​International Summer Programme


Session Details

Orienting Cultures in Islamic and Muslim Contexts 
Derryl Maclean (CCSMSC, SFU)
Orientalist perceptions of Islam operated under the assumption that Muslims are entwined with religion more than members of other religions. This assumption meant that it was not possible to differentiate religion from culture easily, and thus Muslims were perceived as operating culture necessarily under Islamizing structures which would not easily permit either images or music.  This module focuses on the orientalism and the response by recent scholars, especially Wilfrid Cantwell Smith and Marshall G.S. Hodgson. 

Islamic Art History: A Brief Overview of the Field
by Francesca Leoni (Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, University of Oxford)

This session will concentrate on the development of Islamic art history as an academic discipline. Beginning with the initial circumstances that exposed Western scholars, connoisseurs and collectors to material and artistic legacy of the Islamic world, this presentation will discuss the key-stages of its transformation and consider the collecting trends, landmark exhibitions and intellectual debates that have characterized its growth until today.

Anthropology of Space, Place and Architecture
by Trevor Marchand (SOAS)

This introductory session explores the roles of architects, planners, conservationists and traditional builders. How do these professional fields produce unique – and often competing – ways of thinking about the urban environment? Case studies will focus on my fieldwork with the master masons of Djenné, Mali, and we will discuss the social-politics surrounding recent conservation efforts carried out on the town’s Great Mosque. The talk will be illustrated with short documentary films that explore in turn Djenné’s architectural heritage; masons’ apprenticeship and expertise; contemporary challenges to the art of mud building; and masons’ hopes for the future. Question for consideration during our discussion include: To what extent do conservation programmes and local interests mesh? Can architectural conservation accommodate the changing aspirations of the resident population, and the changing dynamics of local design and building practices? What does the future hold for craftspeople like Djenné’s masons? 

Concert Platform: Style and Space in Turkish Music
by John M. O’Connell (Cardiff University)

This presentation concerns the dialectical relationship between style and space in Turkish music. In particular, it examines the ‘first concert’ in Turkish music (staged in 1930) when the renowned vocalist Münir Nurettin Selçuk (1899-1981) presented a non-classical music (then called: ‘alaturka’) in a western classical setting. Viewed by contemporary commentators as a modern break with tradition, the talk explores the ways in which a concert platform provided a space for debating contested notions of a national style (called: ‘millî musiki’) and competing conceptions of a national identity at a critical moment in Turkish history, the early-Republican period (1923-1938).

Defending Muslim Empires: Citadels and Castles
by Stephane Pradines (AKU-ISMC)

This lecture is an introduction to the towers, forts, citadels and town walls built by the Muslims in Egypt and Greater Syria between the 7th and 16th century. The first part will present a historiographical approach to the Muslim military architecture and the traditions before the arrival of the crusaders in the Middle East, from the Umayyads to the Fatimids.

The second part of the lecture will be devoted to the change in the Muslim fortifications during the 12th century, notably with the fortifications of Saladin. 

The third part will be devoted to the 13th century with the Ayyubids and the Mamluks, especially al-Kamil, Baybars and Qalawun. During this period, the Crusaders and the Muslims developed similar traditions and shared their experiences in military architecture.

The fourth part will be devoted to the period after the abandoning of the Holy Land by the Crusaders. During the 14th century, the Mamluk Sultans Barsbay and Qaitbay have been pushed to fortify the Mediterranean coast against raids of pirates from Cyprus. Then the focus will shift to Sultan al-Ghawri, reformer of the Mamluk army who faced the territorial expansion of the Ottomans and the intrusion of the Portuguese in the Red Sea.

The last part will deal with the Ottoman fortifications. The Ottoman used successfully powder, canons and guns between the 15th and the 16th century, but they were unable to adapt their fortifications to the modern warfare, except for few specific areas in the Balkans and North Africa.

The Art of the Islamic Garden
by Emma Clark (The Prince’s School of Traditional Arts)

This lecture is an introduction to the history, design and spiritual significance of the traditional Islamic garden together with its place in the context of Islamic art as a whole. The lecture will not only look at the main elements of the Islamic garden but will also examine the universal and timeless principles underlying it.  It will also observe how these principles may be applied in the construction of Islamic gardens in northern Europe today – so that the result is beautiful and appropriate to the context. If created with understanding and sensitivity the gardens may contribute towards ‘building bridges’ between communities. The lecture will refer to the design of the garden for the planned new mosque in Cambridge.  

Space and Visuality in South Asian Islam
by Derryl MacLean (CCSMSC, SFU)

This lecture focuses on the art and architecture of pre-modern South Asian Muslims, with a particular concern for the way in which Islamic and Islamicate ideas concerning space and visuality intersect and diverge within both imperial traditions and regional practices. To what extent do larger theological issues (for example, notions of displaying images of prophets/saints or refracting the divine light) impinge on the built space or art? How does one factor in the Islamic and the non-Islamic Indian influences, without assuming syncretism within the highly contested historiography of India and Pakistan?

Contemporary Art in the Muslim World
by Laura Marks (CCSMSC, SFU)

Contemporary art in the Arab and Muslim world cannot be called Islamic art, as most of this work is made in secular contexts. However, it is intriguing to examine how contemporary (i.e., late twentieth century to the present) artists negotiate between tradition (including religious tradition) and modernity. In the twentieth century, artists from the Muslim world negotiated with Western artistic practices, in part a colonial phenomenon, indigenising them and, later, re-incorporating the Islamic artistic traditions. More recently, the rise of the international art market (“Biennale art”) divided Arab and Muslim artists into those whose work was pitched at this market and those who sought audiences closer to home. Fascinating reconfigurations of the modern and the contemporary resulted. Meanwhile, market pressures often demanded that Muslim artists exoticise themselves. We will look at artists working in painting, installation, film and media art, as well as traditional media such as calligraphy.

Please note that the programme content is subject to change.​

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