Mamluk Studies Resources

The Middle East Documentation Center at The University of Chicago

Fifth Conference of the School of Mamluk Studies
Ghent University, Belgium
July 5-6, 2018

Many of the papers presented in Beirut during the 2017 conference were recorded and videos will be available here soon.


SMS 2018, Ghent

We are pleased to announce the Fifth Conference of the School of Mamluk Studies, which will be held at Ghent University (Belgium) from July 5-7, 2018.

The conference will be conducted in two parts and will be preceded by a three-day intensive course on Digital Islamic Humanities from July 2-4, 2018.

Themed Day

The first day of the conference, July 5, will be themed. The theme of this part of the conference will be Historiography/Adab.

Almost fifty years ago the late German scholar and pioneer of Mamluk studies Ulrich Haarmann (1942-99) formulated his ‘Literarisierung’ thesis. Haarmann’s Quellenstudien zur frühen Mamlukenzeit (1969) arguably led the way in a very slowly but steadily swelling wave of scholarship that, in the recent decade in particular, has started to radically change understandings of the meanings and value of ‘medieval’ historiographical texts. In this process, not just more of these texts have come to light or have become available, but also their very nature as texts, as objects, as actors, and as acts are increasingly being appreciated. As such, over the years ‘Literarisierung’ as a characteristic of ‘medieval’ historiography and its transformation may have proven a debatable conceptualization; at the same time its incentive to think of that historiography as a partner in a wider socio-cultural praxis that highly valued literary communication has certainly struck root. In recent years not just Thomas Bauer’s formulation of the notion of the adab-ization of elite communication has added important insights in this respect, but so has Konrad Hirschler’s identification of a ‘popularization’ of textual practices. In view of these and many related inspiring new insights, we invite contributions to the themed day that engage in any way with the relationship between ‘Mamluk’ historiography and adab, that tackle the issue of historiography as adab, or that wish to highlight any aspect of historiography’s adab-ization or ‘popularization’. Without attempting to offer an exhaustive presentation of possible approaches to this theme, nor wishing to forestall any discussions of definition and genre, papers may deal with individual authors and their corpus; particular texts, narratives, and stories; styles, vocabularies, and discourses; reading practices, textual performances, and any other related phenomena of textual production, reproduction, and consumption.


A maximum of 12 to 15 paper proposals will be selected. Should a greater number of proposals be received, the authors of those which are not selected for the conference may be offered the possibility to publish their contribution in the proceedings. Time allotted to each paper will be twenty minutes, plus ten minutes for discussion.


The following two days of the conference (July 6 and 7) will be structured in pre-organized panels.

Panels may focus on any aspect of the intellectual, political, social, economic, and artistic life of the Mamluk period. The panels will be organized into coherent presentations of three to four papers of twenty minutes each. Panel proposals must be made by a representative, who will be responsible for its organization. Please note that in case of cancellation of two papers out of the three (or three out of the four) composing the panel, the panel will have to be withdrawn from the program. Time allotted to each paper will be twenty minutes. Discussion will take place at the end of each panel.

A maximum of 8 panel proposals will be selected.


LANGUAGE: The official language of the conference will be English.
FEES: The conference registration fees will be €50 for all participants and attendees. A farewell dinner will take place on the last day (July 7) at a cost to be determined. Payment of the fees (registration and farewell dinner) must be received by May 15, 2018 (information on the method of payment to be used will be provided in the first circular, which will be sent in February 2018).

Cancellations received in writing by May 31, 2018 will secure a full refund, minus 20 % of the registration fee. Refunds of fees (registration and farewell dinner) will not be made under any circumstances for cancellations after May 31, 2018. Participants must make their own travel arrangements; information and suggestions for accommodations will be provided in the first circular.

Proposals and Acceptance

Paper proposals for the themed day must be submitted electronically through the School of Mamluk Studies webpage ( ) by October 31, 2017. Panel proposals must be submitted in the same manner by November 30, 2017.

The paper proposals should provide the name and a one-page CV of the speaker, a title, and an abstract of a maximum of 1500 characters (about 300 words).

Panel proposals must be submitted as such, including the relevant information (cfr. paper proposals) for each component paper as well as the name of the panel’s chair.

Paper and panel proposals will be peer-reviewed. Should a greater number of proposals be received than practically manageable, selection will not just happen on the basis of quality, but also in view of ensuring variety across panels and sufficient opportunities to participate in the different SMS conferences for everyone.

A first circular with further practical information will be sent by February 2018 to those whose proposals have been accepted, and to those who have expressed interest in attending the conference as listeners.

To submit a paper proposal, please complete the form HERE.

To submit a paper proposal, please complete the form HERE.


a) THEMED DAY: the papers will be published in a volume of proceedings. Further details will be announced in due course.

b) PANELS: selected papers will be published in Mamlūk Studies Review.

Intensive course: Digital Islamic (Mamluk) Humanities

A three-day intensive course in Digital Islamic Humanities intended for advanced graduate students and other qualified participants will be offered by Dr Maxim Romanov (Universität Wien) and will be held immediately before the fifth conference of the School of Mamluk Studies at Ghent University, in collaboration with the Ghent Centre for Digital Humanities (July 2-4, 2018). The course will be demanding and hands-on in its format, but no previous training is required. The course will cover topics such as digitization, computational analysis, datamodelling, … and will introduce digital tools, projects, repositories and practices that are currently available for historical/Islamic/Mamluk research.

Since the number of the participants will be limited (a maximum of 10), those who desire to take part in the course are requested to submit a CV, a statement of purpose, and a letter of recommendation by someone familiar with your work to the following email address: by the end of February, 2018. Those who are selected for the course will be notified by the end of March, 2018, at which time information about the method of payment for the course fees will be provided.

The course fee is €300.00, which also includes the registration fee for the subsequent conference (July 5-7). The fees must be paid by May 15, 2018. Registration and participation will not be confirmed until payment is received. Cancellations received in writing by May 31, 2018 will secure a full refund, minus 20 % of the course fee. Refunds of course fees will not be made under any circumstances for cancellations received after May 31, 2018.

Participants must make their own travel arrangements. Information and suggestions for accommodations will be provided in the first circular.

We look forward to meeting you in Ghent.

Jo Van Steenbergen, Ghent University (local organizer) (
Frédéric Bauden, Université de Liège
Antonella Ghersetti, Ca’ Foscari University, Venice
Marlis Saleh, University of Chicago


To view the schedules of previous conferences, see Past SMS Conferences.

© Middle East Documentation Center. The SMS logo is based on the lion emblem used by Sultan Baybars.