Mardi, 02 Octobre 2012 14:25

Cultural encounters in the Muslim World (14th-19th centuries)

Organisation : Juliette Dumas and Richard Wittmann

Partners :

ifea logoCetobac oiist

What is an innovation? What is said and thought as new? Any innovation is understandable only with regard to the society that receives and lends weight to it. Societies produce or might produce their “discovery” in response to their own expectations. The aim of this seminar is to question the concept of novelty and innovation, within the Muslim world. The Muslim world is anything but unified: each society manufactures itself as a unique example of its own cultural syncretism; Islamic references are just one component among many others. Muslim societies of the modern era are usually qualified as traditionalists: the oldness is used as frame of reference whether the topic is religious, political, judicial or cultural.

However, tradition is never static: the degree of interpretation required supposes a constant movement for further evolution. Indeed, a successful innovation becomes promptly the new tradition, which can be challenged only within specific frames. This implies questioning the meaning of tradition(s) and its local use and functions within a specific space and time. Our attention will focus particularly on the ways that permit acclimating novelty with tradition. Justifying a new social or political practice by linking it to tradition raises several questions concerning the concept of novelty and innovation in Muslim societies. How is it possible for a society to engage itself in an innovative process when the main reference point faces the past?

Furthermore, tradition is variant: each society, according to time and place, designs its own tradition by combining numerous components, including Islamic references, as well as [local?] insights from the past and knowledge from elsewhere. Through this topic, the question of cultural transfers needs to be raised: how does a Muslim society incorporate the products of other cultures to build a cultural synthesis which necessarily raises in turn conflicts and reactions? At the same time, innovations are not always exported from outside: the production of a cultural novelty can and is often the result of an internal development: what are the conditions favorable for an innovation to be adopted?

This seminar is not dedicated to the intellectual meaning(s) of cultural innovations across the Muslim world, but rather to understanding the conditions and structures (mental, social, political, judicial, economical, i.e.) that sustained them upon the concretization of specific innovations within a specific society. It aims to determine the factors and dynamics that favor its success. Thus, we will focus on a few topics:

  • discourses of legitimization for a cultural innovation
  • process(es) of elaboration of an innovation
  • the evolution of the concepts of tradition and innovation
  • forms of opposition against an innovation
Lu 21336 fois Dernière modification le Jeudi, 26 Septembre 2013 14:41