Professional Mobility in the Islamic Lands (900-1600): ʿulamāʾ, udabāʾ, and administrators


About The Event

Call for Papers 

Date: March 20-21, 2019

Venue: SOAS University of London, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG, UK

Paper Submission Deadline: September 15, 2018

Adherence into the social-cum-cultural group of ʿulamāʾ was relatively open and depended often on personal scholarly accomplishment, while other considerations like social, ethnic, or geographical origin played a lesser role. On the other hand, the professional mobility of the ʿulamā and advancement opportunities within this group for religious, legal, administrative, and political appointments depended to some extent on social networks and, in some cases, on adherence to certain families or madhhabs. This professional mobility will be the focus of this two-day workshop.

The aim of this workshop is to reflect on the professional mobility of the ʿulamāʾ along spatial, horizontal and vertical axes. Vertical mobility is understood here as the process within which ʿulamāʾ moved upwards in various paid jobs, including the positions of imām, khaṭīb (preacher), mudarris/shaykh (teacher), ḍī (judge), ḍī al-quḍāt (chief judge), and others.

This workshop is interested in papers that consider the following questions:

– How and when did the madrasas start producing bureaucrats?
– What did getting close to political authority entail for the ʿulamāʾ?
– How did offers for higher appointments travel in Islamic lands?
– How did the competition between ruling elites and households impact this professional mobility?
– Was this mobility controlled by households and governments or by the ʿulamāʾ themselves?
– How did the uniformity ordiversity of madhhabs impact this mobility and the opportunities available to the ʿulamāʾ?
– Which ʿālims epitomized this mobility more than others? Was this mobility more common under certain dynasties and regimes?

This workshop is co-organized by Mohamed El-Merheb (School of Oriental and African Studies, SOAS) and Mehdi Berriah (Paris 1 La Sorbonne University/University of Grenoble-Alpes).


  • Cost: Free
  • Total Slot: 0
  • Booked Slot: 0

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OAS University of London

SOAS University of London, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG, UK

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