circumcision is a very gendered practice. And in this particular case,
in the case of the Ottoman dynasty, it is being
utilized consistently from the mid-15th to the
late 16th century in order to mark the specific
masculinity of the male members of the Ottoman dynasty as
they reproduce biologically through concubines
instead of legal marriages or marriages of alliance
or anything like that. So that’s the point
when you see the coming to the fore of the
practice of circumcision as the main Ottoman
dynastic event. Then the practice of
succession changes in the mid 15th century. The participation, visibility,
invisibility of woman, I mean, this is a delicate subject. If I can talk about women
in an Islamic society, there are all these prejudices. There’s a sort of
graphical baggage that you have to deal with. I think in this case,
you see a lot of women among the audience,
the commoners who watch these festivities. There are a lot of records
of a woman being president. The female members
of the dynasty are also very much present
but through illusions, through references. They are not
visible, but they are visible behind the curtain
in their private spaces. So there are a lot of
references to the female members of the dynasty, as well. So I mean, it’s not necessarily
about the erasure of a woman, but it’s about the constriction
of women to certain spaces. In the case of the elite
woman, you see a woman from the lower classes walking
around watching the ceremonies and all that sort of stuff. Now, materiality,
I agree with you. I mean, there is this
Ottoman obsession with wealth, with objects
and what they signify. And again, I talk about it
in my article the little bit. In the case of all these
circumcision ceremonies, not only these
gifts are presented, but they are also displayed
in Istanbul’s Hippodrome because these are
signs of the refined culture of an increasingly
globalizing political and military elite. So in that regard,
I mean, there is a– OK, I’m wrapping up. So there’s a very
Maussian gift giving, gift exchange type of thing. But it’s not only at that level. I mean, you also
see the exchange, but more importantly,
the display of gifts as markers of specific cultural
and political identites, slaves being brought, all these
different objects from China, from the Arab provinces
being brought to the sultan and being displayed
in the Hippodrome as really one of the markers of
the high culture of the Ottoman dynasty and the tastes of this
sort of refined ruling elite. OK. Thanks. Thank you, [? Shazad. ?]
Thank you, Barbara. This is a wonderful
idea and occasion. And thank you very much for
the questions that you asked. I start with saying that
I think the image is very temporal and very much
depending on how you’re looking at it can bring about
very similar temporality and movement. And so yes, I mean, I want to
push back on the distinction. Whereas you’re right that
what I’m looking at the text is both ossifying and
kind of fossilizing, but at the same time, I’m
looking at it as a movement. And really, nobody in
my 25 descriptions, nobody is literally saying–
except Ibn Asakir, you know, I’m walking down the
street and then I– but the implication
there that there is an– it’s an itinerary. So I think you can do the same
while you look at an image to see an itinerary. And the reason why I compare
these two traditions, the word tradition from Damascus and
the Dutch and Venetian one, is that they become schools
that– and the paintings talk to each other. So the idea for me here is
that this tradition is all intertextual and they’re
talking to each other and they’re fighting
with each other. They abrogate each other. So I will think about it more. In terms that– I think there’s a bit of
hyperbole about grabbing it from divinity. It’s a matter of style. But but there is something
extremely important about Damascus being released
from a particular genre which Nancy has worked on quite
a bit, which is sacrilizing a landscape in the past versus
giving it out and saying, OK, now you can walk down the street
and register it in your time. So it’s revolutionary,
I actually think. And I don’t know if I have
tried to push that point across in the paper– I hope it came through– that as simple as it sounds,
it’s actually revolutionary. And so the idea of being in
the here and now and allowing people after you to do the
same thing is a huge deal. So to say secular
time and space, I think it’s even undermining
it because this is not a– so what Ibn Asakir
does is he opens it up as a tabula rasa for people to
fill it with their own divinity all the time. And so secular versus divine
or secular versus religious, it doesn’t really work. I just don’t know how to do– I want a new concept
or word to talk about the availability
of Damascus for anybody walking down
the street to record it and to read the tradition
and play around with it. So I think here is a
weakness that I could play. And if anybody has suggestions
of how I could do this, I would be very grateful. So it’s that movement
from it being something always about the
past to something that opens the
present is amazing. Similarly, the same thing is
happening in history writing. So all history before the
Crusader, that middle period, was about the past, suddenly it
becomes contemporary history. And it’s about writing the
events in the here and now. So these two things are
happening at the same time. And indeed, most of
these topographies are called histories. And they are a part– at least Ibn Asakir and
Ibn Shadad, a few of them are part of much larger works,
huge works, in which biography is the center and not the city. So what is important here is
that you have these compendia that are then parceled out. And the city becomes an
object of its own with time. And no, it’s not
only the impact– OK, so here the particular
episode that I worked on for this paper I think speaks to
empire or to the Mamluk Empire. And I think also it
speaks to the idea that Cairo and Damascus had
been sisters before the Mamluk period. And they’re competing,
even the letters between [INAUDIBLE] in one city
or the other, jokingly talk to each other about
is the Nile better or the [INAUDIBLE] river better? And one Syrian says, and
look at Cairo the whore. I mean, literally, they have
these kind of flightings going on. So they were sisters. And then suddenly
Damascus is downgraded. And Damascus is never
significant enough to be the queen. And it’s nothing significant
to lose itself into oblivion. It had been the center
of the first empire. It was the capital
of the first empire. So there’s always
this defensiveness, this way of trying to
protect it or make it larger or bigger or more important. So there’s the chip on their
shoulders, these Damecenes. The other thing is that there
is something about Damascus. And this has to be a
subtitle that I have. All the cities that I– I mean, you know, there’s a
whole chapter about how a lot of Islamic cities have received
descriptions from Cairo, most famously under Maqrizi
and Ibn Khaldun to Istanbul and [NON-ENGLISH] and all of
these people– to Isfahan, to Cordoba, to Fez, I mean,
I go through all of these. There’s something
about Damascus, where once this Ibn Asakir
kind of gives birth to a genre and the genre has been around,
it’s [NON-ENGLISH] before him from Baghdad, but the way that
he turns it to the present. He turns it to the contemporary. From there on, it’s continuous. It’s intertextual. And it is about kind
of updating the new and talking about
the old a little bit. And each one of them has
a very different agenda. And so that moment
is a Mamluk moment. But there is a moment
by the same author where he’s turning against his
teacher in his rendition of a suburb of Damascus. So the teacher is talking about
it as the as the [NON-ENGLISH] fortress of these scholars
building this community of hadith, of [NON-ENGLISH]
hadith, in Damascus. And this is the student who
is a hanafi who is partaking in the same hadith
activities writes a sequel, but it’s really an obligation
to show how it’s also a hanafi and a [NON-ENGLISH] place. Meanwhile, there are texts
that are lost in the middle that I have to reconstruct
not only through this guy but through an 18th century guy. So there’s a lot of archeology
to be done in this, right? So what I’m trying to
say is that what you saw is an application
for a moment in time. And it’s about
how this tradition is responding to many things. So in this instance,
he’s responding to the bureaucratic
traditions of Cairo and to the mapped cartography. Of course, I could
be completely off. But the fact that the guy
starts with that particular introduction and
subverts nature in a way to make it a divine creation
is totally wresting it back. And I also want to a little bit
make light a little bit more– I think I did it
very heavy-handedly– about the imperial
gaze of Cairo and kind of the efficiency of the–
the state was not efficient. But as a land-based empire,
what they were looking for is revenue. So it’s not efficient. So maybe I should re-work that. But the attitude of the
bureaucrat is bureaucratic. And it’s definitely the
nature versus culture. It’s the nature. And so what he’s producing, what
they’re producing is Damascus. That was towards the question
that you had in the end. As for the scholarship
of hadith, I am– again, there’s something
about Damascus. They are all historians who
are writing chronicles, each a sequel of each other,
or completing one another. And they’re writing,
as well, these topographies or cityscapes. And they’re the same
network of people horizontally and vertically. And they’re all doing hadith. A lot of them are [NON-ENGLISH]. I didn’t want to get
into that and kind of explain to everybody. A lot of them are [NON-ENGLISH]. But what is interesting
here is that the sequential, complete enclosure,
encirclement of Damascus under their control,
temporally and physically. So none of the traditions
above the other cities is that closed and
that sequential. There is something about it. And two people
have– two Mamluks have read this paper
that you’ve read. And we decided we have to get
together and talk about how Damascus is so self-contained,
self-presenting, and kind of sealed for– trying to
compete with everyone and keep everybody out. So there’s something
very emotional about it. Did I answer all the questions? Yes. That’s great. OK, thank you. Great. So I think what I’d like to do– [APPLAUSE] Oh, yeah. Let’s give them a
round of applause. For the sake of
conversation maybe flowing a little bit
more, I know this room– it’s hard since it’s
sort of everybody facing in one direction. But if you raise
your hand and let me know you have a
question, I’ll take it down. And then once you
hear the question, if you have a
follow-up and you’d like to interrupt
the queue, just raise two fingers so I know
it’s a follow-up question. And that way hopefully
we won’t have everybody– Brilliant. –just waiting for
their turn to talk. All right. So please let me know with one
finger if you have a question. OK. I have four questions. OK. And again, if you
have a follow-up after hearing the
questions, just give me a two-finger salute. Please, begin on the right. Yes. Thanks, they were
both wonderful papers. Oh, I have to do this. OK. For Dana, I actually wanted to
ask about these itineraries. And you mentioned really
briefly that for Ibn Tulun, when he’s going through enumerating
the towns and villages, he does so alphabetically. And I just wondered if you
could talk more about that because in terms of thinking
about the way that one moves then through the [NON-ENGLISH]. And how that compares
to the way one would move through it if
one were actually walking, and from the bird’s eye
view that you describe, as well as then on the
map that you provide at the end of the way that the
viewer can hover over or click over at will. And how did those different
kinds of itineraries of moving through
this space, then, reflect different
kinds of politics, different kinds of
disruptions of the power of the state and the center
and those sorts of things. Are we taking several, or– No, I think you
should feel free to– Thank you for this question
because I struggled in the paper to talk to– so most of these– if it’s a long
description, because we have long and short ones, if
it’s a long, big description, you can see that it is a series
of views, Walker’s views. There’s this mosque. Next to it is that mosque. So it’s really a
Walker’s point of view. Sometimes it’s just
enumeration of buildings without even any
attempt to talk about. But you can tell from
the way that they are arranged that it’s either
by neighborhood or by– so you can infer it. In this one, Ibn Tulun’s
what is interesting is that he does it alphabetically. And so where is
the movement here? But it’s in each village. He talks about it has this
and that and the other thing, implying a movement but
never, like Ibn Asakir saying, as you walk from– so it’s a combination of both. By listing them alphabetically
and by telling you this is what constitutes [NON-ENGLISH]. These are the villages,
he’s looking from above. But by going into each
village and saying, 1, 2, 3, to the point that he gets
into a village and he says, it’s now ruined, I can’t
even enumerate anything. So there is a subjective
physical kind of point where he’s standing and looking
around, even if it’s not– even when he doesn’t
say, I’m standing here and looking around. So I think the aperture
in each of these texts tells so much
about the politics. And so the two works
that I talked about, about the suburb of Damascus
called the [NON-ENGLISH],, one of them is moving according
to [NON-ENGLISH] buildings while the other is moving back
and forth between the three. So one of them is
emitting and one of them is allowing it to view. And that’s where
paintings would actually be a very nice juxtaposition. And so the reason why I brought
the state in from cartography to– it’s just I noticed when I
read the works that [INAUDIBLE] had worked on, these
bureaucratic things, you literally see the nature of
to culture versus culture to nature. And so that’s where I have
the idea of seeing them as talking to each other. I could be wrong. Peshwari? I just have one
which is– sorry– one which is directly a small
follow-up to Sean’s question about the relation that you see
between the spatial imaginary, which is almost Ariel in its
cognition, and then the notion of place, which is more
anchored, perhaps even more political in some ways. How is this imaginary of
Damascus, which is fascinating, a vantage point to examine
this relation between place and space? Or is this too far out? No, it’s not too far out. But I don’t know what to say
more than what I have already, in the sense that if you visit
each of these descriptions, there’s always– I mean, everyone has
a particular agenda. There is a place-making
all the time. And the only one that has
an aerial view is Ibn Tulun. And then in the 19th and
20th centuries you have– by the way, that– I take it till the 1950s. And so that’s when it becomes
scientific and very different, basically, although they’re
still referring back. So I don’t know how to answer
your question beyond what I’ve tried to do in that
particular episode, which is place-making in the way
that he’s walking each village. But at the same time,
there’s distance of, this is the conceptual unity. And it’s a conceptual unity
because [NON-ENGLISH] is what makes Dama– or so [NON-ENGLISH] is
what makes Damascus. But he’s saying Damascus
is [NON-ENGLISH].. He’s inverting that. So this is as far as I can go. And please, we can
talk about it if you can help me think beyond this. Yeah, I’d be happy to. Yeah. Right here? Hello. I wanted to ask
Donna about a genre. You call this a genre,
which of course then draws and all the other things that
might be in the same genre. Yeah. And at this point
that you’re talking about local histories
in Arabic, I don’t know, maybe 200 years old
or something, this has been– people have been
writing local histories and there’s maybe
a slightly less– slightly shorter history
for Persian local histories. So I’m wondering,
you’ve told us about how it breaks with
those previous ones in this focus on the present. And I’m wondering if
that’s the only break. Are there other breaks that
are happening at the same time? And then I’m also
wondering, do the people who are producing and consuming
these texts also treat this as a genre
or as a new genre once this break has happened? So the only other
break that I know is in historiography in
the writing of Chronicles. And it’s very similar. The way they do things
is very similar, which is the rise of
[NON-ENGLISH],, the– Commentary. Not even commentary. Appendages. Sequels. Sequels. Sequel. Sequel, which is the tail
end, literally the tail. So this is in this period. So it ends at the beginning
of the Ottoman period. So this is what is
happening is that everybody is watching on the
authority of somebody else. So it’s taking the isnad out
of the book and from the book to outside the book and
putting the authorities– so instead of doing things
upon the authority of people inside the book,
you start writing on the authority of
people outside the book and continuing the project. So this is happening
in history in general in this period, which
is 12th to 15th century. And so people are first
taking them together as history and geography
or topography are together, but also it’s taken as a
separate genre in the sense that I found a
lot of manuscripts in which just Damascus by
itself exists in that Oxford in different manuscript
collections and their pocket book– you know their smaller books. So what is fascinating
to me is the difference between the tradition as
the scholars are talking to each other in
terms of popularity and how they refer to
each other and what is circulating on
the ground, at least judging from the
extant manuscripts. The narratives that are
circulating on the ground from extant manuscript– because
it’s not necessarily telling– is that really minor ones
that are not necessarily big in my narrative. So this I’m going to have to
address at a certain point. Simultaneously, we know
that Ibn Asakir, his own was published,
announced, recited, narrated in the Umayyad mosque
by him and his grandchild, even. And we have thousands
and thousands of people who listen to it. And we have kind
of marginal notes on these audition
certificates, which includes a lot of artisans
and things of the sort. So I don’t know if I’m answering
your question about reception and circulation. Yes, it is definitely
seen as a separate journey because people like ibn
Tulun is devoting episodes to the markets of
Damascus, full stop. So clearly this
is a genre, right? And the 18th century guy whom
I work on, Ibn [INAUDIBLE] is like, this is about Damascus. So it is taken as a genre, but
all together is looked upon as [NON-ENGLISH], as history. So geography becomes and
is eaten within history and the temporality
is a part and parcel. So I don’t know if I’m
answering your question. But the bricks– these
are the two bricks– just because I’m not familiar
with what happened in astronomy or– you know what I mean? I’m not very aware
of what happened in other fields of knowledge. We know that hadith study’s
going through something very interesting at the time. Recent work is
amazing about that. Margaret. Yeah, it follows up very nicely
on what Donna just has said, but I would like to frame it
as a question to both of you. So what are the
practice of remembrance for which these texts are used? So if an author sits down
and writes the Surname either of his own volition or because
his patron has asked it, how is he imagining
that this text is going to be used in the future? So in some way, it is written
in order to be remembered. So how does this
remembrance work? And I just found it fascinating
what you said, Donna, that it’s read out in a
mosque and people are actually listening to that. Do you know how
long that goes on? And what kind of use– what use of the text is this? So who are the people listening? Why are they listening to a text
about their contemporary city? So what is the interest
in not just looking at a mosque on your
everyday evening walk, but then going to another
mosque and having the recital, the mosque sense there, at a
moment that the mosque is still standing there– Is there, yeah, yeah, yeah. –so how is the whole question
of memory and remembrance constructed? So how are the texts
written into the future, into a future where this
will have become history? And what kind of
memory does that imply? I think there’s– speaking
of crisis in historiography– I think the Damascenes are
feeling a sense of crisis the whole time. And it’s really about– it’s about– let’s remember what
the Umayyad mosque is about. And so Ibn Asakir’s description,
despite four fires that and how many problems– you know,
the description of the mosque is actually transmitted
verbatim all the way down to the 18th century. So there’s something about
the memory and the present that play with
each other and that can’t honestly think
of Ibn Asakir’s work and his authority is transmitted
within the structure itself. And that’s an incredible
tension that happens. Simultaneously, they
don’t want anyone else to take charge of their city. So they’re always talking
about the Umayyad mosque as the center of life and the
life and the heart of the city. On the other hand, it’s all
about a celebration of new institutions or institutions of
cultural [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH].. So it’s like the new colleges. So there’s the
preservation and at the same time the showing off
of what is culturally important. Because it has an importance
to what they are– To what they are and what they
are in relation to other places too, whether it’s
Istanbul or Cairo. So I wonder whether you
could elaborate on that. How does a building inflict
more substance on the subject? So is that something that
you relate to the people who constitute the city,
the living and the dead, and you also relate
to the buildings? Because by interacting with
them, by remembering them, that makes you a certain
form of moral subject. And it’s a citizen. It also makes you a
citizen of the– you know. So that distinguishes
between you, a Damascene, and Damascenes. Yeah. And so there is a preservation
of the heart of the city, despite the fact that they
see the mosque changing, but they keep preserved the
original author of the mosque itself. And here we’re not
talking about al-Walid. We’re talking about Ibn Asakir. So in 1582 there are a
number of different layers. First of all, there’s this
anxiety about competition with the grandeur of the past. There’s a major celebration
that happens in 1530. And the organizers and the
authors in 1582, number one, are anxious to find out
about the specific details of that particular event. And they also want
to surpass it, both in terms of the
real organization itself, as well as the description
of the festivities. So there’s an element of
competing with the past. You know, with the rule of
Suleiman the Magnificent. The other layer is about
the competing versions of a contemporary event. The palace itself is very
anxious about creating a record that will be kept
in the palace itself and that will be utilized
as a sort of record by future generations. So the palace
actually presides over the rewriting of one of these
particular books of festivity and accompanied by a large
number of illustrations. So the palace
itself is basically trying to create a
record of the event and leave it to
future generations. But in other books
or festivities, for instance, in
one of them that was only recently discovered,
we see a lot of emphasis that is given on those guilt
parades, the soundscape of the event, an individual
audience member’s experience of the event itself. So that’s a completely
sort of different way of recording and
memorizing the event as a member of the audience. So on the one hand,
there’s this attempt at competing with the past,
trying to promote the present, especially in the
official circles, and kind of trying to leave
to the future generations a correct version of how
to organize an event. And then you have these
more popular notions– sorry, narratives of the event– that kind of celebrate the
increased participation of the guilds or
what could be called the middle classes of the city. So the moment when
the textbook be used would be at the
next circumcision, saying what is
the right way of– Ideally, yes. If I could just
insert a follow up, and then I see one
in the back, as well. I guess Dana, wanted
to ask more about this binary between
the so-called divinity of the city versus the
secularity of the city. And I don’t think
you’re terribly comfortable with those words. No, I’m not. I’m not terribly comfortable
with those words. And I kind of wonder
what that implies. And I’ve been thinking along
the lines of, you know, sacral or salvific– like, the
topography of Damascus often– at least for someone
like Ibn Asakir, what’s being commemorated
or celebrated is that these are places that will
have significance at the end days, like the White Tower
where Jesus will return, as well as the sort of jewels
in the crown of the city like the great mosque, the
monumental architecture that demonstrates divine favor. So there’s something
salvific, sacral, and not necessarily ossified,
but interacting with time in a different way than what you
have on the other side, which is now the experiential,
which isn’t necessarily profane or secular,
but is simply present. Yes. So maybe it’s a differentiation
along the lines of how time is being experienced,
rather than the divinity versus the non-divine. Right. There’s something–
or maybe there’s something temporal about
how people were conceiving of a sacred past and an
apocalyptic future, obviously, versus a kind of a very
presentist perspective on how to experience the place. So that’s one question I had. And then the other
one has to do with how we know about these cities. And it seems like it’s either
monumental or like varieties of fruit that are grown. There’s not a lot in-between. So there’s something about
the kind of hustle and bustle or the almost tourist
pamphlet nature of– these are the
markets of Damascus. This is what they produce. Here’s the kind of
cloth you can find in this quarter, et cetera, et
cetera, versus the kind of much more austere
monumental descriptions that we find typical
in topographies that notice places of pilgrimage
or major arteries or streets like that. So I wondered if you could
say something about those two it seems like rather
extreme varieties in scale. And if that being what
we have left maybe distorts our
understanding of how these cities are represented. I’m completely in agreement
of what you said earlier and I just want to think
about it more– or even get suggestions of how to do
this, rather than sacred and profane to find
something else. Maybe it’s just
temporality, but I needed to be open to
this idea of allowing many people to participate
in writing Damascus. Right? And so I need to think
a little bit more. And I would love some
feedback on that. May I jump in here? Yes. I was thinking about
something similar because the first Muslim
independent narratives about Damascus are
about sacred geography and about pilgrimage, places,
and all that sort of stuff. And then in time, you see the
development of these sources that you’re talking about. I mean, is it
about the emergence of a kind of city
identity, which is similar to late medieval
or Renaissance Europe? Is it because these middle
classes become more entrenched and they start producing
these identities? I was even thinking
about the case that you make about
the Mamluks and then later on the Ottomans,
these empires intervening and
politicizing the present, and also politicizing
the notables of the city, as a result of which you see
the emergence of these answers. So it could be about
the development of urban identity over time,
also imperial intrusion or central intrusion. Yeah. You see, I actually– the way I
frame it is that this genre is a result of a social
formation which is kind of– I know it’s– I know this is what we, at
least in the American academy, have we been doing, which is
looking at the post-caliphate system as the Sultans
versus the [NON-ENGLISH].. And so the way that I see this
is literally a contract between the Sultan and
the [NON-ENGLISH].. And it is about the sultantes
making a claim on the city through [NON-ENGLISH] and
building and creating the city through [NON-ENGLISH],, and
the [NON-ENGLISH] either being in a kind of completely in
companionship with the sultan, or producing a city that is
completely different, right? So the break here
really is a political– so it’s very politicized
to start with, right? And that’s how I see why the
genre was born to start with. OK? But going back to
your second question, it is a very distorted
image of the city. It is a very specific city. It’s a very scholarly city. And the only
non-scholar in my sample is this minor literati in
the late 15th century called [INAUDIBLE]. And he’s lovely because
he’s going in the parks and gardens of the city. And he is having– he’s
completely enchanted. He talks about the
canteens, the blankets, the din of the cooking,
whatever’s happening outside. And so he gives me a very
different view of the city. It is lived and
experienced daily and how they sleep for four
nights in a row outdoors. And so it’s a very
[NON-ENGLISH] constructed city. And that’s a part
of my argument. So this is not Damascus. This is totally not Damascus. I know Helga had his hand up. Anybody else? Please. Yeah, this was– oh, right. This is for Donna, as well. I was wondering, have you
find examples of reflections about the writing might survive
the city, that actually, when you write the city, you
contribute to– it goes to what Murray was saying, also,
to conserving the city, that the writing
might be more durable, actually, than the city. And it’s interesting. I’ve seen that in architectural
writing and other places that there’s this thinking
that we think of stone as more durable than paper. But that’s not in the writing. So that’s not always the case. So there’s often this
reflection that actually paper can survive stone and in that
sense, conserve the city. And it’s interesting
in your case because there’s
this obvious example of how paper consumes the city. I mean, it exploits
and consumes the city that you’re pointing out
quite nicely, I think. I was just wondering if that
that other idea of conservation through writing
was there, as well. So I wrote an article. The only article that I have
out on this topic is about the– it’s called “Monumental
Representations” about Ibn Asakir’s as a representation
of the mosque, and how despite the fact
that mosque changes, his representation becomes
heavier than the mosque itself and its canonical status, right? And so I do compare it
to the Temple of Solomon, I mean, the idea that the text
actually remembers the monument and it’s heavier
than the city itself. And I look at– so my article is called
“Ibn Asakir’s Children”, about his own authority
being so heavy that people who follow him
and write the city have to deal with his weight. And then they’re not
liberated till, really, the late 18th
century, where they start putting the
description of the mosque at the end of the book,
not to start with it. So he’s so canonizing that way. Makes sense. Yes. So absolutely. This is a part of what I
do is, on the one hand, you’re renewing the city. But at the same time,
there is this huge weight of a canonical text that is
just disturbing everyone. I actually have a one-fingered
question, as well. But I can do that afterwards
if there are more two fingers in the room. Sure. No, go ahead. I just wanted to make
an observation, really, because this is the only panel
where there is no single author paper. So you’re both doing– all the other papers
will have one or two papers that talks about the
single author, the single work. It’s just interesting that
this is a different paper and panel, in that sense, that
one is focusing on the event. And I really like the way Kaya
sort of prefaces his paper by talking about how this
made us think about the event. I think it’s
incredibly important. When does it start and end
and all these questions. And then it’s a city, right? And it helps us think
about time and history in very different ways, right? So we’re not discussing
modernity and tradition, for one. No. We’re not discussing
narrative in the same way. We’re discussing multiplicities
of sources in a different way. We’re discussing sort of
the immediacy of the event and the durability
of the city and sort of the relationship between
space and time and that sense. So it’s not a question. I just wanted to
make that observation that this is the
panel where that sort of single author, single
work is not there at all. And I think it changes the
discussion in interesting ways. [INAUDIBLE] Thank you. So my– this is a
reflection on Kaya’s paper. As was mentioned, he and
I discussed this question of the event. And I find it very
compelling, this narrative about the circumcision ceremony. But I’m wondering how
would you feel about if I tried to liberate the
event from Ottoman history because the way I see it
here– because one of the most interesting things
about this event is precisely that we have
multiple types of sources. And even in different
types, there are multiple genres
involved, right? So if we understand it
as an Ottoman event, so then the explanation
is precisely– goes to Ottoman dynastic
legitimacy and other things that have been pointed
out, including gender and so on and so forth. But another way that
was occurring to me to think about is that
what it is proving is that event is a completely
empty category because all these people are trying
to do is to actually put a boundary around a bunch
of things that happened and try to call it an event. And they’re putting different
boundaries around them and they’re competing about
what the boundaries are. First of all, it’s things that
goes on for a month and a half. What kind of an event it is
brings into question, right? So if we take it out
of the Ottoman context and we think that we
have all these material about this event, then
is it possible to put the internal
relationships of what is inside the boundary of
the event in different cases in contradistinction
to each other to try to explode the
very notion of what and how an event relates to
history or historiography in some way. You’re allowed to answer. You don’t have to
raise your hand. No, I want to question– I want to– No, go on, this is wonderful. It’s a question. It’s a follow up
question, which is I noticed that the three
texts that you have, the Surname, kind of the
way the gradation of– not the gradation, the sequence
of events is the same. Yeah. The issuing of the
invitation, the whatever the exchange of gifts. Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. You know, and so what kind
of constituents of an event or what kind of separate
events are these, just– Yeah. Sure. Can I pile on this one, as well? Sure. So I’ve been thinking
along the same lines. But I want to offer
an alternative to the circumscribing
or surrounding and offer a circumcision in the way that
your discussion of constructing an event works with a
common onset about a history of erasure alongside a
history of presence in regard to the male body. And in this way, the
constructing of the event is a cutting. It’s a displacing of the things
you don’t want to have there. It’s a marking so it becomes
event and not quotidian. But also in your particular
case, it is decidedly male. But where I would
want to follow along [? Shazad’s ?] line is to ask
whether this might tell us something about the masculine
nature of history in the way– Of course. –it’s defined what events
are in this cutting, marking, and shaping. Yeah. Yeah, same. Ann, was your question
part of this matrix, or do you want to wait? Just go with this. No, I mean, excellent question. So one way of liberating the
event from Ottoman history is to use theory, as inadequate
as these Europe-based theories mostly may be. So I try to do that
in the article, to talk about ritual
theory, [? Katherine Bell ?] and ritualization to talk
about performance theory. So one way of liberating
this from Ottoman history could be by using
theory and by looking at the event as a closed
event and as this sort of box of different activities
and basically looking at the relationships,
hierarchical relationships, the level of negotiation
among different constituents of the event. So we could do that. But then again, I
mean, historians would keep asking questions
about how to contextualize it and this and that. I guess, I mean, your question
and my partial answer to that illustrates one of the
challenges that we have, not only in this workshop
but in the work that we do. I mean, on the one hand
all the participants here are very eager to go beyond
the narrow boundaries of their areas of
specialization. But at the same time, it
is a scary proposition because how do you use theory? How do you use
comparative perspectives as you get out of it. So in the case of the
three Surnames, obviously, I didn’t have enough space
to talk about their content. I agree with you that they
do describe the same event in its general contours. But at the same time,
when you read them, they’re very kaleidoscopic. Or the image that
you get at the end is very kaleidoscopic
in the sense that you get completely
different impressions about the event itself. The guy who is closer to
the palace [INAUDIBLE].. And I mean, these are not– I mean, he does disclose a
number of negative things, a couple of fights break out. So these are not
completely sanitized text. But at the same time,
in the narrative of [INAUDIBLE] and then in
the accompanying miniatures, you see a very
sultan-centric event. If you were to read
only [INAUDIBLE],, you would get the impression
that the main flow of action was around the sultan and the
members of the ruling elite. But then you looked at
the other guy, Farahi, you get the impression that
the main flow of action is based on the movements
of these members of the guilds, members
of the co-fraternities, these civic parades. So you basically get
different slivers of the same event, which
makes it even more interesting because the contours
are the same. The issuing of the
invitations, the preparation of large quantities
of food, everybody comes to Istanbul’s Hippodrome. But then you start the changing
of these different points of view. One more thing in
answer to your question. I mean, talking about the
event itself as a cutout or as something that
is cut in these sources and talking about masculinity
and this and that, I mentioned this before. I mean, before this
particular festivity, the only events for which
we have independent sources are military campaigns. So you could, in a sense, you
could see this event itself as being yet another sort of
military campaign, number one, in terms of the resources
that are devoted to it. This is organized very much
like a military campaign would be organized, a
collection of resources, a mobilization of
different constituencies, and also in terms of the
display of masculinity, this is a very military
event in that regard. But at the same time, because
it’s in Istanbul and because of all these guilt parades
and that kind of stuff, the civic element
of the city leaches into these kinds of
events while it would not be present during a military
campaign to that extent. Did you still have a– Yeah, I guess I wanted to just– in response to [INAUDIBLE]
issue around divinity and how to talk
about it, I think it’s a larger question
because I think temporality is
key, in many ways, to thinking about religion. But I’m so struck by your idea
of the now, that what is really happening here is a new kind
of positionality of the persons and the subject that is
writing, and the relationship to time as now. And we’ve seen newness
in the prior panels. Is that– what does that mean? How does that relate to the
writing of history, then? What is the relationship between
now and the act of writing? It’s making things your own. That’s what it is. So when you’re writing
about now, it’s around you. So it’s making your– and please, I’m not talking
about the modern self. That’s not my thing. But it’s a Renaissance
to me, sounds like. Right? The present, the
immediate present– The present and the
fact is since you will have the authority
to talk about your now, it’s really about putting
yourself in the middle. And so I think this is
where the– so they’re owning Damascus in a way that
they’d never owned before. They’re putting themselves
in Damascus in a way that they had never been before. So that’s, I think, the
significance on that level. Could I ask a question about
the heaviness of the narrative of the mosque, for example? And I wonder if we
could insert a kind of a more mundane
understanding of how we inhabit monumental spaces as
humans who generally don’t grow above six feet tall? And by that I mean, the
reason ecphrastic texts– sort of where they
happen in the first place is to describe things that
most people would never get to actually lay their eyes on. And even if you live in
Damascus– and as I say this, I just kind of want
to at least note that I hope one day I get to go
back and see that mosque again, just to acknowledge the fact
that we’re talking about Syria. If you live in Damascus,
if you go visit the mosque, you can’t see every
detail on those mosaics. No. You need the
narrative to tell you what’s there but
not visible to you because of the scale
of this architecture– Right. Right. –the same way there
is a kind of literacy that’s necessary for
understanding the program in a Byzantine mosque that
most people simply didn’t have to just read it visually. They have to have
the story narratived. Of course. This is the scene
where Mary– you know, the [INAUDIBLE] of the Virgin. And I think that I
see a relationship between Byzantine
ekphrasis and, as you know, descriptions of
monuments in Damascus. So I wonder if it’s not so
much that the paper is heavier than stone, but that the
stone kind of recedes unless you have the paper to
help translate it for you. The same way I was born
and raised in New York, I’ve never been to
the Statue of Liberty. But I have an idea of what
that monument is about– Absolutely. And I have a sense
of emotion about it based on what I know about it. So I guess I would question
the idea that it’s all symbolic narrative and that it’s– but I think it’s actually– it enlivens and
animates the way people inhabit the physical space in a
very nitty gritty way, almost. Well, that’s why I
would distinguish between text and image. That was what I
was trying to get at, which is I think they
do different things, right? You can achieve different things
through them, and one of those is kind of a sense
of temporality. And then there’s
also access and so– Yes. So there are differences
between– that’s what I, in my first comment,
I was trying to get at. So thank you both. This is amazing because
I’m going to use this. May I briefly jump in? Yeah. Another thing that you
said, I mean, this is– I’m really amazed by your paper. You know, as an Ottoman
student from the perspective of Constantinople– Yeah. I mean, all of this is
very, very convincing. I mean, this will be
an amazing project. So among so many things– I mean, [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]. I think what we
also see is that– I mean, history, late
medieval, early modern, it’s usually about
human action– this happened, that
happened, the sultan campaigned some there. But what we see here is the
built environment itself becoming part of
history, seen as history, which seems to me, again,
to be very important next to human action, you know? Yeah. I think [INAUDIBLE] did write
a paper about this in which he said, even the biographies
of sultans become a role– what is it called? A role of buildings. So it becomes such a
measure of the achievement. So the fear that you had
in the Umayyad period about having splendorous
buildings that over– that are too much and they’re
kind of split– you know, what are they called? Nimrodion. They’re not Solomonic. They are actually
exceeding the piety. In the Sultanic period, they
become actually a measure of success. And because the
whole [INAUDIBLE],, the whole endowment
business happens then, and so certainly buildings have
lives of their own in relation. And so that’s why I think
the scholars are writing it precisely to take
the buildings away from the name of the
state and the sultan. They really want to take it
and make it their own and say, this is where our culture– that’s where we
produce our knowledge. So all of this is great. I mean, it just adds
kind of way for me to clarify what
I’m talking about. We have time for a final
question and a short answer, please. Yes. Yeah, I wanted to come back
to this positionality of Ibn Asakir that you’re
trying to work out. And through the discussion,
I’ve been thinking about it. And you said you need a better
term or a better concept than profane or secular. Yes. And I think trying
to think with you, I thought about
immanence, for example. Imminence. Like imminent like
in the here and now. Oh, I see. Then the problem is that the
distinction between imminence and transcendence has itself
a history and modern history is highly charged. But that’s the case
with all these terms that invoke this
distinction of the worldly and the other worldly that
have a pre-modern history. But our reading now is, we
cannot escape our modern context. So my fear would
be that this is– when I read your paper,
I thought, OK, this would be an interesting
moment to challenge this whole history
of these concepts or look at the history
of these concepts and rework them, or think
about, OK, what to– starting from the question
how can we adequately describe the positionality we find
in Ibn Asakir’s text. Not saying, well, it’s not
secular because that’s modern. It’s like pre-modern but– like, what is the kind
of adequate architecture, conceptual architecture? I would love something, yes. And I think that’s not a
matter of choice of words. But then I actually look
at the conceptual legacies that connect these terms. And I think that
would be fascinating. I don’t have an
answer because I think I absolutely agree with you. This is wonderful. Well, that’s not a bad note to
end on, more to think about. And please join me in thanking
our panelists one last time. [APPLAUSE]

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

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